Month: June 2018

Heat Granted Disabled Player Exception

As expected, the Heat have been granted a disabled player exception that could be used to replace injured guard Dion Waiters, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The exception will be worth $5.5MM, half of Waiters’ salary.

The Heat applied for that disabled player exception in advance of the January 15 deadline, though Waiters didn’t undergo his season-ending ankle surgery until a few days later. The NBA’s decision on the DPE was a little delayed because an independent physician had to determine that Waiters is more likely than not to be sidelined through June 15.

With their new $5.5MM exception, the Heat will be able to sign a player to a rest-of-season contract or acquire a player in the final year of his contract via trade or waiver claim. The club will have until March 12 to use the DPE, so the trade market and buyout market could both be options.

Earlier today, we identified the NBA teams that have been awarded disabled player exceptions this season after losing players to season-ending injuries. The Pistons are the only club still believed to be waiting on DPE approval, having applied for one once Jon Leuer was ruled out for the season.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Porzingis, Powell

The issue with the shooting shoulder of Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz has taken an interesting turn, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fultz, who has missed all but four games this season, was apparently upset with his head coach Brett Brown after it was reported that Brown classified Fultz’s injury as “psychosomatic”.

Fultz took to social media to air his frustrations, while Brown insisted that he was misquoted, that he has never wavered from the narrative that Fultz’s shot is being affected by a shoulder injury, and that Fultz’s shoulder still hurts sometimes when he rises to shoot a jump shot.

Brown understands Fultz’s frustration, but believes Fultz will ultimately accept the misunderstanding. “Last night’s erroneous reporting was disappointing,” Brown said, “(but Markelle) knows the organization. He knows me. It doesn’t require much more to be said than that.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Kristaps Porzingis is planning to use his first All-Star game appearance as a recruiting opportunity, reports Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. One of his first targets? Team LeBron teammate Kyrie Irving, who is from the New York area and listed the Knicks as a preferred destination before being traded to Boston.
  • After not playing in three of the team’s previous four games and having being relegated to mop-up duty lately, Raptors guard Norman Powell played well in a come-from-behind win against Minnesota last night, and his teammates weren’t surprised one bit, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, who reports that Powell is still a popular locker room figure.
  • The Nets have benched veteran center Tyler Zeller in favor of youngsters Jahlil Okafor and Jarrett Allen, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post. While head coach Kenny Atkinson wouldn’t confirm the move as permanent, Allen started in Zeller’s place in last night’s loss to the Knicks after Zeller had started 33 of the last 34 games.

Thunder Notes: Roberson, George, Abrines

A top-five ranked defense took a major hit Saturday evening when Thunder swingman and 2017 NBA All-Defensive Second Team member Andre Roberson had his season end abruptly after rupturing his left patellar tendon. Erik Horne of The Oklahoman opines that the team has two good options: make a trade, or seek a difference maker on the buyout market later this month.

A trade may be difficult, as the Thunder don’t have a first-round pick to trade until 2024, and not many attractive assets with whom the team would be willing to part. The Thunder do have two trade exceptions acquired in the Paul George trade, but the larger of the two exceptions is only worth $2.5MM – an amount unlikely to fit a salary equal to Roberson’s value.

Should the team test the buyout market, Horne mentions Andrew Bogut as a potential option to maintain the team’s defensive prowess, with more names to materialize after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • George initially being omitted as an All-Star ending up working out in the Thunder’s favor, writes Royce Young of ESPN. George, who will make his fifth All-Star Game appearance in his hometown of Los Angeles on Feb. 18, received an outpouring of support from teammate Russell Westbrook after being overlooked for this year’s event, and George clearly noticed. Now, the two L.A. natives will be teammates on Team LeBron, and it stands to reason that the closer the two become, the more likely it is that George will remain in Oklahoma City.
  • If the Thunder are unable and/or opt not to replace Roberson via trade or free agent acquisition, look for second-year player Alex Abrines to step up his role for the team, reports Brett Dawson of the The Oklahoman. Head coach Billy Donovan stated before yesterday’s game that he “definitely” wants to find more minutes for Abrines, saying of the Spaniard, “I’ve got to find ways to get him on the floor and help him because I think he can help our team.”
  • In his latest piece for Bleacher Report, NBA Capologist Eric Pincus analyzes whether the Thunder will dole out the cash necessary to keep George in Oklahoma City should he wish to stay. Facing the repeater tax and Carmelo Anthony‘s all-but-assured decision to opt in next season, the Thunder could be faced with a roster costing somewhere between $250MM and $300MM.

DeMarcus Cousins Has Successful Surgery

The Pelicans have officially announced that center DeMarcus Cousins underwent successful surgery today at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute in Los Angeles to repair the season-ending rupture of his left Achilles tendon that he suffered in last week’s game against Houston.

As previously reported, Cousins will miss the remainder of the 2017/18 season, but his surgery went “very well” and he is expected to make a full recovery and be able to return to basketball after an intensive rehabilitation program.

Cousins, 27, had been playing at an All-NBA level before the injury, appearing in 48 games and averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game.

Grizzlies To Sit Tyreke Evans

7:36pm: Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer is reporting that multiple teams have already put a first-round pick on the table for Evans.

5:59pm: As trade discussions involving Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans intensify, the team will sit him out until a deal is completed, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Evans will not play this evening in Indiana, as confirmed by Michael Wallace of Grind City Media, who reports that he witnessed the veteran guard leaving Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Wallace adds that Evans believes any potential deal would send him to a playoff team.

As we detailed earlier today, the Bulls are doing the same thing with trade candidate Nikola Mirotic, holding him out of games while pursuing potential trades. Bobby Marks of ESPN suggests both teams’ decisions, while unprecedented, are the right moves given that both the Grizzlies and Bulls have little chance of making the playoffs.

Marks also tweets that teams interested in trading for Evans are being cautious due in part to Evans not having either Bird or Early Bird Rights this offseason, meaning a team over the apron (i.e. the Cavaliers, who are reported to have interest) would be limited to offering Evans a starting salary in the range of about $5.4MM, the projected value of the taxpayer mid-level exception.

Earlier reports linked the Sixers, Celtics, Cavaliers, Pelicans, Thunder, Heat, and Rockets to Evans.

Bucks Interested In Malik Monk

In addition to looking for help at center, the Bucks are reportedly interested in potentially acquiring a shooting guard before next week’s trade deadline.

According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times, one possible candidate is Hornets‘ rookie Malik Monk, who has fallen out of Charlotte’s rotation while working to improve his defense and adjust to the NBA game. League sources tell Woelfel that the Bucks have contacted Charlotte about Monk.

Woelfel adds that there is apparently a split in the Hornets’ hierarchy as to whether the team should hold on to Monk or move him. As highlighted before and mentioned above, the 19-year-old Monk has struggled for much of his rookie season, averaging a lowly 5.2 points per game on 33% shooting from the floor.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Monk’s best game of the season came against Milwaukee on November 1, when he poured in 25 points on five of eight from long range.

The Bucks are currently over the salary cap, but possess a $5MM trade exception that was created when they traded Roy Hibbert to Denver last season. The team also has some non-essential players that could be included in trades for salary-matching purposes.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Van Gundy, S. Johnson

The Pistons introduced their new star player in a press conference this afternoon, confirming that physicals have been completed and Blake Griffin is officially on the roster, ready to make his on-court debut for the team on Thursday night. Asked about the move across the country, Griffin didn’t express any animosity toward his old club in Los Angeles, but he did admit to being caught off guard by the trade.

“Shocked is a good way to put it,” Griffin said (Twitter link via Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “I found out when everybody else found out. It took a second to realize everything’s changing.”

While Griffin was surprised by his change of address, he spoke today about embracing his new opportunity, calling it a “very, very exciting” challenge. “I truly believe we have the pieces, coaching staff, and support from the organization to make a run in the next few months,” Griffin said (Twitter link via Beard).

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Griffin isn’t the only one excited about his arrival in Detroit. As Nick Friedell of ESPN details, Andre Drummond said he’s looking forward to building a “new empire” alongside his new frontcourt mate. Meanwhile, Stan Van Gundy and Reggie Jackson also expressed enthusiasm, as Beard writes for The Detroit News. “The juices get flowing and you see all the possibilities with a guy like that,” Van Gundy said on Tuesday. “Of course, what I’d like to do is get it all (installed) right away, get about a 10-hour walkthrough in on Thursday and play because I see all the possibilities. Our schedule is not really conducive; it’s going to have to go little by little.”
  • The acquisition of Griffin feels like a “make-or-break moment” for Van Gundy’s tenure with the Pistons, says John Niyo of The Detroit News.
  • Stanley Johnson, frequently cited in trade rumors this season, had a huge night on Tuesday, racking up a career-high 26 points and 10 rebounds in the Pistons’ win over Cleveland. The performance might help boost Johnson’s trade value a little, but he’s also making a case for a more prominent role in Detroit if he’s not dealt, writes Ansar Khan of MLive.com.
  • A handful of NBA.com analysts and reporters are split on whether the Griffin trade will help propel the Pistons to a playoff spot this season.

Latest On Nikola Mirotic

4:37pm: The Bulls will hold Mirotic out of games while they attempt to trade him, a source tells Goodwill (Twitter link). According to ESPN’s Nick Friedell (Twitter link), Mirotic won’t play until after the trade deadline or until Chicago completes a deal.

1:00pm: For a brief time on Tuesday, it appeared that the Pelicans and Bulls were about to finalize a deal that would send Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans. In fact, according to Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago, an agreement was so close that Mirotic was pulled off the Bulls’ practice floor and left the facility, believing that his time in Chicago was ending.

Instead, the trade hit a snag — or, more accurately, a pair of related snags. Until Mirotic’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19 is exercised, he has the ability to block any trade that involves him, and as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweets, the power forward is unwilling to approve a move to New Orleans without that option being picked up.

Conversely, the Pelicans like the idea of having flexibility with that ’18/19 option, since exercising it may complicate the team’s ability to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a new mega-deal. New Orleans would still have the ability to re-sign Cousins, but with both big men on board for next season, the team would likely go over the tax line, a threshold ownership has been reluctant to cross.

According to Johnson, neither Mirotic nor the Pelicans appear willing to change their stance on that $12.5MM option for now, so it’s not clear if the Bulls and Pels will be able to make a deal before the February 8 deadline. I’m somewhat surprised the option is a sticking point for New Orleans — given the way Mirotic has been playing, his $12.5MM expiring deal should be pretty tradable this July, if necessary. But perhaps the Pelicans don’t want take the risk of Mirotic suffering a major injury or having his value decline in the coming months.

With talks between the Bulls and Pelicans at an impasse, the Jazz have continued their pursuit of Mirotic, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. However, the Jazz remain reluctant to include a first-round pick in their offer, according to Jones. Goodwill adds that the Bulls are “enamored with” Utah’s Rodney Hood, but says that the Jazz have been unwilling to part with Hood in a Mirotic deal thus far.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/31/18

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • Rookie center Ante Zizic has been recalled from the G League by the Cavaliers, according to a press release from the club. Zizic posted 20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in a losing effort for the Canton Charge on Tuesday.
  • Raptors rookie Alfonzo McKinnie will travel with the NBA team to Washington for Thursday’s contest against the Wizards, but he was sent to the G League for a brief assignment earlier today. Toronto assigned McKinnie to the Raptors 905 for the team’s day game, then recalled him a few hours later, after the forward put up six points and 11 boards in a loss (Twitter links).
  • The Knicks have recalled shooting guard Damyean Dotson from the G League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Dotson’s assignment with the Westchester Knicks was a brief one, as he was just sent to New York’s affiliate on Tuesday.

2017/18 NBA Disabled Player Exceptions

Last month, we published an updated glossary entry outlining how the NBA’s disabled player exception functions. As we explain in that article, the disabled player exception can be granted when a team has a player go down with an injury deemed to be season-ending. The exception gives the club some additional spending flexibility, functioning almost as a cross between a traded player exception and a mid-level exception.

We go into more detail on how exactly disabled player exceptions work in the glossary entry linked above, and in a piece from earlier in the season on the Celtics’ DPE. Essentially, a DPE gives a team the opportunity to add an injury replacement by either signing a player to a one-year contract or trading for a player in the final year of his contract.

Because the rules related to disable player exceptions are somewhat restrictive, and the exceptions themselves often aren’t worth a lot, they often simply expire (this year’s deadline is March 12). According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, only about one in four teams granted DPEs since 2007 have used them.

However, the Celtics are one team well positioned to take advantage of their DPE this season — it’s worth the maximum allowable amount ($8.4MM), the Celtics aren’t close to the tax line, they have an open roster spot, and they have a collection of extra draft picks that could be used to accommodate a trade.

While Boston may be the team most likely to use its DPE this season, there are several other clubs that have those exceptions available. Here’s a breakdown:

(Note: List updated on 2-9-18)

Teams that have been granted disabled player exceptions:

As noted above, the Celtics are the best bet to use their disabled player exception, and not just because it’s worth the most (and can therefore accommodate a wider range of potential trade targets). Even if teams like the Clippers or Pelicans identify a modestly-paid player worth acquiring, they’re unlikely to use their DPEs because of how close they are to the luxury tax line and hard cap, respectively.

Teams ineligible for disabled player exceptions:

The Grizzlies, Pelicans, and Thunder had the misfortune of having their key players ruled out for the season after the January 15 application deadline. Since they can no longer apply for a DPE, they’ll have to make do with any remaining exceptions they have. As for the Suns, a DPE to replace Knight would have been worth about $6.8MM, but Phoenix remains nearly $9MM below the cap, rendering that exception unnecessary.