Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Jefferson, Kaun

The Celtics have failed to land a major star via free agency thus far this offseason, but being free of burdensome contracts heading into the summer of 2016 will set the franchise up to be major players, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald writes. Salary cap experts are saying that Boston could potentially get themselves $39MM-$50MM under the cap if they play their cards properly, which means they could have the ability to sign two free agents to maximum contracts next offseason, Bulpett adds. The Boston Herald scribe also notes that it may be easier for the team to land two stars rather than one in the same offseason since players want to go where they have the opportunity to win, and signing as a duo would hold more potential appeal.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks are one of several teams to express interest in unrestricted free agent guard John Jenkins, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reports (Twitter link).
  • Nets forward Cory Jefferson has been forced to cease Summer League play due to an ankle injury he has been struggling with, Shams Charania of RealGM relays (on Twitter). If Jefferson remains on Brooklyn’s roster past July 15th his contract for 2015/16 will become partially guaranteed for $150k, and this setback isn’t expected to affect Jefferson’s roster spot, Charania notes.
  • If the Cavaliers and the Nets end up striking a deal to send Joe Johnson to Cleveland, there is a very good chance that the draft rights to Sasha Kaun head to Brooklyn in the transaction, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily tweets. The 30-year-old center has reportedly been a target of the Nets’ this offseason, though the talks between the two franchises appear to be stalled for the moment.
  • As much as the Raptors may end up missing Lou Williams‘ offensive game, the team is glad to have rid itself of the distractions that the guard brought to the squad, Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun writes. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year agreed to a three-year, $21MM arrangement with the Lakers, and if Nick Young isn’t traded, which the Lakers are reportedly exploring doing, it will certainly make for an entertaining locker room in Los Angeles in 2015/16.

Jazz Sign Trey Lyles

6:50pm: The Jazz have officially signed Lyles, the team announced.

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

4:06pm: Trey Lyles, this year’s No. 12 overall pick, has agreed to sign his rookie scale contract with the Jazz, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). That a first-round pick would do so is not usually news, as the existence of the rookie scale usually resolves all meaningful negotiation, but the sides had been struggling to hash out details, as GM Dennis Lindsey acknowledged. The Jazz still haven’t made any formal announcement. The Jazz are giving him four years at $10.4MM, according to Aldridge, who appears to be rounding up from $10,386,049, which is 120% of his scale amount and the most Utah can pay.

Utah could have paid the Rich Paul client as little as 80% of rookie scale, but that would be highly unusual for a lottery pick. Lindsey suggested that the hangup had to do with cap holds, and indeed, many teams with the flexibility to open cap room wait to sign their first-round picks. The Jazz entered July with about $49MM in guaranteed salary and have since reportedly struck a two-year, $4.5MM deal with Joe Ingles, and apparently are poised to sign draft-and-stash point guard Raul Neto, too. The cap hold for Lyles will jump from $1,866,500 to $2,239,800 when he signs for 120% of the rookie scale, so the Jazz would retain a touch of financial flexibility if they wait.

Lyles hasn’t participated in any summer league games or practices for the Jazz so far, likely a matter of consternation as Utah revives its in-house summer league this year. It’s not uncommon for draftees to appear in summer league games even before they sign.

Just how the combo forward’s game will translate to the NBA remains a mystery, as Arthur Hill of Hoops Rumors wrote in his prospect profile of one of the many University of Kentucky players in this year’s draft. Still, he has an intriguing mid-range game and was the ninth-best prospect this year, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranked him 18th. Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors had him going 13th in his last mock draft.

Sixers Sign Jahlil Okafor

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Sixers have signed center Jahlil Okafor to a rookie scale contract, the team announced. Okafor was the No. 3 overall selection in this year’s NBA draft. The big man departed Duke after a freshman campaign that saw the Blue Devils capture the NCAA Championship and him being named a first-team All-American and snagging Freshman of the Year honors along the way.

The center out of Duke will earn more than $4.582MM this coming season in the first year of a four-year deal, presuming he receives the standard 120% of the rookie scale, which is most likely the case. Okafor will likely take home $4,788,840 in 2016/17, $4,995,120 in 2017/18, and $6,313,832 in the contract’s final season.

Okafor appeared in 38 games for the Blue Devils last season, averaging 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.4 blocks in 30.1 minutes per contest. His shooting numbers were .664/.000/.510.

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 7/7/15

There have been a flurry of deals agreed upon since the commencement of the free agent signing period on July 1st. A number of teams have made high profile additions, while others have felt the sting of players departing for other locales. While there are still more signings and player movement yet to come, it’s never too early to speculate on what impact all these comings and goings will do for the NBA standings in 2015/16.

This brings us to the question of the day: Which NBA team has improved itself the most thus far this offseason? Sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say.

Of course, there will always be differing opinions. While we absolutely encourage lively discussion and debate, we do expect everyone to treat each other with respect. So, please refrain from inappropriate language, personal insults or attacks, as well as the other taboo types of discourse laid out in our site’s commenting policy.  Speaking of commenting: we’ve made it much easier to leave a comment here at Hoops Rumors.  Just put in your name, email address, and comment and submit it; there is no need to become a registered user.

Wizards To Sign Alan Anderson

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Wizards and unrestricted free agent Alan Anderson have reached an agreement on a contract, David Aldridge of TNT reports (Twitter links). Anderson will receive part of Washington’s mid-level exception, which the team held in hopes of signing David West, Aldridge adds. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter) notes that the contract will be a one-year, $4MM pact.

The Nets had reportedly made keeping the forward a priority, but instead lose the 32-year-old to Washington, where he’ll join a team more likely to contend in the Eastern Conference. Anderson bypassed his player option for 2015/16 worth $1,333,484 with the Nets, and was reported to be seeking an annual salary of $3MM-$4MM from a contending team. This deal certainly checks off both of those boxes for the veteran, with the Wizards a team on the rise, and a franchise in need of help at the wing with the departure of Paul Pierce to the Clippers.

Anderson appeared in 74 games for the Nets last season, including 19 as a starter. He averaged 7.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists, with a slash line of .442/.348/.812. His career numbers through 287 games with the Hornets, Raptors, and Nets are 7.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.2 APG.

Bulls Sign Bobby Portis

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Bulls have signed Bobby Portis to a rookie scale contract, the team announced in a press release (h/t to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders). Portis was the No. 22 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

The forward out of Arkansas will earn more than $1.391MM this coming season in the first year of a four-year deal, presuming he receives the standard 120% of the rookie scale. The arrangement will likely will call for him to receive $1,453,680 in 2016/17, $1,516,320 the following year, and $2,494,346 in the final season.

Portis appeared in 36 games for the Razorbacks last season, averaging 17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks, with a slash line of .536/.467/.737. His career averages are 15.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 1.5 BPG.

Celtics To Acquire David Lee

4:09pm: The teams are still considering “several different ways” to structure the trade and are in no rush, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). In any case, the Celtics have no intention of flipping Lee to another team, Himmelsbach also hears (on Twitter).

3:03pm: Babb is most likely the player headed to the Warriors, tweets Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, who nonetheless won’t rule out that it’ll be Pressey going to Golden State instead.

2:43pm: Berger clarifies that no picks or cash are headed to Golden State in addition to Wallace, but a “filler contract” will go from the Celtics to the Warriors, he says (Twitter link).

2:11pm: Boston will send another player to the Warriors, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link), which conflicts with Berger’s report. That’s perhaps a signal that the Celtics will seek to stay over the cap, a maneuver that would allow them to keep their trade exceptions. In any case, the extra player who would be going to Golden State would be on a make-good deal, Amick adds. Phil Pressey and Chris Babb are Boston’s only players on non-guaranteed contracts.

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Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

1:46pm: The Celtics have agreed with the Warriors on a trade that will send David Lee to Boston, reports Tommy Dee of Charged.fm (on Twitter), and as Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms (Twitter link). Gerald Wallace will head to Golden State, Stein adds (on Twitter). Part of the efficacy of the deal for Golden State is that it can use the stretch provision to waive Wallace and spread his nearly $10.106MM salary, while Lee’s contract is ineligible for the provision because he signed it under the previous collective bargaining agreement, notes SB Nation’s Mike Prada (Twitter link). The Celtics can open cap room, so it won’t matter that Lee’s salary of nearly $15.494MM is more than $5MM in excess of Wallace’s. Indeed, no other players are involved in the deal, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Boston, despite its multitude of trade exceptions, doesn’t possess one large enough to absorb Lee’s salary, and trade exceptions can’t be combined.

The Warriors plan to keep Wallace, despite the tax savings the team could reap if they waive him, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), though they have until August 31st to change their minds and spread his salary in equal thirds over the next three seasons. Golden State was poised to have a payroll in excess of $100MM before their agreement on this deal, and while bringing in Wallace would take that figure closer to $96MM, that’s still well in excess of a tax line projected to fall around $82MM.

Lee provides the Celtics a player who’s shown more production in the last two seasons than Wallace has, even though Lee receded from Golden State’s rotation for stretches this year. He isn’t the superstar or the rim-protector that the Celtics have long sought, but he averaged 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in 33.2 minutes per game for a playoff-bound Warriors team in 2013/14.

The Knicks and Lakers had reportedly considered trading for the 32-year-old former All-Star as Lee’s representatives and the Warriors sought takers for his contract, which expires next summer. However, record gate receipts from the team’s run to the Finals left Golden State with greater comfort in paying at least a moderate amount of tax, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe reported. Lowe suggested that it meant the Warriors had become more likely to swing a trade that brought back salary in return, as is the case with this deal.

Boston had reportedly been willing enough to trade Wallace that it would have parted with a first-round pick to make it happen, but it looks like the Celtics won’t have to pay that price. The forward turns 33 later this month and saw only 8.9 minutes per game this past season. His contract, like Lee’s, runs only through 2015/16.

Jazz, Tibor Pleiss In Contract Talks

JULY 7TH, 3:50pm: The discussion appears to be moving in a positive direction, according to Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune, who’d be surprised if the sides don’t reach a deal (Twitter link).

JULY 1ST, 12:37am: The Jazz are engaged in contract talks with German draft-and-stash center Tibor Pleiss, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News reports (Twitter link). The two sides are discussing contract structure, and Utah’s intent is for the big man to play in the NBA during the 2015/16 campaign. Utah acquired the rights to the 25-year-old from the Thunder in the trade for Enes Kanter.

Pleiss wasn’t satisfied with his role for Barcelona this past season, as David Pick of Eurobasket.com relayed, and his discontent there appeared to be a factor when Pleiss and the Jazz were reportedly in talks about a deal this past season. Utah is in need of frontcourt depth behind Rudy Gobert, and Pleiss could fit the bill on that front.

The 7’2″ center appeared in 58 contests split between the Euroleague and Liga ACB this past season. Pleiss notched averages of 5.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks in 13.8 minutes per game. His career stats are 7.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 0.8 BPG, with a slash line of .574/.381/.811.

Magic To Sign Jason Smith

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Magic will sign Jason Smith, his agency, Priority Sports says (Twitter link). It’s a one-year, $4.3MM deal, as Shams Charania of RealGM hears (Twitter link). His agent tells Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv it’s for $4.5MM (Twitter link). Either way, the Magic appear to be using some of their cap space to exceed the $3,933,600 the Knicks could have used to retain the Mark Bartelstein client using his Non-Bird rights. The Knicks are taking in Kyle O’Quinn from the Magic via sign-and-trade, but it doesn’t look like the Smith signing will be part of that transaction.

Smith wanted to return to New York, which signed him to a one-year deal last summer, and while team president Phil Jackson reportedly liked the idea, and the sides spoke this month, but it wasn’t clear whether the Knicks would offer more than the $2.814MM room exception. The Lakers also apparently expressed interest.

The Magic have reached deals with Smith, C.J. Watson and Tobias Harris after missing out on Paul Millsap. The 7’0″ Smith swings between center and power forward and started a career-high 31 games this past season.

Clippers To Sign Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson is set to join the Clippers, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). It’ll be a minimum salary deal, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (on Twitter). Johnson was reportedly seeking a multiyear deal, having hit free agency three years in a row, but this is another one-year arrangement, tweets Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com identified the Clippers as an interested party back in May, and Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers met with the Octagon Sports client soon after the start of free agency last week, as Charania reported then.

Johnson wanted to return to the Lakers, but while the potential of the former fourth overall pick apparently intrigued the purple-and-gold, his inconsistency was an issue. The Clippers have $2.088MM left on their mid-level exception after agreeing to sign Paul Pierce, but it looks like they’re preserving that instead of using it on Johnson. He’ll make $1,100,602 as a five-year veteran, though the Clippers will only be responsible for $947,276, the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum, since he’s on a one-year deal.