Rockets Exercise Jones, Motiejunas Options

October 31 at 9:05am CDT By Eddie Scarito

FRIDAY, 9:05am: Houston has indeed picked up the options, as the RealGM transactions log shows, even though the team still hasn’t made a formal announcement.

THURSDAY, 5:00pm: The Rockets have picked up the fourth-year team options on the rookie contracts of Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle reports, though the team has yet to make a public acknowledgement. Jones will earn $2,489,530 during the 2015/16 season, and Motiejunas will pocket $2,288,205. These moves will give Houston a total of $55,137,043 in guaranteed salary commitments for 2015/16, and that figure doesn’t include the team option on Kostas Papanikolaou for $4,797,664.

Jones was selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, and has been the Rockets starting power forward for much of the past two seasons. His career numbers over 97 games are 10.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 1.3 BPG. His career slash line is .533/.303/.615.

The 7’0″ Motiejunas was taken with the 20th overall pick back in the 2011 draft. He has appeared in 108 contests, including 17 as a starter, and has averaged 5.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG. His slash line is .448/.268/.613.

Thunder Eye Mekel Amid Westbrook Injury

October 31 at 8:58am CDT By Chuck Myron

Russell Westbrook broke the second metacarpal bone in his right hand during Thursday’s game against the Clippers, and the “early indication” is that he’ll miss four to six weeks, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. The Thunder had already expressed interest in former Mavs point guard Gal Mekel, reports David Pick of (Twitter link). Mekel is set to clear waivers today if he goes unclaimed, but the next step remains unclear for the Thunder, who have just eight healthy players following a rash of injuries that includes Kevin Durant‘s fractured right foot.

The Thunder, who have a full 15-man roster, applied to the league for a hardship provision before Westbrook’s injury that would allow them to add a 16th player, but the NBA turned them down because they had yet to play three regular season games, USA Today’s Sam Amick tweets. The hardship rule requires that at least four players miss three or more regular season games, so Oklahoma City is likely to apply again after their third game on Saturday, according to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Mitch McGary, Anthony Morrow and Grant Jerrett are all dealing with injuries of varying severity.

Lance Thomas is one of the team’s few remaining healthy players, but his non-guaranteed contract is the only one on the Thunder’s roster that doesn’t include a full guarantee, as our roster counts show, so Oklahoma City has little flexibility absent the ability to add a 16th man. The Thunder are about $1.74MM shy of the luxury tax line, but signing a 16th player to a non-guaranteed prorated minimum-salary deal would allow them to maintain at least a sliver of breathing room.

Sebastian Telfair is the only healthy point guard on the roster, as Mayberry points out, though Jackson is expected back as early as Saturday. Still, if the Thunder prioritize the addition of a point guard, the pool of free agents at the position includes Will Bynum, John Lucas III, Ish Smith and others.

And-Ones: Allen, Thabeet, NBPA

October 30 at 10:42pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

In response to commissioner Adam Silver’s statement that a third of the teams in the league are still losing money, new NBPA head Michele Roberts said, “The NBA’s cries of poverty will not work this time,” Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes.”I can say that I was more than surprised,” Roberts told Yahoo Sports. “I am not suggesting that Adam is telling a lie. I am sure that the owners told him that. But it’s difficult for me to believe that, especially after looking at the 2011 CBA negotiations and seeing all the money the players don’t have now. There’s $1.1 billion that the players would’ve been otherwise entitled.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mavs owner Mark Cuban left open the possibility that Dallas could add either Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis later on in the season, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. “We haven’t talked to him, but I think he’s doing it the right way,” Cuban said of Allen. “He’s waiting to see who’s doing well. If it comes down to it, we’d always consider it. We’re always open to improving the team. But you don’t want to mess up a good thing, either. That’s when Caron Butler got hurt and Roddy [Beaubois] got hurt. But Peja Stojakovic is a good example of us adding a veteran in season.” In regards to Lewis, Cuban added, “Rashard Lewis is working out here. We’ve stayed in touch with him and worked with him.”
  • Hasheem Thabeet has passed on playing in Europe and instead will play for Grand Rapids in the NBA D-League this season, Marc Stein of reports (Twitter link). It appears that the Pistons, who had waived Thabeet, will retain his D-League rights as franchises can retain the rights of up to four players that they have waived.
  • The NBA D-League Draft is scheduled to be held this Saturday and the crew over at DraftExpress ran down the complete list of eligible players.
  • The Bucks will keep working toward an extension with Brandon Knight up until Friday’s deadline, David Alarcón of HoopsHype tweets. It’s unclear how far apart the two sides are in their discussions, but in his look at Knight in our extension candidate series, Chuck Myron opined that the two sides could compromise on a four-year, $41MM arrangement similar to what the Sixers gave Jrue Holiday two years ago.

Hawks To Decline Option On John Jenkins

October 30 at 10:15pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Hawks intend to decline their fourth-year team option on the rookie scale contract of John Jenkins, Shams Charania of RealGM reports (Twitter link). If Atlanta had exercised the option they would have been on the hook for Jenkins’ 2015/16 salary of $2,228,025, but now he’s set up for unrestricted free agency next summer. The Hawks can still try to re-sign Jenkins, but they won’t be able to offer him more than the amount of his option, and this also would go for any team that acquired him by trade during the 2014/15 season.

Atlanta has approximately $41,215,385 in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2015/16 season, including the $1,763,400 third-year team option for Dennis Schröder which the team had picked up earlier this evening. Jenkins isn’t a big part of the Hawks’ rotation, and the team may feel better served in keeping as much cap space free as possible heading into next summer’s free agency period, when they also will have to make a decision regarding Paul Millsap, whose team-friendly $9.5MM deal expires at season’s end.

In 74 career games since being selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Jenkins’ numbers are 5.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG, and 0.96 APG. His career slash line is .438/.365/.851.

Pacific Notes: Jordan, Thompson, Ballmer

October 30 at 8:58pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

DeAndre Jordan is set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, but his comments to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register make it clear that he enjoys playing for coach Doc Rivers, who doubles as president of basketball operations for the Clippers. “Doc, and he knows this, has changed my career from whatever it was to whatever it is now and into whatever it’s going to be,” Jordan said. “I owe him a lot. He gave me a chance without even knowing me as a person or as a player to be on this team and to be a piece. I feel like I owe him a lot for believing in me before we even had one practice or one conversation.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors GM Bob Myers expects negotiations to continue into the season regarding Klay Thompson‘s extension, Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group writes. With the regular season getting underway Tuesday night, it is to be assumed that Myers was referring to the talks continuing from then up until the 11pm deadline this Friday.
  • For his part, Thompson is also willing to continue negotiating with the Warriors up until the deadline, tweets Marcus Thompson of The Bay Area News Group. Klay Thompson has 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 in 2016.
  • Steve Ballmer has been a breath of fresh air for the Clippers organization in the wake of this summer’s Donald Sterling scandal that led to the former owner’s ouster, as Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report writes in his profile of the franchise’s new owner.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Sixers Pick Up Options On Three Players

October 30 at 7:37pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Sixers have picked up the third-year team options for Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams, as well as the fourth-year team option for Tony Wroten, as is shown in the RealGM transactions log. These moves give Philadelphia approximately $13,508,212 in guaranteed salary commitments for the 2015/16 season.

None of these moves come as a surprise since all three players factor heavily into the Sixers’ long term rebuilding plans. The 2015/16 salaries for the three players will be $3,457,800 for Noel; $2,399,040 for Carter-Williams; and $2,179,354 for Wroten.

Carter-Williams won the Rookie of the Year award last season after being selected with the No. 11 overall pick in the draft. He averaged 16.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 6.3 APG. His slash line was .405/.264/.703. There were rumors during the offseason that the team was shopping Carter-Williams, but no deal materialized and he remains the team’s starting point guard. For him to take the next step in his development, Carter-Williams desperately needs to cut down on his 3.5 turnovers per game of a season ago.

The 20-year-old Noel begins his rookie campaign after an injury suffered during his lone year at Kentucky kept him out for the entire 2013/14 season. Extremely athletic and a gifted defender, Noel will need to develop his offensive game if he hopes to fulfill his immense potential.

Originally drafted by the Grizzlies, Wroten is being counted on this season to provide a large portion of Philadelphia’s scoring. In 108 career games, including 17 starts, he has averaged 9.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 2.5 APG. His career shooting percentages are .423/.216/.642.

Hawks Pick Up Dennis Schröder’s Option

October 30 at 7:08pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Hawks have picked up their third-year team option for Dennis Schröder, according to the RealGM transactions log. Schröder is scheduled to make $1,763,400 during the 2015/16 campaign, and Atlanta now has approximately $41,215,385 in guaranteed salary on the books for that season, including Schröder’s money.

It’s not a surprise that the Hawks would pick up Schröder’s option, despite him not living up to having been the 17th overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft, at least to this point. With Jeff Teague entrenched as the starter, and under contract through 2016/17, Atlanta still hopes that Schröder can develop into a serviceable backup, and potential successor to Teague.

In 50 career games Schröder has averaged 3.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, and 1.9 APG. His slash line is .383/.238/.667.

Warriors Pick Up Barnes Option, Decline Nedovic

October 30 at 6:39pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Warriors have exercised their fourth-year team option for Harrison Barnes, the team has announced in a press release.  The team also intends to decline their third-year option for Nemanja Nedovic, the press release noted. With Golden State also picking up their team option for Festus Ezeli earlier today, the Warriors now have an estimated $62MM in guaranteed salary commitments for the 2015/16 season. That figure doesn’t include Klay Thompson, who is currently in talks with the team regarding a contract extension.

The 22-year-old Barnes has appeared in 160 games, including 106 as a starter, in his three seasons in Golden State. He has averaged 9.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 1.3 APG, and his career slash line is .418/.349/.737. Barnes, who was selected with the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, was a First Team All-Rookie selection in 2012/13.

Nedovic, 23, appeared in 24 games with the Warriors last season as a rookie, averaging 1.1 points in 5.9 minutes per contest. It’s not a surprise that Golden State would decline their option on Nedovic, seeing as he is currently buried on the depth chart as the fourth point guard.

Warriors Pick Up Option On Festus Ezeli

October 30 at 6:09pm CDT By Chuck Myron

THURSDAY, 6:09pm: Golden State has officially exercised Ezeli’s option, the team has announced.

WEDNESDAY, 9:13am: The Warriors will exercise their team option to keep Festus Ezeli on his rookie scale contract through 2015/16, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Ezeli will make nearly $2.009MM that season, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows. The club also has 2015/16 rookie scale team options pending with Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Nedovic, with a decision due by the end of Friday.

Ezeli missed all of 2013/14 after undergoing right knee surgery, but he played a key role the previous year as a rookie, starting 41 games. He averaged 2.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per contest over 78 appearances during the season as a whole. The now 25-year-old Ezeli saw just 15 minutes total in two preseason games this month, but it appears the Warriors are willing to let him prove his health over a longer period of time before giving up on the final pick of the 2012 first round.

Golden State is facing a salary crunch for the 2015/16 season, as Ezeli’s option will lift the team’s guaranteed salaries to about $58.1MM. That doesn’t include any money for Klay Thompson, who’s pushing for the maximum salary in extension talks with the team. A max deal for Thompson and picking up the team option on Barnes would put Golden State at roughly $77MM in guaranteed salary to eight players, and that doesn’t count a nearly $1.271MM player option for Brandon Rush and assumes the team turns down Nedovic’s option. That figure would put Golden State above this season’s $76.829MM luxury tax line, and while that line is expected to rise for 2015/16, it’s unclear by how much.

Cavs, Anderson Varejao Close To Extension

October 30 at 4:20pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Cavaliers and Anderson Varejao are close to finalizing an agreement on a contract extension, Marc Stein of reports (Twitter link). The extension is believed to be for three years, and approximately $30MM, notes Stein. The October 31st deadline doesn’t apply to Varejao so the two sides aren’t working against the clock to get this done prior to 11pm tomorrow night.

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 32-year-old 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 does have some incentive to wait until he he becomes a free agent to sign a new deal with the Cavs. He can only make 107.5% of this year’s nearly $9.705MM salary in the first season of an extension with the Cavs, and an extension could only run through the 2017/18 season. If Varejao waits to become a free agent, he could sign up to a five-year contract for nearly 35 percent of the salary cap, though he’s not 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 has to be appealing for Varejao, not to mention playing for what is shaping up to be an annual contender.

This news also casts some doubt as to the future of Tristan Thompson in wine-and-gold. It was reported earlier this week that negotiations between Thompson and the team had stalled, and Thompson is subject to the October 31st deadline, or else he will become a restricted free agent next summer. Thompson is seeking a new deal in the $12MM per year range, which is a bit pricey for a backup center.

The Cavs have only about $21.5MM in commitments for 2015/16, but that doesn’t include James’ player option for $21,573,398 or Kevin Love‘s for $16,744,218. If Varejao indeed signs for approximately $10MM per year, that won’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.