Washington Wizards

Southeast Notes: Heat, Wittman, Hawks

The Heat are excited with what they have seen thus far in training camp from rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, Joe Beguiristain of NBA.com writes. “It doesn’t happen too often, but I put the two young guys on the same team today and they’re very good defensively,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They got after it. They made the veterans work for it. They have a great versatility and energy between the two of them. I was very encouraged by what they brought today. [They were] very competitive in the defensive drills.

The rookies even managed to impress veteran shooting guard Dwyane Wade, Beguiristain notes, with Wade saying, “They enjoy playing defense. That’s half the battle. They’re both two different defenders. Justise is stronger [and] he’s hard to move. Josh is quick, he’s athletic, long. It’s good to see two young guys like that, with Tyler Johnson as well, they were all on the same team. You’ve got three guys who are like that, that like to be on the ball, ball hawk you [and] make it hard on you.

Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:

  • Having been criticized by former player Kevin Seraphin and current Wizards forward DeJuan Blair regarding how he doles out playing time, coach Randy Wittman defended his decisions, notes J. Michael of CSNMid-Atlantic.com. “You’ve got to maintain and be ready at all times, physically, mentally, attitude, all that. You’re not always going to be happy. Even the people you call stars, they aren’t always going to be happy but you got to be professional,” Wittman explained. “I’ve probably got a couple guys [expletive] at me today. … If you’re not happy with playing time you got to force playing time on me. Those kind of things.
  • The Magic are no longer going to use their roster’s relative youth as an excuse for not winning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “We’re never saying that ever again,” guard Victor Oladipo said. “It’s over with. At the end of the day, we’ve got to win. We’ve got to stop using that as an excuse. We want to win, and in order to win, you can have no excuses. We’re locked in on winning. The times around here for excuses are done. It’s time to get it done right now. It’s time to win.
  • The Hawks are hoping that newcomers Tiago Splitter and Edy Tavares will improve the team’s offense with their effectiveness in the pick and roll, KL Chouinard of NBA.com relays. “I think we’re going to have just a little more pressure on the rim with both Tiago and Edy, and their ability to roll and collapse the defense and put pressure on the rim and play around the rim,” coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said.

2015/16 Salary Cap: Washington Wizards

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 has been set at $70MM, which is an 11% increase from this past season, and the luxury tax line will be $84.74MM. The last cap projection from the league had been $67.1MM, and the projection for the tax line had been $81.6MM. We at Hoops Rumors are in the process of breaking down the cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the coming season. Next up on the list is the Washington Wizards:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $81,485,782
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $10,000
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $3,882,014
  • Total Salary Cap Commitments= $85,377,796
  • Remaining Cap Room= $15,377,796
  • Amount Above Luxury Tax Line= $637,796

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • Non-Taxpayer’s Mid-Level Exception= $1,464,000

Cash Available to Send Out In Trades= $3,400,000

Cash Available to Receive Via Trade= $3,400,000

Last update: 10/2/15 @ 8:00pm

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

Kevin Durant Brushes Aside Lakers Rumors

2:14pm: Smith, in his response to Durant, identifies the Thunder and the Lakers as well as the Heat, Wizards, and Knicks as the teams he’s heard Durant is considering (Twitlonger link).

FRIDAY, 12:25pm: Durant made it clear that he finds no truth to the rumor, as he explained to The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater“I don’t talk to Stephen A. Smith at all,” Durant said to Slater. “No one in my family [or] my friends do. So he’s lying.”

THURSDAY, 8:20am: Kevin Durant would prefer the Lakers over other teams in free agency next summer if he is to leave the Thunder, as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith hears (YouTube link; transcription via Glenn Erby of BlackSportsOnline), and as Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports 1 corroborates. Smith also hears that the possibility of Durant teaming up with Kobe Bryant to join Carmelo Anthony is in play, though he suggests that the notion is a long shot. It’s not entirely clear whether that scenario would play out on the Knicks or the Lakers.

Most of the executives who spoke with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com this summer told him they expect Durant will re-sign with the Thunder, with the Lakers, Mavericks and Wizards among the few alternatives with a legitimate chance at the former MVP and the Knicks on the fringe of the picture. Durant said this week that he’s “hit it off” with new Thunder coach Billy Donovan, adding to the idea that the incumbent Thunder are the favorites to put pen to paper with Durant this coming July. Rumors are sure to fly between now and then, but Durant put out a word of caution in August, saying that he’d only be discussing his future with a tight circle of advisers and that if reporters drew from other sources, the information wouldn’t be reliable.

Phil Jackson recently raised the idea of Bryant playing with a team other than the Lakers after this coming season, as Smith points out, but Bryant put the kibosh on that, telling Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports recently that, “I bleed purple-and-gold” and, “I am a Laker for better or worse.” Bryant, 37, is also considering retirement at season’s end. Anthony, the Knicks star, is the only one among himself, Bryant and Durant who isn’t a free agent after this season, as his contract doesn’t allow him to elect free agency until 2018. ‘Melo could waive his no-trade clause if he wants to join the Lakers, though both Jackson and the Lakers would have to agree to a deal for that to happen, a prospect further complicated by the 15% trade kicker on Anthony’s contract that the Knicks would have to pay in the event of a swap.

Durant’s projected maximum salary for 2016/17 is $24.9MM, a figure the Thunder can exceed the cap to pay because they have his Bird rights. The Lakers have less than $20MM in commitments for next season against a projected $89MM cap, and the Knicks have about $55MM, meaning both teams are poised to have enough room to make Durant a max offer.

Where do you think Durant ends up? Leave a comment to tell us.

Southeast Notes: Splitter, Neal, Batum, Ennis

Tiago Splitter admits that he was disappointed when he was traded to the Hawks in a move designed to clear salary cap room, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. The Spurs needed the cap space the trade provided to sign LaMarcus Aldridge, whom Splitter believes makes San Antonio the team to beat in the West, Greene adds. “It’s a great squad,” Splitter said of his former team. “On paper they are the favorites to win the title. They have David West. They have LaMarcus Aldridge. Of course, Tim Duncan. Just a great frontcourt over there. They are a very talented team. Of course you have to see how things work out for them on the practical side of the game, but on the interior they have a great team.

The big man said that his attitude regarding being dealt changed when he realized he’d be playing for coach Mike Budenholzer, a former assistant with the Spurs, Greene adds. “It’s nice to be in an environment where you already know the coach,” Splitter said. “I didn’t know the players before I got here but as soon as I got traded Bud told me that I was going to be in a great situation with great teammates. He gave me a lot of confidence that this team is going to be great once again. I don’t think a [learning curve] is going to be a problem. When I’ve talked to Bud so far I’ve seen that he has his own tricks and personality in the system, but it’s the same system we ran in San Antonio.

Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:

  • With the Wizards expected to utilize smaller lineups this season, Gary Neal‘s three-point shooting skills should play a big part in the team’s new offense, J. Michael of CSNMid-Atlantic writes. “The way the NBA is changing and evolving right now, how everybody is going to the four out, one in, the ball movement, not holding the ball, getting away from the isolation play, coach [Randy] Wittman is trying to teach that,” Neal said. “That offense is kind of new to him also. He went to a little bit of that against the Hawks in the playoffs and by playing Paul Pierce at the four he kind of liked that. So he was thinking about that throughout the whole summer. He’s teaching it to us. It’s new to us. Everybody’s learning. We should be alright.
  • Nicolas Batum will take on a much greater role with the Hornets than he had during his time in Portland, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “Nic has always been third or fourth option,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “Now he’s going to be second or first option.
  • Heat forward James Ennis said that the tendinitis that he was experiencing in his knees led to his poor showing in summer league play this year, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. “I was down on myself because I expected more from me,” Ennis told Jackson. “I’m really hard on myself. But I looked at it and said, ‘You’re injured.’ I was playing at 65%. I did a lot of treatment. My knee is a lot better. You’ll see it in the preseason.” Ennis, who has a non-guaranteed salary, is fighting for a regular season roster spot.

And-Ones: Bender, Wall, Durant, Brown, Lawson

European phenom Dragan Bender will make his U.S. debut in Chicago tonight for Israel Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv for the first of a pair of exhibitions against EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, as Zach Links of Hoops Rumors first reported he was likely to do. The 17-year-old has stirred no shortage of excitement, as international journalist David Pick writes for Bleacher Report. Almost all 30 NBA teams are set to scout the contests, with the Celtics, Nets, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Bucks among them, sources tell Pick. Hornets GM Rich Cho will be there, too, tweets Jake Fischer of SI Now. The Nuggets, Sixers and Magic have had talks with Maccabi officials about the 7’1″ power forward, Pick also hears. Bender is well ahead of where 2015 No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis was at the same age, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told Pick. Givony has Bender as the fifth-best prospect in next year’s draft, while Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranks him seventh.

“The only thing ’17 years old’ about him is his mustache,” Maccabi coach Guy Goodes said to Pick.

See more on Bender and other NBA news here:

  • Bender turns 18 next month, so he’ll turn 19 in 2016 and thus be eligible for early entry for the upcoming draft, but it’s not a given that he’ll declare, as Maccabi GM Nikola Vujcic, who also serves as Bender’s guardian, explained to Pick for the same piece. Vujcic suggested to Pick that Bender won’t enter the draft unless he receives a commitment from a team picking in the top three to five selections and suggested that he might decide to stay overseas for a while even if he is drafted.
  • John Wall says he and Kevin Durant are “really close” and reiterated that he’ll make a recruiting pitch to the former MVP who hits free agency next summer, though he adds that he’ll be cautious not to take an overbearing approach, as the Wizards point guard explains to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Nets declined to waive Markel Brown by Tuesday’s guarantee date, so his $200K partial guarantee jumped to a full guarantee on his $845,059 minimum salary, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That gives the Nets 13 fully guaranteed contracts among the 20 players they have in camp.
  • The Rockets are trying to minimize their risks with Ty Lawson, having told him that they’ll provide a ride for him to any destination at any time, according to TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Lawson, for whom Houston traded this summer despite two DUI arrests in six months, has been on his best behavior so far, Aldridge notes.

Southeast Notes: Scott, Fournier, Williams

Hawks forward Mike Scott spoke publicly Monday for the first time since his arrest this summer on felony drug charges. The veteran would not discuss details of the case, but did note that the gym has been a sanctuary during the past few months, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution relays. “I just come in every day and compete,” Scott said at Hawks media day. “Joke around and laugh with my teammates. This is kind of been my sanctuary for the summer. I come into the gym and work hard and put everything behind me. Then when in I get back to the locker room I’ll look at my phone and I’ll be ‘Oh, right. I forgot.’ Coming into the gym every day, working out with my teammates, is something that has been great for me.”

Scott did acknowledge that his situation has embarrassed the Hawks’ organization, Vivlamore adds. “I don’t like to make other people look bad,” Scott said. “I don’t like to embarrass people. I don’t want to feel embarrassed. I thought it made us look bad a little bit. I take full responsibility for that. Moving on.

Here’s the latest out of the Southeast Division:

  • Evan Fournier is eligible to sign a contract extension with the Magic prior to this year’s deadline, and he’d welcome a new deal if the parameters made sense, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “It would be awesome,” Fournier said when asked about a possible extension. “But, to be honest, I don’t even think about it because that’s not in my power. That’s not in my hands. Right now I’m focused on getting healthy and just being back on the court. But, yeah, it would be awesome, man.
  • John Wall would be happy to assist the Wizards in recruiting Kevin Durant, who is set to become a restricted free agent next summer, Royce Young of ESPN.com relays. “There’s gonna be an opportunity to throw a pitch at him to try to get him to come back home,” Wall told CSNMidAtlantic.com. “But I know one thing of just knowing him, he’s going to be very focused on taking care of Oklahoma City this season, and I’m going to be focused on taking care of the Washington Wizards. But when the time is right and he can get away from all that, yeah, we’ll probably have some conversation and throw a pitch.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford doesn’t expect the role of Marvin Williams will be diminished despite the offseason additions of Frank Kaminsky, Tyler Hansbrough, and Spencer Hawes, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “He’ll play the majority of his minutes at [power forward], but he could play [small forward] some nights depending on matchups,” Clifford said of Williams. “He’ll space the floor and be a very good defender. He adds versatility because he can switch [defensively] with some of the perimeter guys. Really the way the NBA is going he’s becoming the prototypical [power forward] now 6’8″ or 6’9″, can make 3s and guard different guys.
  • Mario Chalmers, who was the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason, leaned on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for support to get through the uncertainty surrounding his future with the Heat, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “LeBron and D-Wade are my two closest people when I’ve got things going on in my mind,” Chalmers said. “I talked to those two in the summer and it really helped ease my mind. Bron, big brother, he told me, ‘Don’t worry — it’s a business.’”

New York Notes: ‘Melo, Fisher, Seraphin, Young

Carmelo Anthony said that he’ll be taking Kristaps Porzingis under his wing, further distancing himself from the idea that he was upset with the Knicks for drafting the Latvian big man fourth overall, as Marc Berman of the New York Post details.

“As far as him going into this season, I kind of feel bad for him,’’ Anthony said. “There’s so much pressure on him. This guy hasn’t played one minute in the NBA. I’m going to try to be a big brother to him and try to take the pressure off. There’s going to be so much pressure he’s never experienced yet. He’s 19 years old, first time in the NBA. This is new to him. A newcomer in New York. That’s tough. I don’t think he knows what he’s getting himself into. I have to be that role for him.’’

See more on the Knicks and their New York rivals, the Nets:

  • Derek Fisher has twice reminded reporters that he, and not Phil Jackson, is the coach of the Knicks in response to inquiries about Jackson’s plan for increased involvement with the coaching staff this season, but Fisher resists the idea that he’s feeling insecure, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News“I was asked a question. I don’t think about it until I’m asked about it. I’m me and he’s him and I don’t get caught up in how much and not enough and it’s my job. I’m the coach of the team. How we do will fall on my shoulders,” Fisher said. “It doesn’t matter who says what or how many percentages or times we meet and watch film or whatever. It’s on me. And I’m comfortable with that. I wouldn’t have accepted the job if I wasn’t comfortable with it.”
  • The Knicks convinced Kevin Seraphin that they have room for him to contribute, a key in persuading him to sign with New York after he felt frustration about his lack of playing time with the Wizards last season, as he explained to reporters, including Berman, who writes in a separate piece. Seraphin signed a one-year, $2.814MM deal with the Knicks after averaging 15.6 minutes per game in 79 appearances for Washington this past season.
  • Thaddeus Young cited his family’s comfort in the New York area as one reason he decided to opt out and re-sign with the Nets instead of opting in for the coming season, notes Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. Young, believed to be the first Nets player to live in Brooklyn since the franchise moved there three years ago, inked a four-year, $50MM deal in July after turning down a nearly $10.222MM player option.
  • Joe Johnson wasn’t exactly fond of Deron Williams, sources told Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com, and Johnson expressed puzzlement Monday about why Williams would buy his way off the Nets, as Mazzeo details. Williams gave up all but about $27.5MM of the nearly $43.374MM left on his contract to escape Brooklyn, but, “It’s not that bad here,” Johnson insists.
  • Johnson, 34, also hinted at retirement, saying that he plans to play beyond this season, the last one on his contract with the Nets, but not ruling out a change of heart. “God willing, as long as I’m healthy I’ll continue to play,” Johnson said, as Mazzeo relays in the same piece. “I don’t think it’s my last, but we’ll see.”

Wizards Pick Up 2016/17 Option On Otto Porter

The Wizards have exercised their $5,893,981 team option on Otto Porter‘s rookie scale deal for 2016/17, according to the RealGM transactions log. That’ll keep the former No. 3 overall pick under contract through that season, the last on his rookie scale pact. The team has yet to make an official announcement, but it appears as though Washington has made the move well in advance of the November 2nd deadline.

It’s no surprise to see the Wizards pick up the option, even though it adds to their books for next summer, when they’ll surely be chasing Washington native Kevin Durant in free agency. Porter took strides last season after a disappointing rookie year, and he made a strong impression in the playoffs this past spring, when he averaged 10.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 33.1 minutes per game across 10 postseason appearances. The 22-year-old small forward figures to see more minutes this season in the wake of Paul Pierce‘s departure.

Adding Porter’s option gives Washington more than $39MM in guaranteed salary for 2016/17, roughly $50MM less than the projected $89MM cap. Durant’s maximum salary is a projected $24.9MM, and the Wizards are also considering an extension for Bradley Beal that could add up to $20.4MM to the ledger, based on Beal’s projected max. A max contract for Durant and a max extension for Beal, plus the cap holds the team would be required to carry for open roster spots, would probably leave the Wizards without the flexibility necessary to build a credible bench for next season, as I explained when I looked at Beal’s extension candidacy. Letting Beal hit restricted free agency next summer would allow the Wizards about $6.2MM more in cap flexibility while still affording them an opportunity to sign him for the max after they use up their cap space on others, since Washington would have Beal’s Bird rights.

Porter looms as a potential sign-and-trade candidate if the Wizards ink Beal to a max extension this fall and if Porter continues to blossom. Still, that would require the Thunder to play along, and Oklahoma City might not want to assist another team even if Durant makes it clear he’d like to play elsewhere.

What do you think Porter’s ceiling is? Leave a comment to tell us.

Southeast Notes: Bazemore, Heat, Wizards

Hawks guard Kent Bazemore is entering the final season of his current deal, but there is mutual interest between the team and the 26-year-old in reaching an agreement on a new contract next offseason, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. Speaking about his feelings for Atlanta, Bazemore said, “I’ve come to love Atlanta. Of the whole summer, I was probably only gone two weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time here. I just moved into a new house. I’m renting it. Maybe I can buy it next year.” Bazemore and the Hawks will have to wait until next summer to work out a new deal since his current deal was signed for less than four years, meaning Bazemore is ineligible to sign an extension during the season, Vivlamore adds.

Here’s the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat assistant Dan Craig was officially named as head coach of the franchise’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the team announced. The news of Craig’s hiring was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
  • Jaron Johnson‘s one-year deal with the Wizards is non-guaranteed and for the league minimum, while Jaleel Robertsagreement is also for the minimum, but his includes a partial guarantee of $10K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter links).
  • The Heat‘s deals with John Lucas III and Tre Kelley are one-year pacts for the league minimum and do not include any guaranteed salary, Pincus tweets.
  • Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said that it may make more sense for the team to carry the regular season maximum of 15 players rather than keeping a slot open, Vivlamore tweets. Atlanta currently has 13 players inked to fully guaranteed deals.
  • The Hornets are hoping that Jeremy Lamb will get off to a fresh start in Charlotte after not seeing much playing time during his three seasons with the Thunder, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. Lamb was acquired back in June in exchange for for Luke Ridnour and a 2016 second-round pick.
  • Greg Stiemsma‘s and Nnanna Egwu‘s one-year, minimum salary deals with the Magic are non-guaranteed, while Keith Appling and Jordan Sibert‘s minimum salary arrangements include partial guarantees of $100K, Pincus relays in a series of tweets.
  • The presence of Goran Dragic, who re-signed with the Heat this offseason, was a big draw for Amar’e Stoudemire to join Miami as a free agent, Surya Fernandez of SB Nation tweets. Of Dragic, Stoudemire said, “If he would have stayed in Phoenix, I would have thought about going back to Phoenix.

Wizards Eye Cap Space, Offer Beal Less Than Max?

MONDAY, 4:47pm: Beal indicated that negotiations remain open and cordial, and that the lack of an extension by the deadline doesn’t mean the sides won’t strike up talks again next summer, when Beal would be a restricted free agent, writes J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic.

“I’m confident [something will be worked out before October ends],” Beal said, according to Michael. “It’s just a matter of them doing it. If they do or don’t it’s fine either way. I still have to play the season. That’s the only thing I’m concerned about.” 

MONDAY, 12:30pm: Beal denies that the Wizards made him an offer, Castillo tweets.

FRIDAY, 3:27pm: The Wizards have offered an extension to Bradley Beal, but it’s worth less than the maximum salary he’s seeking because the team wants to preserve cap flexibility for next summer, a source tells Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. That makes it unlikely the Mark Bartelstein client signs an extension, Castillo writes, though the sides have until the end of November 2nd to negotiate. An earlier report indicated that the Wizards wanted non-guaranteed salary involved in any max deal, though Castillo’s dispatch makes it seem as though the total value of Washington’s offer, and not just the guaranteed portion, is less than the max.

Washington would likely have room to bring in D.C. native Kevin Durant or another free agent on a max deal next summer even if the team signs Beal to a max extension, but that would leave almost no flexibility for the team to carry credible bench players, as I explained when I looked at the possibility of Beal’s extension. Keeping Beal unsigned would allow the team to carry his cap hold of about $14.2MM into next summer instead of a max salary figure, which would be a projected $20.4MM. The Wizards would have the right to match competing bids for Beal in restricted free agency if they pass on an extension, so they could let him sit unsigned while they use the July Moratorium period to chase Durant and others.

The plan could backfire if Beal signs an offer sheet with another team that contains terms the Wizards find undesirable. However, Spurs employed a similar strategy with Kawhi Leonard to great success this past year, declining to sign him to an extension and using the extra cap flexibility to sign LaMarcus Aldridge and others before circling back to tie up Leonard on a five-year max deal.

Leonard’s deal includes a player option on the final season, and Beal reportedly wants that in any deal for less than the max. The Wizards can’t sign him to a five-year deal unless he hits free agency, since they already made John Wall their Designated Player, so an extension that includes a player option would allow Beal to leave as soon as 2018.

The Wizards and Beal’s camp have maintained talks but achieved little progress, as Castillo reported earlier this month. It represents a shift from last year, when the Wizards were reportedly already planning to do an extension with Beal when he became eligible this summer. As recently as this spring, Washington was apparently committed to reaching a max deal with the shooting guard, though that may simply have to wait until next July.

What do you think the Wizards should do with Beal? Leave a comment to let us know.

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