Dragan Bender Likely To Sign With CSKA Moscow

Former No. 4 overall pick Dragan Bender has reached a verbal agreement with EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, a source tells Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops (Twitter link). According to Varlas, Bender is expected to join CSKA Moscow unless he gets an offer from an NBA team at the 11th hour.

Keith Smith of RealGM files a similar report, tweeting that Bender’s agreement with CSKA Moscow will allow him to continue seeking out NBA deals for a little while longer. If nothing materializes, the power forward will head to Russia for the 2019/20 season.

Bender, 21, spent the last three seasons with the Suns after being selected fourth overall in 2016. However, he failed to develop into a regular NBA rotation player, averaging 5.3 PPG and 3.8 RPG with a .394/.321/.647 shooting line in 171 games in Phoenix.

A report earlier this week indicated that the Cavaliers and Raptors had inquired on Bender, though their level of interest was unclear. That report also linked the young forward to EuroLeague teams Fenerbahce and CSKA Moscow.

If he finalizes his deal with CSKA Moscow, Bender will join former NBA players such as Joel Bolomboy and Darrun Hilliard on the Russian club.

Nets Sign Henry Ellenson To Two-Way Contract

JULY 17: The Nets have officially signed Ellenson to his two-way contract, the club announced today in a press release.

JULY 15: The Nets have reached an agreement to sign free agent big man Henry Ellenson to a two-way contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Ellenson, the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft, spent the first two and a half seasons of his professional career with the Pistons, but was never able to crack the team’s regular rotation and become a dependable contributor. He appeared in just 59 total games for Detroit before being waived at this year’s trade deadline to accommodate Wayne Ellington.

Ellenson later caught on with the Knicks, appearing in 17 games for New York down the stretch and posting averages of 6.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 0.9 APG in 13.8 minutes per contest. However, the Knicks turned down the 22-year-old’s team option for the 2019/20 season and didn’t tender him a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The Nets’ two-way players for most of last season were Theo Pinson and Alan Williams. Pinson has since been promoted to a standard contract, while Williams is a free agent, so Brooklyn will have a second two-way slot available even after officially signing Ellenson.

Nets Sign David Nwaba

JULY 17: The Nets have officially signed Nwaba, the team confirmed today in a press release.

JULY 14: David Nwaba has agreed to a two-year contract with the Nets, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The deal includes a team option for the second season, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic, who adds that the Pacers, Kings, Rockets and Suns all had interest in Nwaba (Twitter link).

It’ll be a minimum-salary deal for Nwaba, who will make approximately $1.7MM for the upcoming season and $1.8MM in 2020/21 with a July 7 deadline for the option decision, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Nets now have 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

Brooklyn will be the fourth stop in four years for the 26-year-old shooting guard, who spent his first three seasons with the Lakers, Bulls and Cavaliers. He appeared in 51 games for Cleveland this year, averaging 6.5 points in about 19 minutes per night.

The Cavs opted last month not to tender a $1.9MM qualifying offer to Nwaba, making him an unrestricted free agent. Even so, Cleveland had expressed some interest in bringing him back.

The addition of Nwaba continues an impressive summer for Brooklyn, which hit the free agent jackpot by signing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.

Celtics Sign Enes Kanter To Two-Year Deal

JULY 17: The Celtics have officially signed Kanter, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JULY 1: The Celtics have agreed to terms with free agent center Enes Kanter on a two-year deal with a second-year player option, his manager Hank Fetic announced today (via Twitter). According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (via Twitter), Kanter’s new contract will be worth nearly $10MM, so it projects to fit into Boston’s room exception.

Kanter, 27, has spent time with the Jazz, Thunder, Knicks, and Trail Blazers since entering the league as the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. Last season, he was bought out with the Knicks in February and signed in Portland for the rest of the season. In 67 total games, he averaged 13.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 24.5 minutes per contest.

Kanter boosted his stock down the stretch by taking over as the Blazers’ starting center after Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg. Kanter averaged 11.4 PPG and 9.7 RPG in 16 postseason contests. Portland agreed to acquire Hassan Whiteside in a trade with Miami earlier today, signaling that the club didn’t expect to bring back Kanter.

Having agree to acquire Kemba Walker using their cap room, the Celtics had been on the lookout for a big man with their $4.8MM room exception. They were linked to Kanter and Kevon Looney on Saturday, though Looney’s agent tells Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) that he didn’t hear from the C’s.

While Kanter will help improve the Celtics’ interior scoring and rebounding numbers, he’s not considered an elite defender, so the team will have some work to do in its frontcourt to make up for the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trail Blazers Remain In Market For Center

The Trail Blazers intend to add one more player to their roster this offseason and enter training camp with 14 players, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic, who tweets that Portland is the market for a center.

The Blazers, who are currently carrying 13 players on guaranteed contracts, will be without Jusuf Nurkic for a portion of the 2019/20 season as he recovers from a broken leg. The club also traded away Meyers Leonard to Miami earlier this month.

Young big man Zach Collins may be in line for a larger role, and newly-acquired rim protector Hassan Whiteside figures to see plenty of action at the five, but Portland doesn’t have much center depth beyond those two players, so it makes sense that the club would be on the lookout for another backup.

Amir Johnson, Joakim Noah, Kosta Koufos, Greg Monroe, and Nene are among the players available if the Blazers opt to get the veteran free agent route.

It’s not clear if Quick’s reference to Portland taking 14 players into training camp just refers to players on guaranteed standard contracts — the team can carry up to 20 players on its roster before the start of the regular season. However, the Blazers typically don’t bring in a ton of players on non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 deals, since they don’t have their own G League affiliate to send them to once they’re waived.

Rockets Re-Sign Austin Rivers

JULY 17: The Rockets have officially re-signed Rivers, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 1: The Rockets will re-sign point guard Austin Rivers on a two-year deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The second season in the agreement contains a player option. Rivers’ new deal will be worth the minimum, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Rivers, 26, first signed with Houston on a free-agent deal in December. He provided production off the bench behind Chris Paul and James Harden in 47 games, averaging 8.7 points and 2.3 assists per contest.

“I’m just very excited,” Rivers said, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26. “Happy to be on a playoff team.”

Rivers, the No. 10 pick in 2012, spent time with the Pelicans, Clippers and Wizards before joining the Rockets. Houston already came to terms with free agents Gerald Green and Danuel House during the first day of free agency.

Because he’s re-signing with his previous team on a two-year deal with a second-year option, Rivers will have the ability to veto trades in 2019/20, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

More Details On Draft Picks Traded From Rockets To Thunder

Five days after agreeing to terms on the blockbuster trade that sends Russell Westbrook to Houston and Chris Paul to Oklahoma City, the Rockets and Thunder officially completed that deal on Tuesday night. Now that the trade has been finalized, we know exactly what the language looks like on the draft picks – and swaps – sent from Houston to OKC in the agreement.

Via ClutchFans (Twitter link) and Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter links), here are the details on the draft assets the Thunder acquired in the deal:

  • Rockets’ 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected)
    • If this pick falls in its protected range, the Thunder will instead receive Houston’s 2024 and 2025 second-round picks.
  • Rockets’ 2026 first-round pick (top-four protected)
    • If this pick falls in its protected range, the Thunder will instead receive Houston’s 2026 second-round pick and $1MM in cash.
    • While that $1MM is conditional, it technically must count toward the Rockets’ traded-cash limit for the 2019/20 league year, notes David Weiner of ClutchFans (via Twitter).
  • The right to swap first-round picks with the Rockets in 2021 (top-four protected)
    • Since the Thunder also own the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick, Houston will receive the least favorable of those three first-rounders, while the Thunder will receive the two most favorable picks (unless the Rockets’ pick falls in the top four).
  • The right to swap first-round picks with the Rockets in 2025 (top-10 protected)
    • This pick swap was originally reported as top-20 protected, but ClutchFans and Smith both indicate that the protection is actually 1-10, meaning it could still end up being a lottery pick.
    • The Thunder also have the right to swap first-round picks with the Clippers in this draft, so they won’t necessarily swap with Houston even if the Rockets’ pick falls outside the top 10 and is more favorable than Oklahoma City’s pick. For instance, if the Clippers’ pick is No. 12, the Rockets’ is 15, and the Thunder’s is 20, OKC would swap with L.A. and Houston would remain at 15.

Rockets Re-Sign Danuel House To Three-Year Deal

JULY 17: The Rockets have made it official, formally announcing in a press release that they’ve re-signed House. Head of basketball operations Daryl Morey welcomed House back on Tuesday night (via Twitter).

JUNE 30: The Rockets and free agent forward Danuel House have agreed to a three-year deal worth $11.1MM, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The deal represents a victory for House, who turned down a guaranteed three-year, minimum-salary offer from the team when he was on a two-way contract. House reached his 45-day allotment and spent several weeks in the G League before having his deal converted to a standard NBA contract in mid-March.

The 26-year-old was placed on waivers twice this year before blossoming with the Rockets midway through the season. He appeared in 39 games, starting 13, and averaged 9.4 PPG while shooting 42% from 3-point range.

Houston is well over the cap and only holds Non-Bird rights on House, so it will have to use part of its exception to sign him.

David Weiner of Clutch Fans (Twitter link) estimates a first-year salary for House of $3.524MM, which would leave the Rockets with $2.194MM remaining if they use the taxpayer mid-level exception or $5.734MM if they opt for the non-taxpayer MLE. The team is close enough to the tax line that either option is feasible.

Wade Baldwin Signs With Olympiacos

Free agent guard Wade Baldwin has officially joined Greek club Olympiacos, having signed a two-year contract, the team announced today in a press release. Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops first reported that Baldwin and the EuroLeague squad were finalizing a two-year deal.

Baldwin, 23, was the 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft. However, he only lasted one season in Memphis before being waived by the Grizzlies. He later signed a two-way contract with Portland and was eventually promoted to the Trail Blazers’ 15-man roster, but was traded from the Blazers to the Cavaliers to the Rockets to the Pacers before last season’s trade deadline. Indiana ultimately waived him.

Baldwin, who averaged 3.1 PPG and 1.4 APG in 56 career NBA games, finished the 2018/19 season in the G League, telling Blake Murphy of The Athletic in March that he hoped to prove he was capable of being an NBA rotation player.

Instead of returning to the NBA though, Baldwin will head overseas for the first time in his professional career. He’ll join other former NBA players like Brandon Paul and Kostas Papanikolaou on the Olympiacos roster.

Simmons’ Extension Includes Trade Kicker, Rose Rule Language

JULY 17: According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), Simmons’ extension would have a different starting salary depending on which level of All-NBA team he makes. Based on the figures Marks provides, it looks like Simmons’ starting salary will be worth the following percentage of the cap:

  • All-NBA First Team: 30%
  • All-NBA Second Team: 29%
  • All-NBA Third Team: 28%
  • No All-NBA spot: 25%

We’ve updated the chart at the bottom of this story to reflect the new info from Marks.

JULY 16: Ben Simmons‘ new five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Sixers doesn’t feature any options, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). That means the deal, which starts in 2020/21, will run through the 2024/25 season.

Wojnarowski provides two more interesting details on Simmons’ extension, reporting that the deal includes a 15% trade kicker and has Rose Rule language that would increase the value of the contract if he earns a spot on an All-NBA team next season.

The trade kicker means that Simmons will receive a bonus worth 15% of the remaining money on his deal if he’s dealt. However, that bonus can’t push his cap hit beyond the maximum salary, so it likely won’t matter until the later years of the contract.

The Rose Rule language is more interesting. Typically, a maximum-salary deal for a player with Simmons’ years of NBA experience (less than seven) would start at 25% of the cap. However, the Rose Rule allows a player who makes an All-NBA team to earn a starting salary worth up to 30% of the cap instead.

Teams and players can negotiate a starting salary between 25-30% if the player achieves certain performance criteria. For instance, Devin Booker‘s maximum-salary contract with the Suns this season would have started at 27.5% of the cap if he’d been named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2019, 28.5% if he was named to the Second Team, and 30% for a First Team nod. It’s not clear if Simmons and the 76ers got that specific in their negotiations.

Here’s what Simmons’ next contract will look like, based on the NBA’s current cap projections for 2020/21:

Year No All-NBA (25%) 3rd Team (28%) 2nd Team (29%) 1st Team (30%)
’20/21 $29,250,000 $32,760,000 $33,930,000 $35,100,000
’21/22 $31,590,000 $35,380,800 $36,644,400 $37,908,000
’22/23 $33,930,000 $38,001,600 $39,358,800 $40,716,000
’23/24 $36,270,000 $40,622,400 $42,073,200 $43,524,000
’24/25 $38,610,000 $43,243,200 $44,787,600 $46,332,000
Total $169,650,000 $190,008,000 $196,794,000 $203,580,000