Portland Trail Blazers Rumors

Portland Trail Blazers trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Ennis, Middleton

March 14 at 5:29pm CDT By Arthur Hill

Kyrie Irving‘s recent performance is vindication for former Cavaliers GM Chris Grant, argues Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. Grant, who was fired in February of 2014, is widely remembered for his misstep in taking Anthony Bennett with the top selection in the 2013 draft. But Pluto contends Grant deserves more credit than he receives for identifying Irving as the best player in the 2011 draft class, then making a deal with the Clippers to acquire an unprotected pick that turned out to be number one overall.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • This hasn’t been the rookie season he expected, but the BucksTyler Ennis is finally getting to display his skills, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 20-year-old out of Syracuse is getting a chance to play after being shipped to Milwaukee from Phoenix in a three-team deal at the trade deadline. Ennis has moved into the reserve point guard role behind Michael Carter-Williams“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable, not only with the offense but with the speed of the game,” Ennis said. “I’m getting a lot more experience now and my teammates are telling me to be aggressive. With the second unit I try to go out there and make as many plays as possible. Coach (Jason Kidd) is giving me the freedom to do that.”
  • The BucksKhris Middleton is in elite company when it comes to real plus-minus rating this season, according to Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider (subscription required). Middleton currently ranks seventh in the league in that category, behind six players who are the leading candidates for MVP. Middleton, who was a topic of conversation at the recent MIT Sloan Analytics Conference, also leads the Bucks in Wins Above Replacement Player.
  • The Pistons don’t expect a long negotiation with newly acquired guard Reggie Jackson, tweets Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Jackson, who came to Detroit from the Thunder in a deadline-day deal, can become a restricted free agent this summer.
  • The Pistons will be without forward Shawne Williams for tonight’s game with the Jazz, according to Ellis (Twitter link). Williams and Blazers center Joel Freeland each received a one-game suspension after an altercation in Friday’s game.

And-Ones: NBPA, Smith, Orton

March 11 at 10:29pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

With the NBPA voting against the league’s cap smoothing proposal the salary cap is expected to increase significantly for the 2016/17 season, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes. The owners had hoped smoothing would appeal to the players because it would allow a bigger portion of the new television money to be spread to a wider group of players, Deveney notes. But now there will be nothing preventing the owners from using all the extra space next summer, which won’t benefit players becoming free agents in 2017 and beyond as much as the NBPA expects, Deveney adds.

A source with knowledge of the thinking of NBPA head Michele Roberts told Deveney, “The union should not have to police how much the owners spend. That’s not the job of the union. All of the caps that are on salaries now, the max deals and the shorter lengths and all of that, it’s all stuff that has been done to protect owners from themselves. Michele has been pretty strong on saying, hey, it’s not the job of the players to protect owners from other owners. Why should that fall on the players?

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Thunder GM Sam Presti said it was ludicrous to think that the team would consider trading Kevin Durant, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman tweets. It was posited earlier by ESPN’s Tom Penn that OKC would likely trade Durant next season rather than risk losing him in free agency for nothing.
  • J.R. Smith is happy be a member of the Cavaliers and playing alongside his friend LeBron James, and the guard has indicated that he’d like to remain in Cleveland past this season, Joe Vardon of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. Smith, who has a player option for 2015/16 worth $6,399,750, could be leaning toward opting in for next season with an eye on a larger contract come 2016 when the salary cap is expected to increase significantly, Vardon adds.
  • The NBA is projecting that the 2016/17 salary cap will be set at $78MM, a figure that many cap analysts believe is a very conservative estimate, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • The Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons‘ D-League affiliate, have acquired center Daniel Orton, Keith Langlois of NBA.com reports (Twitter link). Orton appeared in 22 games for the Sixers last season and averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per contest. The big man was in training camp with the Wizards this season.
  • Wesley Matthews underwent successful surgery today to repair his torn Achilles, the Trail Blazers announced.

And-Ones: Franklin, Draft, Matthews

March 10 at 10:38pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Based strictly on his skills on offense, Jahlil Okafor is likely to be the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writes. The Duke freshman doesn’t project as a good enough defender to become an impact pro on both sides of the ball, and he isn’t a good enough athlete to have an extremely high ceiling, Howard-Cooper adds. “His offensive ability on the box,” one NBA executive said of the draft appeal of Okafor. “I’m not a huge Okafor guy. But I think the general consensus is that he’s the best player in college basketball.” Both ESPN and DraftExpress have Okafor projected to be the first player selected in this year’s draft.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Jamaal Franklin, who currently plays for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, is likely to receive an NBA callup soon, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link). Franklin appeared in 21 games for the Grizzlies last season, averaging 1.9 points in 7.7 minutes per game.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has overtaken Okafor for the top spot in Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com‘s (Insider subscription required) latest mock draft.
  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said that he likes Quincy Miller, who is inked to a 10-day pact, and the team is considering signing him for the remainder of the season, Vincent Ellis of The Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • Wesley Matthews is scheduled to undergo surgery to repair his torn left Achilles on Wednesday, the Blazers announced. Matthews, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, is out for the season courtesy of the injury.

Northwest Notes: Hunt, Afflalo, Exum

March 8 at 10:01pm CDT By Zach Links

Rockets forward Corey Brewer spent two seasons in Denver when Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt was an assistant and believes he will succeed as a head coach, according to  Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I’m not saying for sure it’s going to be [with the Nuggets], but I’m certain he’s going to be a good head coach,” Brewer said. “He just has to get a chance. He knows his players. He knows how to coach. And he has a system. It’s a great system, kind of like George (Karl’s) system. You can watch them play fast, get up and down, and guys play hard.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • It’s not always sexy to go with the guy who’s holding down the fort, but that doesn’t mean that Hunt might not be the right guy for the job, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes.  Hunt is running a system similar to Karl’s and that’s a game plan that has been proven to work.
  • The loss of Wesley Matthews is unfortunate, but fortunately, Blazers GM Neil Olshey traded for shooting guard Arron Afflalo right before last month’s trade deadline, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes.  He’ll be counted on to replace much of Matthews’ production, but what isn’t clear is how much he’ll adopt Matthews’ role, or if he’ll continue to play his usual game.
  • Jazz rookie Dante Exum said his biggest adjustment to the NBA has been the constant schedule of games and travel, according to Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders. The Australian said there were more breaks between games in his homeland. “We had a game Tuesday in Memphis and didn’t arrive at the hotel until 3 a.m. (Wednesday in Boston),” Exum said. ” Just trying to deal with that and having to step back out on the court and play another NBA game, it’s just one of the challenges in the NBA. I learned that I can sleep a lot. Here, that’s the biggest thing. I have to get rest when I can.”

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Afflalo, Lee, Robinson

March 6 at 8:58pm CDT By Will Joseph

Arron Afflalo should fill a lot of the void for the Blazers that was created after soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Wesley Matthews‘s season ending injury, Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes. Afflalo, who has a player option for next season worth $7.75MM, was acquired in a February deal. His skill-set and unselfishness make him a solid replacement for Matthews, Freeman wrote. “I’ll be me,” Afflalo said. “Even before Wes went down, the goal wasn’t for me to come in here and try to be somebody that I wasn’t. Obviously adjusting to a new role is difficult and takes time, but the way I lead, be it vocally or by example, I’ll continue to do that.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Clippers continue to show interest in free agent guard Nate Robinson, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders notes (Twitter link). It was first reported back in January that the Clippers were Robinson’s preferred team, and Los Angeles possessed some level of interest in the diminutive guard.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens says that the Spurs have thrived, in part, because of their roster continuity, according to Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com (Twitter links). “Obviously, there’s going to continue to be some change but I think a lot of these guys are going to be in Celtics uniforms for a while coming, and that’s encouraging,” the coach said.
  • The Jazz had serious discussions with the Warriors at the trade deadline about acquiring David Lee, according to Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone (via Twitter).  The Warriors were said to be willing to trade Lee, but they were looking to get assets of value in return.
  • David Stockton, son of Hall of Famer John Stockton, in his return to the D-League’s Reno Bighorns, Sacramento’s affiliate, scored a season-high 44 points in what Erika Marmolejo of NBA.com called a “statement game.” The Kings previously decided against signing Stockton to another 10-day contract. Stockton was unable to find decent time behind starting guard Ray McCallum and newly acquired veteran Andre Miller, Marmolejo notes.

Zach Links and Eddie Scarito contributed to this post

Blazers Called On Ray Allen

March 6 at 2:23pm CDT By Zach Links

You can’t blame the Trail Blazers for trying.  Shortly after losing guard Wesley Matthews for the season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon, Portland GM Neil Olshey called agent Jim Tanner to see if Ray Allen might be interested in signing, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.  However, Olshey was informed that Allen, 39, remains intent on sitting out the season and wouldn’t consider the possibility of joining Portland – or any other team.

All in all, there were reportedly 14 teams – nearly half the NBA – interested in signing Allen until his announcement earlier this week.  The Blazers would have presented Allen with a chance to join a playoff-bound team badly in need of a three-point shooter following Matthews’ injury, but it sounds like his mind is made up for good.

It would almost take less time to list the teams that weren’t after the veteran.  The Cavs were linked to Allen more than anyone, but they were informed in late February that Allen was not Cleveland-bound.  The Grizzlies, too, were ruled out of the running recently.  The Warriors, Wizards, Spurs, Heat and Hawks were keeping in touch with Allen’s camp as of early February, and Clippers coach/exec Doc Rivers spoke to him around that time, but they were all rebuffed.  The Blazers might go down as the last team to call on Allen this season, but you never know who might give it the old college try.

If Allen doesn’t play again this year, he’ll walk away as the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made and career earnings in excess of $184.356MM, according to Basketball-Reference.

Wesley Matthews Tears Achilles, Out For Season

March 6 at 12:21am CDT By Chuck Myron

Soon-to-be free agent Wesley Matthews will miss the rest of the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon in Thursday’s win against the Mavs, the Blazers announced (Twitter link). Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the news. It’s a crushing blow not only to Portland’s title hopes but to the Jeff Austin client, who appeared poised for a lucrative contract in free agency this summer.

The 28-year-old was averaging 16.1 points in 34.0 minutes per game on 39.1% three-point shooting with a career-best 16.1 PER this season. The trade deadline acquisition of fellow shooting guard Arron Afflalo looms even larger for the Blazers in the wake of Matthews’ injury. It’s too late for Portland to apply for a disabled player exception, but the team does have an open roster spot, another product of that Afflalo trade.

Matthews hinted before the start of the season that he had no intention of leaving the Blazers when he hit the open market in July, and last month he made his preference to stay in Portland clear. The Knicks nonetheless apparently plan to give chase. The Cavs were reportedly a trade suitor for him this season, though it’s unlikely they end up with enough cap flexibility to make a competitive contract offer for him in the offseason.

Just what sort of money a healthy Matthews would have merited isn’t exactly clear, but he was probably set for a significant raise on his salary of more than $7.245MM this season, likely into eight-figure territory, though that’s just my speculation. The torn Achilles clearly hurts his value, though Matthews, a sixth-year veteran, has only missed 13 regular season games in his NBA career. He said tonight that he’ll try to heal within five months, according to Jabari Young of CSNNW.com (Twitter link), which would bring him back to the court in August. Matthews nonetheless acknowledged a more common timetable would encompass about eight months, Young also notes, putting him in line to miss the first few games of the regular season in 2015/16.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Thunder, Shaw

March 5 at 11:10am CDT By Zach Links

After years of heartbreak, the Blazers franchise deserves something special, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com writes.  The team has dealt with repeated disappointment on the court and recently the tragic loss of fan favorite Jerome Kersey. Here’s more from the Northwest Division..

  • In this week’s mailbag, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes that he likes what the Nuggets did at the trade deadline by getting a first-round choice from Portland and then unloading JaVale McGee‘s salary.  Dempsey writes that it was never a realistic expectation for Denver to blow up their roster at the deadline and he expects bigger fireworks to go down when we approach the draft.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown admires how the Thunder were put together, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for [Thunder GM] Sam Presti; I worked with him for many years,” said Brown, who worked with Presti in San Antonio. “In many levels, I pay attention to this program as much as any on how could we learn from the great things that they have done and things that they may have done differently.”
  • The Nuggets picked up their second win under interim coach Melvin Hunt when they topped the Wolves 100-85 on Wednesday night.  When asked if he expected that kind of energy out of Denver, Wolves veteran Kevin Garnett told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post, “No. To be honest, they quit on Brian Shaw. I thought they’d quit again, A quitter is a quitter. That was my take on that. If you got any kind of self-pride about your future, then you want to anticipate someone playing hard. But, no, I wasn’t really concerned about the Denver Nuggets or how they were going to come out. I was more concerned about us, and us going forward and being better.
  • Pacers forward David West recently said that Shaw was fired because the Nuggets don’t have “grown-ups” on the roster and Denver forward Wilson Chandler doesn’t necessarily disagree, as Chris Tomasson writes for The Denver Post.
  • Hunt is excited to be at the Nuggets‘ helm, but this isn’t how he wanted to get his big break, as Jhabvala writes.

Kyler’s Latest: Love, Monroe, Gasol, Leonard

March 3 at 10:58am CDT By Chuck Myron

The trade deadline is in the past and the focus is shifting to the draft and this year’s class of free agents. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders takes a broad look at free agency for the summer ahead, passing along a number of noteworthy tidbits from his conversations around the league. His entire NBA AM piece is worth a read as he examines the outlook for several teams, and we’ll hit the highlights here:

  • The Celtics are planning to target marquee free agents this summer, with Kevin Love atop their list, followed by Greg Monroe, Kyler writes. Marc Gasol and restricted free agents Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are others in Boston’s sights, sources tell Kyler. It appears the Celtics will look to re-sign Brandon Bass to a salary lower than the $6.9MM he’s making this season, Kyler suggests, also indicating a likelihood that the Celtics renounce Jonas Jerebko‘s rights. That wouldn’t preclude a new deal with Jerebko, something that Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reported earlier that the Celtics would like, though it does indicate that the C’s aim to open cap space. That’s a path of questionable merit, as I examined.
  • There’s a “sense” that the Sixers will make a play for Monroe, too, as well as Butler, Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson, according to Kyler.
  • Monroe, Love and Rajon Rondo are at least willing to meet with the Lakers this summer, Kyler hears, though Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge are long shots for the team, the Basketball Insiders scribe cautions. Still, chatter is connecting the Lakers to just about every would-be free agent, including Jackson and Brandon Knight.
  • It’s unlikely that Rondo gets a full maximum-salary deal in free agency this summer, league sources tell Kyler, who surmises that teams would float short-term max offers instead. A full max from the Mavs would entail a five-year deal with 7.5% raises, while other teams can offer four years and 4.5% raises.
  • Sources also tell Kyler that they believe Monta Ellis will opt out this summer, which is no surprise given his level of play and the $8.72MM value of his player option.
  • Kyler also gets the sense that Paul Millsap is content with the Hawks and would like to stay for the long term, though it appears Atlanta is eyeing an upgrade at DeMarre Carroll‘s small forward position.
  • The Spurs will make Gasol their top free agent priority this summer, Kyler writes, though the team will have trouble signing him if Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili return at salaries comparable to the ones they’re making. In any case, San Antonio was believed to be the team with the most interest in Monroe last summer, Kyler adds.

Financial Impact Of Deadline Trades: Northwest

March 2 at 10:05am CDT By Chuck Myron

Last week’s trade deadline was a dizzying affair, with 39 players and 17 teams involved in a dozen trades, including a trio of three-team transactions. The day had wide-ranging effects on the salary structures of those 17 teams, and we’ll examine the aftermath for each of them in this multipart series.

We’ll conclude the series today with a look at the Northwest Division, the busiest division on deadline day, with all five teams making at least one swap. The salary figures listed below denote this season’s salaries, though we’ll also discuss salary for future seasons.

Denver Nuggets

In: ($5,963,603)

Out: ($19,665,243)

The specter of the Sixers allowing an opposing team to offload a player with an eight-figure salary into their cap space loomed all season long, but it wasn’t until deadline day that it happened. The Nuggets not only reaped salary relief, for this season and next, from trading JaVale McGee to Philadelphia. They were able to create a powerful trade exception worth McGee’s $11.25MM salary that they can use anytime between the end of the regular season and next year’s trade deadline to find a player, or players, more productive than McGee proved during his time in Denver.

Trade exceptions can also be used to create other trade exceptions, an act of essentially rolling them over from one year to the next. That appears to be what the Nuggets did to allow themselves to create a new, $7.5MM exception equivalent to Arron Afflalo‘s salary, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders estimates (Twitter link) and shows on his Nuggets salary page. They took Thomas Robinson‘s salary into the $4.65MM trade exception they created in January for Timofey Mozgov, reducing its value to $971,640, Pincus tweets. That took care of the largest incoming salary, and Denver took advantage of its last chance to use two other exceptions for the rest of the salary it took on from Portland. Victor Claver‘s salary fit neatly into the $1,659,080 Andre Miller trade exception, as Pincus notes on Twitter. Will Barton is making the minimum salary but couldn’t fit into the minimum-salary exception since he’s on a three-year pact. However, he was a fit for the $1,169,880 Jordan Hamilton exception. That allows the Nuggets to create a trade exception for Gee’s $915,243 salary, as Pincus shows. Thus, Denver used two expiring exceptions to create two new exceptions for Afflalo and Gee that won’t expire until next year’s deadline.

Of course, whether any of the McGee, Afflalo or Gee exceptions still exist at next year’s deadline depends in part on whether the Nuggets remain an over-the-cap team in the offseason, a proposition that seems less likely after Thursday’s trades. The excising of McGee left a $12MM hole in Denver’s 2015/16 commitments, and the team no longer has Afflalo’s $7.5MM player option to contend with. Robinson and Claver, both of whom have since been waived, were on expiring contracts, and the same is true of Barton. The Nuggets have about $48MM in commitments for next season, about $20MM beneath the projected salary cap. That doesn’t count Jameer Nelson‘s nearly $2.855MM player option, the team’s likely lottery pick, and more than $2MM in roster charges, since the team only has seven fully guaranteed contracts, so the Nuggets would have trouble offering the max to anyone but restricted free agents. Still, there are enough tempting 2015 free agents to make it a strong possibility that GM Tim Connelly renounces his exceptions and uses cap space for a significant signing or two.

For now, those exceptions are all that keep the Nuggets from having immediate cap space. Their team salary dipped below the $56.759MM minimum team salary when Philadelphia claimed Robinson off waivers and wiped his salary figure from Denver’s cap. Normally, a team in Denver’s position would cheer such a move, since it saves the Nuggets from paying out the remainder of Robinson’s salary. But the final two months of paychecks due Robinson would have been a cheaper cost than having to pay the difference between their team salary and the minimum salary line to the players on their roster at season’s end, which is the penalty for failing to meet the salary floor. The Nuggets have already paid most of Robinson’s $3,678,360, but those payments no longer count toward their team salary, since Robinson’s full number instead applies to the Sixers, pushing them over that same minimum salary line. Denver could claim another player off waivers just as Philadelphia did, but the Nuggets are operating over the cap because of the value of their exceptions, so they’d either have to renounce them or use one of them to accommodate the waiver claim, neither of which they’re likely to do.

Minnesota Timberwolves

In: ($12,000,000)

Out: ($9,410,869)

The Timberwolves made a pair of trades about a week before the deadline, but the one they made on deadline day was far more about intangibles than salary. They took on salary for this year, to be sure, but the more than $2.5MM gap between the salaries for Kevin Garnett and Thaddeus Young isn’t quite so pronounced, since each only has a few more paychecks to go. The Nets already paid the lion’s share of Garnett’s salary, as the Wolves did with Young’s. Minnesota swallows Garnett’s entire cap figure, but that matters little, since the team was over the cap but nowhere near the luxury tax threshold, and that’s still the case post-trade with a team salary of about $67.5MM.

Minnesota reportedly wants to sign Garnett to a two-year deal this summer, and he’s expected to fulfill that request, so that mitigates the potential savings the team reaped when it unloaded Young and his nearly $9.972MM player option. However, it’s uncertain just what sort of salary Garnett would end up with. It’s quite conceivable that he’d give the Timberwolves a break and allow them to pay him significantly less than Young would have made on his option. It’s just as conceivable that he’d insist on a salary similar to his $12MM pay from this season, and that the Wolves would give it to him.

So, it’s unclear whether the trade will end up a net gain or loss of salary flexibility for the Wolves, who have about $51MM committed for 2015/16, not counting Chase Budinger‘s $5MM player option and what will almost certainly be a high lottery pick. The team probably wouldn’t have had a chance to open enough cap space to be a major player on the free agent market even if it hadn’t traded Young and he’d opted out, so the deal to bring in Garnett makes financial sense. Young could have left Minnesota without the cap flexibility to adequately replace him if he’d opted out, but Garnett seems more willing to commit to the team that Young had been. There’s a decent chance the real financial after-effects of the deal won’t be felt until 2016, when Garnett’s would-be two-year deal stands to take up space just when rival teams are clearing the decks for when the league’s TV deal drives the salary cap up to a projected $90MM.

Oklahoma City Thunder

In: ($13,230,621)

Out: ($13,536,598)

A divorce between the Thunder and Reggie Jackson seemed inevitable. The same was probably true of Enes Kanter and the Jazz, so Oklahoma City swapped one discontented soon-to-be free agent for another. The Thunder nonetheless paid a price. They took on $6.75MM in guaranteed salary for 2015/16 to Steve Novak and D.J. Augustin for next season and gave up only $947,276, Grant Jerrett‘s salary for next season. Oklahoma City emerges with more than $78.3MM already committed for next season against a projected $81MM tax line, and that doesn’t include a new deal for Kanter.

The Thunder’s willingness to use trade exceptions to bring on any significant additional salary from here forward is questionable, but it nonetheless appears the team was able to create a new trade exception equivalent to Reggie Jackson‘s $2,204,369 salary. One of its existing trade exceptions facilitates this, though Oklahoma City narrowly missed out on an opportunity to reap a new Jackson exception without using one it already had on the books. The outgoing salaries of Kendrick Perkins and Jerrett come to $10,470,824, meaning that the Thunder, a taxpaying team, could absorb 125% plus $100K of that amount in incoming salary. That comes to $13,188,530, agonizingly close to the $13,230,621 worth of incoming salary involved in the deal.

Still, the use of either the $1.25MM Hasheem Thabeet exception or the $915,243 Lance Thomas exception to absorb Kyle Singler‘s salary would fit the bill. No reports have indicated which one the Thunder used, but the assumption here is that they would use the Thabeet exception, since it expires much sooner and there’s only a negligible difference between its value and the that of the Thomas exception. In either case, hiding Singler’s salary in an existing trade exception lowers the rest of Oklahoma City’s incoming salary within the 125% plus $100K range of Perkins’ and Jerrett’s salaries, so Jackson’s salary can go out by itself. Thus, the Thunder could create that Jackson trade exception if they so desired.

The Thunder’s other trade was quite simple, with Ish Smith the only currently rostered player involved. Offloading him allows the Thunder to create a small trade exception for his $861,405 prorated minimum salary. More significantly, the deal allows Oklahoma City to save close to $1.225MM in taxes on Smith in addition to his salary, and it gives the Thunder a net savings instead of a net cost from their deadline-day activity, at least in terms of this season. Of course, the true cost lies ahead.

Portland Trail Blazers

In: ($8,665,243)

Out: ($5,963,603)

Your eyes don’t deceive you, and that’s not a typo. Arron Afflalo‘s incoming salary for the Blazers is different from the outgoing salary listed for him in the Nuggets ledger above. That’s because the $250K in bonus money that he gets if his team makes the playoffs went from an unlikely incentive to a likely one, as Pincus pointed out. Likely incentives are a part of a player’s cap figure while unlikely ones are not, and so from Portland’s perspective, he’s a slightly more expensive player, while the Nuggets were able to create a trade exception only for the cap figure he represented to them.

This bit of accounting costs the Blazers a chance to create a trade exception, assuming the deal would have been constructed the same way in a world where Afflalo doesn’t have a playoff bonus. Portland is over the cap but under the tax, so it can absorb as much as 150% plus $100K of what it gives up. Afflalo’s Denver salary would fit within 150% plus $100K of the salaries of Thomas Robinson and Victor Claver, but his bonus-inclusive Portland salary would not. So, Portland had to add Will Barton‘s salary to the equation rather than send it out by itself. If Barton hadn’t been needed for matching purposes, the Blazers could have slipped Gee’s salary into the minimum-salary exception and created a $915,243 trade exception equivalent to Barton’s salary. Of course, it seems just as logical to suspect that neither Barton nor Gee would be involved in the trade if Afflalo didn’t have a bonus, since the deal would work without them in that case, so it’s quite possible Portland wouldn’t have ended up with a trade exception either way.

Blazers GM Neil Olshey probably isn’t losing sleep over that would-be element, and there probably isn’t too much for him to fear regarding Afflalo’s player option. The Nuggets reportedly expected that Afflalo would command $9-10MM annually in his next deal, figures that would no doubt entice the shooting guard to turn down that $7.75MM option for next season. Even if he opts in, the Blazers would still have only about $30.8MM committed for 2015/16, giving them flexibility to pivot should they lose any of the three members of their starting five who are due for free agency this summer.

Utah Jazz

In: ($10,470,824)

Out ($9,140,621)

Salary seemed to factor little into the Jazz’s thinking in their deal, which among other assets gave the team a protected 2017 first-rounder and the rights to 7’2″ draft-and-stash center Tibor Pleiss, whom Utah appeared close to signing shortly after the trade. Those Pleiss talks hit a snag, but the Jazz are clearly focused on the future, and it seems likely the sides will discuss a contract again, and perhaps this summer, when the Jazz only have about $47MM earmarked for 2015/16. The Jazz arrived at that figure having offloaded Steve Novak‘s $3.75MM guaranteed 2015/16 salary in exchange for Grant Jerrett‘s $947,276 guarantee for next season, a net savings of nearly $2.803MM.

Kendrick Perkins, whom the Jazz have already waived in a buyout deal, and Kanter both had expiring contracts, but the continued presence of Kanter would have complicated Utah’s flexibility even if he was destined to play elsewhere, since, unless Utah renounced his rights and gave up leverage to make a sign-and-trade, Kanter’s cap hold would have been stuck on the books. Perkins’ cap hold, like his contract itself, is already gone, and while the Jazz could have made the same happen with Kanter, GM Dennis Lindsey and company surely would have held out to try to find some way of recouping at least a modicum of value for the former No. 3 overall pick.

The Jazz instead found an palatable return for Kanter at the deadline, and they saved money for next season while doing so. Plus, it didn’t cost the team much in salary for this season, if anything at all, depending on how much Perkins gave up in his buyout.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.