Month: March 2017

Lakers Rumors: World Peace, Russell, D-League

Metta World Peace was inactive for the second straight game Friday, but Lakers coach Byron Scott may eventually call on him for defensive help, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. The 35-year-old forward, who earned a roster spot in training camp after a season out of the league, will get a chance to play sometime. “Probably later on,” Scott said today about the prospect of using World Peace. “I’m not going to panic after two games and all of the sudden change everything that we’ve been doing.”

There’s more tonight from Los Angeles:

  • Rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell tells Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com that it’s not fair to compare him with other first-year players who are already making an impact. With the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns posting two double-doubles and the Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor coming off a 26-point performance, some in L.A. are starting to grumble about Russell. He scored just four points against Minnesota in his NBA debut, and followed that with 13 and two assists in a lopsided loss to Sacramento. “You can’t worry about their opportunity and what they’re doing with it,” Russell said. “Everybody is in different positions. The rookies that are separating themselves are in great positions and are getting it quick. Some people just have a learning process. That’s what I’m doing.”
  • The Kings’ Rajon Rondo, a longtime friend of Russell’s, offered advice during their preseason meeting but wasn’t so charitable Friday night, Holmes writes in a separate story.  Rondo and Russell both hail from Louisville, Kentucky, and they’ve developed a close relationship, with Rondo saying he would like to “mentor” the young guard. Friday’s lesson was hard, as Rondo had 21 points and eight assists in an 18-point win. “I’ve watched a lot of film on him growing up, just trying to study his pace,” Russell said. “That’s the biggest thing. As far as passing, some guys don’t see it, some guys do. If you see an open guy, you make the pass. But when you move at that pace, things are so much slower and you just see so much more develop. I kind of stole that from him, that pace.”
  • Robert Upshaw and Michael Frazier have both earned spots on the training camp roster of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, tweets Evan Barnes of The Los Angeles Daily News. Both players were with the Lakers in training camp.

Thunder Rumors: Waiters, McGary, Harden, Durant

Dion Waiters feels “comfortable” with his situation in Oklahoma City as he waits to see if he will receive an extension, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Waiters said there is a “brotherhood” among the Thunder, as teammates spend a lot of time together off the court. “I’ve never been a part of a team that did that as a whole, as everybody,” said Waiters, who was traded from Cleveland to Oklahoma City last season. “That’s great for me.” Teams have until Monday to extend rookie scale contracts for players who’ve completed three seasons of those deals.

There’s more tonight from Oklahoma City:

  • Mitch McGary hasn’t played in the first two games, but he hasn’t dropped out of the rotation, Slater writes in a separate story. The second-year player is being brought back slowly after going through concussion protocol. “Mitch had a good training camp,” said coach Billy Donovan. “He had a good summer. Once he gets back into a rhythm, he can really help us.”
  • The 2012 trade that sent James Harden to Houston looks worse with each passing year, according to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Not only has Harden blossomed into an MVP candidate with the Rockets, but the NBA’s changing payroll landscape has made the deal even more distasteful for Thunder fans, Tramel writes. GM Sam Presti was worried at the time that the franchise couldn’t afford a max deal for Harden while hanging onto Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. However, a jump in TV money and overall revenues has created a rapidly escalating salary cap, and Enes Kanter is getting more from the Thunder than Harden would have.
  • As Durant heads toward free agency, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report wonders if he will be able to get back to an MVP level. The 2014/15 season saw Durant undergo three foot operations, with the last one coming in March. The Thunder insist the foot is fine now, and people close to Durant see no decline in his skills or athleticism. “I don’t think he wants people to feel that this is a comeback year for him,” said Brice Plebani, a childhood friend. “I think he wants to feel like there was never anything that he needed to come back from.”

Southeast Rumors: Heat, Fournier, Batum, Wizards

Even though they’re facing a large luxury tax bill, the Heat should hold on to Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen, writes Ethan Skolnick of The Miami Herald. He notes that although both players are drawing salaries beyond their expected contribution — $4.3MM for Chalmers and $5MM for Andersen — they have value for a Miami team that will need depth to become a threat in the East. The columnist points to Chalmers’ familiarity with the system, which gives him an advantage over younger guards like Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, and Andersen’s durability, which will come in handy if new addition Amar’e Stoudemire gets injured or cannot overcome his defensive lapses. Skolnick cautions that the Heat shouldn’t make moves that could be perceived as “skimping” while they’re trying to build a contender.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic guard Evan Fournier can already feel a difference under new coach Scott Skiles, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. Even though Orlando is off to an 0-2 start, Fournier said the team’s role has been clearly defined. “I feel like we have an identity right now,” he said. “We are a defensive team and we share the ball offensively.” When asked about the team’s identity last season under coaches Jacques Vaughn and James Borrego, Fournier said, “We didn’t have one. We were basically looking for it throughout the whole season.”
  • The Hornets want their offense to run through Nicolas Batum, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte traded for Batum in  June with the confidence that he could handle a playmaker’s role. “He comes across as a very quiet player, but he’s one of the most intense, competitive kids we had in our time in Portland,” said Hornets assistant GM Chad Buchanan, who worked with the Trail Blazers while Batum was there. “He internalizes that competitiveness. But he’s very driven to win, very team-first. He has a very high IQ, always knows what everyone on the court has to do and where they’re at. Such a student of the game.”
  • After being ousted from the playoffs last spring, the Wizards identified four strengths and tried to add players to complement them, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The team was rebuilt around John Wall‘s speed and passing, Bradley Beal‘s shooting, Otto Porter Jr.‘s cutting and Marcin Gortat‘s willingness to run the floor and get to the rim on pick-and-rolls.

Southwest Notes: Douglas, Kazemi, Pachulia

Toney Douglas new contract with the Pelicans covers two years, with the second year non-guaranteed, tweets Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops. New Orleans signed the 29-year-old guard Friday after waiving Nate Robinson. This is the second stint with the Pelicans for Douglas, who signed two 10-day contracts and a multiyear deal with the team last season. However, the Pelicans waived him in July to avoid guaranteeing his salary for this season.  Douglas cleared waivers earlier this week after being released by the Pacers.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Arsalan Kazemi, who was with the Rockets briefly this preseason, will play overseas rather than in the D-League, tweets Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. Kazemi was waived last week after being claimed on waivers from the Hawks on October 12th.  He appeared in one preseason game with Houston.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is a already a huge fan of new teammate Zaza Pachulia, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. Pachulia, who came to Dallas in a July trade with the Bucks, had 10 points and 10 rebounds in his first game with the Mavericks“I don’t think I’ve played with a smarter center than he is,” Nowitzki said.
    “Just making smart plays, setting good picks, getting guys open. He’s a good passer for his size and just makes really, really smart plays.”
  • The Grizzlies know what to expect from their core starters, but their level of success could depend on complementary players, writes Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal. Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Tony Allen are established after playing in 279 games together entering this season, according to Herrington, but it’s the contribution of other players, such as offseason addition Brandan Wright, who could determine if Memphis makes a serious run at the title.

Sixers Notes: Tokoto, Wroten, Okafor, Noel

The Sixers have traded their D-League rights to guard J.P. Tokoto to Oklahoma City, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. He will play for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League. Philadelphia waived Tokoto on Monday after he averaged 3.2 points and 10.4 minutes of playing time in five preseason games. He was the 58th pick in June’s draft and signed a one-year, non-guaranteed minimum deal with the Sixers.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Injured point guard Tony Wroten is focused on returning to the court, not a possible extension, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers hope Wroten can be back in the lineup by December, but the fourth-year player tweeted “NOVEMBER” Friday night, indicating that he hopes to beat that timetable. Pompey says it appears unlikely that the Sixers will offer Wroten an extension before Monday’s deadline, which would make him a restricted free agent next summer. He would become unrestricted if the team doesn’t make a $3.2MM qualifying offer by June 30th. “I’m not really focused on that,” he said of the contract situation. “I’m focused on my rehab and helping my team get better on and off the court. That’s not even on my mind right now.”
  • The addition of rookie center Jahlil Okafor has forced the Sixers to slow down their pace, writes Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The offensively gifted Okafor gives the Sixers a low-post weapon they didn’t have last season, but the team now has to wait for its big man to set up. Coach Brett Brown understands there will be an adjustment period as the team gets used to Okafor. “We’re going to experience some heartache over the next month. Everybody bunker in,” he said. “That’s a fact. We might draw one out and find a brilliant performance, but this is going to be a fist fight for a while. Let’s admit what’s going on right now.”
  • With Okafor on board, Nerlens Noel has had to adjust to playing power forward, according to Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Daily News. Even though Noel’s shooting range is limited, Cooney believes the move is going well so far. “I’ve definitely improved,” Noel said. “I’ve improved from last season, and it’s all about improving and getting better and better.” The Sixers exercised their team options Friday on Noel and two other players.

2015/16 Salary Cap: Dallas Mavericks

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.

With the October 26th cutoff date to set regular season rosters now past, we at Hoops Rumors are in the process of running down the current salary cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the 2015/16 campaign. Here’s the cap breakdown for the Dallas Mavericks, whose regular season roster can be viewed here:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $71,163,485*
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $860,000**
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $520,964
  • Total Salary Cap Commitments= $72,544,449
  • Remaining Cap Room= -$2,544,449
  • Amount Below Luxury Tax Line= $12,195,551

*Note: This amount includes the $315,759 owed to Gal Mekel, who was waived via the stretch provision, as well as the $1,499,187 due Samuel Dalembert, who was also waived.

**Note: This amount includes the $50K owed to both Jamil Wilson and Brandon Ashley, as well as the $10K owed to Jarrid Famous, all of whom were waived by the team.

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • Room Exception= $2,814,000

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

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

Last updated: 10/31/15 @ 5:10pm

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

Southwest Notes: Conley, Robinson, Aldridge

The Grizzlies have every intention of re-signing point guard Mike Conley when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, and based on Conley’s enthusiastic recruitment for center Marc Gasol to re-sign with the team this past offseason, the veteran playmaker also desires his time in Memphis to continue beyond this campaign, Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports writes. Gasol said he plans to leave Conley alone this season and won’t pester him to stay in Memphis, Lee adds.

Yeah, but I cannot force him to do anything that he doesn’t feel that is right. He has to do what is right for him, that he believes in it,” Gasol told Lee. “If you feel forced to do something you don’t believe in, then you’re going to regret it. And whenever he makes his decision, whatever his decision is, he knows our relationship goes way beyond basketball and we’ll always be friends, past this five, 10 years left in our careers. As long as we live, we’re going to be friends. It’s not going to affect our friendship.

Here’s more from out of the Southwest Division:

  • Nate Robinson‘s stint with the Pelicans this season lasted less than two weeks, but his release wasn’t because of anything the diminutive guard failed to do, John Reid of The Times Picayune relays (Twitter links). Robinson was replaced on New Orleans’ roster by Toney Douglas, who was thought to be a better fit for the team’s roster, according to coach Alvin Gentry, Reid notes. ”We just thought it was a better fit [with Douglas], nothing against Nate,” Gentry said. “Nate came in and did everything we asked him to do.
  • Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is still finding his footing in San Antonio with his new team, and the player admitts that he’s “not even close” to the player San Antonio signed this offseason, Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com writes. “It’s not the same. I’m not the same person here that I was in Portland,” Aldridge said. “I don’t feel like they need me to be that person all the time. It’s learning how to be myself in the offense. I haven’t figured that out yet. I feel like the whole [team philosophy of] ‘good to great passes’ [is] in my head all the time. Hopefully as the season goes on I’ll figure it out. But right now, I’m just trying to fit in.
  • Rockets camp cuts Denzel Livingston, Will Cummings, Joshua Smith, and Chris Walker will join the Rio Grande Valley Vipers,  as D-League affiliate players this season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays (on Twitter).

Offseason In Review: New York Knicks

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees and more will be covered as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings


Extensions

  • None

Trades

  • Acquired the draft rights to Jerian Grant, the No. 19 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, in exchange for Tim Hardaway Jr.
  • Acquired Kyle O’Quinn from the Magic via sign-and trade in exchange for cash and the option to switch second-rounders with New York in 2019. O’Quinn inked a four-year, $16MM deal that includes a player option for the final season.
  • Acquired the draft rights to Guillermo Hernangomez, the No. 35 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, from the Sixers in exchange for cash and New York’s second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. Hernangomez is playing overseas.

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks


Camp Invitees


Departing Players


Rookie Contract Option Decisions

  • None

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Knicks entered this offseason fresh off a disastrous 2014/15 campaign that saw the team notch only 17 victories, flush with approximately $28MM in available cap space, and possessing some lofty free agency dreams of adding a star player or two. LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, and Goran Dragic were among those available to pair alongside returning star Carmelo Anthony. But things rarely seem to go as planned in New York, and the franchise was forced to go with Plan B, adding a collection of role players whom team president Phil Jackson hopes will mesh together and lay the groundwork for the Knicks’ return to relevance.

The organization put a different spin on missing out on some of the top names, with GM Steve Mills insisting that the team didn’t strike out in free agency but instead focused on building a solid team around Anthony. “We tried to be as clear as we could possibly be that we weren’t chasing the biggest stars,” Mills told Mitch Abramson of The New York Daily News. “That’s not how we’re trying to build this team. Obviously, when LaMarcus Aldridge says he wants to meet with you and he’s going to meet with six teams, we agree to go meet with him. DeAndre Jordan was willing to meet with us, so of course we go and meet him. And when you go in, you want guys to say yes. But our goal starting out with this was to spend our money wisely and to get guys in who we thought would bring this team along together and fill holes and as it turned out, we were better suited going with multiple guys as opposed to just going after one.

Whether or not Mills’ statements were truly indicative of the team’s offseason strategy or merely face-saving bravado is up for debate, but he was correct in his assertion that the Knicks filled a number of holes with their additions this summer. New York is unquestionably a superior team to the one that took the court in 2013/14, but that isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement considering the D-League-quality roster the Knicks trotted out a season ago.

New York’s offseason rebuild began with the NBA draft, where the team held a top-five pick for the first time since 1986, and Jackson used the No. 4 overall pick to nab Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis. The wisdom or folly of selecting Porzingis will take some time to assess, as the player is most certainly a project who will require a few seasons to develop. The early signs have been positive, and Porzingis has shown flashes of talent that portend good things to come for the player and his new team.

But the addition of Porzingis may have had an unintended downside for the franchise, possibly shutting the door on any chance that the Knicks had to land Aldridge via free agency. New York had reportedly informed Aldridge that due to the presence of Porzingis, it wanted him to play center full-time, an idea that nixed the scheduled meeting between New York and the marquee free agent. “If they’re going to tell me that I have to play center and I don’t want to play center, then of course it’s mutual after that. But before that I was excited to meet with them. I was interested,” Aldridge said in regard to the canceled powwow. “But they wanted to have their draft pick play and I get it.”

The Knicks also made a significant trade on the day of the draft, flipping Tim Hardaway Jr., whose game had regressed during his sophomore campaign, to the Hawks for No. 19 overall pick Jerian Grant, who fills a major need for New York in the backcourt. Anthony was reportedly upset at the loss of Hardaway, one of the team’s few offensive threats, but it was a solid trade for New York, and I expect ‘Melo to sing the rookie’s praises by the end of the 2015/16 season. New York’s other draft day addition, Guillermo Hernangomez, expressed his desire to continue playing for Real Madrid of Spain for many years before considering a move to the NBA, so he’s not likely to help the franchise anytime soon.

It’s doubtful that the Knicks were ever a realistic option for many of this summer’s free agents, though the team was linked to many of the biggest available names in the weeks leading up to July’s signing period. The one miss that stung the most for the team and its fans was Monroe passing on the glitz and glamour of playing in New York City to instead join the Bucks in Milwaukee, especially after Monroe’s agent, David Falk, had indicated strongly back in April that the Knicks would be one of the big man’s top choices.

Jackson moved on from Monroe and instead added veteran center Robin Lopez, whose rebounding, toughness and defense are all traits that last year’s Knicks squad lacked, especially in the pivot. Lopez can no doubt help the Knicks, though he’s definitely not the marquee name the franchise had designs on landing when the offseason commenced. Lopez’s deal is a fair one for both sides, with a $13.5MM average annual salary certainly being in line with Lopez’s production. Plus, this contract will likely look better once next offseason’s deals are signed, since the cap is expected to increase significantly as a result of the league’s new TV deal kicking in. The only major concern is Lopez’s injury history, with the big man averaging 66 games per season over his NBA career, including just 59 appearances in 2014/15.

New York made four other significant additions over the offseason, signing shooting guard Arron Afflalo, combo forward Derrick Williams, center Kevin Seraphin, and executing a sign-and-trade with Orlando for power forward Kyle O’Quinn. Of the three, O’Quinn has the highest upside, with his energy and hustle certainly making him an intriguing prospect, though his minutes will be limited thanks to the Knicks’ current frontcourt logjam. Inking Williams was the riskiest move of the offseason for Jackson, with the player struggling mightily since entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick in 2011. While nearly $4.5MM per season isn’t an exorbitant amount in today’s NBA, the team may need every bit of cap space next summer when it hopes to be in contention for the likes of Kevin Durant and Mike Conley. Williams also doesn’t appear to be a great fit for the triangle offense, and he’s never quite carved out a defined position for himself in the league, a factor that presents its own set of problems for coach Derek Fisher‘s rotation plans.

Afflalo certainly fills a need for the Knicks, who will count on him to help take some of the scoring burden off Anthony. How he’ll mesh with Anthony and the rest of the roster still remains to be seen, with the 30-year-old having been severely limited in training camp and the preseason thanks to a hamstring injury. He has yet to make it onto the court in the regular season. Afflalo can opt out of his deal after this season, and I’ll go on record and say that the franchise should hope that he does so. As a one-season stopgap, I like adding a healthy Afflalo to the mix, especially given the Knicks’ other remaining free agent options. While Afflalo has been a solid, if unspectacular, performer for the bulk of his career, he’s on the wrong side of 30, and he’s not a building block the franchise can count on to help lure big name free agents.

One of the Knicks’ major missteps this summer was failing to upgrade their point guard position, with holdover Jose Calderon well into his decline. Thus far, it hasn’t appeared like he’ll be able to guard any of the league’s top playmakers. New York was reportedly trying to find a taker for the veteran this offseason as the team attempted to free up cap space, but with Calderon still possessing one more year on his deal beyond this one, and scheduled to earn approximately $7.7MM in 2016/17, it was no surprise the Knicks couldn’t find a taker. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two sides agreed to a buyout at some point this season, though that may be just wishful thinking on my part.

New York desperately needs this summer’s signings to pan out so that the franchise can demonstrate some forward progress. This isn’t just so Jackson can be validated as an NBA executive, or Fisher as an NBA-caliber head coach. It’s also vital for the way pending free agents around the league perceive the team. If the Knicks hope to land the top names, not just next summer, but over the next few seasons, the team will need to prove to players that inking a deal to play in Madison Square Garden isn’t going to be a dead-end career move. Until then, it looks like Plan B is the best the fanbase can look forward to.

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

Jeff Ayres Tops D-League Draftees


The NBA D-League held its Draft today, with Jeff Ayres going first overall to the Idaho Stampede, the Jazz’s D-League affiliate. The selection of Ayres was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor was the first to report that Ayres signed a D-League contract making him eligible for today’s draft. In addition to Ayres, the top of the draft was saturated with selections of players who had not survived the October 26th league-wide cut down date, when rosters were required to be pared down to the regular season maximum of 15 players, including the likes of Jimmer Fredette, Perry Jones III, and Cartier Martin.

The 28-year-old Ayres, once known as Jeff Pendergraph, averaged 2.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 7.5 minutes per game during the 2014/15 season for San Antonio. Rumors of NBA interest in the big man were scarce over the summer after the Spurs renounced their Early Bird rights to him in an effort to clear cap room for their offseason free agent haul, according to RealGM. Ayres had inked a one-year deal with Shanxi of the Chinese Basketball Association worth a reported $1MM back in early September, but he was unceremoniously waived by the club at the beginning of October.

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jones slip to the No. 3 overall pick, with the 24-year-old possessing one of the higher upsides among the pool of potential draftees. However, it wasn’t a shock to see the Knicks nab Fredette, who was born in Glens Falls, New York, and who will likely become a fan-favorite in Westchester in short order. With the Knicks’ backcourt depth dangerously thin, as well as being one of the poorer units statistically in the NBA thus far, Fredette has an excellent chance of returning to the NBA at some point this season, though he is still free to sign with any NBA team that were to come calling.

Here is the full list of first round selections. You can view the complete round by round summary of picks here:

  1. Idaho Stampede (Jazz) — Jeff Ayres
  2. Westchester Knicks (Knicks) — Jimmer Fredette
  3. Iowa Energy (Grizzlies) — Perry Jones III
  4. Iowa Energy (Grizzlies)  — Cartier Martin
  5. Delaware 87ers (Sixers) — Rysheed Jordan
  6. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets) — Amir Williams
  7. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors) — Sam Thompson
  8. Delaware 87ers (Sixers) — David Laury
  9. Iowa Energy (Grizzlies) — Rick Jackson
  10. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets) — Jarvis Summers
  11. Maine Red Claws (Celtics) — Askia Booker
  12. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets) — Cliff Hammonds
  13. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder) — Rodney Carney
  14. Sioux Falls Skyforce (Heat) — Jabril Trawick
  15. Canton Charge (Cavaliers) — Antonio Barton
  16. Austin Spurs (Spurs) — Jean Victor Nguidjol
  17. Bakersfield Jam (Suns) — Kevin Young
  18. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors) — Jared Shaw
  19. Raptors 905 (Raptors) — Mike Anderson

Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 10/25/15-10/31/15

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop me a line at [email protected] or @EddieScarito on Twitter. This week, in a continued effort to change things up a bit, I’ve once again invited some of the other staff members to join in on the fun. Now for this week’s inquiries:

With Harrison Barnes and the Warriors not likely to work out an extension, what kind of cap issues will this cause for the team next offseason?” Is Barnes likely to head elsewhere next summer now?” — Li

Chuck Myron: Theoretically, it gives the Warriors a chance to open some cap room for next season, especially if the cap escalates to $95MM instead of the projected $89MM, as some agents and executives around the league reportedly think it will. Still, it’s a long shot that Golden State would clear that cap room, since it would involve waiving Shaun Livingston and Jason Thompson and renouncing the rights to players like Festus Ezeli, who might just sign an extension before Monday’s deadline and close off the cap room possibility anyway. The more realistic effect of failing to sign Barnes to an extension is that the Warriors will be unable to trade him without his consent next summer if an appetizing deal, such as a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant, were to materialize, as Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group has written on multiple occasions. Granted, I wouldn’t bet on Durant playing with the Warriors next season regardless of what happened with Barnes, but this makes that possibility slightly more remote.

Ultimately, I think Barnes is likely to remain with Golden State, since the Warriors have the ability to match competing bids for him next summer. The question is just how much Barnes is going to cost. That depends heavily on how he performs this season. If he falls flat and another team offers him the max, or close to it, I think that would be the only scenario in which the Warriors decide against matching an offer sheet for him.
The Raptors look like they’re missing Lou Williams‘ offense already. Will the team take a step back this season despite improving its defense? Is there a trade the team should consider making?” — Jacob
Will Sammon: Hi, Jacob. First, relax. It’s kind of early. Actually, it’s really early. There’s no doubt, the Raptors at times will miss Lou Williams‘ offensive ability, but they’re better off in the long run with the roster they assembled. Think of this way, too: Without Williams, other players — like Jonas Valanciunas — will get more touches and the expectation is for them to make the most of it. Cory Joseph is a guy worth keeping an eye on in terms of the Raptors’ scoring. A trade at this point would scream panic and you don’t want that. Trust in the defense — there’s plenty of it.
Which training camp cut did you find the most surprising, and why?” — Michael
Eddie Scarito: That’s an easy one as far as I’m concerned the Celtics cutting Perry Jones III loose. Jones is still a young player (24 years old), he possessed a fully guaranteed deal ($2,038,206 for 2015/16), and Boston is a young team in need of scorers, which Jones has the ability to become if given the opportunity. I get that Jones was waived mainly because of a numbers crunch in Boston, where Jones owned one of the 16 fully guaranteed salaries the Celtics carried into training camp, but I still think the team would have been better served to see if Jones could have contributed over the course of the season rather than eating his contract. Don’t get me wrong here. It’s not like Boston cut Anthony Davis or another player of that caliber, but I still think Jones has the potential to be a useful rotation player in the league if given some regular minutes off the pine.
Which rookies will be the biggest surprises this season (both good and bad)?” — Carl
Charlie Adams: I think Myles Turner will have a chance to make a real impact with the Pacers this season. Indiana has a surplus of bigs, but none of them have exceptional talent, so it’s possible that Turner could end up seeing some major minutes if he’s able to produce when he’s given time on the court. Of course, at just 19 years old, Turner is still rough around the edges, but it’s a short list of players in this year’s draft who have a higher upside than him. As for a rookie that might produce below expectations, I’m going to say Stanley Johnson. While I think he’ll end up having a solid year, I’ve seen multiple publications list him as their pick to win Rookie of the Year. With the amount of rookie talent in the league, it’s hard for me to see him bringing home that title since he’ll be battling for minutes in Detroit.
How high do you think Hassan Whiteside‘s ceiling is? Do you think he’s worth max contract, and if so, will the Heat offer him that amount?” — Doug
Chris Crouse: I envision him having a solid career, but I don’t believe he becomes the dominant force that we saw flashes of last season. Marcin Gortat or Robin Lopez would be fair comparisons as far as career arcs go. Both have had solid careers and both have been important parts of playoff runs, yet neither are great enough to carry the team. Whiteside is in a good spot in Miami; he doesn’t have to carry the team. If he has a great season, some team may offer him the max, but I don’t believe Miami will consider that kind of deal for him. The Heat are thinking bigger. They want a big fish and they can only hand out one more big contract unless Wade takes a substantial pay cut. I don’t see Wade doing that to allow the team to pay Whiteside. The center could very well be playing in South Beach for years to come, just not on a max contact.
That’s going to put a bow on this week’s mailbag. Thanks to all those who sent in their inquiries. Please keep them coming, and we’ll see you back here next Saturday.
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