Portland Trail Blazers

Cavaliers Rumors: Varejao, Dellavedova, Jones

In two years, the Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao could be a trading chip similar to Brendan Haywood, according to Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. The frequently injured Varejao received a contract extension last summer partially for that purpose, Pluto reports. His salaries of $9.6MM for next season and $9.3MM for 2016/17 are fully guaranteed, but the $10MM he is scheduled to receive in 2017/18 is not guaranteed, making him an attractive pickup for a team looking to shed salary. Haywood, who had a non-guaranteed salary of $10,522,500 next season was dealt to the Blazers along with Mike Miller for trade exceptions worth $10.5MM and $2.85MM and was subsequently waived by Portland.
There’s more news out of Cleveland:

Blazers To Guarantee Allen Crabbe’s Salary

The Trail Blazers have let Allen Crabbe know they won’t be waiving him today, the last day the team can let him go before a full guarantee kicks in on his two-year veteran’s minimum salary of $947,276, sources tell Jabari Young of CSNNW.com. Crabbe is on the mend from a severe left ankle sprain he suffered during summer league, but the team expects he’ll be ready for training camp, Young writes. The season is the last on his deal, and he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency next summer.

The decision isn’t altogether surprising, since the 23-year-old is just two years removed from having been the first pick of the second round of the draft, and Portland is retooling this summer following the exodus of four-fifths of its starting lineup. Crabbe saw an increased role last season after sparse playing time in his rookie year, even starting one game in the playoffs in place of the injured Wesley Matthews and Arron Afflalo. The proficient outside shooter from the University of California averaged 15.5 points in 23.8 minutes per game during four summer league appearances.

The guarantee will have little impact on Portland’s financial flexibility. The team is still some $20MM beneath the cap. It will be the 14th fully guaranteed contract on the books for the Blazers, though they appear likely to let go of Mike Miller.

Trail Blazers Waive Brendan Haywood

The Trail Blazers have waived Brendan Haywood just days after acquiring him from the Cavaliers, the team announced (Twitter link). The move is no great shock, since Haywood’s non-guaranteed salary of $10,522,500 for this coming season would have been fully guaranteed if Portland kept him through Saturday. Thus ends the odyssey of one of the most unusual contracts the league has seen in quite some time.

Haywood averaged only 1.6 points in 5.4 minutes per game last season across 22 appearances, but his contract made him a valuable trade chip. The Mavs signed him to a six-year deal worth more than $52MM in 2010, but two years later, they amnestied him, with Charlotte claiming him off waivers shortly thereafter. The then-Bobcats submitted a partial bid, so they were only on the hook for a fraction of the Haywood contract, with Dallas paying the rest. However, the final season of his original Mavs deal was non-guaranteed. Thus, the cap figure for that year, unlike the years in which Charlotte and Dallas split the cost, remained as it was when Haywood signed the contract.

The center, who’s now 35, has seen his game decline over the past few seasons, but the final year of his contract was motivation for his team to keep him on an NBA roster, since this summer, the deal served as a de facto trade exception. A team could use his contract to acquire a player who makes as much as $15,522,500 without giving up any guaranteed salary in return.

Curiously, the Cavs acquired him cheaply last summer, giving up only Scotty Hopson and cash to Charlotte in a trade. Cleveland’s payroll has ventured into tax territory this summer, so the maximum amount of salary the Cavs could have brought back in a Haywood trade was $13,253,125. Still, Cleveland never found a deal to its liking, and simply rolled over the benefit into an actual trade exception in the deal with Portland. That exception is slightly less valuable, since the Cavs could only use it to bring in $10,622,500.

The utility of Haywood’s contract for Portland wasn’t that great, since the Blazers already possess cap space. They had this week to see if they could flip Haywood to an over-the-cap team that might then trade the contract again to reap its benefit, but no such series of deals materialized. Haywood faces a challenge to hook on with another team at this point, though he apparently doesn’t intend to retire.

Are you surprised that more a market didn’t develop for the Haywood contract when the Cavs had it? Leave a comment to let us know.

Northwest Notes: Durant, Thunder, Blazers

The Blazers acquired Mike Miller from the Cavs earlier this week but he’s probably not sticking around for long.  The veteran is a “strong candidate” to negotiate a buyout with Portland, Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears, and the Grizzlies, Thunder, and Mavs already appear to be interested.  While we wait for more on that, here’s more from the Northwest Division..

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Davis, Blazers, Warriors, Warren

Anthony Davis seems to be completely on board with the Pelicans’ decision to bring aboard Alvin Gentry as head coach next season, John Reid of the Times Picayune suggests. After winning the championship as an assistant with the Warriors last season, Gentry looked into the national TV’s cameras while holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy and exclaimed to Davis that a title was in the duo’s future in New Orleans. Davis said he was impressed with the conviction shown by Gentry, according to Reid, and Davis also added that he’s excited about the mix of old and new assistant coaches that Gentry will be working with next season.

Given the brutal nature of the Western Conference, it might be a stretch to suggest the Pelicans will be in the same spot next year that the Warriors are in now, but with Davis locked in as the franchise’s cornerstone for at least five more seasons, New Orleans will have a shot to be great if they can continue to build around the 22-year-old phenom. We’ll look at more from out West below..

  • The Blazers didn’t have to trade any players over to the Cavs in the deal that netted them Brendan Haywood’s $10.5MM, non-guaranteed deal since they sent the minimum $75K in cash Cleveland’s way, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out in a tweet.
  • Portland renounced Joel Freeland‘s Bird Rights, Pincus also tweets. Freeland spent the last three seasons with the Blazers before deciding to sign overseas in Russia on a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow.
  • The Warriors should have a trade exception worth $5.4MM as a result of the trade that sent David Lee to the Celtics, Pincus observes in another tweet.
  • Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM concludes that given the Suns’ roster situation, they’ll need to see improvement from players they already have on the team, like second-year wing T.J. Warren, rather than bringing in new faces. It’s still not totally clear how Warren’s unorthodox game will translate to the NBA however, as Tjarks surmises.

Column: Indiana Ready To Move At Different Pace

Sam Amico, the founder and editor of AmicoHoops.net and a broadcast journalist for Fox Sports Ohio, will write a weekly feature for Hoops Rumors with news, rumors and insight from around the NBA. We’re excited to present the first installment here:

It should be an interesting season for the Indiana Pacers.

Two years ago, the Pacers were a real contender. They lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals but appeared to be on the brink of very good things. They were making major strides, seemingly a franchise that would soon get over the hump.

Then Lance Stephenson left in free agency.

Then Paul George suffered a horrific leg injury while playing an exhibition with Team USA.

Then the Pacers suddenly became a middle-of-the-road club, fighting to make the playoffs, but not quite good enough to get in.

So president of basketball operations and basketball icon Larry Bird decided to give them a bit of a makeover. Bird and coach Frank Vogel aimed to get the Pacers to move at a quicker, well, pace. They want to push the ball, force the tempo, and move away from the smash-mouth style of the previous five or six years.

That style worked well for the Pacers — but it truly was an elbows-out, feet-on-the-floor type of game and it only carried them so far.

So plodding 7’2″ center Roy Hibbert was shipped off to the Lakers (for virtually nothing), aging power forward David West left for San Antonio, and Bird suddenly started talking about the possibility of George, a swingman by trade, playing some power forward.

(As an aside, when George hinted he may be less than thrilled with the position change, Bird uttered a line only a man with his credentials can utter. “He don’t make the decisions around here,” Bird said, drawing laughter.)

Either way, the Pacers will be playing an entirely different style — and they believe that with the addition of a healthy George and free agent signees Monta Ellis and Jordan Hill, they are ready for take-off.

Bird and Vogel also seem especially excited about rookie lottery pick Myles Turner, a big man with a perimeter game, and even Joseph Young, a push-it-up and fill-it-up combo guard drafted in the second round.

Also, even after the signing of Glenn Robinson III, the Pacers may still have a few minor moves in the works.

Right now, Turner is likely the starting center, with Hill and George in the frontcourt, and George Hill and Ellis at guard. Word is, Bird wants another experienced big, and someone such as Carlos Boozer may eventually come cheap.

But no matter who comes and goes, it’s clear that Bird, his front office team and coaching staff are taking a different approach to finding success. And with good health and smooth adaptation to a new playing style, the Pacers just may be on to something.

Around the NBA

1. Several league execs have said this could be a breakout season for Perry Jones III, a fourth-year forward who was recently traded from Oklahoma City to Boston. “I’m just happy to have a fresh start,” Jones told the media Monday, including Jay King of MassLive.com (Twitter link). “It’s something that I needed.”

2. Since last season, the Celtics have added David Lee, Amir Johnson, Jones and draft picks Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter. “It feels like we’ve taken a step forward in this offseason by adding these guys and our draft picks,” owner Wyc Grousbeck told reporters Monday, including Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com (Twitter link).

3. One untrue rumor making rounds is J.R. Smith to the Lakers. But Smith is considerably more likely to return to the Cavs than go anywhere else. And the Lakers aren’t interested. A deal between the Cavs and Smith could be finalized within the next seven to 10 days.

4. Tayshaun Prince and the recently released Henry Walker are both drawing interest from Portland.

Blazers Acquire Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller

MONDAY, 12:55pm: The deal is official, the Cavs and Blazers announce. Miller receives $428,241 from Cleveland thanks to his 15% trade kicker, though that amount will apply to Portland’s cap, lifting Miller’s total cap hit to $3,283,181, notes former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

8:49pm: The Cavs will not receive draft picks in the deal, Wojnarowski tweets. The Blazers, however, will send cash, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

SUNDAY, 8:19pm: The Cavs have agreed to trade Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller to the Blazers, reports Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski (on Twitter). Cleveland is set to gain two trade exceptions in the deal — one for $10.5MM and another for $2.85MM — Wojnarowski tweets.

Mar 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Brendan Haywood  shoots prior to the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Cavs are also set to send the better of the 2019 second-round picks that they own from the Lakers and Timberwolves plus their 2020 second-round pick, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst (on Twitter).

Haywood’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season at $10,522,500. It will become guaranteed on August 1st and therefore the Blazers are expected to waive him, Windhorst writes in a full story. The Cavs, of course, had been shopping Haywood and his sizable contract for months to no avail.

The Cavs are still interested in making deals with Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova, but at the moment, are set to cut their luxury tax bill from a little more than $32MM to just over $4MM by shedding the salaries of Haywood and Miller, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tweets.

Latest On Mike Miller

MONDAY, 8:04am: Miller asked the Cavs to move him, one source tells Lloyd, who writes in a full story.

SUNDAY 8:35pm: Mike Miller, who was reportedly traded from the Cavs to the Blazers tonight, will likely be released by Portland soon, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Miller, who is owed $2.8MM in the final year of his contract, is a strong candidate to negotiate a buyout with the Blazers, according to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski (on Twitter).

The Grizzlies, Thunder and Mavericks are three teams already interested in Miller, Stein tweets. LeBron James was OK with the Cavs dealing Miller, reports the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd (on Twitter), who cites a source who said Miller wanted out and a chance to play again. James was upset when the Heat cut Miller two years ago, as ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst points out (via Twitter), but does not feel that way about this move.

If Miller is waived by the Blazers, the veteran sharpshooter is prohibited from signing with the Cavs for one year, former Nets executive Bobby Marks tweets. Miller is coming off his worst season and only played 13.5 minutes per game in 52 appearances.

Northwest Notes: Marshall, Blazers, Thunder

Coach/executive Flip Saunders said the Wolves have had no conversations with Kendall Marshall, tweets Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press. Minnesota has been rumored to have interest in the free agent guard, whose 2014/15 season was cut short by an ACL tear.

There’s more this evening from the Northwest Division:

  • It wasn’t entirely by choice, but the Blazers are adopting a youth movement this offseason to build for the future, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Faced with the reality that free agent LaMarcus Aldridge might depart, Portland began targeting young talent. The team signed Ed Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu, Phil Pressey and Cliff Alexander, and traded for Maurice Harkless, Mason Plumlee and Noah Vonleh. Add in draftee Pat Connaughton and there are a lot of fresh, young faces on Portland’s roster. “I know for myself and the coaching staff, it’s going to be a fun year,” said coach Terry Stotts. “There’s a lot of young talent and I think it’s really exciting for them. We’ve got a lot of guys who are looking for the opportunity to get more playing time and show what they can do in the league.”
  • Andre Roberson could be cut out of the Thunder’s rotation entirely if he fails to win a starting job, speculates beat writer Anthony Slater in a roundtable for The Oklahoman. Slater’s theory is that if Dion Waiters or Anthony Morrow is the starter, Roberson’s role on the second unit could be seized by Cameron Payne or Kyle Singler. Roberson is slated to earn more than $1.2MM next season, with a team option for nearly $2.2MM in 2016/17.
  • The Thunder didn’t make any flashy offseason player acquisitions, but they shouldn’t be overlooked as contenders, writes Zach Harper of CBSSports.com. Oklahoma City’s major moves were the hiring of coach Billy Donovan and the re-signing of Enes Kanter and Singler, but an injury-free year from Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka would put the Thunder back in the title race.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Mudiay, Blazers

The Jazz have a logjam at point guard behind Dante Exum that they must sort out prior to next season’s opener, Randy Hollis of the Deseret News reports. The trio of Trey Burke, Bryce Cotton and Raul Neto could be fighting it out for two roster spots during training camp, though GM Dennis Lindsey indicated that it’s possible the team could carry four point guards into next season, Hollis continues. Cotton’s quickness and entertaining style make him a candidate to be the second-stringer and displace Burke, a lottery pick whose shooting issues have pushed him to the bench, Hollis adds. The logjam could be broken by trading Burke, who is rumored to be on the block and doesn’t seem to fit coach Quin Snyder’s system, Hollis concludes.

In other news around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets’ lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay will be the starter at point guard, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post opines. While Denver has a safety net in veteran Jameer Nelson, it’s clear that the Nuggets are committed to making Mudiay their floor leader in his rookie season, Dempsey adds. The only concerns are monitoring his workload and allowing him to work through his mistakes, something Nuggets GM Tim Connelly addressed with Dempsey. “We don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” Connelly said. “He’s a 19-year-old kid. We saw some good in summer league and we also saw some bad. I thought that he struggled shooting the ball. We’ve got to improve his free throw line percentage. But I think you see things like positional size, natural playmaking ability, and kind of the will and the approach to be great that excites us.”
  • Blazers coach Terry Stotts spent a sizable portion of the summer league evaluating five players under contract with the team — Allen Crabbe, Noah Vonleh, Luis Montero, Pat Connaughton and Tim Frazier — and was particularly pleased with Crabbe and Vonleh, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. The Blazers added nine new players and are entering a transition season after LaMarcus Aldridge‘s departure. Portland does have some young and athletic talent, however, which has Stotts optimistic, Richman adds.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

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