Executive Of The Year Candidate: Bob Myers

April 18 at 11:24pm CDT By Chris Crouse

Every year, many teams improve, but making the leap from a good team to a great team is arguably the hardest feat to accomplish. The Warriors, who improved their win total over last season’s by 16 games, have reached the pinnacle that so many teams are unable to attain. The roster is a collection of talent that meshed together beautifully and formed a team that is considered one of the favorites to win the title. The transformation wasn’t simply a product of good fortune; it was a series of calculated moves that catapulted the 2014/15 Warriors into the conversation about the best teams of all time.

NBA: Playoffs-New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State WarriorsGolden State hired Bob Myers to be the assistant GM in April of 2011. While he didn’t have full control of the front office yet, he played a part in the 2012 trade that netted Andrew Bogut, according to Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press. Trading a fan favorite in Monta Ellis for an injury-prone center wasn’t an easy choice, but it was necessary in order to add a defensive anchor and give Stephen Curry more reign within the offense. Golden State promoted Myers to GM in April of 2012 and the ensuing year would set the table for this season’s championship run.

Myers’ first draft as the GM was a success. Golden State picked Harrison Barnes with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2012 draft. Barnes hasn’t lived up to the superstar hype that surrounded him when he first committed to North Carolina, but the forward has turned into a solid two-way player and an important contributor for the team. With the last pick in the first round, the Warriors selected Festus Ezeli out of Vanderbilt. The center has progressed during his first three seasons in the league and looks like he will have a decent career in the NBA, something that is not a given for players selected that late in the draft.

Second-round pick Draymond Green was Myers’ most impressive selection. Many teams saw Green as a man without a position in the NBA, someone who was not big enough to play power forward and not swift enough to guard small forwards. Myers just saw a winner. “Draymond, look at his resume,” Myers said during the team’s post draft press conference“He went to one of the top colleges in the country and all he did was produce and win.” Green has evolved into one of best defenders in the league and has become an integral part of the Warriors’ success.

Some even believe Green will earn a maximum salary contract when he becomes a restricted free agent this offseason. If that happens without the team trading away any of its core players, Green will be one of five Warriors players who will make more than MVP candidate Stephen Curry during the 2015/16 season. Myers signed Curry to a four-year, $44MM extension in 2012. The pact was considered a high-risk, high reward move for Golden State because of Curry’s injury history. By signing Curry to the extension before the 2012/13 season rather than letting him hit restricted free agency and potentially sign a maximum-salary contract, the team saved nearly $17MM, which allowed Golden State to allocate its resources into improvements around the point guard.

During the 2013 offseason, Myers added Andre Iguodala in a three-way deal with the Nuggets and Jazz. It was a surprising move at the time considering the Warriors’ lack of cap space. Golden State sent Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush to the Jazz along with two future first-round picks. Given the current market for first-round picks, it may seem like a steep price to pay, but Iguodala has been a key contributor and those picks will likely be toward the back end of the first round, so there’s not much of a chance they’ll turn into players of significant value.

Adding a veteran player to push the team toward championship contention is necessary for most clubs looking to take that next step. However, sometimes it’s the move that a franchise doesn’t make that becomes the reason it succeeds. The 1992/93 Rockets nearly traded Hakeem Olajuwon to the Heat but ultimately decided to stand pat. Houston would win two NBA championships in the ensuing years. In 2009, the Warriors almost traded Curry to the Suns for Amar’e Stoudemire. Golden State decided to keep the No. 7 overall pick and ended up with a superstar to build around. Last offseason, the Warriors were in talks with the Wolves about trading for Kevin Love. Initially, it seemed like Curry’s backcourt mate would be headed to Minnesota, but the front office said Klay Thompson was off the table and the deal never happened. Thompson and Curry turned into arguably the league’s best backcourt and the team has been hitting on all cylinders since.

Myers was faced with another tough decision during the 2014 offseason. Coach Mark Jackson reportedly clashed with upper management, but he took the team from lottery-bound to playoff-bound and was well-respected by his players. Replacing Jackson after a 51-win campaign was a risky proposition. Myers tapping Steve Kerr, who did not have any NBA coaching experience, as the next coach may have been a riskier move. Kerr, who has innovated with the team and is a candidate for the Coach of the Year Award, has proved Myers right.

The Warriors rank first in defensive efficiency and second in offensive efficiency this season and the roster construction of the team can be credited for the success. Myers has surrounded his superstar, Curry, with the supporting cast needed to win a championship. He should take home the Executive of the Year honor this season, but the award isn’t just for the moves in the past year. It’s recognition for all of the moves that he has made and the passion he exhibits for his position. “My love for the NBA started with this team,” Myers said when he was promoted to GM. “It’s more than just a job.”  Myers has excelled and his dedication has given Warriors the ammunition necessary to win the 15 playoff games still standing between them and the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Wolves, Knicks, Draft

April 18 at 9:47pm CDT By Chris Crouse

If the Wolves win the lottery and land the top pick in the NBA draft, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor are the only players whom the team should seriously consider using the selection on, opines Joel Brigham in a collaborative piece for Basketball Insiders. Point guard may be a position of need, considering Ricky Rubio‘s history of injuries, but the team has already indicated it will take a best-player-available approach when using its selection rather than drafting for need.

“I think when you’re a lottery-type team, you have to take the best player available,” President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders said. “If you’re there, you probably got there because you lost, and you’re probably still a little ways away. There’s not probably one player, really, that you think, wherever you’re at, ‘Hey, if I take that position, he can help me.’ The better chance you have of improving the team is to take whoever the best player you evaluate is there.”

Minnesota finished the season with a record of 16-66, which gives the team the best chance at winning the lottery and a 46.5% chance at landing one of the top two picks, as our 2015 Lottery Odds page indicates.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • If the Knicks win the lottery, Towns should be the selection, Tommy Beer opines in the same piece for Basketball Insiders. Beer believes Towns could be the defensive anchor that New York hasn’t had since it traded Tyson Chandler to the Mavs. The Kentucky product averaged 2.3 blocks while playing only 21 minutes per game during his lone college season.
  • The Warriors have recalled Ognjen Kuzmic from their D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, according to a team press release. To date this season, the center has appeared in 16 games for Golden State, averaging 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds in 4.5 minutes per game.
  • The Magic showed flashes of potential, but ultimately they turned in another sub-par season. Center Nikola Vucevic believes it’s time the team takes the next step, Denton writes in a seperate piece. “Now, we’ve got to accept the fact that we’ve got to change this and turn this thing around. Rebuilding was fine for two or even three years, but we’ve got to find a way to turn it around because [youth] is not an excuse anymore,” said Vucevic, who led the Magic in points and rebounds this season. “So we’ve got to find a way to turn this thing around quickly.’’ 

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Knicks, Salary Cap

April 18 at 8:19pm CDT By Chris Crouse

The Raptors will face some difficult decisions this offseason, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Amir Johnson, Lou Williams and Jonas Valanciunas will be free agents and Terrence Ross will be eligible for a rookie extension. Toronto won 49 games this season, one more than last year’s total, but the team went 12-16 over its final 28 games and didn’t look like a playoff-caliber team at times. GM Masai Ujiri has the challenge of figuring out if the young roster is still growing or if the team has plateaued as currently constructed.

“We’ll learn that as time comes,” Ujiri said. “This playoffs will help. We will continue with what we are preaching, we will continue to learn. It’s like at the trade deadline, if we added an older player, that would take away something from these guys showing themselves … [But] It’s going to take the playoffs, it’s going to take time to see [if] you keep this group or do you add in a player here or there. But they are building the stage and that’s what you want.” 

The Raptors, who lost the first game in their series with the Wizards earlier today by a score of 93-86, haven’t won a playoff series since they beat the Knicks in the 2001 playoffs. Here’s some notes from Toronto’s rival in the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks need to improve in almost every facet and Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal examines a few areas that deserve the most attention. Herring identifies the point guard situation as an area the team should invest resources in this offseason. He believes Jose Calderon, who was the subject of trade discussions during the season, could be a contributor to the team, but as part of the second unit instead of a starter. Herring also identifies adding athleticism to the roster and working to improve coach Derek Fisher‘s game management among the areas the team should focus on.
  • The projected salary cap increase over the next two seasons should help the Knicks land marquee free agents, opines Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork. League executives expect the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1MM figure to $67.1MM next season and $89MM during the 2016/17 season. Begley also cautions that the team should be careful when adding free agents this offseason; although the team will have roughly $22MM more to work with next offseason, the maximum salaries for players will also rise significantly since they are a product of the salary cap.

Magic Notes: Coach, Hennigan, Harris

April 18 at 6:50pm CDT By Chris Crouse

Hiring a head coach outweighs everything else for the Magic during the upcoming offseason, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

“It’s essential for us,” GM Rob Hennigan said. “We’re at a critical point now. Again, we believe in the talent on this team. We know we’re a young team. We know we have a long way to go. But, again, finding that right coach, that right person to push us in the right direction, to prod us in the right direction — it’s imperative.”

Robbins notes that the team is strongly inclined to hire someone with extensive NBA head-coaching experience. While the Magic haven’t named any potential candidates, Robbins names Scott Skiles and Tom Thibodeau as likely candidates this offseason.

Here’s more from Orlando:

  • All indications are that a contract extension for Hennigan will be in place relatively soon, writes Robbins in the same piece.
  • The team should generate additional cap space and make a simultaneous run at Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, opines Robbins in the same piece. Orlando has slightly under $38.9MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2015/16 season, as our Salary Commitment page indicates.
  • Tobias Harris, who scored 17.1 points per game this season, will be a restricted free agent this offseason. The 22-year-old has tried to not worry about his future, John Denton of NBA.com writes. “You get a little nervous at times, but I think everything is going to work out for me  I wanted to go out and have a successful year and a great year and I think I’ve put in the work. It’s in the teams hands with whatever wants to be done,’’ Harris said. “All I can do is really sit back and be patient at this time.’’  The forward has been linked to the Knicks, but if Orlando extends him a qualifying offer, it can match any offer sheet he signs.
  • Elfrid Payton played in every game this season and the rookie has shown he belongs in the NBA, opines Denton in the same piece. Payton averaged 8.9 points per game and sported a 13.8 player efficiency rating this season.

And-Ones: Cauley-Stein, Parsons, Knicks

April 18 at 5:22pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Mavs forward Chandler Parsons understands the criticism levied against him regarding his production not being worthy of his $14.7MM salary this season, Ben Golliver of SI.com writes. “The whole expectations of being a max player and taking that next step, it’s tough to manage at first,” Parsons said. “A lot of people look at me like I’m a different player. I’m the same player. I’ve gotten better. My numbers are down a little bit but at the same time I continue to get better. I’m on a different team. We’re very explosive offensively, we have more of a balanced attack, and I’m playing five minutes less than I did in Houston. I’m a basketball player and I impact the game in many different ways. My job is to be a good teammate, work extremely hard and do whatever it takes to win games.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports and Leon Rose of the Creative Artists Agency will team up to represent Willie Cauley-Stein, as Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal reports in a subscription-only piece. The center from the University of Kentucky is the No. 6 prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings and No. 7 with Chad Ford of ESPN.com.
  • Nuggets GM Tim Connelly indicated that there are no players on Denver’s roster who are untouchable in terms of trades, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post tweets.
  • The Knicks are expected to have a busy offseason, and team president Phil Jackson will need to make decisions regarding a large number of players on his current roster. Marc Berman of The New York Post breaks down the team’s roster, and who the franchise should retain for the 2015/16 campaign. Players whom the Post scribe believes the team should bring back include Louis Amundson, Lance Thomas, and Cleanthony Early, while the team should part ways with Cole Aldrich and Travis Wear.
  • The Cavaliers have assigned Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team announced.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

A.J. Hammons Declines To Enter Draft

April 18 at 4:16pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Purdue junior A.J. Hammons will skip the NBA draft this season and return to school for his senior campaign, the team has announced. The big man was a potential second-rounder if he entered this year’s draft, with Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranking him the No. 45 overall prospect, and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress slotting him 51st.

Earning my degree is one of the most important goals that I have for myself and returning to Purdue next year will enable me to reach that,” Hammons said. “In addition, I feel that our team has a lot of unfinished business to reach next season and I want to be a part of something special. Purdue is an outstanding school with great people and the chance to compete for a Big Ten Championship and more is something I want to experience again with my teammates.

In 34 appearances for the Boilermakers last season, the seven-footer averaged 11.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks in 24.3 minutes per game. His career numbers are 11.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.6 BPG. Hammons’ career slash line is .516/.000/.684.

2015/16 Salary Commitments By Team

April 18 at 3:00pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Hoops Rumors took a look ahead at each franchise’€™s salary cap situation heading into the offseason, and the inevitable free agent frenzy that occurs every year when the weather turns hot. We went through the contracts on each teams’ books for next season, minus any cap holds for unrenounced free agents.

While the exact amount of the 2015/16 salary cap won’€™t be announced until July, the cap is projected to come in somewhere around $67.4MM, with the luxury tax threshold projected at approximately $81MM. This year’s $63.065MM cap represented an increase of 7.7% over 2013/14, which was well above the league’€™s projected annual increase of 4.5%. It would appear that these figures are due for a significant bump in the near future. NBA teams were recently advised ‎that the league’s salary cap could rise past the $100MM mark as soon as the 2017/18 season. These estimates should make the hearts of NBA agents palpitate, and set the stage for some exciting future offseasons.

Here are each of the teams’ 2015/16 salary cap listings organized by conference and division:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

Central Division

Southeast Division


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Northwest Division

Pacific Division

Southwest Division

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of these posts.

Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 4/12/15-4/18/15

April 18 at 1:46pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have added a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop me a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:

“Do you see the Knicks signing Greg Monroe this summer? If so, what kind of a fit do you think he’ll be with New York?” Vinny

I would definitely say that the Knicks are the favorites to sign the big man when he hits free agency this offseason. The team has more than enough cap space to offer Monroe a max deal, something he’ll likely be seeking this summer. I don’t happen to believe that Monroe is a max contract player, a sentiment many NBA teams are likely to share. But New York will be in full desperation mode after enduring all of the losses this campaign, so the franchise will be more apt to overpay for someone like Monroe.

As for how he would fit with the Knicks, the jury is still out. Team president Phil Jackson has indicated that the team is seeking players who can defend, which is in no way Monroe’s forte. I’m also not sold that Monroe and Carmelo Anthony would be a good pairing. Both players like to occupy similar spots on offense, and ‘Melo has been his best when playing the four. New York could use Monroe as a center, but then the team may as well lay out  some red carpet in the lane at Madison Square Garden to make opposing players’ trips to the hoop even more accommodating. If Monroe does end up in New York he’ll be an upgrade to what they have had in the post in recent seasons, but I don’t see him and Anthony as a championship-caliber pairing.

“Which coaches do you see getting the axe this offseason?” — Sam R.

Now that the regular season is over we should start seeing some proverbial heads start to roll shortly. I don’t see too many vacancies opening up though, since Orlando, Denver, and Sacramento already changed coaches during the season. The Kings already filled their spot with George Karl, who was a great hire in my view. I don’t think James Borrego is retained by the Magic, nor do I think the Nuggets keep Melvin Hunt. Hunt has a better chance to stay on than Borrego does, but if he’s still running the show next season in Denver it will be because “plan A” failed.

As for the rest of the league, I think Scott Brooks is in real danger of being let go by the Thunder. That franchise probably needs to make a change at this point, and it will likely begin with a new coach. The only other coach who I think could be jettisoned is the Hornets’ Steve Clifford. The franchise had an extremely disappointing campaign, and Clifford could pay the price. I do think he’ll get one more season to turn things around, but wouldn’t be at all surprised if Clifford was let go. Flip Saunders could also end up firing himself so that he can concentrate more on his executive duties. Mike Malone to the Wolves would be a nice fit in that scenario. But my most likely non-interim coach to be let go is Brooks, though he probably wouldn’t be out of work for long.

“Which projected lottery pick this year is the most likely to be a bust?” Carter

This is always a tough call, and it’s one that has cost numerous executives their jobs. But this one for me is an easy choice. I think this year’s candidate for biggest draft disappointment will be Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis, who is currently projected as a top seven pick. Now, I will fully admit to being automatically skeptical of Euro players making the jump to the NBA. While there have been a number of notable exceptions, the washout rate is far too high for my tastes, and I wouldn’t risk an early lottery pick on such an unknown quantity.

Porzingis is uber-athletic, especially for his size. But it takes more than athleticism to make it in the NBA. All the scouting reports that I have read on Porzingis laud his physical tools, which are quite stellar. But he isn’t dominating competition overseas, which is a big red flag for me. While the overseas game has made incredible strides over the years, the competition and talent levels involved pale in comparison to what is awaiting Porzingis in the NBA. Draft history is on my side in predicting Porzingis won’t live up to the billing, though I hope I’m wrong. He’d be pretty fun to watch if he did live up to the hype.

“With the playoffs beginning this weekend let’s get this on record — who do you have making it to the NBA Finals? Who takes home the trophy this season?” Arthur

I guess it’s prediction time. It really feels wide open this season, as each playoff team has a number of questions heading in. For the NBA Finals I’ll go with the Cavs against the Warriors (if they can stay healthy for once in the postseason). The Cavs are a flawed team, but I’m not betting against LeBron James and company when the spotlight is on. The Warriors have been the best team all season, but the playoffs are a whole different story. Many talented teams have fallen in the playoffs because of lack of experience. Golden State may be a season away, but I’m still going with them as my choice. As for who will be hoisting a championship banner to the rafters…I’ll go with the Cavaliers.

That’s all the space I have for this week. Thanks for all of the submissions! I’ll be back next week with more answers to your inquiries.

Atlantic Notes: Calderon, Sixers, Celtics

April 18 at 12:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Knicks point guard Jose Calderon had a difficult first season in New York, but he insists that he’ll turn things around if he’s still a member of the organization in 2015/16, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “One hundred percent, we didn’t see the Jose Calderon I was all these years,’’ Calderon told Berman. “Personally, [I was] just disappointed how it was individually because I can do a much better job. And I didn’t get it right. The only good thing about it, I know I’m going to be much better next season. I know what they want, I know what they want from me and how it’s going to work. Hopefully I’ll get better with [avoiding] injuries.’’

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There is still a chance that the Knicks could waive Calderon using the stretch provision, but the veteran says his first choice is to return to New York, Berman adds. “I’m pretty confident I’m going to be here,’’ Calderon said. “I want to be here. That’s the feeling I got from the coaching staff. That’s what I feel about next year. But you’re only one phone call away for something to happen. I always got to be prepared. It’s how the NBA works. I don’t want to get out now because the good part is coming. You don’t want to leave now.’’
  • The Sixers have many needs that need to be addressed this offseason, but coach Brett Brown says the team needs to prioritize improving its defense, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes. “In my heart of hearts, I know we have to build on our defense,” Brown said. “That’s just who we are.” Philadelphia ranked 20th in opponents points allowed this past season.
  • The Celtics made the playoffs this season not by bringing in more talented players, but by acquiring players who better fit their philosophy, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com opines.  “It’s very unusual,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of Boston’s rebuilding efforts while still making the playoffs. “They’ve done it with overhaul, and at the same time losing an All-Star point guard [Rajon Rondo). We kind of did the same thing last year [with Rudy Gay]. We lost an All-Star wing guy, kind of rebuild. Sometimes it’s good, addition by subtraction. And Boston is a good example of that.

Hoops Rumors Originals 4/12/15-4/18/15

April 18 at 11:20am CDT By Eddie Scarito

Here’s a look at the original analysis generated by the Hoops Rumors staff this past week…

  • Chris Crouse profiled Cavs GM David Griffin as an Executive of the Year candidate.
  • I profiled 2015 NBA draft prospect Kelly Oubre.
  • If you missed our weekly chat you can review the full transcript.
  • We published the latest edition of Hoops Rumors’ Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • I ran down how the Nets and Hornets utilized the D-League this season.
  • Chuck looked at notable players who weren’t signed to contracts during the 2014/15 season.
  • We released our latest 2015 NBA Draft Prospect Power Rankings.
  • Check out Hoops Rumors’ Reverse Standings to see where your team is in line to pick in the first round of this year’s draft. All of the teams’ draft lottery odds can be found here.
  • I reviewed the 2015/16 salary commitments for the Jazz and Wizards.
  • We ran down all of the key dates for the 2015 offseason.
  • Here’s how you can follow Hoops Rumors on Facebook, Twitter, and your RSS feed.