Grizzlies F Yuta Watanabe plans to return to Japan, decline player option

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Grizzlies forward Yuta Watanabe announces he won’t pick up his 2024-2025 player option, instead deciding to leave the NBA to play in his home country, Japan.

By declining his option, he is bypassing a $2.6 million salary.

Watanabe explained his decision on Instagram Live and cited his mental health as one of the biggest reasons for his choice.

Watanabe spent six seasons in the NBA, most recently with the Grizzlies. During the 2023-2024 season, he only played in five games and averaged 2.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game.

He was traded to the Grizzlies as a part of an in-season trade with the Phoenix Suns.

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Over the course of his career, he’s also played for the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets.

His most notable season came in 2022-2023 with Nets, when he shot a career-high 44.4% from three-point range.

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