- The Kings, Hawks, Mavericks, and Bucks have all reached out to Matthew Dellavedova‘s camp early in free agency, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com. Dellavedova is in Australia preparing for the 2016 Olympics, so he’s unlikely to have face-to-face meetings with any suitors anytime soon, but it sounds like he’s interested in exploring his options. A return to the Cavaliers remains in play for the RFA guard, but it’s possible the price will get too high for Cleveland’s liking, Haynes writes.
- Dion Waiters‘ representatives fielded interest from the Kings, Nets, Sixers, Bulls, Heat, and Thunder tonight, a source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Oklahoma City extended a qualifying offer to Waiters earlier this week, making him a restricted free agent and giving the Thunder the right of first refusal.
- On The Vertical’s free agency broadcast earlier tonight, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Tyler Johnson has received interest from a handful of teams, including the Nets and Pelicans, and is expected to begin taking meetings on Friday (Twitter links via Scott Kushner of The Advocate and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The restricted free agent guard, who got a qualifying offer from the Heat, could earn up to $10MM annually, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of the New York Post).
The Bucks and GM John Hammond have agreed to a one-year contract extension, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (Twitter links). The extension will run through the 2017/18 campaign, notes Wojnarowski. The dollar value of the arrangement is not yet known.
Milwaukee hired Justin Zanik as GM-in-waiting earlier this month and this extension will allow Hammond to work alongside the new executive and smooth the transition, Wojnarowski writes. Hammond will remain with the organization as a consultant after he steps down as GM, the scribe adds. The Bucks recently signed coach Jason Kidd to a three-year, $16.5MM extension of his own.
Hammond has been GM of the Bucks since 2008 and the franchise has gone 273-367 under his watch in the regular season and 5-12 in the postseason. During his tenure he won the 2009/10 Executive of the Year award, which was the only season under Hammond that the team has finished the year over .500.
The Timberwolves didn’t find the sort of return they hoped for when they shopped Ricky Rubio before and during the draft, but Tom Thibodeau is optimistic that Rubio’s value will increase this offseason, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. As Deveney explains, Minnesota expects certain teams to become much more interested in Rubio once top free agent point guards like Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo come off the board, if those clubs are left without a viable starter at the position.
The Wolves haven’t ruled out the possibility of hanging onto Rubio and letting him and No. 5 overall pick Kris Dunn work together in 2016/17, but league sources tell Deveney that a handful of teams, including the Sixers, Rockets, and Bucks may have interest in the Spanish point guard. The Mavericks could also be a potential trade partner for Minnesota if Dallas doesn’t land Mike Conley, says Deveney.
Let’s check in on a few more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA…
- The Heat continue to explore moving Josh McRoberts, but they may need to attach a future draft pick in such a deal, tweets Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald. McRoberts’ $5.782MM salary isn’t exorbitant for a player with his skill-set, but he’s coming off two poor seasons, both of which were shortened by injury issues.
- During an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday, Jimmy Butler acknowledged that he knew heading into the offseason that the Bulls would likely trade either him or Derrick Rose, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com details. Butler also isn’t 100% sure he’s safe, even after he made it through the draft without being dealt. “I don’t think anything is for certain,” Butler said. “I really don’t. I love the city of Chicago, Chicago basketball, I think everybody knows that. They drafted me; I’ve been here my entire career. Nothing is for certain.”
- RealGM’s list of future traded draft picks has the details on the future second-rounder sent to the Pistons by the Magic in the Jodie Meeks trade. The criteria are some of the most convoluted I’ve seen on a traded pick, but the upshot is that Detroit will receive a 2019 second-round selection from either Cleveland, Houston, Portland, or Orlando.
- In a Wednesday piece, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com identified the Bucks, Grizzlies, and Nets as probable suitors for Kent Bazemore. Michael Scotto of The Associated Press adds a few more teams to that list of suitors, tweeting that the Pelicans, Rockets, and Magic will also be eyeing Bazemore. The Hawks also want to re-sign the free agent wing, and we heard on Wednesday that the Knicks will also have strong interest in him too.
The Bucks have requested waivers on a pair of forwards, according to Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who reports that the team is parting ways with Johnny O’Bryant and Damien Inglis.
Both O’Bryant and Inglis were selected by Milwaukee early in the second round of the 2014 draft, but neither player developed into a major contributor for the Bucks. Of the two, O’Bryant saw the court more often, averaging 13.0 minutes per game in 66 contests last season. He averaged 3.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 0.5 APG. Ingles, meanwhile, made his NBA debut in 2015/16, appearing in 20 games and playing sparingly in those contests.
Both players had been on the Bucks’ books for minimum salaries worth $980,431 in 2016/17. Those salaries were set to become guaranteed later this week if O’Bryant and Inglis had remained on the roster.
By waiving the duo, Milwaukee opens up a couple extra roster spots, and creates a small amount of cap room (less than $1MM in total). Not including this year’s draftees, Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks now have eight players under contract for next season, plus a qualifying offer out to RFA Miles Plumlee.
If an NBA team intends to turn a player eligible for restricted free agency into a restricted free agent, that team must issue a qualifying offer before the new league year begins on July 1st. Clubs are gradually making those qualifying-offer decisions official, with Evan Fournier among the latest group of players to receive a QO from his team.
The Magic announced today in a press release that they’ve extended a qualifying offer to Fournier. That one-year offer figures to be worth about $4.434MM, a salary the 23-year-old will easily exceed on the open market, either on a new deal with Orlando on an offer sheet from another team. The Magic also confirmed within their press release that they’ve given Dewayne Dedmon a QO, as reported yesterday. The team won’t issue a QO to Andrew Nicholson, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Other players receiving qualifying offers from their respective teams include Miles Plumlee, who got a QO from the Bucks, per Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), and Tim Frazier, who received a QO from the Pelicans, according to RealGM’s transactions log. Plumlee’s offer will be worth about $3.113MM, while Frazier’s will be worth a modest $1.18MM.
A restricted free agent who receives a qualifying offer is welcome to sign that QO and return to his current team on a one-year deal. However, many RFAs will sign offer sheets with another suitor or work out a multiyear agreement with their current team. The club issuing the QO has the right of first refusal, meaning that team can match any offer sheet the RFA signs.
The prevailing wisdom heading into free agency has suggested that Kevin Durant is likely to sign a two-year contract with a second-year player option this summer. After all, opting out a year from now and signing a long-term deal at that point figures to be the best way for the star forward to maximize his earnings.
Still, we’ve heard whispers that Durant may prefer to simply sign a long-term pact now to avoid having free agency looming over him for another year, and Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders cites sources close to the former MVP who echo that sentiment. According to Kyler, Oklahoma City remains the frontrunner for Durant, but the free-agent-to-be will hear out and consider all his suitors, and could make a long-term commitment to the team he signs with, whether that’s the Thunder or another club.
Here’s more from Kyler on a few of this summer’s top free agents:
- Mike Conley is expected to listen to some free agent pitches, but will likely give the Grizzlies the last word, writes Kyler. Conley would like to see Memphis be aggressive about adding talent to fortify the roster if he’s going to return. If the veteran point guard decides to go elsewhere, the Mavericks, Rockets, Spurs, and even the Nets are among his potential landing spots, per Kyler.
- The Lakers, Mavericks, Celtics, and Hornets are some of the teams expected to make a push for Hassan Whiteside if the Heat waver on offering him a max contract, says Kyler.
- Kyler identifies the Heat as a potential dark horse in the Al Horford sweepstakes, if Whiteside does leave Miami. Horford is believed to be the next target on the team’s wish list, and that interest may be mutual, Kyler writes.
- There’s mutual interest between Rajon Rondo and the Nets, who could be the favorites to land the point guard. However, according to Kyler, Rondo wouldn’t want to be Brooklyn’s only high-profile addition this summer, so the Nets might have to make a commitment to another notable free agent if they hope to lure Rondo.
- Dwight Howard could end up being a primary target this offseason for teams like the Bucks, Trail Blazers, and Hornets, who aren’t necessarily expected to get involved with many top-tier free agents, per Kyler. Sources close to Howard and the Magic indicate to Kyler that the odds of D12 returning to Orlando are slim, despite the fact that the team expects to be active on the open market.
- Kyler adds the Lakers and Grizzlies to the list of teams with interest in Ryan Anderson, and notes that there’s mutual interest between Anderson and the Wizards. Sources also tell Kyler that Anderson would prefer to land with a playoff team.
The Wizards are expected to make a major push to sign Joakim Noah in free agency next month, sources tell Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. Washington’s interest in Noah was reported earlier this week.
In addition to the Wizards, at least three other teams – the Knicks, Timberwolves, and Bucks – are prepared to make offers to Noah, who is coming off an injury-shortened season, having undergone shoulder surgery earlier in the year. The Warriors are also believed to have Noah on their list of free agent targets.
One team apparently not viewed as a serious contender to sign Noah is his current team — the Bulls. An earlier report indicated that the veteran big man may want to leave Chicago, and Lawrence hears that Noah is indeed ready to move on.
Lawrence also suggests that the Wizards may be willing to offer Noah a maximum-salary contract, though that seems awfully hard to believe, given the veteran’s age, his health issues, and his modest production over the last couple seasons. J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com (Twitter link), who thinks Washington may pursue Noah, is skeptical that the club would offer him the max, as is Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic.com.
With the salary cap on the rise, we’ve been bracing for months for a crazy free agent period, with salaries that exceed what we would have expected. But a four-year max contract for Noah would start at $26MM+, and wouldn’t expire until he’s 35 years old. I could potentially imagine the Wizards being willing to do a maximum-salary deal for one or two years, if they’re unable to land any other top free agent targets, but even that would be a bit of a shock.
Still, according to Lawrence, multiple NBA general managers believe Noah could draw more interest than some other top big men on the market, and at least one GM thinks the longtime Bull will be very well-compensated as long as his shoulder isn’t a concern. “If teams are convinced Noah is healthy, he will get a max deal, and Washington is panicking because Nene is done and they didn’t make the playoffs last season,” the GM tells Lawrence. “They’ll overpay for Noah — they always do.”
Bulls general manager Gar Forman denies that the team made an effort to trade shooting guard Jimmy Butler, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. “We like Jimmy Butler,” the GM said. “We didn’t shop Jimmy Butler.” Forman admits that teams called to inquire about Butler’s availability, but says Chicago “never made a single call” and called some of the trade speculation “comical,” prompting Friedell to observe that he can’t recall ever seeing the GM publicly deny a trade rumor so forcefully. Still, Forman did acknowledge that the Bulls liked Kris Dunn and had talks about acquiring him, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).
Here are several more post-draft updates from out of the Eastern Conference:
- Asked tonight about Jarrett Jack‘s $6.3MM team option, Nets general manager Sean Marks said the team is still undecided on it, per Andy Vasquez of The Record (via Twitter). Brooklyn has until next Thursday to make its decision on the veteran point guard.
- The Wizards had some interest in buying a pick in the second round of the draft, but by the time it reached that point, the players they would have been targeting were off the board, per GM Ernie Grunfeld (Twitter link via J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com).
- Three players who slid down the draft board had a chance to be selected much earlier, tweets ESPN’s Chad Ford. According to Ford, the Raptors gave serious consideration to Kentucky center Skal Labissiere at No. 9, and the Bucks talked about Michigan State big man Deyonta Davis and Washington point guard Dejounte Murray with the 10th pick. Of course, Toronto couldn’t have been overly high on Labissiere, considering the club passed on him again at No. 27.
- The Hawks added a pair of wing players in the first round of Thursday’s draft, grabbing Taurean Prince at No. 12 and DeAndre’ Bembry at No. 21. Nonetheless, free-agent-to-be Kent Bazemore continues to be a priority, according to Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, who said after the draft that Bazemore “is a huge part of what we do.” Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the details and the quotes from Wilcox.
Arthur Hill contributed to this post.