Portland Trail Blazers Rumors

Northwest Notes: Durant, Westbrook, Williams

July 30 at 10:30am CDT By Chuck Myron

Kevin Love has been the hottest name in rumors of late, but Tuesday, another Northwest Division star began to generate some buzz. Kevin Durant spoke openly of the possibility that he’ll sign with his hometown Wizards when he becomes a free agent in 2016. He also chalked up his decision not to negotiate an opt-out clause into his current five-year deal to a mixture of naivete and his love for Oklahoma City, as The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry notes. Durant said it would “definitely be tough” to leave if the Thunder were to win a pair of championships in the two years remaining before he can hit free agency, as USA Today’s Sam Amick observes. With the onus on GM Sam Presti to put his team over the top, there’s more on the Thunder and their stars amid the latest from the Northwest:

  • The general assumption is that Russell Westbrook will look to leave the Thunder when he becomes a free agent in 2017, but that’s no certainty, as Durant impressed upon reporters Tuesday, including Amick, who shares the tidbit in the same piece.
  • John Wall is already expressing support for the idea of Durant joining the Wizards in two years, calling him “like an older brother” and saying, “It’d be great to have him back home,” as Amick notes.
  • Had the Trail Blazers wanted to re-sign Mo Williams this summer, “in all retrospect, they could have,” Williams said in a pair of tweets. The guard has instead agreed to a deal with the Timberwolves.

Western Notes: Bledsoe, Jazz, Barton, Scott

July 26 at 4:31pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Eric Bledsoe made his first public comments regarding his free agency status to Fox TV Birmingham, saying he feels the Suns are “using rules against me” (hat tip to Jude LaCava of Fox 10 Phoenix, Twitter link), Bledsoe’s remark further indicates a seemingly sour feeling between the two camps. Here’s a look at the latest from all three of the Western Conference’s divisions:

  • The Jazz are set to hire Patrick Beilein to work as an assistant coach on Quin Snyder‘s staff, reveals Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Beilein is the son of University of Michigan head coach John Beilein.
  • Will Barton‘s $900K deal with the Blazers is now fully guaranteed, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. Portland had until July 25th to waive Barton without being on the hook for his entire salary but chose to keep the combo guard on their roster.
  • Jabari Davis of Basketball Insiders recaps the path that the Lakers took en route to negotiating terms with Byron Scott on a head coaching gig. Davis also examines how Scott’s coaching style might mesh with the current state of Los Angeles’ roster.
  • While former Mavs forward Shawn Marion would like to secure a deal with a team for the upcoming season, he doesn’t want to force the issue and land in an undesirable situation, passes along Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. “If I see something really comfortable, then I’ll do it,” Marion told Sefko. “Right now, I’m just staying with my [newborn] son and relaxing. It’s only July, man. We got two more months. We’ll just wait and see how it works out.”

Teams With Hard Caps For 2014/15

July 24 at 2:29pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The NBA’s salary cap is really a misnomer of sorts, since it doesn’t truly cap salaries. Look no further than last year’s Nets for confirmation of that. They doled out nearly $103MM in salaries, incurring more than $90.57MM in luxury taxes and smashing the record for the greatest expenditure on a single roster in NBA history.

The NBA’s salary cap is commonly referred to as a “soft cap,” but there are still ways that teams can impose a “hard cap” upon themselves and set a finite limit to their spending. If a team’s salary exceeds the luxury tax threshold ($76,829,000) by more than $4MM, that team is not permitted to acquire a player via sign-and-trade, or to use the non-taxpayer’s mid-level or biannual exceptions. The only exceptions available to such a team are the taxpayer’s mid-level of $3,278,000, the minimum-salary exception, and whatever form of Bird rights they have on their own free agents. As soon as a team completes a sign-and-trade deal, uses its BAE, or uses more than $3,278,000 of its MLE to sign a player, that club becomes hard-capped at $80,829,000 for the 2014/15 season. In other words, team salary can’t exceed that amount at any point between now and June 30th, 2015.

For some clubs, that hard cap isn’t a major concern. For instance, the Suns still have about $18MM in breathing room below the hard cap, so they have plenty of flexibility to re-sign restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe to a max contract if need be. On the other hand, the Clippers are only about $1MM below the hard cap, so any trades or signings they make for the rest of the season will have to be constructed to ensure their team salary doesn’t surpass that $80.829MM cutoff.

More clubs may trigger hard caps as the offseason wears on, but here are the teams that are now locked into a hard cap for the 2014/15 season, along with an estimation (via Basketball Insiders) of their current team salaries and the reason(s) why the hard cap was created:

Hawks
Hard cap created: Acquired Thabo Sefolosha via sign-and-trade
Estimated team salary: $60,975,564

Rockets
Hard cap created: Acquired Trevor Ariza via sign-and-trade
Estimated team salary: $68,125,942

Wizards
Hard cap created: Acquired Kris Humphries via sign-and-trade; acquired DeJuan Blair via sign-and-trade; signed Paul Pierce via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $76,646,603

Suns
Hard cap created: Acquired Isaiah Thomas via sign-and-trade
Estimated team salary: $51,805,537

Warriors
Hard cap created: Signed Shaun Livingston via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $72,232,245

Pacers
Hard cap created: Signed C.J. Miles and Damjan Rudez via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $74,798,942

Clippers
Hard cap created: Signed Spencer Hawes via non-taxpayer MLE; signed Jordan Farmar via biannual exception
Estimated team salary: $79,679,772

Grizzlies
Hard cap created: Signed Vince Carter via non-taxpayer MLE; signed Beno Udrih via biannual exception
Estimated team salary: $75,529,943

Trail Blazers
Hard cap created: Signed Chris Kaman via non-taxpayer MLE; signed Steve Blake via biannual exception
Estimated team salary: $69,322,824

Kings
Hard cap created: Signed Darren Collison via non-taxpayer MLE
Estimated team salary: $75,852,705

Latest On Josh Smith

July 22 at 8:21am CDT By Chuck Myron

TUESDAY, 8:21am: The Smith talks were serious between the Kings and Pistons, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, contradicting part of Wojnarowski’s report. Lowe also suggests there’s a decent chance that they pick up again at some point.

MONDAY, 1:05pm: Van Gundy has told Smith that reports about trade talk with the Kings have been inaccurate and assured him that he’ll begin this coming season with the Pistons, barring an unexpected turn of events, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Kings had called about Smith, but Detroit never heard an offer it liked, and the discussion never reached a serious stage, sources tell Wojnarowski. Smith likes the idea of remaining with the Pistons, Wojnarowski also hears.

SATURDAY, 2:49pm: A source tells Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that there are “no legs” to reports suggesting that the Kings and Pistons are discussing a deal involving Smith.

THURSDAY, 8:59am: The idea of a Smith deal didn’t intrigue Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro, tweets Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, who says it seems like coach Mike Malone is the catalyst for the talks. Stein noted Malone’s fondness for defense in story, one in which Stein also points to Smith’s defensive capabilities as one of the reasons the Kings are pursuing him. Pistons president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy didn’t give Smith any promise that he wouldn’t trade him when they met recently, but while Van Gundy is open to trading the forward, he wants value in return, Goodwill also tweets.

8:14am: The Pistons and Kings are once more discussing trade scenarios involving Josh Smith and are on the hunt for a third team to make a deal work, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Sacramento remains interested in the 28-year-old forward, as the Kings brass is fond of his defensive capabilities and intrigued by the idea of acquiring a player of his talent without giving up a piece of the team’s core, Stein hears.

The teams reportedly had talks last month before the Pistons put a stop to them, and the framework involved then would have seen Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry off to Detroit, Stein adds. It’s unclear whether any of that trio are subjects of the latest conversations, but Terry is seemingly agitating for an exit for Sacramento, having spoken of his fondness for the Mavericks and criticized Kings teammates DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay in a recent interview. The Kings would rather trade Terry than let him buy his way out of his contract, according to Stein.

Smith signed a four-year, $54MM contract with the Pistons a year ago, but the team’s decision to line him up next to Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond was ill-fated, and it’s left the club with a dilemma involving Monroe’s restricted free agency. The Pistons had serious talks with the Blazers about a sign-and-trade that would have sent Monroe to Portland, but the Blazers dropped out of the running for Monroe when they struck a deal with free agent Chris Kaman, Stein reports.

Smith has appeal to the Kings based on his relationship with Rajon Rondo, whom the team has long coveted, as Stein points out. Smith would love to play with Rondo, having called him “my best friend” in an interview this spring in which Smith said he and Rondo have had multiple conversations about the possibility of becoming teammates. The Celtics point guard is poised to become a free agent next summer.

Thunder Re-Sign Grant Jerrett

July 16 at 8:22pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

WEDNESDAY, 8:22pm: The signing is official, per a team release.

“Grant had an excellent and productive season with the Tulsa 66ers,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said.  “We are excited to see him move forward within our program.” 

MONDAY, 5:01pm: Free agent Grant Jerrett has reached agreement on a multi-year deal to re-sign with the  Thunder, reports Shams Charania of RealGm (Twitter link). Contract length and details haven’t been announced yet.

Jerrett was originally selected 40th overall by the Trail Blazers in the 2013 NBA Draft. His rights were then traded to the Thunder on draft night for cash considerations. He then spent the bulk of the 2013/14 season with the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA D-League where he appeared in 27 games and averaged 15.1 PPG and 6.1 RPG in 29.3 minutes per game. He was signed by the Thunder for the remainder of the season on April 7th, 2014. Jerrett did not make an appearance for the team.

Back on June 30th, the Thunder declined Jerrett‘s $816K option while also extending him a $1.16MM qualifying offer. In that same article, Hoops Rumors’ Chuck Myron predicted that Jerrett would re-sign with Oklahoma City on a multi-year deal for the amount of his qualifying offer that includes at least a partial guarantee in year two to entice him to take a multi-year deal rather than just signing the QO.

Western Notes: Blazers, Parsons, Cunningham

July 14 at 12:00pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Agent Mark Bartelstein told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com last week that there remained a chance that Mo Williams would re-sign with the Blazers, but the door is largely closed to that possibility, leaving a disappointed Damian Lillard, as Haynes writes.

“He’s someone who I can say will be a friend forever,” Lillard said. “We got that close in a year. He’s was the one guy I wanted back the most but that’s not in my power and I understand that. We still talk and plan to link up down the road but it’s tough to know he’s not coming back.”

Still, Lillard added that he likes Portland’s additions of Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. Here’s more from around the West:

Mike Miller Halts Talks With Nuggets

July 11 at 10:11pm CDT By Cray Allred

10:11pm: The Grizzlies have informed Miller that the team will be going in another direction and won’t be bringing him back, Miller announced via his twitter account.

4:23pm: James reached out to Miller again today, and Cavs officials have done so, too, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Miller continues to consider the Nuggets, Thunder and Grizzlies, Goodman adds.

FRIDAY, 3:37pm: Miller has stopped negotiations with the Nuggets and is “exploring every option” that would allow him to join James in Cleveland, with the Cavs reportedly having been in pursuit.

WEDNESDAY, 8:06pm: Free agent Mike Miller is close to agreeing on a deal with the Nuggets, a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Grizzlies, Cavs, Thunder, Rockets, and Blazers have all shown interest in signing the sharpshooter this offseason. Miller was preparing to decide on his destination early in free agency, but met with Denver in recent days after being underwhelmed by the Grizzlies offer to retain him.

The Cavs were the most recent team to chase Miller in the hopes of enticing LeBron James to sign in Cleveland. James had reportedly reached out to Miller to pitch a reunion between the two if James were to leave the Heat in the coming days. There has been no report of Miller’s eagerness to rejoin James, so this news doesn’t shed any light on LeBron’s looming decision.

Whatever deal Miller signs will net him salary in addition to most of the $6.6MM owed to him by Miami from his amnestied contract that runs through next season. A multi-year deal for the 34-year-old would add financial security for the oft-injured shooting guard, and his projected role could also be a significant factor as he chooses his next team. The Nuggets are widely considered the least title-ready team of the teams pursuing him.

Western Notes: Clippers, Billups, Blazers

July 11 at 10:09pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The judge in the trial to determine whether Shelly Sterling has the right to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer put the proceedings on hold until later this month at the request of Donald Sterling’s lawyers, as Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com details. Still, it’s likely that Ballmer will move back a July 15th deadline to finalize the sale, Markazi adds. Shelly Sterling said in testimony Thursday that her husband asked her to sell the team when it became apparent the league would seize control of it otherwise. Donald Sterling has said he has no intention of selling the team and has vowed a lifelong legal fight against the NBA.

More from the west:

  • Chauncey Billups engaged in a “wide-ranging” discussion with Nuggets president Josh Kroenke and GM Tim Connelly recently in Denver, though it’s not clear whether they talked about a playing role or a front office job, as Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post reports.
  • Blazers GM Neil Olshey said Thursday that he doesn’t anticipate making another offseason move, as The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman observes. Freeman doesn’t mention the fate of Mo Williams, who remains unsigned, though agent Mark Bartelstein told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com this week that there was still a chance that Williams would re-sign with Portland.
  • Pau Gasol‘s interest in returning to the Lakers was contingent upon Carmelo Anthony coming to Los Angeles, tweets Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News . Now that the Lakers have used up their available cap space, it’s likely that Gasol’s days with the team are at an end.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Blazers Sign Chris Kaman

July 10 at 10:54pm CDT By Zach Links

JULY 10TH: The deal is official, the team announced.

JULY 3RD, 10:54pm: Sam Amick of USA Today (on Twitter) has the full breakdown.  Kaman gets $4.8MM in year one and $5MM in year two with only $1MM guaranteed.  That gives him a total of $9.8MM if he completes the contract.

10:32pm: The Blazers have reached agreement on a two-year, $10MM deal with Chris Kaman, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).  The second year of the deal is partially guaranteed (link).

Kaman, 32, played in just 39 games last season for the Lakers thanks to a calf injury and averaged 10.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG.  The big man has missed quite a bit of time over the course of his career due to various injuries but has still provided a big presence and double digit scoring in most of his NBA campaigns.  For his career, Kaman has averaged 11.7 PPG with 7.9 RPG.  Kaman’s career PER is a so-so 14.7 but he has comfortably topped that number in each of his last five seasons.

Kaman’s deal might indicate an inflated market for free agent bigs.  Surely, a deal of this size for Kaman bodes well for higher-caliber frontcourt players like Channing Frye and Spencer Hawes.

Free Agent Rumors: ‘Melo, LeBron, Morrow, Blake

July 10 at 8:53pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Phil Jackson might be expecting Carmelo Anthony to rejoin the Knicks, but ‘Melo hasn’t ruled out the Bulls just quite yet, tweets Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Meanwhile, the Heat expected to have had an answer from LeBron James by this point, according to Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick. James was frustrated with some of coach Erik Spoelstra‘s strategy during the Finals this year and wasn’t impressed with team president Pat Riley‘s end-of-season press conference last month, Skolnick adds.

While the NBA world waits on the decisions of superstars like Anthony and James, let’s round up the latest from free agents all around the league..

  • Anthony Morrow has received interest from several teams, but it appears he’s deciding between joining the Clippers, Heat, Wizards, Raptors and Suns, reports David Aldridge of NBA.com, who adds that each of the teams Morrow is considering would be willing to use some or all of their mid-level exception to sign him (Twitter links). Given that the Clippers and Heat have both used up the full amount of their mid-level exceptions, signing Morrow would likely require a sign-and-trade to complete.
  • The Warriors took “another” look at DJ White today, notes Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group (on Twitter), thereby implying it’s at least the second time Golden State has looked at the big man. White had his rights renounced by Charlotte earlier today.
  • Other teams submitted much stronger bids for Steve Blake but he “desperately” wanted to play for the Blazers, as he agreed to do today, a source tells Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com (Twitter link). The Lakers weren’t among the teams making an aggressive play for the point guard, as they offered only the minimum salary, tweets Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times hears.
  • The Jazz, Pelicans, Rockets, and Nets are interested in Francisco Garcia, a source tells Haynes (Twitter link).
  • The Wolves are making an effort to sign Evan Turner to one-year deal, a source tells tells Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com. Turner played poorly last season after being shipped to Indiana at the trade deadline.
  • The matter of whether Mike Miller will re-sign with the Grizzlies will likely come down to contract length rather than salary, according to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal, who writes in subscription-only piece. Memphis wants him back on a two-year deal, but Miller is pushing for three or four seasons.
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been in contact with Paul Pierce‘s representatives at Excel Sports Management, but it’s unlikely the veteran forward ends up in Houston, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Alex Lee and Chuck Myron contributed to this post.