Free Agency Rumors: DeRozan, Smart, Dragic, Tucker

It appears that several teams remain interested in adding veteran free agent Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, but are trying to gauge his market. Jordan Schultz of ESPN reports (Twitter link) that the Clippers would like to sign DeRozan, as would the Spurs if the price is right.

Schultz notes that there are other clubs interested in DeRozan, but that, assuming DeRozan is not tendered an overwhelming deal, the former four-time All-Star will take his time in determining a destination.

Here are more free agency rumors from around the NBA world:

  • With Lonzo Ball now headed to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade deal as a restricted free agent, another team that had been floated as a potential destination, the Celtics, will most likely not attempt to move on from guard Marcus Smart, tweets Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. Murphy adds (Twitter link) that Smart is hoping to earn a four-year, $80MM contract extension from Boston. The Celtics, Murphy notes, appear more focused on 2022 free agency than this season.
  • After being replaced in an upcoming sign-and-trade for veteran free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, former Heat guard Goran Dragic is hoping to be sent to the Mavericks, with the particulars of the deal between Miami and the Raptors still not disclosed, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link).
  • Now that the news has broken that newly-minted NBA champion P.J. Tucker will be joining the Heat rather than return to the Bucks in free agency, Sam Amick of The Athletic notes a big part of the reason was Milwaukee’s exorbitant expected tax bill. The Bucks appear hopeful to replace Tucker’s versatile defensive contributions by agreeing to a deal with former Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye.

Young, Satoransky, Brunson Receive Salary Guarantees

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young ($14.2MM) and guard Tomas Satoransky ($10MM) both saw their contracts for next season become fully guaranteed on Monday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Satoransky is reportedly on the way to the Pelicans as part of a sign-and-trade involving Lonzo Ball.

Also having his salary guaranteed Monday was Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson ($1.8MM), Marks adds (via Twitter). Marks identifies Brunson as a potential extension candidate.

All three players will be in line for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Sixers Intend To Waive George Hill

The Sixers are planning to waive veteran guard George Hill, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Hill, acquired by Philadelphia at the trade deadline in March, is currently under contract for 2021/22 with a cap hit of $10.05MM. However, only about $1.28MM of that salary is guaranteed, so the Sixers can save some money and generate a little extra cap flexibility by releasing him before his salary guarantee deadline this week.

Hill, who began the 2020/21 season with Oklahoma City, averaged 8.7 PPG and 2.4 APG on .482/.388/.800 shooting in 30 total contests (22.4 MPG) for the Thunder and Sixers. He didn’t make much of an impact in the postseason for Philadelphia, with just 4.7 PPG and 1.5 APG in 12 playoff games (17.1 MPG).

While Hill wasn’t exactly a bargain on his $10MM salary, he’d be a worthwhile investment at a lower rate. If and when he clears waivers, he should receive interest from teams looking to add an affordable veteran guard to their bench.

Heat To Re-Sign Gabe Vincent

The Heat are set to bring back free agent point guard Gabe Vincent on a two-year, $3.5MM minimum contract, Vincent’s agent Bill Neff informs Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Vincent, 25, appeared in 50 games for the Heat during the 2020/21 season, including seven starts. Vincent averaged 4.8 PPG, 1.3 APG and 1.1 RPG in 13.1 MPG last year.

After going undrafted out of UC Santa Barbara in 2018, Vincent played with the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s NBAGL affiliate, for the 2018/19 season.

He then latched on with the Heat as a two-way player for the 2019/20 season. Vincent appeared in just nine games for Miami during his rookie season, spending most of his time with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

He was named the Most Improved Player in the G League for 2019/20 while with Sioux Falls, after averaging 21.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.1 APG, while pouring in a .450/.406/.923 slash line. At the NBA level, he has been a gritty, defense-first option on the perimeter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Nearing Deal With Spencer Dinwiddie

Free agent point guard Spencer Dinwiddie is nearing a deal to join the Wizards, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) says the two sides are working toward a three-year deal that will be worth roughly $60MM.

Dinwiddie had been linked to Washington repeatedly in the days leading up to free agency, but there was some uncertainty about whether a union would be possible — the Wizards don’t have the cap space necessary to sign the point guard outright and the Nets will be averse to taking on any unwanted salary in a sign-and-trade arrangement.

If Dinwiddie is close to an agreement with the Wizards, perhaps the involved parties – Dinwiddie, the Wizards, and the Nets – are confident they’ll able to work out a deal that appeals to everyone. We’ll await further details.

If the Wizards land Dinwiddie, they’ll be getting a 28-year-old point guard who is coming off a lost season. He appeared in just three games before missing the rest of the 2020/21 campaign due to a partially torn ACL. However, Dinwiddie was reportedly cleared for all basketball activities in June and the expectation is that he’ll be good to go for the fall.

In his last full season, Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 PPG and 6.8 APG on .415/.308/.778 shooting in 64 games (31.2 MPG) for Brooklyn in 2019/20.

The Wizards have agreed to send their starting point guard, Russell Westbrook, to the Lakers for a package that doesn’t include a point guard, so addressing the position was a top priority for the team in free agency.

Warriors Agree To Sign Otto Porter

The Warriors have reached a deal with free agent forward Otto Porter, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Porter turned down the mid-level exception elsewhere in order to join Golden State on a minimum-salary deal, sources tell Haynes (Twitter link).

Porter, 28, was a reliable three-and-D wing earlier in his career, earning a maximum-salary investment during the 2017 free agent period when the Wizards matched his four-year, $106MM+ offer sheet from Brooklyn.

However, injury issues derailed Porter’s career in recent years. He has played just 42 games since the start of the 2019/20 season and has spent time with the Bulls and Magic since being traded out of Washington in 2019.

If Porter stays healthy, he’d be a terrific fit on the wing in Golden State, helping the team space the floor on offense and handle opposing forwards on defense. Porter is a career 40.2% three-point shooter and has averaged 10.9 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 441 regular season contests since entering the league in 2013.

Thunder To Sign Shai Gilgeous-Alexander To Five-Year Max Extension

The Thunder and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have agreed to a five-year, $172MM maximum rookie contract extension, agent Thaddeus Foucher informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

Gilgeous-Alexander will still be on his rookie contract for one final season, and is set to make $5,495,532 in 2021/22. His new deal will kick in for the 2022/23 season. The new contract’s precise value will be contingent on exactly where the 2022/23 season cap lands.

As of this writing, Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to earn $29.75MM, based on the new $119MM salary cap projection for the 2022/23 season, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link). Per Marks’s projections, SGA will net $39.27MM during the final year of the deal, in 2026/27.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes (via Twitter) that the contract will include a 30% “escalator clause” that could increase the $172MM base of the deal into a $207MM agreement, provided Gilgeous-Alexander is voted onto one of the three All-NBA teams in 2022. Woj adds that there are no early termination options for either side in the new extension.

The 6’6″ combo guard was selected with No. 11 pick in the 2018 draft out of Kentucky and enjoyed an All-Rookie Second Team-caliber debut NBA season with the Clippers. He was the key element in a pick-heavy trade that sent All-Star forward Paul George to Los Angeles, and has since proved his mettle in two seasons with Oklahoma City.

Gilgeous-Alexander, 23, missed most of the 2020/21 season’s second half with a plantar fasciitis injury. When he was healthy, he produced at a high level. The 6’6″ 23-year-old averaged 23.7 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 4.7 RPG in 35 games last year. He posted a solid slash line of .508/.418/.808.

An excellent scorer with room to grow on defense, Gilgeous-Alexander has future All-Star potential. The Thunder were wise to lock him in to a long-term deal, even though the team appears more interested in asset accrual over winning in the short term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hawks, Trae Young Agree To Five-Year Max Extension

11:02pm: The Hawks and Young are in agreement on a five-year, maximum-salary extension, agent Omar Wilkes tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski pegs the projected value of Young’s deal at $207MM, which would mean a starting salary worth 30% of a $119MM cap in 2022/23. That suggests that Atlanta has indeed put Rose Rule language in the deal, but Young will still need to meet the criteria to earn that amount. If he fails to earn All-NBA honors next season, the extension would be worth a projected $172.55MM.

3:59pm: The Hawks and star guard Trae Young are expected to finalize an agreement on a maximum-salary contract extension shortly after he becomes extension-eligible on Monday night, reports Jeff Schultz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The move had been widely expected, as Young has emerged as the cornerstone of a Hawks team that made a surprising Eastern Conference Finals run this season.

He averaged 25.3 PPG, 9.4 APG, and 3.9 RPG in 63 regular season games (33.7 MPG) in 2020/21, then helped lead Atlanta past the Knicks and Sixers in the first two rounds of the playoffs before suffering a foot injury in the Eastern Finals vs. Milwaukee.

Young remains under his rookie contract for one more season and will earn $8.33MM in 2021/22. His extension would go into effect in ’22/23.

The exact value of that deal would depend on where the cap lands for the 2022/23 season. However, a conservative estimate would result in a five-year deal of approximately $168MM.

That number could increase to about $201.5MM if the Hawks include Rose Rule language that would bump Young’s starting salary to 30% of the cap instead of 25%. However, he’d have to earn an All-NBA spot this coming season to trigger that increase.

Young is one of a number of young stars entering the final year of their respective rookie contracts who could receive a maximum-salary extension shortly after the NBA’s new league year begins.

Luka Doncic, who has already qualified for the 30% max, is in line to get a five-year extension, though it likely won’t be finalized until after the Olympics. Multiple reports have indicated the Thunder will likely lock up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to a max-salary extension, and Marc Stein identified Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) as other strong candidates for max extensions.

Salary Cap, Tax Line Set For 2021/22 NBA Season

While it flew under the radar amidst a flurry of contract agreements during the first few hours of 2021’s free agent period, the NBA has officially set the salary cap for its 2021/22 season. As expected, the cap increased by right around 3% on last season’s $109,140,000 figure. Here are the details, courtesy of a league press release:

  • Salary cap: $112,414,000
  • Luxury tax line: $136,606,000
  • Salary floor: $101,173,000
  • Non-taxpayer mid-level exception: $9,536,000
  • Taxpayer mid-level exception: $5,890,000
  • Room exception: $4,910,000
  • Maximum salaries:
    • 6 years or fewer: $28,103,500
    • 7-9 years: $33,724,200
    • 10+ years: $39,344,900

The tax apron for the 2021/22 league year is at almost exactly $143MM, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. That will be the hard cap for any team that acquires a player via sign-and-trade, signs a player using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, or signs a player using a bi-annual exception.

While the 2021/22 figures are essentially what we expected, the NBA has adjusted its 2022/23 projections and is now forecasting a $119MM cap and a $145MM tax line, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The most recent projections for ’22/23, from last November, were a $115.7MM cap and a $140MM tax line, so that’s a significant increase and suggests that the NBA’s revenue projections are more positive than initially expected.

Bucks, Semi Ojeleye Agree To One-Year Contract

The 2021 NBA champion Bucks will be adding forward Semi Ojeleye to shore up their frontcourt depth, agent Sean Kennedy informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

Eric Nehm of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that Ojeleye is set to join the Bucks on a one-year, minimum contract.

Selected with the No. 37 pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of SMU by the Celtics, the 6’6″ forward spent his first four NBA seasons in Boston. Though not much of a scorer (his career-best average thus far is 4.6 PPG in 2020/21), Ojeleye nevertheless found his way into the rotation for the Celtics’ various playoff-bound teams over the years, including two Eastern Conference Finals teams in 2018 and 2020.

A versatile defender, Ojeleye could fill the absence left by veteran tweener forward P.J. Tucker, who is expected to depart for the Heat after agreeing to a new two-year,  $15MM deal.

In 2020/21, Ojeleye averaged the aforementioned 4.6 PPG, to go along with 2.6 RPG, in 17.0 minutes per contest. He played in 56 games, starting 15. The 26-year-old Ojeleye proved to be a reliable three-point shooter last year, albeit on a modest volume, connecting on 36.7% of his 2.8 looks from long range.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.