Blazers Issue Qualifying Offer To Jake Layman

The Trail Blazers have tendered a qualifying offer to forward Jake Layman, the team announced today (via Twitter). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported (via Twitter) that Portland would give a QO to Layman to make him a restricted free agent.

Layman, 25, has spent the first three years of his NBA career with the Blazers, but didn’t emerge as a reliable rotation player for the club until 2018/19. In 71 games (33 starts) last season, the former Maryland standout averaged 7.6 PPG and 3.1 RPG on .509/.326/.704 shooting in 18.7 minutes per contest.

The Blazers hold Layman’s Bird rights, so there will be no cap restrictions preventing the club from re-signing him. Portland does project to be a potential taxpayer though, so luxury tax considerations could dissuade the team from going too high on Layman if he draws interest from other suitors. His qualifying offer is worth $1,931,189, as we noted in our look at the Blazers’ cap situation last month.

Layman was the only Blazer eligible for restricted free agency this summer, so no further QOs are forthcoming. He’ll join teammates Al-Farouq Aminu, Seth Curry, Rodney Hood, and Enes Kanter – all of whom are unrestricted free agents – on the open market.

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Kawhi, Gasol, Green, Siakam

Despite rumors that the Wizards might try to make a run at him this offseason to become their head of basketball operations, Masai Ujiri told reporters today that he isn’t going anywhere. As Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter links) relays, the Raptors‘ president of basketball operations said he envisions a long-term future in Toronto.

Ujiri acknowledged that potential interest from other clubs is a “blessing,” but said that he’s happy and has grown as a person in Toronto, and wants to win more with the Raptors.

Here’s more from Ujiri’s end-of-season press conference today:

  • Asked about Kawhi Leonard‘s upcoming free agency, Ujiri said he always feels “confident” about the Raptors’ chances, but will respect the star forward’s decision no matter what he does. Ujiri thinks the Raps have “built a trust” with Kawhi, adding that there have been positive talks lately (Twitter links via Murphy).
  • According to Ujiri, he texted with Leonard last night and talked to “Uncle Dennis” today, and he believes there will be constant communication between the two sides. He’s leaving plans for a meeting up to Leonard’s camp, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun.
  • The Raptors will be in a bit of a holding pattern this offseason until Leonard makes his decision, Ujiri admitted, but he’s fine with that. “We’ll wait,” he said, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). “He’s our player and he’s a superstar on our team and we’ll wait on that.”
  • Ujiri would like to bring everybody back for next season, including Marc Gasol, who has a player option for 2019/20, and Danny Green, who will be an unrestricted free agent (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • Pascal Siakam, the NBA’s Most Improved Player, is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason and Ujiri expects to meet with Siakam’s agent during Summer League next month (Twitter link via Murphy).

Celtics Emerging As Possible Kemba Walker Suitor

With the Celtics‘ roster and cap situation in a state of flux, the team is emerging as a “stealth suitor” for All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter).

The Celtics’ situation is a fluid one, according to Stein (via Twitter), who acknowledges that the team will weigh a number of options to address both its backcourt and frontcourt. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are expected to sign elsewhere and Aron Baynes is heading to Phoenix, while Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris are also free agents.

If the Celtics renounce all those players, they should have enough cap room to make a maximum-salary offer to a player like Walker, adding him to a core that features Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. However, it sounds like that’s just one of the options that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will consider.

The Mavericks and Lakers are among the teams believed to be eyeing Walker, who has also been frequently linked to the Knicks. For his part, Kemba has said that the Hornets remain his first priority and has indicated he’s open to accepting less than the super-max to return to Charlotte.

That super-max deal would be worth a projected $221MM+ over five years. A standard max with the Hornets projects to be worth just shy of $190MM over five seasons, while a rival suitor could offer Walker up to about $141MM for four years.

Magic Pick Up Wesley Iwundu’s 2019/20 Option

12:01pm: The Magic have made it official, announcing that they’ve exercised Iwundu’s option.

11:35am: The Magic are exercising their 2019/20 team option to retain Wesley Iwundu, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). The move will lock in Iwundu’s salary for next season, which is worth $1,618,520, per Basketball Insiders.

Iwundu, the 33rd overall pick in the 2017 draft, played a regular rotation role for Orlando in his second NBA season, averaging 5.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.1 APG with a .412/.367/.816 shooting line in 68 games (18.1 MPG).

[RELATED: NBA Team Option Decisions For 2019/20]

The 24-year-old small forward is also one of Orlando’s top perimeter defenders. The team’s defensive rating with Iwundu on the court last season was 102.4, compared to 107.5 when he sat. The Magic even managed to post a 93.8 defensive rating during Iwundu’s 60 postseason minutes vs. the eventual-champion Raptors.

With his option exercised, Iwundu is now on track to reach restricted free agency during the summer of 2020.

Knicks Decline 2019/20 Option On Billy Garrett

The Knicks are turning down their 2019/20 team option on shooting guard Billy Garrett, reports Michael Scotto of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The move doesn’t come as a surprise. Even if they don’t land their top targets in free agency, the Knicks want to maximize their cap room, and clearing Garrett’s modest $1,416,852 option from their books creates a little bit of added flexibility.

Garrett, 24, made his NBA debut in April for the Knicks, posting 6.5 PPG and 1.8 APG in four games (15.8 MPG) for the club down the stretch.

Garrett will technically be eligible for restricted free agency since he only has one year of NBA experience under his belt, but New York almost certainly won’t tender him a qualifying offer since that QO would also eat into the club’s cap space. The former DePaul standout will instead be on track for unrestricted free agency.

Mavs Interested In Patrick Beverley, Nikola Mirotic

Free-agent-to-be guard Patrick Beverley is “very much in play” for the Mavericks next week, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Sources tell Townsend that Beverley and the Mavs view one another as a “perfect fit.”

It remains to be seen how much of their projected cap room the Mavs will be willing to commit to Beverley, who figures to be in line for a sizable raise. The veteran point guard is also expected to draw interest from teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Sixers. Still, a source tells Townsend that Beverley and the Mavs plan to meet near the start of free agency.

Nikola Mirotic is another free agent receiving consideration from the Mavericks, a source tells Townsend, though the veteran power forward is further down on the team’s wish list than Beverley. Mirotic appears unlikely to re-sign with the Bucks, since they’ll also be trying to bring back Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez.

Meanwhile, Nikola Vucevic has long been viewed as a potential target for Dallas, but Townsend hears that the Magic center will be seeking a starting salary in the $25MM range, which would likely price the Mavs out of the bidding. The Magic, Celtics, and Kings could be among the teams in play for Vucevic, Townsend adds, noting that Al Horford appears to be a more likely target for Dallas if the club decides to spend big on a center.

The Mavs project to have about $29-30MM in cap space this summer if they keep the cap holds for Kristaps Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber on their books. They could create a little extra flexibility by renouncing Finney-Smith and/or Kleber, but wouldn’t be able to carve out significantly more space without moving a player like Tim Hardaway or Courtney Lee.

Latest On Nets, Kyrie Irving, D’Angelo Russell

For several weeks, many of the NBA’s most plugged-in reporters have penciled in the Nets as Kyrie Irving‘s probable landing spot, and that still appears true, sources around the league tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) conveys a similar sentiment, suggesting that – of the two New York teams – the Nets are the significant favorites over the Knicks for Irving.

However, as Lowe notes, the Nets’ preference has long been to pair Irving with a second star, with Kevin Durant widely assumed to be that second star. Now that Durant is set to miss 2019/20 due to an Achilles tear and his free agency intentions remain uncertain, Brooklyn must weigh whether Irving would be worth a substantial investment on his own, Lowe writes.

Irving’s projected maximum salary ($32.7MM) is more than $5MM higher than Russell’s ($27.25MM), but he’s also the better player, and most executives who spoke to Lowe agree that Kyrie is the better value if both players get max deals — even taking into account his potential to shake up the Nets’ locker room. However, if Russell’s new deal comes in at a few million below the max, those execs aren’t quite as sure that Brooklyn should opt for Kyrie over D-Lo, according to Lowe.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Nets and Russell:

  • The Suns are in the market for a point guard and Devin Booker has advocated for Russell, who is a close friend. However, Lowe hears that “other voices within the Suns” may not be as enthusiastic about pursuing Russell.
  • Sources tell Lowe that there’s “at least a kernel of truth” to rumors of the Lakerspotential interest in a Russell reunion. L.A. still has a lot to sort out though, Lowe cautions. The Knicks, meanwhile, are likely to pursue shorter-term deals if they strike out on this year’s elite free agents, meaning they likely wouldn’t be a suitor for Russell, says Lowe.
  • If the Nets don’t end up landing Irving or Durant, re-signing Russell and adding a second-tier free agent like Tobias Harris would be another potential path for the franchise. However, Lowe writes that Brooklyn won’t want to risk locking itself into a “pretty good” roster and is more likely to swing for the fences.
  • Lowe’s prediction: If Irving wants to come, the Nets will sign him with or without Durant, and will figure out the rest later.

Trade Details: Jazz, Warriors, Lakers, Magic, More

NBA teams weren’t allowed to send out more than $5.243MM in trades during the 2018/19 league year, but the Jazz entered last Thursday’s draft will that full allotment still available, and made use of it during the second round.

According to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (via Twitter), the Jazz sent their own unprotected 2021 second-round pick along with $1MM in cash to the Pacers in order to acquire the No. 50 overall pick. Utah used that selection to nab Charleston forward Jarrell Brantley.

The Jazz also traded for one more selection near the very end of the draft, sending $2MM to the Warriors in exchange for the rights to No. 58 pick Miye Oni, tweets Pincus. In total, Utah gave up $3MM and a future second-rounder to acquire the two picks in the 50s.

Here are a few more leftover trade details from draft night, courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Warriors sent an even $1MM and their own 2021 and 2023 unprotected second-round picks to the Pelicans in order to acquire the rights to No. 39 pick Alen Smailagic, Pincus tweets.
  • The exact amount of cash the Lakers sent to the Magic to acquire the rights to No. 46 pick Talen Horton-Tucker was $2,226,778, according to Pincus (Twitter link). That was precisely the amount that Orlando was still eligible to receive. The Lakers’ own 2020 second-round pick was also sent to the Magic in that deal.
  • In the deal that saw them send the draft rights to Bol Bol (No. 44 pick) to the Nuggets, the Heat received $1.2MM in cash and will get either the Nuggets’ or Sixers’ 2022 second-round pick (whichever is lower), Pincus reports (via Twitter).
  • In exchange for Jonathon Simmons and the No. 42 pick, the Sixers acquired $2MM in cash from the Wizards, according to Pincus, who adds (via Twitter) that Washington didn’t require Simmons to pass a physical.

Free Agent Rumors: Dedmon, Birch, Beverley, Brogdon

Over the weekend, we passed along comments from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who said during a podcast with colleagues Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony that the Timberwolves have legit interest in D’Angelo Russell. Besides outlining Minnesota’s apparent plan for making a run at Russell, Lowe – and Marks – also shared a few more interesting tidbits on free agency, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon has been receiving plenty of interest from teams as a mid-level target, according to Lowe, who refers to Dedmon as “sneakily the most coveted under-the-radar free agent in the league.”
  • Marks adds that Magic big man Khem Birch has also generated substantial interest, though he cautions that teams may not want to tie up cap room in an offer sheet for the RFA-to-be.
  • Lowe and Marks both believe Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley will do very well in free agency. After initially viewing Beverley as a mid-level type player, Marks now believes that the veteran could get an offer closer to $14-15MM per year.
  • Despite a history of foot issues that could limit his value to some extent, the Bucks are “bracing” for a big offer sheet for Malcolm Brogdon, per Lowe. If Brogdon gets a deal in the range of $20MM+ per year, Milwaukee may have to decide between becoming a taxpaying team or letting him go.
  • According to Lowe, the Bucks and Pacers have “walk-away” numbers for Brogdon and Bojan Bogdanovic, respectively, if the bidding gets too high, though he’s not sure what those specific numbers are.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Named League MVP

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the league’s Most Valuable Player on Monday. NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement at the league’s annual awards show.

Last year’s winner, Rockets guard James Harden, and Thunder forward Paul George were the other finalists.

Antetokounmpo’s overall excellence while leading the Bucks to a 60-22 record was enough to beat out Harden’s big scoring numbers. The Greek Freak averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks. Harden averaged 36.1 points, the highest total since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 during the 1986/87 season.

The voting wasn’t as close as expected. Antetokounmpo received 78 of the 101 first-place votes and was second on the other 23 ballots. Harden had the reverse, with 23 first-place votes and 78 second-place selections.

The Bucks dominated the awards ceremony, as Mike Budenholzer won Coach of the Year and GM Jon Horst was named Executive of the Year.

Harden was Hoops Rumors’ consensus choice.

Links to the other major awards handed out on Monday can be found below: