Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 11/25/15

Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis has been impressive thus far in 2015/16 and has taken New York by storm. The 20-year-old is averaging 13.7 points and 9.1 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per night over his first 15 contests. While Porzingis’ early season production has turned some heads around the league, questions still remain about what the Latvian’s long-term position will be. He has primarily played power forward for the team thus far, and his ability to hit outside shots certainly makes him valuable as a stretch-four. But New York may look to use Porzingis as a center down the line, though he’ll almost assuredly need to add some bulk onto his 240-pound frame to be effective in the pivot full-time.

This brings me to today’s topic: What position do you think Kristaps Porzingis is best suited for going forward in his career?

Should the Knicks continue to develop Porzingis as a power forward, despite the presence of Carmelo Anthony, who may need to slide over to the four spot as he ages? Or should the Knicks move Porzingis to center, where his athleticism would be an asset but his slender frame could make him a liability on defense? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say.

Submit Your Questions For Hoops Rumors Mailbag

In addition to our regular weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in our weekly mailbag feature, which is posted every Saturday.

Have a question regarding player movement, free agent rumors, the salary cap, the NBA draft, or the top storylines of the week? You can e-mail them here: hoopsrumorsmailbag@gmail.com. Feel free to send emails throughout the week, but please be mindful that we may receive a sizable number of questions and might not get to all of them.

If you missed out on any past mailbags and would like to catch up, you can view the full archives here.

And-Ones: Mudiay, Mickey, Henderson

Blazers swingman Gerald Henderson has struggled as he makes his way back from hip surgery in July, and he says that he still needs time to round into form, Jason Quick of CSNNW.com writes. “You know, it’s tough. I’m coming back from surgery, trying to implement myself into what we are doing … and I just haven’t found my rhythm yet,” Henderson admitted. “It will take me a while to get into the type of shape I’m used to being in. You missed pretty much the whole summer, the preseason, and the start of the year … like I said, I’ve got some catching up to do. It’s nothing more than that.’’ Henderson was acquired by Portland from the Hornets over the summer as a part of the Nicolas Batum trade, and he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • The Thunder have recalled Josh Huestis from the Oklahoma City Blue, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Huestis has appeared in four games during his three D-League assignments this season, averaging 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 31.3 minutes per game.
  • The Celtics recalled power forward Jordan Mickey from the D-League, the team announced (via Twitter). This was Mickey’s fourth assignment to the Red Claws this season.
  • Nuggets rookie Emmanuel Mudiay has played the second most minutes out of any rookie thus far this season, and it will be an interesting case study to see how the increased minutes impact his development, observes Brett Koremenos of Real GM in his look at the young point guard. The 19-year-old is averaging 12.5 points and 6.3 assists in 30.0 minutes per contest through 15 games.

2015/16 Salary Cap: Washington Wizards

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 has been set at $70MM, which is an 11% increase from this past season, and the luxury tax line will be $84.74MM. The last cap projection from the league had been $67.1MM, and the projection for the tax line had been $81.6MM.

With the October 26th cutoff date to set regular season rosters now past, we at Hoops Rumors are in the process of running down the current salary cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the 2015/16 campaign. Here’s the cap breakdown for the Washington Wizards, whose regular season roster can be viewed here:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $81,485,782
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $10,000*
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $0
  • Total Salary Cap Commitments= $81,495,782
  • Remaining Cap Room= $11,495,782
  • Amount Below Luxury Tax Line= $3,244,218

*Note: This amount is the $10,000 in salary paid to Jaleel Roberts, who was waived by the team.

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • Non-Taxpayer’s Mid-Level Exception= $1,464,000

Cash Available to Send Out In Trades= $3,400,000

Cash Available to Receive Via Trade= $3,400,000

Last update: 11/25/15 @ 7:00pm

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Suns Sign Bryce Cotton

7:30pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

2:31pm: The Suns are in the midst of calling up point guard Bryce Cotton from the D-League affiliate of the Spurs, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Signing Cotton to an NBA contract wouldn’t require a corresponding move, since Phoenix has an open roster spot beneath the 15-man limit. Phoenix already has three point guards, with Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price, but Bledsoe is questionable for tonight’s game with sore right knee. Bledsoe missed Monday’s game, when coach Jeff Hornacek gave lottery pick Devin Booker his first start since high school in Bledsoe’s place, notes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Cotton, 23, finished last season with the Jazz after signing a pair of 10-day contracts and a three-year deal. However, that three-year contract didn’t include any guaranteed salary beyond last season, and Utah released Cotton during the preseason last month, choosing to give more time to wing players instead of carrying a third healthy point guard. He joined the D-League shortly thereafter, heading back to the Spurs affiliate, which had acquired his rights when San Antonio designated Cotton as an affiliate player in 2014.

The undrafted former Providence player averaged 5.3 points, 1.0 assist and 0.8 turnovers in 10.6 minutes per game across 15 NBA appearances with Utah last season. He’s been impressive against D-League competition in his two seasons as a pro, piling up 22.4 points, 4.7 assists and 2.5 turnovers in 39.8 minutes per contest during 38 total games, four of which have come this month.

Do you think Cotton can help the Suns? Leave a comment to let us know.

Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Clippers

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.



  • None


Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

  • Branden Dawson (Round 2, 56th overall). Signed via minimum salary exception to a two-year, $1.4MM deal.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports Images

Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports Images

The Clippers’ offseason was an interesting one to say the least. The franchise seemingly lost one of its stars in DeAndre Jordan to the Mavericks only to have him make an eleventh hour about-face and return to Los Angeles. Shooting guard J.J. Redick had given the team a grade of “F” for its summer moves when all had seemed lost regarding Jordan. But once the ink was dry on the big man’s new four-year pact, Redick, like many of us, sang a different tune. “We had no cap space,” Redick said to Kenny Ducey of SI.com, “and we re-signed our best player that was a free agent, and we picked up Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, traded for Lance [Stephenson], Wes Johnson, Pablo Prigioni. We have 13 rotation players, so it’s definitely an A.” Well-said indeed, regardless of the team’s sluggish start to 2015/16.

Retaining Jordan was paramount if the franchise hoped to maintain its forward momentum as well as have a legitimate shot to contend in the Western Conference. With no first-round pick this year and a difficult salary cap situation to navigate, the Clippers would have had no means with which to adequately replace the 27-year-old for this season. While I could make the case against Jordan being worth a max salary deal, given the short window to contend in the NBA, the team absolutely had to hold onto him no matter what. Jordan’s contract will likely look better once the salary cap increases next summer, but regardless of whether this deal turns out to be an overpay or not, coach/executive Doc Rivers made the right call in retaining him.

Rivers had a number of difficult decisions to make this offseason, including a trade that could be a master stroke as easily as it could sink the team. That’s the acquisition of the mercurial Stephenson from the Hornets, who were all too happy to cut bait on their big free agent signing of a year ago. This deal was also a means for Rivers to erase one of his biggest mistakes from the summer of 2014, which was signing Spencer Hawes to a four-year, $23MM deal. The Hawes signing was a puzzler for me given the team’s far greater need at small forward as well as for backcourt depth, and Rivers was seemingly able to correct both errors with this trade.

Stephenson is a talented player whose versatility and toughness are certainly traits that the Clippers can use, but he also carries with him the reputation of being a disruptive force in the locker room and to overall team chemistry, which will be a concern going forward until Stephenson proves otherwise. The Clippers are not an especially hard-nosed team, and Stephenson’s physicality can certainly be a boon if the coaching staff can properly harness it. He’s not adept at moving without the ball, which could limit his effectiveness in the team’s offense. The swingman’s contract includes a team option for 2016/17, so Los Angeles could cut ties after the season without being on the hook for any funds, making a gamble on Stephenson a lower risk than it may have otherwise been.

The Clippers’ biggest weakness in the starting unit the last couple of seasons has been at the small forward spot. Matt Barnes manned the three for Los Angeles in 2014/15, averaging 10.4 points in 76 appearances, but his value was more as a defender than as a scorer, an imbalance that hurt the team on occasion. To address the offensive deficiency, Rivers went back to his past and brought in veteran Paul Pierce via a three-year free agent deal. Pierce is no longer the 18-20 points per game scorer that he was for Rivers’ Celtics teams, but he certainly knows how to perform in the clutch and his presence alone should improve the Clippers. The 38-year-old is definitely a liability on defense, and he’ll almost assuredly need to avoid back-to-back contests as the season wears on, but I still love what Pierce can bring to the club. Three years is far too long a contract for a player Pierce’s age, but the third season is partially guaranteed, which limits the team’s financial commitment somewhat.

Los Angeles suffered from a distinct lack of depth off its bench last season, a weakness that Rivers attacked via the free agent market with a series of low-cost signings of high-value reserve players. The team added Josh Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Wesley Johnson and Cole Aldrich via team-friendly contracts, and despite the trouble the Clippers have had finding rotations that work thus far this season, they are all moves I believe will pay off down the line.

One glaring weakness that the Clippers have is their lack of young talent, which also explains why the franchise is in a bind cap-wise. Success as an NBA club makes it difficult to add useful players via the draft. Blake Griffin is the only recent draftee of the team’s to find NBA success, and the Clippers selected him all the way back in 2009. Los Angeles did exercise its third-year rookie option on C.J. Wilcox, who was the 28th player taken in 2014. It wasn’t a given that Los Angeles would pick up the option, with the team having reportedly explored a deal that would have sent Wilcox and Jamal Crawford to Denver in exchange for Wilson Chandler in June. With Chandler suffering a season-ending hip injury, it would appear that the Clippers dodged a bullet not making such a swap.

The Clippers haven’t looked sharp to begin the season, which casts a pall over what I consider to have been a solid offseason for the team. Los Angeles isn’t the juggernaut that the front office hoped heading into the 2015/16 campaign, but it’s a long season, and Rivers’ summer moves still have plenty of time to pay off. While the results have been subpar thus far, I don’t fault what occurred over the offseason. But the franchise’s window to contend is dangerously close to being shut, so fans of the team had better hope things begin to turn around soon.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Scola, Brown

Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony is surprised by how quickly he and rookie Kristaps Porzingis have meshed together, with the No. 4 overall pick’s ability to stretch defenses blending perfectly with Melo’s preferred style of play, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes. “This early we didn’t think that this kind of the jelling and the chemistry we have so far would be there. We all thought this would take some time to kind of figure out,” Anthony told Bondy. “But anytime you can play with a stretch-four, it makes the game a little bit easier. And it’s easier to figure that out. When you have a stretch-four guy who can play the wing, and he’s 7’3″, you know where he’s at, you know what he can do. So that makes the game easier. It makes the chemistry process that much easier.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Porzingis has turned draft night boos from Knicks fans into game night raves with his solid play thus far, and he credits some advice that he received from Wolves veteran Kevin Garnett for helping him cope with the now-forgotten negativity he was garnering, Bondy relays in a separate piece. “He [Garnett] was like, ‘You use that as motivation, you let that drive you every day when you step onto the floor,’” Porzingis said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t really focus on it, that’s not the only thing that drives me, but it still sits inside me on the floor. That was huge. That was a really cool moment.
  • The Sixers are off to a winless start to the season, but coach Brett Brown still needs to weigh the value of player development over chasing wins, a task that the team’s near-constant roster shuffling doesn’t make easier, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I have to coach basketball,” Brown said. “I have to do it where you walk the most incredible concoction. There’s a recipe you are always trying to figure out. I never coached more moving parts in my life.
  • The Raptors signed Luis Scola to a one-year, $2.9MM deal this offseason to provide depth, but the veteran is proving to be one of the team’s most important additions, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes. “When you play well, you play more and when you play bad, you play less and that’s the way it should be,” Scola said of his new starting role. “It’s been pretty much what I expected. I knew if I showed up in good shape and did good things I’d have more opportunities and if I didn’t, I’d have less, and that’s what happened. The situation changes, I adapt, I prepare mentally for it and I just play.

Hoops Rumors Chat Transcript

4:00pm: Click here to read this week’s chat transcript.

3:00pm: We’re barely four weeks into the NBA season, and only seven teams are more than five games above or below .500. Still, the Hornets and Rockets seem to have already drawn some significant conclusions. Charlotte, at 8-6, agreed to an extension with Steve Clifford a week after the Rockets, then 4-7, fired Kevin McHale. The Mavs also signed their coach to an extension at the beginning of the month, though that was no surprise, as Rick Carlisle had built a reputation as one of the league’s elite coaches in his time with Dallas, and before that with the Pistons and Pacers. Clifford has a sub-.500 record with the Hornets, and McHale was fresh off a Western Conference Finals appearance with the Rockets, so it would appear this season’s results played much more heavily into those moves. It’s fodder for discussion in today’s chat.


Southeast Notes: Wade, Clifford, Porzingis, Oladipo

Dwyane Wade has been trying to preserve his body for the long run the past few years, at 33 years old he was still able to corral a one-year, $20MM deal from the Heat this past summer. Still, the 13th-year veteran has no aspirations of matching Kobe Bryant‘s 20 seasons in the NBA, as he tells Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports.

“That ain’t a goal for me. That’s a long time. I’m sure Kobe didn’t think he’d play 20 years. It’s amazing. And he’s been through a lot. He’s been through a lot of injuries but he’s still out there. And he’s still, you know, Kobe Bryant,” Wade said. “It’s amazing to see a guy who has played 20 years in the league. Makes me feel old, for sure, just watching him. I don’t know how many people come in with the goal, ‘I’m going to play 20 years.’ I think you take it step by step. For years I said, ‘I want to make it to 10.’ I made it to 10 and I was like, ‘I’m solid.’ Then, you keep going from there. But 20? No way.”

Bryant isn’t nearly as effective as he once was, and Lee’s piece examines what Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are doing to ward off similar declines in their own games. See more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford, fresh off agreeing to a three-year extension, thanked owner Michael Jordan and vice chairman Curtis Polk, as well as GM Rich Cho, whose relationship with the coach has reportedly been less than ideal“I like who I’m working for and wanted this to happen,” Clifford said today, according to the Hornets Twitter account.
  • Kristaps Porzingis said he sensed the Magic would have drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick if the Knicks had passed on him at No. 4, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Porzingis worked out for the Magic shortly before the draft, Berman adds.
  • New Magic head coach Scott Skiles has decided to bench former No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo in favor of Channing Frye, who was reportedly available on the trade market for little in return before the season, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel relays. Skiles stressed that the move isn’t punishment or necessarily permanent and said Oladipo handled the news well, Robbins notes. Oladipo is eligible for a rookie scale extension after the season.

Declined Rookie Options Cast Players Into Limbo

It’s difficult to say any player move is likely until it’s imminent, but the notion that Sergey Karasev won’t be on the Nets for much longer isn’t far-fetched, even though Karasev denied reports that he wants Brooklyn to trade him. No such rumors have surfaced about P.J. Hairston and the Hornets or Solomon Hill and the Pacers, but neither is a strong bet to stick with his team. They were the only three players this fall with pending rookie scale options for 2016/17 whose teams declined to pick them up. There were four players last year whose 2015/16 options went unexercised, and none of the four is still with the team that declined the option. Three of them wound up changing teams before the end of last season.

All players with rookie scale options on their contracts are former first-round picks who carried significant promise at some point. Rookie scale option decisions are due a year in advance, and when those options are declined, it puts the team and the player in an awkward situation, since it signals that the team has essentially abandoned hope that the player will develop into a worthwhile contributor. The team can’t re-sign the player the following offseason to a starting salary greater than the value of the option, further limiting the chances of a continued relationship.

Here’s a look at what happened to each of the four players whose rookie scale team options were declined last year:

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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