As we look forward to what could be the final game of the 2012/13 season tonight, let's check in on a few odds and ends from around the NBA....
It's tough when you dominate at your college, but fail to see any interest from the professional ranks. That's what Santa Clara's all-time leading scorer, Kevin Foster, is facing as he prepares to possibly be snubbed later this month in the draft.
Foster told the San Jose Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka "it would be a dream come true" to play for the Warriors, who are so close to his adopted hometown. Foster participated in a predraft workout with six other hopefuls including five guards this morning.
Even after workouts with the Rockets and Bucks, Foster said the Warriors are his "preference" because of their locale, but followed that up by saying, "I just want to get drafted somewhere." Here are some more notes surrounding the upcoming draft.
There's a lot still swirling about the Clippers-Celtics deal, with Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, and many others tweeting about a possible deal every few minutes. We'll certainly have more for you a little later, but before we do so, let's delve into the upcoming draft, as we're less than two weeks away from the big night:
On the heels of a pair of unsurprising option decisions - Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams will return to the Warriors and Jazz, respectively - we received word that Andre Iguodala will opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Iguodala's decision isn't a huge surprise either, but it certainly makes this year's class of free agents even more interesting.
In addition to the Nuggets, Wojnarowski listed six other teams expected to pursue Iguodala, while Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the Warriors are interested in well. Golden State would have a much tougher path to landing Iggy than teams with cap space, but a sign-and-trade is within the realm of possibility.
Here are a few more Friday odds and ends from around the NBA:
Brandon Rush has officially exercised his 2013/14 player option to remain with the Warriors, agent Mark Bartelstein confirms to Hoops Rumors. According to RealGM.com's transactions log, Rush made the decision official earlier this week.
Rush's 2012/13 season came to a premature end when the 27-year-old tore his ACL during the season's opening week. While a successful year in Golden State may have resulted in Rush opting out this summer, it's no surprise that he'd elect the security of another year at $4MM coming off such a serious injury.
In his last full season ('11/12), Rush posted career-highs in PPG (9.8), FG% (.501), PER (15.2), and a handful of other categories. Assuming he's healthy by the fall, Rush will give Golden State another deadly outside shooter to go along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- for his career, the Kansas product has shot 41.3% from three-point range.
As I wrote when I previewed the Warriors' offseason, Rush's decision to opt in means that the team will have $69MM+ committed to 10 players for next season. That will make it tricky for the club to bring back free agents such as Jarrett Jack or Carl Landry without going well into tax territory.
When Pistons general manager Joe Dumars traded Chauncey Billups to the Nuggets for Allen Iverson's expiring contract in 2008, the cap space it later created was ultimately used on the free agent signings of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon during the summer of 2009. At the time, Villanueva agreed to an offer worth $35MM over five seasons, while Gordon signed on for $55MM over five seasons. Unfortunately, Villanueva's scoring averages and minutes dipped every season since then, whereas Gordon struggled to consistently regain the form that had made him an enticing commodity in Chicago and was later traded to Charlotte. Now set to be equipped with significant cap room this offseason, Dumars implied that he'll be very conscientious about what he'll do with the flexibility:
"What we don’t want to do is use all of it for the sake of it. You want to use it wisely" (Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News relayed the quote via tweet).
Here's more from around the Association:
Despite his limited role in Oklahoma City, Ronnie Brewer sounded open about a possible return to the Thunder: "I'm still very young and still have a lot of basketball left in me so if it's here or somewhere else I'll continue to play basketball. This is a great organization and (has) great players, great coaches, great fans. So hopefully I can continue to play here” (Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman reports). Here are more of tonight's miscellaneous notes:
You could make a convincing argument that no head coaching candidate has a higher stock than Brian Shaw right now. The Pacers assistant has been linked in one way or another to all four teams currently without a head coach, and his agent Jerome Stanley tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link) that several teams have contacted Indiana about interviewing his client. While no interviews have been formally scheduled yet, Shaw intends to explore all the opportunities available to him, according to his agent (Twitter links).
Let's round up a few more odds and ends from around the Association....
JUNE 5TH: Jefferson has officially exercised his 2013/14 option, according to RealGM's transactions log. Although we've heard plenty of reports on players who will pick up or turn down options, Jefferson becomes just the fourth player to make his decision official so far this offseason. Aaron Gray, Linas Kleiza, and Charlie Villanueva have also exercised their respective player options.
MAY 29TH: Richard Jefferson will exercise his player option for 2013/14, opting into the final year of his contract, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. The decision, which comes as no surprise, comes about a month in advance of the June 30th deadline, with agent Todd Eley of Stratosphere Sports suggesting it may already be official.
"Richard has exercised his option to include the 2013/14 season in his current contract," according to Eley.
The option will pay Jefferson $11,046,000 next season, which is an exponentially higher annual salary than he'd find on the open market. The veteran forward is coming off the worst season of his 12-year NBA career, having averaged just 3.1 PPG, 1.5 RPG, and a 10.3 PER in 10.1 minutes per game. All of those marks were career-lows for the 32-year-old.
With Jefferson and Andris Biedrins both under contract for 2013/14, the Warriors will be paying more than $20MM to a duo that didn't play or produce much last season. Neither player is eligible to be amnestied, but both deals will be expiring, and will come off the club's books in the summer of '14.
Free Agents / Cap Holds
Of all the pleasant surprises in the NBA's 2012/13 season, the emergence of the Warriors may have been the most entertaining. While some pundits predicted Golden State would earn a low-seeded playoff spot in the West, few - if any - had the team advancing to the second round and giving the Finals-bound Spurs a run for their money before eventually being eliminated.
As this year's results show, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Warriors. Three-point king Stephen Curry has already been locked up to a four-year extension for significantly less money than the Warriors would have paid had they waited until this summer to negotiate a new deal. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes will both earn less than $3MM apiece in 2013/14 and remain under contract through 2015 and 2016, respectively. Draymond Green is one of the league's best players on a six-digit salary, in line for a salary worth just $876K next season.
Of course, with just a fraction of team salary committed to many of Golden State's young core pieces, the club isn't exactly maximizing the rest of its money. If they're healthy to begin next season, Andrew Bogut and David Lee figure to be in the Warriors' starting frontcourt, and will make nearly $28MM between them. Both players are solid, albeit much more productive on one end of the court than the other (Bogut on defense and Lee on offense). But Bogut missed significant time in the regular season with injuries, while Lee missed a good chunk of the postseason, and the team didn't necessarily suffer in their absence.
Bogut and Lee may be on big contracts, but you could make the case that neither player is necessarily overpaid. The same can't be said of Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins, who will make more than $20MM between them in 2013/14, a year after they scored a total of 200 points in 109 combined games -- good for an average of 1.8 PPG. Both players are finally in the last year of their respective contracts, but their presence could seriously hinder the team's ability to make other roster moves.
Consider that Biedrins would have been amnesty-eligible had the Warriors not amnestied Charlie Bell's $4MM salary in an effort to land DeAndre Jordan two years ago. Additionally, Jefferson came over in exchange for Stephen Jackson in the deal that also netted Golden State the first-round pick that turned into Festus Ezeli. Ezeli is a nice young prospect, but I wonder if the Warriors would still do that move, knowing that they could have had an extra $11MM in cap flexibility when Jackson's deal expired this summer (a year before Jefferson's).
Without Jefferson and Biedrins on their books, the Warriors likely would have had the room to comfortably bring back unrestricted free agent point guard Jarrett Jack and power forward Carl Landry, who will likely decline his $4MM player option. Instead, both players' futures are up in the air. Assuming Brandon Rush exercises his own $4MM player option, the Warriors will have $69MM+ committed to 10 players. With the tax line projected to be at $71.6MM, it will be virtually impossible for Golden State to avoid the tax unless the team can shed salary in a trade or fills out its roster with minimum-salary players.
If the team is comfortable going into the tax, re-signing Jack and/or Landry should be doable. Both players, Jack in particular, may be in line for modest raises based on their performance this past year, but I don't think their prices will be exorbitant. If Golden State is willing to push payroll up to the $80MM range and pay the necessary taxes this year, knowing significant money will be coming off the books in the summer of 2014, the team could bring back all of its important pieces for next year. Taking into account further growth from guys like Curry, Barnes, Thompson, and Green, a return to health for the sharpshooting Rush, and the possibility of using the taxpayer MLE to bring in one more veteran, and the Warriors could be a force to be reckoned with again in the West, even with $20MM+ in dead money committed to a pair of players on the end of the bench.
If the Warriors are averse to becoming a taxpayer even for one season, there are plenty of alternative options at their disposal. They'd almost certainly be able to find a taker for Jefferson's or Biedrins' contract if they attached a player like Thompson or Barnes to the offer. But given how well the team's young core played together down the stretch in 2012/13, you'd hope such a scenario could be avoided, and that ownership is willing to pay the price this year for the team's past cap mismanagement, knowing that it doesn't have to be a long-term problem.