5:31pm: The league doesn’t permit financial incentives in outside endorsement contracts that pertain to playing for specific teams, but it does allow for bonuses tied to the number of national television appearances a player makes, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders clarifies (Twitter link). Large-market teams usually show up more often on national TV than their small-market counterparts, though the quality of the on-court product has recently proven more influential than market size in network programming decisions.
1:19pm: Tobias Harris is eligible for a rookie scale extension with the Magic, but he doesn’t intend to sign one before the deadline to do so a week from today, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The forward’s deal with Nike gives him an “upgrade” if he’s playing for a team in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, according to Broussard. Harris is set for restricted free agency in the summer assuming he doesn’t sign an extension.
Harris nonetheless said recently he wanted to remain in Orlando, and Magic GM Rob Hennigan has indicated his preference to do an extension. The Henry Thomas client and the team were reportedly still in talks as of a week ago, shortly before the Magic struck a deal with fellow extension-eligible Nikola Vucevic. Hennigan said earlier this month that he couldn’t imagine the club not holding on to the 22-year-old, and Orlando will have the right to match all offers should Harris hit restricted free agency.
Vucevic’s extension pushed the Magic’s commitments for 2015/16 to about $26.1MM, though Orlando is about to add nearly $12.755MM in rookie scale team options to that figure. Still, that’s plenty of room beneath a projected $66.5MM salary cap for a Harris extension. The math gets trickier in the future, since the Magic have six players still within the first three seasons of their rookie scale contracts. Orlando’s payroll probably would escalate quite a bit if it were to retain all or most of them, forcing the team to make difficult decisions. Drastic rises in the cap tied to the league’s new $24 billion TV deal that starts in 2016 will help ease that blow, however.
I predicted in July that Harris and the Magic wouldn’t reach an extension, explaining as I looked at his extension candidacy that the team figured to prioritize flexibility and a commitment to Vucevic, who plays at a position of greater scarcity. It appears instead that the primary resistance to a deal is coming from the player rather than the Magic. The Knicks and Lakers are nonetheless the only teams set up for significant cap room next summer among the clubs that would presumably trigger the clauses in Harris’ shoe deal, and he’s not alone among potential targets for those franchises.
The Pelicans have exercised their fourth year team option for Anthony Davis, the team has announced. However, the team will not exercise its third-year option for guard Austin Rivers, Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune reports (Twitter links). According to Smith, the team likes Rivers as a player, but the Pelicans are declining the option because of potential salary cap implications down the line.
Davis’ salary for 2015/16 is set to be $7,070,730, and that increases New Orleans’ salary commitments to $36.9MM for that season, though that figure doesn’t include Eric Gordon‘s $15.5MM player option. Rivers’ salary would have added another $3,110,796 to the team’s cap figure. Since the team has declined his option, Rivers will now become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The 6’10” Davis was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and has quickly grown into one of the league’s top big men. It looks like he’s not content to stop there, and after a stellar showing in the FIBA World Cup this summer, he’s poised to take the next step towards becoming a superstar. Davis’ career numbers are 17.3 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. His career slash line is .518/.133/.777.
Rivers came into the league after one season at Duke, where he didn’t quite measure up to the recruiting-trail hype. The 6’4″ guard hasn’t lived up to having been 2012’s 10th overall selection during his two seasons in the league. His career numbers are 7.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG, and his career shooting numbers are .390/.346/.601.
5:13pm: The transaction is official, the team announced via press release.
4:59pm: The Rockets have claimed Earl Clark off waivers from the Grizzlies, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Clark had been on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for the minimum salary with Memphis, so Houston will assume control of it. The Rockets opened a spot on their 20-man preseason roster when they waived Josh Powell on Thursday.
Clark’s free agent stock plummeted after he performed poorly when the Cavs gave him a two-year, $8.5MM contract last season and the starting small forward job on opening night. The second year of the deal was non-guaranteed, helping Cleveland ship him to the Sixers at the deadline, after which Philadelphia promptly waived him. He signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Knicks, but they didn’t retain him for the rest of the season, and he was out of the league from that point until the Grizzlies brought him to camp. Still, there evidently remains at least some level of NBA interest in the 14th overall pick from 2009, as witnessed by Houston’s move today as well as his workout with the Spurs a couple of months ago.
Houston’s opening-night roster is still shrouded in mystery, since the team is carrying 15 fully guaranteed deals plus a non-guaranteed contract for starting point guard Patrick Beverley. The Rockets are also among the teams linked to trade candidate Chase Budinger.
FRIDAY, 5:11pm: The Rockets have followed with a formal announcement of Thursday’s move, via press release.
THURSDAY, 8:55pm: The team has waived Powell, as is indicated by the RealGM transactions log. The Rockets have made no formal announcement as yet.
10:54am: The Rockets are waiving Josh Powell, a source tells Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). Charania indicates the move has already taken place, though the team has yet to make an announcement. The eight-year veteran was on a non-guaranteed deal that he signed with the team shortly before the end of the 2013/14 season.
Powell appeared in just one regular season game with Houston and put up four points in more than 19 minutes of work, but he didn’t make it into any of the Rockets’ playoff games. Houston didn’t give the 31-year-old any run in the preseason, either, so it appeared he was around chiefly so his contract could serve as ballast for a potential trade, though that’s just my speculation. He hadn’t appeared in an NBA regular season game since 2010/11 before the Rockets picked him up.
The move will drop the Rockets to 19 players, leaving much work to do before opening night. Patrick Beverley‘s contract is the only one that’s known to be without any guaranteed money remaining on Houston’s books. The Rockets added Geron Johnson and cut Akil Mitchell earlier today.
The Lakers intend to apply to the league office for a disabled player exception for injured guard Steve Nash, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register reports (Twitter link). If granted, the exception would be worth nearly $4.851MM, or half of his $9.701MM salary for this season.
It was announced yesterday that Nash would miss the entire 2014/15 season due to recurring nerve damage in his back. The Lakers could waive Nash and apply for a salary exclusion if it is determined that he suffered a career-ending injury. The catch is that they would have to wait to apply for that until the one-year anniversary of his last game played, which was on April 8th of last season. The issue with going this route is that it would only give the league a little less than a week before the regular season ended to grant the exclusion. If it was granted it would erase Nash’s salary from the team’s cap, but Los Angeles would still be on the hook for his salary.
It’s unclear if the Lakers intend to use the exception, if granted, to sign a player immediately, or rather to keep it in reserve for a move later on in the season. There aren’t many free agents of consequence who come available midseason. The DPE could also be utilized for salary-matching purposes in a trade, and that route would likely net the team a better player, though the Lakers don’t have much in the way of tradeable assets they would be willing to part with. Plus, they’d only be able to acquire a player who’s on an expiring contract and whose salary is no more than $100K greater than the value of the exception.
The Thunder have waived camp invitees Michael Jenkins, Richard Solomon and Talib Zanna, the team announced via press release. All three were on non-guaranteed contracts. The moves leave Oklahoma City with 15 players, including a non-guaranteed pact with Lance Thomas. A report earlier this week indicated the team planned to keep only 14 players for opening night, but it appears the Thunder have changed plans, as they’ll keep Thomas into the regular season, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM. That’s perhaps because Anthony Morrow has a sprained left MCL, an injury that typically takes four to six weeks to heal, according to Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter links).
Jenkins joined the Thunder in late September after agent Daniel Moldovan had said earlier in the summer that the shooting guard would instead be in Nets camp. The 28-year-old who was on his first NBA contract after going undrafted out of Winthrop in 2008 put up 6.0 points in 17.5 minutes per game in seven preseason appearances with Oklahoma City.
Solomon, a power forward, put up 4.7 PPG in 11.9 MPG in three preseason appearances this month after going undrafted out of Cal in June. Zanna, another power forward, showed his strength on the boards, posting 4.4 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 17.4 MPG across seven exhibitions. He was an undrafted free agent who came out of Pittsburgh this year and played with the Sixers in summer league.
The Pelicans have officially waived Kevin Jones and D.J. Stephens, the team announced. Both players were in camp on non-guaranteed deals so New Orleans won’t be on the hook for any cash if and when Jones and Stephens clear waivers. These moves reduce the Pelicans’ preseason roster count to 15, so the team wouldn’t be required to make any other moves prior to tomorrow’s deadline. New Orleans still has 12 fully guaranteed and three partially guaranteed deals on the books.
The 25-year-old Jones used a strong summer showing to earn an invite to the Pelicans training camp. He averaged 10.0 RPG for the Pacers summer squad, which was tops in the Orlando summer league. He saw fewer minutes with the D-League Select Team in the Las Vegas summer league, and his rebounding production was cut in half, to 5.0 RPG. Jones averaged 3.0 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 10.4 minutes per game across 32 appearances for the Cavs in 2012/13, and he split this past season between Cleveland’s D-League affiliate and playing in the Philippines.
Stephens appeared in three contests for the Bucks while on a 10-day contract last spring, logging totals of seven points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of action. He saw more playing time overseas last season, averaging 8.4 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 23.8 minutes a night over 25 combined games with Ilisiakos BC of Greece and Anadolu Efes of Turkey.
The Bulls and Jimmy Butler are “millions apart” in extension talks, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, and while the precise gap is unclear, it’s not uncommon for sides to be as far apart as they are even a week before the extension deadline, Johnson writes. The team and Butler’s representatives at Relativity Sports this week had their first extensive talks in awhile, Johnson adds. Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:
- The Wizards recently tried to pry Julyan Stone out of his contract with Reyer Venezia of Italy, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter). The point guard has an escape clause in the pact, according to Charania, who suggests that Stone would be disinclined to leave the team since he’s seeing heavy playing time. It’s unclear if the Wizards maintain interest after signing John Lucas III earlier this week.
- Jason Maxiell will remain with the Hornets on opening night in spite of his non-guaranteed contract, coach Steve Clifford confirmed today to reporters, including Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
- Bucks rookie Damien Inglis will miss at least another six weeks because the right foot he broke during a predraft workout for the Thunder has not healed, tweets Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Bucks drafted Inglis 31st overall in June. His deal is guaranteed for this season.
3:24pm: The Sixers have followed with a formal announcement of their own. The press release notes that Philly will receive the more favorable of Milwaukee’s and Sacramento’s second-round picks in 2019.
2:47pm: The Sixers have acquired Marquis Teague and a protected 2019 second-round pick from the Nets in exchange for Casper Ware, as Brooklyn announced via press release. The pick headed Philadelphia’s way originally comes from Milwaukee as compensation for the Bucks hiring of coach Jason Kidd. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the clubs were in trade talks about Teague, and Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News wrote that the clubs were close to finalizing a deal.
Teague is entering the third year of his rookie scale contract, set to pay him more than $1.12MM this season, which is fully guaranteed. A decision is due by a week from today on his fourth-year team option worth in excess of $2.023MM, but a report during the offseason indicated that Brooklyn was unlikely to pick that up. It’s unclear if Philadelphia is similarly willing to pass on the option, though the Sixers have tens of millions more in terms of cap flexibility than the Nets do to keep the point guard on the books.
Ware, another point guard, has a much less decorated pedigree than the other player in the trade. He’s on a non-guaranteed contract for the minimum salary, and he seems a long shot, at best, to remain with Brooklyn until opening night. The now 24-year-old was playing in Italy last season before he signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Sixers, who followed up with a low-risk multiyear deal.
The Nets are likely to waive Ware, a source confirms to Andy Vasquez of The Record, who adds that the team is likely to keep the 15 remaining players on its roster for opening night. That’s a boon for Jorge Gutierrez and Cory Jefferson, who have partially guaranteed contracts, and Jerome Jordan, whom coach Lionel Hollins has advocated keeping in spite of the center’s non-guaranteed deal.
Teague heads to a Sixers team with an unsettled roster featuring 20 players just three days in advance of Monday’s deadline for teams to cut down to no more than 15 guys. He becomes just the 10th fully guaranteed contract on Philly’s books. It’s the second trade within the calendar year of 2014 for Teague, whom the Bulls shipped to Brooklyn in January.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Pistons have picked up their 2015/16 team options on Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the club announced via press release. There was never any real doubt that Detroit wouldn’t keep Drummond around for that season at little more than $3.272MM, and the same was largely true of Caldwell-Pope, who’s set to receive nearly $2.892MM in 2015/16, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows.
Drummond has shown flashes of potential during his two seasons with the Pistons that suggest he can become an elite NBA center. He finished first in the league in total offensive rebounds and total rebounding percentage last season, but he also topped the NBA with 273 personal fouls. Caldwell-Pope was drafted at No. 8 in 2013, a spot higher than Drummond went in 2012, but he struggled to gain his footing in the NBA as a rookie last year, shooting just 31.9% from three-point territory and averaging 5.9 points in 19.8 minutes per game.
The moves give the Pistons about $38.1MM in commitments for 2015/16. That’s plenty of room beneath a projected $66.5MM cap to either retain Greg Monroe, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer, chase other significant free agents, or both.