Bryce Cotton opted out of his deal with the Perth Wildcats, sources told ESPN.
The reigning NBL MVP and Grand Final MVP informed the Wildcats of his decision on Thursday, citing the effects of the recent salary-cutting measures that were agreed on at the beginning of April. He later confirmed the decision on Instagram.
"Due to unforeseen circumstances that have unfolded which none of us could've predicted, it is in me and my family's best interest to opt out of my contract," the statement read. "Regardless, I'll always be a Wildcat at heart in my eyes and I hope you all feel the same way. "I had so much fun here and hope you all enjoyed these past 3 1/2 seasons as much as I did."
Cotton's contract is above the $200,000 mark, so his salary for the 2020-21 NBL season would have been cut by 50 percent. The new agreement allowed players to opt out of their respective contract before May 4, with the Wildcats holding Cotton's domestic rights if he chose to return to play professionally in Australia for the upcoming season.
Having played games in the NBA, as well as the top tier of Italy and Turkey, Cotton will have the ability to attract a large contract from a European team, assuming leagues in that part of the world are able to commence their new seasons.
According to a copy of the terms that were agreed upon by the NBL, its teams, and the Australian Basketball Players' Association - obtained by ESPN - Cotton can only return to the league for the upcoming season if it's with the Wildcats, and "pursuant to (the existing) contract". That rules out the potential of Cotton renegotiating a new deal to return to Perth for the 2020-21 season.
"The Perth Wildcats made every effort to assist Cotton through this difficult time and presented him with options to provide he and his family with long term security and keep him in WA," a statement from the Wildcats read.
Cotton, 27, had been with the Wildcats since 2017, leading the team to three championships and winning two Grand Final MVPs in the process. He averaged 22.9 points per game over the course of the 2019-20 season, with the Wildcats awarded the title after the series was cut short due to COVID-19.
The Sydney Kings' Casper Ware is also considering opting out of his deal, sources said, as well as a host of other players earning above the $200,000 mark.