Jimmy Butler Rejects $11MM Salaries From Bulls

November 1 at 12:09am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Bulls made extension proposals that would have given Jimmy Butler salaries that averaged $11MM a year, but the swingman turned them down, reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The sides failed to reach a deal before this evening’s 11:00pm Central extension deadline, so Butler is set to hit restricted free agency in the summer. Trade kickers and player options were on the table, and the clubs discussed the idea of doing a short-term deal, too, according to Johnson, but negotiations that the Tribune reporter describes as “cordial” came up empty.

Agent Happy Walters told reporters early this evening that talks were at an end and that Butler was unwilling to give the team a hometown discount. Bulls GM Gar Forman also acknowledged that talks were at an end, yet Butler wasn’t willing to give up hope until the last minute. The 30th overall pick from the 2011 draft also made it clear that he wants to remain in Chicago and stated a belief that he’d strike a deal with the team in free agency if an extension proved unreachable. Forman expressed the same optimism that the Bulls will re-sign Butler next summer, as Johnson notes.

The Bulls had reportedly preferred to reach an extension as talks got underway about a month ago, and while Butler expressed confidence earlier this week that they’d reach agreement before the deadline, a report early Thursday indicated it was unlikely. The sides apparently had a difference of $2.5MM in annual value in their proposals as they talked that day, and it’s unclear if they came any closer Friday.

Chicago already has nearly $60.2MM committed for 2015/16, leaving little room against a projected $66.5MM salary cap to replace Butler if he were to sign an offer sheet that the Bulls didn’t match. The now 25-year-old Houston native took a step back offensively last season, but it’s his strong defense that makes him a valuable part of coach Tom Thibodeau‘s schemes and a candidate for eight-figure salaries, as I examined this summer when I looked at Butler’s case for a deal.

Thunder, Reggie Jackson End Extension Talks

October 31 at 11:45pm CDT By Chuck Myron

11:45pm: Presti acknowledged that the sides broke off negotiations in a statement to reporters, including Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

“We are looking forward to re-opening the conversations this coming July and expect Reggie to continue as a core member of the Thunder for many years to come,” Presti said. “At this time, we have to put all of our focus on our team and the season in front of us and Reggie is a big part of that.”

10:06pm: The Thunder and Reggie Jackson have emerged from extension negotiations without a deal, and the fourth-year guard intends to hunt for a starting job in restricted free agency next summer, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Some teams around the league believe there’s a decent chance the 24th overall pick from the 2011 draft will receive offers for between $13MM and $14MM a year, according to Wojnarowski. That’s in part because of Oklahoma City’s high-dollar commitments to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka that would make it difficult for the Thunder to match such offers without going into luxury tax territory, as Wojnarowski explains. Skepticism surrounds Thunder GM Sam Presti‘s assertion that the Thunder would match any offer sheet, Wojnarowski writes.

News that discussions have broken off is no surprise, since a report Thursday indicated an extension was unlikely. Jackson said in September that he hoped to reach a deal on an extension before tonight’s 11:00pm Central deadline to do so, though the Aaron Mintz client also made it clear he was prepared for that not to happen. He’s made no secret of his desire to start, but Westbrook blocks his path to the starting point guard job, and pairing them, both 6’3″, in the backcourt would make Oklahoma City especially small.

The Thunder have nearly $63.6MM already committed to 10 players for 2015/16 against a projected $66.5MM salary cap. Matching a $14MM offer to Jackson would place the team over the $76.829MM line where the tax sits for this season, and though that figure is expected to rise for next season, it’s unclear by just how much.

Cavs, Tristan Thompson Extension Talks Fail

October 31 at 10:47pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Tristan Thompson won’t receive a contract extension from the Cavs, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Cavs offered the former No. 4 overall pick more than $48MM, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link), but even though Thompson appeared to be seeking the salaries of around $12MM a year that such a deal would entail, he’s set to hit restricted free agency next summer. The Cavs were limited to offering no more than four years because they gave Kyrie Irving a five-year extension in July, reserving the team’s Designated Player slot for the point guard.

Negotiations between the Cavs and the Rich Paul client were a back-and-forth affair that went up to the final hour, with a Thursday report of optimism surrounding the talks giving way to pessimism earlier today. Still, it appeared the chances of an extension were a toss-up by this afternoon, and Thompson made his case this evening in Cleveland’s overtime win against the Bulls, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Thompson authored that performance coming off the bench, having lost out in a preseason battle for a starting spot against Anderson Varejao, whom the Cavs signed to a three-year, $30MM veteran extension earlier today. A report indicated that Thompson and Varejao would likely have made about the same amount if they’d both signed extensions, but it appears the Cavs were willing to give in excess of $2MM a year more to Thompson. Executives around the league have kept a close eye on the Thompson talks to see just how much power LeBron James has over the Cavs organization, since James and Thompson are both clients of Paul.

Cleveland only has about $31MM in commitments for next season, including Varejao’s extension, but that number is artificially low because it doesn’t account for player options worth more than a combined $38.3MM for James and Kevin Love. Both would likely command greater amounts were they to decline their options, perhaps sending Cleveland’s 2015/16 team salary north of $70MM. A salary of greater than $12MM for Thompson would probably put the team into tax territory, making it harder for the Cavs to upgrade their roster, as Cray Allred of Hoops Rumors pointed out when he examined Thompson’s extension candidacy.

Extension Rumors: Thompson, Cavs, Butler

October 31 at 10:30pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Tonight’s 11:00pm Central deadline for rookie scale extensions is fast closing in. Here’s the latest on talks around the league, with any additional updates that come in throughout the evening added to the top:

  • Final-hour talks are taking place between the Cavs and representatives for Tristan Thompson, reports Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link). The team has offered more than $40MM, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (on Twitter). A deal was a 50-50 proposition as of this afternoon, as Amico heard (Twitter link).
  • Butler struck a somewhat different tone before the Bulls‘ game against the Cavs tonight than his agent did when he indicated that talks were through (below), as Sam Smith of Bulls.com relays. “We still want a deal,” Butler said. “I still want to be here. I still want to have nothing to worry about. So we have until 11:59 [Eastern time] to figure it out. I’m not a personal guy. I don’t take everything to heart. I understand it’s a business. I just have to be a great basketball player. I think this team is really good, championship caliber. I am a part of this team; I am going to produce. I’m going to guard. I will take care of myself. I think there’s not too much I can do right now. I’m done talking about it.”
  • Still, Bulls GM Gar Forman said that both sides had agreed to end discussions for now and pick back up again in restricted free agency next summer, Smith notes.
  • Butler also said that he believes he’ll remain with the Bulls whether it entails signing an extension or a new deal next summer, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

5:40pm updates:

  • Butler has rejected the Bulls‘ “final offer” and plans to enter restricted free agency next summer, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Butler’s agent, Happy Walters, said, “All the [rookie extension] deals done so far have shown that teams are building around their stars of the future, and they’re compensating those players as such. I was under the impression Jimmy was also viewed as one of those future building blocks with the Bulls. We tried like heck to get something done, but ultimately, the Bulls wanted a ‘hometown’ discount. While understandable, I doubt their GM or coaches give Mr. Reinsdorf a discount when negotiating their own deals.”
  • Butler had told his teammates that he was willing to play out the season unless the team upped their “final” offer, K.C. Johnson tweets.
  • The Wolves and Rubio are making progress on a four-year extension, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski’s sources, there’s optimism, but no deal in place yet.

3:58pm updates:

  • The Wolves are now willing to go higher than $52MM in four-year offers to Ricky Rubio and the team is on board with a deal as long as Rubio is, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune believes that a deal would have to be for at least $55MM over four seasons (Twitter link).
  • The Bucks and Brandon Knight weren’t too far apart in extension talks before ending them today, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.
  • Conversely, the gap appears wide between the Bulls and Jimmy Butler, and the chances of a compromise don’t appear to be high, as Goodman also hears (Twitter link). Chicago has been willing to consider a player option in his deal, something the franchise doesn’t ordinarily do, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter), but talks aren’t progressing, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link).

Wolves Sign Ricky Rubio To Extension

October 31 at 9:28pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Timberwolves have officially signed Ricky Rubio to a contract extension, the team announced (on Twitter). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the four-year, $55MM deal, which includes $1MM in incentives, as Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune adds (Twitter link). There are no team or player options in the arrangement, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter link).

“We are excited to sign Ricky to a contract extension and keep him as a foundation for years to come,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations/coach Flip Saunders said in the team’s statement. “He is annually among the league leaders in assists and steals, and his intangibles make him a very valuable player to our team. Ricky is only in his fourth season and because of his work ethic and determination, we are confident that he will continue to grow as a player and as a team leader. We look forward to many great years ahead of Ricky in a Timberwolves uniform.”

Agent Dan Fegan had reportedly been seeking the maximum salary for his client, which likely would have been at least $85MM over five years, so the Wolves achieved some level of success in negotiating Rubio’s camp down from that amount. The Wolves had initially talked about four years and $44MM, and upped the offer to $48MM, then to $52MM and beyond for the 24-year-old.

Rubio’s extension matches the average annual salary that fellow point guard Eric Bledsoe netted in his new five-year contract with the Suns, at least with Rubio’s $1MM in incentives factored in, notes Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The dollar figure represents the sort of high-leverage negotiations that had been taking place for a franchise that lost Kevin Love via trade this summer, as Charlie Adams of Hoops Rumors examined when he looked at Rubio’s extension candidacy. The Wolves ultimately saw the prospect of increased revenues from the league’s recent $24 billion TV deal as motivation to come up in their offers, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press, who adds that the team wanted to show faith in the former No. 5 overall pick.

The deal gives Minnesota approximately $50.2MM in guaranteed salary commitments for the 2015/16 season, though that figure doesn’t account for Thaddeus Young‘s $9,971,739, Chase Budinger‘s $5MM, or Corey Brewer‘s $4,905,000 player options.

In his three years in the league, Rubio has averaged 10.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 8.1 APG. His slash line is .369/.323/.799.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Lakers Pursue Quincy Miller

October 31 at 9:25pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Lakers are the leading team among the several that are going after former Nuggets forward Quincy Miller, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). The Nuggets waived Miller just before the deadline for teams to cut their rosters to 15 players this week after trying to find trade partners who’d take him on. It appears clubs were waiting to have a crack at the player drafted 38th overall in 2012 without having to give up anything in a swap, given the high volume of interest that Charania indicates.

Miller, who turns 22 on November 18th, finally recovered last year from a torn left ACL that he suffered as a high school senior, averaging 4.9 points in 15.2 minutes per game across 52 contests after he made only seven appearances as a rookie the season before. He was the fifth-rated high school prospect in the country in 2011, according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, and front offices are apparently interested to see if his renewed health will allow him to finally realize that potential.

Injuries have taken their toll on the Lakers, who are without Steve Nash and Julius Randle for the rest of the season. They have 15 players on the roster and are limited to paying no more than the minimum salary, but they’re planning to apply for a disabled player exception for Nash that would allow them to spend close to $4.851MM on a free agent. They could also apply for such an exception based on Randle’s injury that would be worth about $1.499MM.

That smaller amount would likely be enough for Miller, and it would still be somewhat surprising to see a team commit more than the minimum salary to him. The more pressing concern for the Lakers might be the roster spot that adding Miller would cost them. Point guard Ronnie Price and shooting guard Wayne Ellington are the team’s only players without fully guaranteed contracts, and their non-guaranteed pacts become partially guaranteed if they’re still on the roster at the end of November 15th. Additional serious injuries could put the Lakers in line to apply for a hardship provision that would allow them to add at 16th player, but that’s not in play for now.

Heat, Norris Cole To Pass On Extension

October 31 at 8:31pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Heat and Norris Cole will forgo an extension before tonight’s 11:00pm Central deadline, setting up the point guard for restricted free agency next summer, reports Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). A report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com overnight indicated that an extension was unlikely, and aside from Stein’s dispatch from two weeks ago indicating that the sides were in talks, the rumor mill has been quiet about any extension for the 28th overall pick from the 2011 draft.

That’s no surprise, since Cole has spent almost his entire time with the Heat as a backup to Mario Chalmers, to whom the Heat committed a new two-year, $8.3MM deal this summer. Chalmers nonetheless came off the bench behind Cole in Miami’s opener, signaling a larger role for the 26-year-old as he embarks on what’s now a walk year.

Cole, a native of Dayton Ohio who went to Cleveland State University, dropped agent Joel Bell over the summer in favor of Rich Paul and Klutch Sports, the same agency that represents former teammate LeBron James. Klutch has reportedly been using the prospect of James’ influence with the Cavs to sell potential clients on the idea that they can receive a favorable deal from Cleveland if they join the agency. Still, there have been no reports linking Cole to the Cavs.

The Heat apparently turned away inquiries about Cole at the trade deadline last year, but a report over the summer indicated the team was dangling him in trade talk. In any case, he’ll be playing this season on an expiring contract with a salary of more than $2.038MM. Miami has nearly $42.2MM in commitments for 2015/16, but that doesn’t include more than $18MM in player options for Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Danny Granger. Perhaps more importantly, the lack of an extension for Cole also preserves Miami’s flexibility for the summer of 2016, when the Heat are set to be major players in the free agent market.

Eastern Notes: D-League, Jenkins, Magic

October 31 at 7:31pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Chris Babb, Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford are joining the Celtics D-League affiliate, the team announced (Twitter links). The Celtics are using their ability to retain the D-League rights to up to four camp cuts to keep Frazier, McGruder and Watford out of the D-League draft, but they don’t have to do so with Babb, since he played for Boston’s D-League team last season.

Here’s more from the east:

  • The Magic‘s D-League team has signed Seth Curry, Peyton Siva, Kadeem Batts and Drew Crawford, the club announced, meaning Orlando used all four of its available spots to keep the D-League rights to the foursome, whom the Magic waived during camp last week.
  • The first two years of Anderson Varejao‘s extension with the Cavs are fully guaranteed with the third year being a team option, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).
  • Varejao will make $9,638,554 the first year; $10,361,446 the second year of the deal, with $9.36MM guaranteed; and the third season is set at $10MM,  Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). If Varejao is on the Cavs‘ roster past August 1st, 2017 then $4.5MM of the third year will become guaranteed, adds Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • John Jenkins admitted he’s upset that the Hawks decided to decline his rookie scale team option for 2015/16, but he called it “part of the game” and a potential blessing in disguise, observes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • While it’s still a bit too early in the season for any coaches to truly be on the hot seat just yet, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com takes a look at eight coaches who are under the most pressure this year, including David Blatt (Cavs), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), and Derek Fisher (Knicks).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Warriors Sign Thompson To Max Extension

October 31 at 6:20pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Warriors have agreed to an extension with Klay Thompson, the team has announced.  Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link) was the first to report the agreement. The NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriorsdeal is a four-year max extension, and it contains no options, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. The estimated value is in the $70MM range, but the exact figure won’t be known until the league sets the new maximum salary amount in July.

The two sides beat tonight’s deadline to ink a deal while fielding trade offers  from the Kings, who reportedly offered anyone on their roster aside from DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports notes. There were also concerns that Golden State owner Joe Lacob wouldn’t be comfortable shelling out the max for a player, especially when comparing it to the team-friendly deal that Stephen Curry is signed to. According to a report from Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com earlier this month, the Warriors were offering Thompson annual salaries of about $13MM in its proposals, though the sides had been getting closer in recent weeks.

Thompson had expressed a preference for the security of an extension rather than a one-year deal next summer that would allow him to hit unrestricted free agency when the league’s new $24 billion TV deal kicks in and player salaries are expected to increase markedly. He is a potential two-way superstar, and in 230 career games he has averages of 16.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.2 APG. His career slash line is .435/.409/.828.

The Warriors had approximately $62MM in guaranteed salary committed for the 2015/16 season before coming to terms with Thompson, and that doesn’t account for Brandon Rush‘s $1,270,964 player option, or any money needed to re-sign Draymond Green. By adding Thompson’s max-level salary to the equation  the team might seek to unload David Lee, who is set to make $15,012,000 this season, and $15,493,680 in 2015/16. If the Warriors wait until next summer they could try to flip Lee’s expiring contract for some cap relief, though that is purely my speculation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavs Sign Anderson Varejao To Extension

October 31 at 5:00pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Cavaliers and Anderson Varejao have officially signed a contract extension, the team announced. The extension is believed to be for three years, and approximately $30MM, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported Thursday (Twitter link). Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group added that the plan was for the sides to sign the extension today, though the October 31st deadline that applies for rookie-scale extensions didn’t matter with Varejao. The 32-year-old becomes just the fifth player to sign a veteran extension under the current collective bargaining agreement, joining Andrew Bogut, Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker and Zach Randolph.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers“Anderson represents how this franchise wants to approach the game of basketball, both on the court and off,” Cavs GM David Griffin said in the team’s statement. “He has been a key part of our foundation for years and we are very happy that he will continue to be part of our Cavs family as we work towards our goals at the highest level. Andy is, and has been, a tireless worker, an incredible teammate and a great competitor that plays with a rare combination of energy and intensity that makes him truly special.”

This news doesn’t come as a surprise since it was reported earlier that both sides had a mutual interest in keeping Varejao in Cleveland for the foreseeable future. The Brazilian-born center said recently that he wants to finish his career with the Cavs, and he has a close relationship with LeBron James, with whom he’d been teammates for six years before James took his talents to South Beach.

Varejao nonetheless had some incentive to wait until he became a free agent to sign a new deal with the Cavs. The starting salary in a veteran extension can be no more than 107.5% of the salary in the final season of the existing deal, and in Varejao’s case the extension could only have run through the 2017/18 season. If Varejao were to have waited to become a free agent, he could sign up to a five-year contract for nearly 35% of the salary cap, though he wasn’t a candidate for max money, nor a deal of that length. With his history of injuries and advancing age, signing an extension to stay in Cleveland and gaining some level of financial security was clearly appealing for Varejao, and it comes with the benefit of allowing him to continue to play for a team that’s shaping up to be an annual title contender.

This news also casts some doubt as to the future of Tristan Thompson in wine-and-gold. A report earlier today indicated that there was pessimism surrounding Cleveland’s extension talks with Thompson, who is subject to today’s 11:00pm Central deadline for rookie scale extensions. Thompson is seeking a new deal in the $12MM per year range, which is a bit pricey for a backup center.

The Cavs had only about $21.5MM in commitments for 2015/16 before signing the Varejao deal, but that doesn’t include James’ player option for $21,573,398 or Kevin Love‘s for $16,744,218. Varejao’s extension doesn’t leave the Cavs front office much flexibility to ink Thompson and continue to surround the core of James, Love, and Kyrie Irving with the role players needed to contend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.