- The Magic acquired Serge Ibaka on draft night and they hope the big man can help lead them back to the playoffs, however, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders is pessimistic about Ibaka’s chances of having a strong 2016/17 campaign. Greene notes that Ibaka’s production, including his points, rebounds and blocks per game, has decreased over the past several seasons. His field goal percentage has also dwindled, going from 57.3% during the 2012/13 season to 47.9% last year.
As our list of 2016 offseason trades shows, five of the deals agreed upon on draft night this year featured one team sending cash to the other. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement allows clubs to include cash payments, but only up to a certain amount.
In the 2016/17 league year, teams are allowed to receive a total of $3.5MM in trades, and can also send out $3.5MM in trades. Those limits are separate, so a team that sends $3.5MM in a deal and then later receives $3.5MM doesn’t get a fresh, new slate — that club is capped out for the league year. In 2014/15, the limit for cash sent and received in trades was $3.4MM.
Since the league year ends on June 30, teams that hadn’t taken advantage of those cash allowances earlier in the season will often use remaining cash during the draft to move up or to snag an extra pick. Many of the cash details on those draft-day deals for 2016 were previously reported. For instance, we already knew about the following payments:
- Warriors sent $2.4MM to Bucks to acquire No. 38 overall pick (Patrick McCaw).
- Trail Blazers sent $1.2MM (and a 2019 second-round pick) to Magic to acquire No. 47 overall pick (Jake Layman).
- Cavaliers sent approximately $2.5MM to Hawks to acquire No. 54 overall pick (Kay Felder).
Based on those numbers, it appears the Warriors got a much better deal from the Bucks than the Cavaliers did from the Hawks. Of course, if the Cavs badly wanted Felder, the cost to move into the draft was hardly exorbitant — Atlanta likely asked the Cavs for the maximum amount of money they could send, since Cleveland used over $900K in a separate trade earlier in the year.
In addition to those three swaps, two other draft-night deals featured money changing hands, and Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has the details on those payments, along with several others from the 2015/16 league year. According to Pincus, these are the details on the other two draft trades involving cash:
- Nets sent $3MM (and the No. 55 overall pick) to Jazz to acquire No. 42 overall pick (Isaiah Whitehead).
- Thunder sent $730K to Nuggets to acquire No. 56 overall pick (Daniel Hamilton).
Once again, one of these deals looks far more favorable than the other, with the Thunder paying a fraction of what the Nets did for a second-round pick. But again, the available players and interested teams essentially set the market for these cash payments.
In the case of the Nets/Jazz deal, Brooklyn clearly wanted to make sure not to miss out on Whitehead, and the team was willing to pay a relatively significant amount to secure him. The Thunder, meanwhile, offered all their available remaining cash to the Nuggets for the 56th pick, and Denver likely had no better offer and no player targeted at that spot — so the Nuggets took what they could get.
Be sure to check out Pincus’ piece at Basketball Insiders for more thorough details of how teams spent and received cash in trades during the 2015/16 league year.
- The Magic can offer an extension to newly acquired power forward Serge Ibaka, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Ibaka, whom Orlando picked up in a draft-night deal with the Thunder, is about to enter the last season of a four-year, $49MM extension he received from Oklahoma City. Ibaka would be limited to a 4.5% raise from his $12.2MM salary in the first year of an extension because the Magic are over the salary cap, Marks notes, and because he has been traded in the past six months Ibaka can only have two years added to his contract.
- The Magic are close to naming Lakeland, Florida as the new home of their D-League affiliate, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter).
The Thunder won’t get to watch Victor Oladipo as part of their team for very long before having to make an important decision. The 6-4 combo guard, who was acquired from the Magic in a draft-day trade, will be entering his fourth NBA season this fall, making him eligible for a rookie scale extension.
The extension deadline is October 31st, and Oklahoma City has just three regular season games before that date arrives. So the Thunder front office will have to base its decision largely on the three productive seasons Oladipo had in Orlando before the deal was made.
After being taken second overall in the 2013 draft, Oladipo developed quickly with the Magic, playing 80 games as a rookie and starting 44. His best season came in 2014/15, when he started 71 of the 72 games he appeared in and averaged 17.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per night. His scoring average dipped to 16.0 last season and he suffered two concussions and battled a variety of other injuries, starting just 52 of the 72 games he played.
But the Thunder saw enough that they liked in Oladipo to give up Serge Ibaka, one of the cornerstones of their recent success, to add him to their roster, along with veteran power forward Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to rookie big man Domantas Sabonis. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti explained the move at a press conference on draft night, saying the Thunder will benefit from Oladipo’s competitive attitude.
“I think the number one thing with Victor is his make-up,” Presti said about his new guard. “… He is tough-minded, he’s competitive, he’s selfless. He is a guy that we really feel like not only brings things on the floor for us, but I think he’s going to be a real add to our environment, our culture on an everyday basis.”
Presti also said he was intrigued by Oladipo’s ability to play multiple positions, noting that his flexibility will give coach Billy Donovan more options when it comes to designing lineups.
But if the Thunder hope to keep Oladipo as a long-term backcourt partner for Russell Westbrook, they will need to make a significant salary commitment, whether it comes by October 31st or next offseason. Oladipo has made no secret about his desire for a full maximum extension, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman.
The former Indiana Hoosiers star was paid roughly $4.7MM, $4.9MM and $5.1MM during his first three years in the NBA and will receive a little more than $6.5MM next season. A maximum deal would bring his salary close to $24MM for 2017/18, with annual raises as high as 7.5% to follow.
Oklahoma City has a recent history of not giving rookie extensions to guards who were eligible to receive them. In 2014/15, the Thunder couldn’t reach a deal with combo guard Reggie Jackson and wound up trading him to the Pistons. Last year, OKC let the extension deadline pass for shooting guard Dion Waiters. The Thunder pulled their qualifying offer to Waiters last month, freeing him up to sign with the Heat.
But the Thunder front office is expected to try much harder to reach a deal with Oladipo, considering the price they paid to acquire him. Giving up Ibaka, who helped make Oklahoma City one of the league’s best teams during his seven seasons with the franchise, suggests that Oladipo will be an important part of the team’s long-term plans.
If the sides can’t reach an agreement before Halloween, Oladipo will become a restricted free agent after the season, joining center Steven Adams and shooting guard Andre Roberson in that category. With Adams coming off a breakthrough season and also likely to be in the market for a max or near-max deal next summer, it may be in the Thunder’s best interests to reach a deal with Oladipo before the deadline arrives.
The contract situations of Oladipo and Adams led the Thunder to be conservative in free agency this offseason, once Kevin Durant announced that he was leaving for Golden State. Other than re-signing and extending Westbrook, OKC’s only significant offseason moves were to bring back veteran Anthony Morrow at $3.4MM and sign Spanish star Alex Abrines for nearly $6MM.
The Thunder are in a unique situation as they address their short- and long-term future. The loss of Durant means they aren’t an elite NBA power any more, but the deal with Westbrook should keep them in playoff contention and may give them a shot at hosting a first-round series. Oladipo, at age 24, and Adams, at 23, are expected to be part of the core in Oklahoma City as the team tries to establish a new identity. Over the next year, it will be in the Thunder’s best interests to keep them both happy and lock them down with new contracts for as long as possible.
Photo courtesy of Mike DiNovo / USA TODAY Sports Images
The NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed to give teams certain benefits when it comes to re-signing their own free agents. Many players who reach free agency, for instance, are permitted to get 7.5% annual raises from their own teams, while they can only get 4.5% raises from another team. More notably, Bird rights free agents can sign five-year contracts with their own teams, but can only go up to four years with other clubs.
In some cases, that extra year doesn’t make much of a difference. Al Horford left Atlanta for Boston and signed a four-year contract with the Celtics, even though there were reports suggesting the Hawks were open to going to five years (albeit not quite for the max). Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors on a two-year contract that he’ll likely opt out of after the first year in order to maximize his future earnings.
Still, for at least a handful of players, that five-year contract appears to have played a part in their decisions to return to their own teams. As our Free Agent Tracker shows, six free agents signed five-year deals this year, and all six of those contracts were worth at least $85MM. Three of them were maximum-salary pacts.
Here are those five-year contracts, which will run through the 2020/21 season:
- Mike Conley (Grizzlies): Five years, $152,605,578 (partial guarantee in year five)
- DeMar DeRozan (Raptors): Five years, $137,500,000 (player option in year five)
- Andre Drummond (Pistons): Five years, $127,171,313 (player option in year five)
- Bradley Beal (Wizards): Five years, $127,171,313
- Nicolas Batum (Hornets): Five years, $120,000,000 (player option in year five)
- Evan Fournier (Magic): Five years, $85,000,000 (player option in year five)
Although Conley drew significant interest from the Mavericks, he was always a favorite to return to the Grizzlies, and none of the other five players on this list were seriously linked to another suitor, which is interesting.
Drummond and Beal were restricted free agents who got max deals, so there was never any suspense about their destinations, but plenty of teams would have been interested in prying away DeRozan from the Raptors, Batum from the Hornets, or Fournier from the Magic. The fact that those players’ teams were willing to offer five years likely made negotiations much simpler, since no rival suitor could offer that fifth year.
A five-year contract provides additional long-term security for free agents, and also gives the team the opportunity to give the player some agency as well. In four of the six deals listed above, the contract features a fifth-year player option.
That means DeRozan, Drummond, Batum, and Fournier have a safety net for that 2020/21 season — if they’re still playing at a high level at that point, it might make sense to opt out and sign a new longer-term contract. If their production has slipped, or if they’re battling injuries, they’ll have the option of remaining in their current contract and collecting a big pay check in that fifth year.
The ability to offer an additional year to their own free agents hasn’t always prevented teams from losing top-tier players on the open market, but there are still plenty of instances where that fifth year seems to make a difference. As the CBA opt-out date nears and the NBA and NBPA explore potential changes to their current agreement, it makes sense for this aspect of the CBA to remain unchanged. That extra long-term security may not appeal to every marquee free agent, but it does give a player’s current team a leg up, which is crucial if the league is worried about potential imbalance.
- Serge Ibaka gives the Magic a much better defensive option against Eastern Conference counterparts LeBron James, Al Horford, Chris Bosh and Paul Millsap, as Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel breaks down in his latest column. Ibaka, who was acquired from the Thunder in a draft-night deal, provides the club with its first legitimate power forward in 15 years, Schmitz declares.
4:09pm: According to Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link), Rudez was invited to training camp but was not offered a contract.
12:41pm: Free agent Crotian forward Damjan Rudez appears set to join the Magic, according to Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.com, who reports that Rudez and the Magic have agreed to terms on a contract. Terms of the deal aren’t known, but Varlas suggests that an official announcement should happen soon.
Rudez, 30, saw a decent amount of playing time in Indiana during his first NBA season in 2014/15, averaging 15.4 minutes in 68 regular-season contests for the Pacers. However, he was traded to the Timberwolves last July in a deal for Chase Budinger, and never carved out a consistent role in Minnesota last season. The Wolves declined their team option on his contract in June.
A three-time Croatian League All-Star, Rudez spent the first part of his basketball career playing overseas, and according to Varlas, several European clubs expressed interest in him this offseason. Assuming the Magic make things official though, it looks like the veteran forward will remain in the NBA for now.
Orlando doesn’t have a ton of outside shooting on its roster, particularly with Jodie Meeks‘ health in question, so Rudez should help provide some range, if he makes the regular-season roster. He has shot 39.1% from beyond the arc in his 101 NBA games.
Taking into account their cap limitations, the Magic could sign Rudez to a minimum-salary deal or to a contract using some or all of their $2.898MM room exception.
- A report in June indicated that the Magic were prepared to make Chauncey Billups one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coaches, but the former guard turned down the offer to join Frank Vogel‘s staff. Appearing on The Vertical’s podcast recently, Billups explained that he declined the job primarily for family reasons. “My second daughter has a couple more years of high school, so I didn’t really want to move away,” Billups said, per Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. “It became more of a personal thing than just a coaching job. But it was a great opportunity.”