Los Angeles Clippers

Clippers Sign Raymond Felton

JULY 25: The Clippers have made it official with Felton, announcing today (via Twitter) that the veteran point guard has signed his contract with the team. It’s believed to be a one-year, minimum-salary pact.

JULY 14: The Clippers and unrestricted free agent Raymond Felton have agreed to terms on a contract, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media group reports (Twitter link). The length and terms of the arrangement are not yet known.

Interest had picked up in the veteran in recent days, as Haynes noted on Wednesday, with five teams expressing interest in signing Felton. The Clippers land themselves a solid backup to starter Chris Paul, and Felton now becomes the only other true point guard on the team’s roster.

The 32-year-old made 80 appearances for Dallas in 2015/16, averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 27.4 minutes per outing.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Lin, Embiid

The Celtics have put major trade talks on hold after today’s flurry of signings, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. So far, the quest to obtain Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin has made little progress, with the Thunder and Clippers wanting more than Boston is willing to surrender. Instead, the Celtics wrapped up a few smaller moves today, agreeing to terms with free agent swingman Gerald Green and center Tyler Zeller, in addition to deals with second-round picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. The Celtics now have 18 players under contract, three over the roster limit. Bulpett expects Bentil to battle in training camp with R.J. Hunter, James Young and John Holland for the last roster spot, with Hunter as the early favorite. That would mean the end in Boston for Young, a 2014 first-round pick whose $1,825,200 salary might be included in any Celtics trade.

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • A source confirms, “There is no big deal right now” for the Celticstweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.
  • New Nets point guard Jeremy Lin moved around the league so much because he has yet to find the “perfect” situation, relays Steve Serby of The New York Post. Lin recently signed a three-year deal with Brooklyn, which will be the sixth franchise for the six-year veteran. “And because I’ve been in situations I didn’t want to be in,” Lin explained, “I’ve created and negotiated in terms of free agency a lot of shorter deals that give me the flexibility to leave if I’m not happy with the way things are going.” In a wide-ranging interview, Lin expresses excitement about the future of the Nets and the chance to once again play for new head coach Kenny Atkinson, who tutored Lin when he was an assistant with the Knicks.
  • Defeating Justin Bieber in an arm-wrestling match may not prove that the SixersJoel Embiid is ready for the NBA, but that was just part of an active weekend in Los Angeles, writes Rob Tornoe of The Philadelphia Inquirer. More significant was a video of Embiid working out on the court that was posted online this morning by his trainer, Drew Hanlen. Embiid, who sat out his first two NBA seasons with injuries, was cleared for five-on-five play last month.

Shooting Guard Kevin Martin On Radar?

  • Free agent guard Kevin Martin has received some interest from the Clippers, Bulls, and Pistons, according to Amico. Chicago and Detroit both have fewer than 15 guaranteed contracts on their books, and still have their $2.9MM room exception available.

Clippers’ David Michineau To Remain Overseas

The Clippers locked up one of their second-round picks – Diamond Stone – to an NBA contract earlier this month, but the team won’t do the same for fellow second-rounder David Michineau. According to reports from BeBasket (translation via Sportando) and Eurobasket.com, Michineau will play for French team Hyeres-Toulon Var Basket for the 2016/17 season.

Michineau, who played for Chalon-Sur-Saone in France this past year, averaged 5.7 PPG in 13.6 minutes per contest in French League play. The 22-year-old point guard was selected with the 39th overall pick in last month’s draft, as the Pelicans sent the 39th and 40th selections to the Clippers in exchange for No. 33 (Cheick Diallo).

[RELATED: 2016 Draft Pick Signings]

The Clippers have an open roster spot, but with two rookies – Stone and Brice Johnson – joining the team this season, it makes sense for Michineau to get some more seasoning overseas as Los Angeles hangs onto his draft rights. The team’s current roster and depth chart can be found right here.

L.A. is also currently the only hard-capped team projected to be in tax territory, meaning the club doesn’t have a lot of spending flexibility for the rest of the league year. The Clips are hard-capped at $117.287MM and currently have an estimated $113.76MM on their books for the 2016/17 season, so they’ll have to be careful about their spending the rest of the way.

Three Teams Not Using Cap Room In 2016/17

In previous NBA seasons, there was usually a reasonably balanced split between teams that went under the cap and used cap room to sign free agents or to acquire players via trade and teams that remained over the cap and relied on exceptions to add new players. With the salary cap taking an unprecedented leap this summer from $70MM to $94MM, however, nearly every NBA team renounced its mid-level, bi-annual, and trade exceptions and went under the cap.

While many of those teams have since used up their cap space and gone back over the cap, there are only four NBA teams that have stayed over the cap for the 2016/17 league year so far, and one of those four likely won’t be over the cap for much longer.

Here’s a breakdown of the teams not using cap room in 2016/17:

Will not use cap room in 2016/17:

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers could still technically get under the cap, but it would require parting ways with LeBron James, so that’s a non-starter. Without LeBron under contract, the Cavs still have over $81MM in guaranteed 2016/17 salary on their books, and the team would also like to re-sign J.R. Smith. Those two players could cost upward of $40MM combined for the coming season, putting Cleveland back into tax territory.

With no cap room available, the Cavs have had to rely on exceptions to make tweaks to their roster — the team used a trade exception to land Mike Dunleavy and will sign Chris Andersen using the minimum-salary exception. One move to keep an eye on is the signing of Richard Jefferson, which is not yet official. Assuming the initially-reported terms of the agreement – $5MM over two years – are accurate, Jefferson may be receiving a portion of the club’s mini mid-level exception. Cleveland only has Jefferson’s Non-Bird rights, which wouldn’t accommodate a salary worth up to $5MM over two years.

Los Angeles Clippers

With Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan combining for nearly $65MM in total salary in 2016/17, the Clippers would have had to part ways with most of the rest of their players in order to create a significant chunk of cap room. Instead, the team re-signed many of its own free agents, including Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Since the Clippers didn’t have full Bird rights on Johnson, the club used its full mid-level exception on him, creating a hard cap of $117,287,000 for the coming season. Los Angeles is currently less than $4MM away from that hard cap.

L.A. is using the minimum-salary exception to fill out the rest of its roster, using that exception to add players like Marreese Speights, Brandon Bass, Raymond Felton, and second-round pick Diamond Stone.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors entered the offseason with the opportunity to open up a little cap room, even if they re-signed DeMar DeRozan. But the team wouldn’t have been able to create more than $6-7MM in space, so it made more sense for Toronto to keep its mid-level and bi-annual exceptions.

The Raptors ultimately remained over the cap and used their MLE to sign Jared Sullinger. It appears the rest of the club’s free agent additions to date – Fred VanVleet and Jarrod Uthoff – will be signed using the minimum-salary exception, so the team should still have its bi-annual exception available. Like the Clippers, the Raptors are hard-capped at $117,287,000, but Toronto is currently in no danger of reaching that mark.

Have not used cap room yet in 2016/17:

Oklahoma City Thunder

Having lost Kevin Durant, the Thunder could open up a sizable portion of cap room if they renounce Dion Waiters‘ cap hold, along with their mid-level, bi-annual, and trade exceptions. That may ultimately be the plan, particularly if Russell Westbrook is open to renegotiating his contract, but for now, the team is waiting to see what happens with Waiters.

The Thunder agreed to terms with Alex Abrines on a deal that can be finalized using the mid-level exception if they remain over the cap. If they dip below, they’ll use cap room to complete that signing.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

Community Shootaround: Western Conference Playoff Teams

On Monday, our Community Shootaround discussion focused on 2016’s Eastern Conference playoff teams, as we asked which of those eight clubs is most likely to slide down the standings next season. While the Heat received the most votes, the response was hardly unanimous.

In the Western Conference, however, it seems far more likely that there would be a consensus on which team is in for the biggest slide. The Thunder, after all, lost a perennial MVP candidate in Kevin Durant, and traded a three-team All-Defensive player in Serge Ibaka. The team still has Russell Westbrook on its roster, and was widely lauded for its return in the Ibaka deal, but it’s hard to imagine Oklahoma City as a top-three team and a Conference Finals participant again in the West.

So, as we examine the West’s playoff teams, let’s not focus on which team will slide the most. Instead, let’s discuss which teams’ moves you liked and which ones you didn’t.

The Warriors, of course, made the biggest splash of the offseason when they landed Durant, but is there room for improvement on last year’s 73-win squad, or will it take some time for the team to adjust to its new-look roster?

The Spurs and Clippers have brought back most of their key pieces, but it’s the end of an era in San Antonio, where Tim Duncan has announced his retirement. Adding Pau Gasol to the mix will help, and Duncan had already been surpassed by Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge as the club’s go-to players, but this isn’t the same Spurs team that won a championship just two years ago. As for the Clippers, if their core players stay healthy into the playoffs, there’s still optimism that the team can finally get over the hump, but Chris Paul‘s not getting any younger.

It’s been an eventful summer for the other three Southwest playoffs teams, with the Mavericks bringing in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut while losing Chandler Parsons and Zaza Pachulia. Parsons ended up with the Grizzlies, who also retained Mike Conley with the largest contract in NBA history. The Rockets, meanwhile, saw Dwight Howard walk in free agency, but landed Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.

Finally, the Trail Blazers, one of 2015/16’s pleasant surprises, have managed to bring back key restricted free agents like Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard, and also made a couple more head-turning moves in free agency, adding Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli on multiyear deals.

So what do you think? Did any of the Western Conference playoff teams besides Golden State and Oklahoma City drastically improve or take a step back this offseason? Or will the storyline in the West next year simply come down to the Thunder losing their best player to the Warriors?

Take to the comments section below to share your opinions on the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Blazers, Mavs, Grizzlies, and Rockets. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Clippers Sign Brandon Bass

JULY 19: The Clippers have officially signed Bass, according to the team’s website.

JULY 16: The Clippers have reached an agreement to sign Brandon Bass, sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). It’ll be a one-year deal, presumably for the minimum, which is worth roughly $1.55MM, according to Dan Woike of the OC Register (Twitter link). Charania adds (full-length piece) the the Spurs had strong interest in bringing Bass aboard.

Bass spent last season with the Lakers, accumulating 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench. He turned down a player option worth $3.135MM last month in order to become a free agent. At the time, Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors speculated that the Clippers could be a possible landing spot.

The Clippers already added Marreese Speights earlier in the month, so they now have plenty of veteran depth in the frontcourt behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin

Update On NBA Traded Player Exceptions

Traded player exceptions, which we’ve explained extensively in a Hoops Rumors glossary entry, are a tool that over-the-cap teams can use to complete trades. For mid-season deals, when most teams are at or over the salary cap, these exceptions are typically used and created frequently.

This summer, however, with the salary cap increasing by more than $24MM and most teams choosing to use cap room rather than staying over the cap, trade exceptions have become scarcer — and less useful. In order for teams to actually use their available cap room to take on salaries or to sign free agents, those exceptions must be renounced.

Heading into the 2016/17 league year, teams around the NBA held a total of 29 trade exceptions. After the new league year officially got underway and the moratorium ended, the majority of those TPEs were lost. In total, 22 of the 29 previously-existing traded player exceptions were renounced or expired.

Earlier this month, only the Clippers, Cavaliers, and Thunder still held any TPEs, with Cleveland hanging onto five of them, and L.A. and OKC holding one apiece. Over the last week or so, a few new trade exceptions have been created, but with so many teams still under the cap, the full list is much shorter than it has been in past years.

Here’s a breakdown of the newly-created TPEs:

Charlotte Hornets

Amount: $1,666,470
Expires: 7/12/17
How it was created: When the Grizzlies signed Troy Daniels away from the Hornets, they did so in a sign-and-trade deal, allowing Charlotte to create a TPE for half of Daniels’ $3,332,940 salary.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Amount: $1,333,420
Expires: 7/15/17
How it was created: The Cavaliers created this TPE worth Sasha Kaun‘s 2016/17 salary when they sent him to Philadelphia without receiving any NBA salary in return.

(Note: The Cavaliers also created a $4,803,750 trade exception by signing-and-trading Matthew Dellavedova to the Bucks, but immediately used that exception to acquire Mike Dunleavy.)

Los Angeles Clippers

Amount: $1,209,600
Expires: 7/15/17
How it was created: When the Clippers acquired Devyn Marble from the Magic for C.J. Wilcox, the team actually used its old $947,276 TPE (acquired in January’s Josh Smith trade) to absorb Marble’s salary, then created a new exception worth Wilcox’s salary.

The traded player exceptions listed above have been added to our full breakdown of the TPEs available around the league. That list no longer includes the $2,038,206 exception the Thunder created last summer when they sent Perry Jones III to the Celtics — that TPE expired on July 14.

Our full list of TPEs also no longer features the following exceptions, all of which were renounced earlier this month when these teams went under the cap (expiry date listed in parentheses):

  • Atlanta Hawks: $947,276 (2/18/17)
  • Brooklyn Nets: $2,170,465 (7/13/16)
  • Chicago Bulls: $2,854,940 (2/18/17)
  • Chicago Bulls: $947,276 (6/22/17)
  • Denver Nuggets: $135,000 (2/18/17)
  • Detroit Pistons: $6,270,000 (6/29/17)
  • Golden State Warriors: $5,387,825 (7/27/16)
  • Golden State Warriors: $3,197,170 (7/31/16)
  • Memphis Grizzlies: $450,000 (2/18/17)
  • Miami Heat: $1,706,250 (7/27/16)
  • Miami Heat: $1,294,440 (7/27/16)
  • Miami Heat: $2,129,535 (11/10/16)
  • Miami Heat: $2,145,060 (2/16/17)
  • Miami Heat: $845,059 (2/18/17)
  • Miami Heat: $2,854,940 (2/18/17)
  • Milwaukee Bucks: $5,200,000 (7/9/16)
  • Milwaukee Bucks: $4,250,000 (7/9/16)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: $5,000,000 (7/12/16)
  • New Orleans Pelicans: $102,217 (12/24/16)
  • New York Knicks: $1,572,360 (6/22/17)
  • Phoenix Suns: $578,651 (2/18/17)

Information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

Latest On Russell Westbrook, Thunder

While trade speculation involving Russell Westbrook has been a popular topic of discussion in NBA circles since Kevin Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors, Westbrook has given Oklahoma City no indication that he wants out, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. One source who spoke to Slater described the star point guard as “ticked off” about Durant’s departure and eager for the new challenge of playing without his All-Star teammate.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical paints a similar picture, writing that Westbrook is “a proponent of the young talent” on OKC’s roster, and is ready to lead the team in 2016/17. League sources tell Wojnarowski that teams interested in trading for Westbrook have been informed by the Thunder that he’s not available.

As Wojnarowski details, the Thunder’s decision to rescind Dion Waiters‘ qualifying offer is related to the Westbrook situation as well. Teams under the cap are allowed to renegotiate veteran contracts, and the Thunder are making it a priority to get a renegotiation done with Westbrook. Thad Foucher – Westbrook’s agent – and Thunder GM Sam Presti have been in “regular contact” this month, but Westbrook has yet to commit to renegotiating his contract, which would mean forgoing free agency next summer.

[RELATED: Thunder to sign Alex Abrines]

Teams with the cap room available to do so are allowed to renegotiate veteran contracts if they were signed over three years ago. In Westbrook’s case, a renegotiation would allow him to receive a salary increase up to the maximum assuming OKC has the necessary cap room, and three new years could be added to his contract. For now, with Waiters’ cap hold still on their books, the Thunder are over the cap. But removing Waiters’ cap hold and renouncing their mid-level, bi-annual, and trade exceptions would allow the team to create a chunk of cap space.

If the Thunder can ultimately convince Westbrook to negotiate a new contract before he reaches free agency, it would give the team a chance to recruit one of its top targets in 2017 free agency to pair with the point guard — Wojnarowski identifies Oklahoma native Blake Griffin as a star player being eyed by OKC. Griffin has an early termination option available for 2017/18, meaning he’ll likely hit the open market next summer.

Marreese Speights Contract Details

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