Month: January 2021

Solomon Hill Receives Salary Guarantee From Hawks

The Hawks are guaranteeing Solomon Hill‘s $2.17MM salary for the remainder of the season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Atlanta had until February 24th to decide whether to make the guarantee but opted to give the veteran forward peace of mind for his steady contributions. Hill has appeared in all 14 games for the injury-riddled Hawks, averaging 5.0 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 20.1 MPG.

The Hawks are Hill’s fifth team since he entered the league during the 2013/14 season. He played for Miami and Memphis last season.

The Hawks signed Hill on a one-year veteran’s minimum deal to add a veteran presence and defensive-minded wing to their mix. Hill was the only members of the 15-man Atlanta roster who was playing on a non-guaranteed deal.

Rockets Notes: Harden Trade, Wall, House, Wood

The idea that Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta told general manager Rafael Stone not to trade James Harden to the Sixers – whose front office is led by former Rockets GM Daryl Morey – is incorrect, reports Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Fertitta stays out of trade discussions, according to Feigen, who says that Stone and Morey had “extensive” discussions. In fact, talks on Harden advanced to the point where Stone made one final demand of the Sixers in the final stage of negotiations and would have traded the former MVP to Philadelphia if Morey had agreed.

As Feigen explains, Stone wanted one more draft pick or player – believed to be Tyrese Maxey – and less protection on the draft picks included in the Sixers’ offer. Philadelphia was unwilling to meet those demands, so Houston made a deal with Brooklyn. Morey has since told confidants that he thinks his former lieutenant Stone made a great trade, according to Feigen.

Here’s more out of Houston:

  • While some reports have suggested that Harden favored Tyronn Lue for the Rockets’ head coaching job over Stephen Silas, the team actually didn’t know which coaching candidate Harden liked best, Feigen writes in the same story. While Russell Westbrook preferred Lue, Harden never expressed a strong preference, which may have been due to his simmering desire to be traded. Westbrook and Harden both ultimately signed off on the hiring of Silas, Feigen notes.
  • Rockets point guard John Wall isn’t accompanying the team on its road trip this weekend due to a sore knee and isn’t expected back in the lineup until at least Tuesday, according to Feigen. Danuel House (health and safety protocols) also won’t play until Tuesday at the earliest, while Christian Wood (ankle) will miss at least Friday’s game in Detroit.
  • Injuries, absences related to COVID-19, and the Harden trade had the Rockets playing rotational roulette during the first month of this season, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who suggests the club will ideally be able to get a better read on its roster in the coming weeks.

Michael Porter Jr. Returns To Nuggets, Will Play Friday

JANUARY 22: Porter will be active and will play against Phoenix on Friday night, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).


JANUARY 21: Michael Porter Jr., who hasn’t played in a game since December 29 due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, has reported back to the Nuggets and will be listed as questionable for Friday’s game against Phoenix, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Porter was originally held out for seven days for contact tracing purposes, then tested positive for the coronavirus, extending his quarantine period by another two weeks.

The young forward will have to ramp up his conditioning and complete additional testing – including a cardio exam – before he’s formally cleared to return to the Nuggets’ lineup (Twitter links via Singer and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).

While it’s not clear if Porter will be game-ready by tomorrow, head coach Michael Malone said today that he’s optimistic the 22-year-old will be able to play at some point during Denver’s five-game road trip, which begins on Friday in Phoenix and runs through next Friday (January 29) in San Antonio.

Malone stated earlier this week that Porter’s spot in the starting lineup is safe, though he referred to Will Barton today as “a starter,” noting that he feels the Nuggets have more than five starter-caliber players, tweets Singer. As such, it remains to be seen whether MPJ will immediately supplant Barton as the team’s starting small forward or if he’ll be gradually eased back into that role.

Nets Granted Disabled Player Exception

The Nets have been granted a disabled player exception following the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Dinwiddie underwent ACL reconstruction surgery after suffering a partially torn ACL early in the season.

A cap exception designed to give teams extra flexibility when a player suffers a season-ending injury, the disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. The Nets’ new DPE has a value of $5,727,024 – half of Dinwiddie’s $11,454,048 salary for 2020/21 – so any player signed or acquired with the exception can’t be earning more than that amount (plus $100K).

The exception can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Disabled Player Exceptions]

While the DPE doesn’t create an extra roster spot for a team, that’s not an issue for the Nets, who currently have three openings on their 15-man roster. Norvel Pelle will reportedly fill one of the three, but that still leaves two available.

Since the Nets also still have the full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.718MM) on hand, the DPE may end up being more useful on the trade market. Brooklyn will have until April 19 to use it.

Cavs Trade Kevin Porter Jr. To Rockets

JANUARY 22: The trade is now official, according to press releases from the Rockets and Cavaliers. Houston confirmed in its announcement that Clemons has been released to make room for Porter.

“After careful and thoughtful evaluation, we made the very difficult and collective decision to make this trade,” Cavs GM Koby Altman said in a statement. “Given the culture and environment we have worked to cultivate here in Cleveland, we feel this move is in everyone’s best interest. Kevin has a bright career ahead of him as a professional basketball player and, at his core, is a good person.”


JANUARY 21: The Cavaliers are sending second-year swingman Kevin Porter Jr. to the Rockets, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter).

In exchange, the Cavs will receive a future protected second-round draft pick from Houston, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter). Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets that the pick is top-55 protected and will most likely never actually be conveyed to Cleveland.

As Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com notes, the primary benefit of the deal for the Cavs is to open up a roster spot and to move off Porter’s guaranteed rookie-scale salary for this season ($1.72MM) and 2021/22 ($1.78MM). Since Houston can absorb Porter’s salary into a traded player exception, Cleveland won’t have to take a player back in the deal.

After throwing a locker room tantrum on January 15 when he discovered his locker had been relocated, Porter was instructed by the Cavaliers to clean out his locker and expect to be waived or traded.

Porter, who initially dropped in the 2019 draft due to off-court concerns, has had a tough second season. In November, he was arrested on charges of mishandling a firearm (a felony), plus driving without a license and marijuana possession (both misdemeanors). Last month, a grand jury cleared Porter of all charges.

Porter has not suited up for the Cavaliers at all this season. During a solid rookie outing, however, the No. 30 2019 draft pick out of USC impressed with averages of 10.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.2 APG and 0.9 SPG across 50 contests.

The Rockets, now in asset-accrual mode after sending perennial MVP candidate James Harden to the Nets in a four-team trade last week, are taking a flyer on a talented player in this deal. The hope, according to Fedor and MacMahon (Twitter link), is that veteran player development coach John Lucas can help Porter get his career back in track in Houston.

In order to open up a roster for Porter, the Rockets will waive injured guard Chris Clemons, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Clemons’ minimum salary for 2020/21 was initially non-guaranteed, but Houston will be obligated to pay it in full after he suffered a season-ending Achilles tear. The Rockets are in better position to eat that money following the Harden deal — team salary is now comfortably below the luxury tax line rather than above it, and the club is no longer right up against its hard cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Luke Adams contributed to this story.

Sixers Plan To Sign Rayjon Tucker To Two-Way Deal

The Sixers intend to sign free agent wing Rayjon Tucker to a two-way contract, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). According to Charania, Philadelphia will then send Tucker to play in the G League’s Disney World bubble for its NBAGL affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.

Tucker, 23, spent most of his rookie season in 2019/20 with the Jazz, appearing in 20 games for the club. He also put up big numbers in the G League for the Wisconsin Herd and the Salt Lake City Stars, averaging 23.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG in 19 NBAGL games (33.4 MPG).

Tucker was traded from Utah to Cleveland in a salary-dump deal in the offseason and was subsequently waived. He quickly caught on with the Clippers for training camp, but didn’t crack the team’s regular season roster and was released again a few days before opening night.

The 76ers had an open two-way slot after cutting Dakota Mathias earlier this week, so no corresponding roster move will be required to make room for Tucker. He’ll join Paul Reed as Philadelphia’s two-way players.

Nets Expected To Sign Norvel Pelle

The Nets intend to fill one of the openings on their 15-man roster by signing free agent big man Norvel Pelle, agent BJ Bass tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Pelle will have to clear the NBA’s health and safety protocols before officially joining the team.

Pelle, who will turn 28 in February, spent last season with the Sixers, first on a two-way contract and later on a standard deal. He averaged 2.4 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 24 games (9.7 MPG) for Philadelphia in 2019/20, then was waived in the offseason before his salary for 2020/21 became guaranteed.

Pelle has had the opportunity to show off his defensive upside in the G League during the last two seasons, appearing in 44 games for the Delaware Blue Coats and averaging an eye-popping 2.9 blocks in just 22.8 minutes per game. He also contributed 11.6 PPG and 8.7 RPG in those 44 NBAGL contests.

The Cavaliers signed Pelle to an Exhibit 10 contract last month with an eye toward having him play for the Canton Charge this season, but it seems that won’t happen now that he’s headed to the Nets.

Given his relative lack of NBA experience, Pelle is unlikely to play big minutes in Brooklyn. However, his defensive skills and his ability to play the five should be of use to a more offensive-minded Nets team that lost some frontcourt depth by giving up Jarrett Allen in the blockbuster trade for James Harden.

Brooklyn will still have two open roster spots after signing Pelle and must fill at least one of them by next weekend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Wood, Durant, Zeller

At last season’s trade deadline, after agreeing to send Clint Capela to Atlanta, the Rockets pursued a deal for Christian Wood, offering the Pistons a pair of second-round picks and Isaiah Hartenstein in exchange for the big man, according to James L. Edwards III and Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Detroit rebuffed that offer and showed interest in re-signing Wood during the 2020 offseason.

The Pistons’ interest was reciprocated by Wood, and the team made him a contract offer, per Edwards and Iko. However, Detroit was pursuing free agents like Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee and wasn’t in position to use cap room on Wood as well.

Without dipping into their cap space, the Pistons had the ability to use Wood’s Early Bird rights to offer him a contract that started at $10.05MM, and – according to The Athletic’s duo – they didn’t go over that amount. That meant they were outbid when the Rockets presented Wood with a three-year offer that started at $13MM+.

Here’s more on Wood, along with a couple more Eastern Conference notes:

  • With Wood’s Rockets set to face Detroit on Friday, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said he’s proud to see the big man enjoying success in Houston, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press writes. “We tried to get him here, we just didn’t have enough in the bucket,” Casey said. “He’s a special kid and I think good things for him and wish him well, except for (Friday) night.” Wood has been ruled out for the game due to a sprained right ankle.
  • Nets star Kevin Durant, who played 50 minutes in Wednesday’s double-overtime loss to Cleveland, will be held out of Friday’s rematch due to injury management, per the team (Twitter link). Friday’s game is the first half of a back-to-back set, so Durant should be available on Saturday vs. Miami.
  • After having missed most of the season with a hand fracture he suffered on opening night, Hornets center Cody Zeller is listed as probable for Friday’s game vs. Chicago and is expected to be available. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer examines what sort of impact Zeller can have on a Hornets team in need of frontcourt depth.

Special Trade Eligibility Dates For 2020/21

In a pair of previous articles, we took a closer look at the trade restrictions placed on two groups of players who signed free agent contracts this past offseason. The smaller of the two groups featured players who can’t be traded by their current teams until March 3, having re-signed on contracts that met a set of specific criteria. The other offseason signees we examined aren’t eligible to be traded until February 6.

In addition to those two groups, there are a few other subsets of players who face certain trade restrictions this season. They either can’t be traded until a certain date, can’t be traded in certain packages, or can’t be traded at all this season.

Listed below, with the help of information from ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), are the players affected by these trade restrictions. This list, which we’ll continue to update throughout the season as needed, can be found on our desktop sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features,” or in our mobile menu under “Features.”


Players who recently signed as free agents or had their two-way contracts converted:

In a typical NBA league year, a player who signs a free agent contract becomes trade-eligible either three months after he signs or on December 15, whichever comes later. That means a player who signs on September 22 would become trade-eligible on December 22.

Similarly, players who have two-way pacts converted to standard contracts can’t be dealt for three months after that happens.

Because the NBA’s calendar this season is compressed, these trade rules have had to be adjusted. Instead of applying to players who signed after September 15, the “three-month” rule applies to those who signed after December 15, according to Marks. And instead of those players being ineligible to be dealt for three months, the exact date their restrictions lift is determined by a mapping table supplied by the league.

Here are the affected players, along with the dates their trade restrictions lift:

February 25:

March 23:

Players who sign free agent contracts or have their two-way deals converted to standard contracts after January 9 this season won’t become trade-eligible prior to the 2020 trade deadline (March 25). That means the following players can’t be traded this season:


Players who recently signed veteran contract extensions:

In a normal league year, a player who signs a veteran contract extension can’t be dealt for six months if his new deal increases his salary by more than 5% and/or puts him under contract for more than three total years (including his current contract). An extension that meets either of those criteria would exceed the NBA’s extend-and-trade limits.

That six-month window has been adjusted downward for this season, based on a mapping table provided by the league. However, all but one of the veteran players who signed extensions exceeding the extend-and-trade limits in 2020/21 still won’t be eligible to be moved before this year’s deadline.

It seems safe to assume these players won’t be on the move anytime soon anyway, but here’s the breakdown:

Trade-eligible as of March 18:

Ineligible to be traded before this season’s deadline:


Players who were recently traded:

Players who were recently traded can be flipped again immediately. However, unless they were acquired via cap room, they can’t be traded again immediately in a deal that aggregates their salary with another player’s for matching purposes.

For instance, having acquired Victor Oladipo from Indiana on January 17, the Rockets could turn around and trade Oladipo and his $21MM salary right away for another player earning $21MM. But if Houston wanted to package Oladipo and Dante Exum ($9.6MM) to land a player making $35MM, the team would have to wait for a little while to do so.

(Note: The Rockets could immediately package Oladipo and Exum in the same trade if the structure of the deal doesn’t require their salaries to be aggregated. For instance, Houston could trade Oladipo and Exum for a single player earning $21MM, since only Oladipo’s salary would be required for matching purposes.)

Typically, a player who has been dealt can’t have his salary aggregated in a second trade for two months, but that window has been shortened this season to account for the compressed schedule and is based on the mapping table provided by the NBA.

Here are the dates when players traded this season can once again have their salaries aggregated in a second trade:

March 7:

March 12:

Any player who is traded after February 2 (without being acquired via cap room) won’t be eligible to be flipped before the trade deadline in a second deal that aggregates his salary with another player’s.


Note: Only players on standard, full-season contracts are listed on this page. Players who sign 10-day contracts can’t be traded. Players who sign two-way deals typically can’t be traded for 30 days after signing, though that window has been adjusted downward for the 2020/21 season.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Gordon Hayward Talks Foot Surgery, Free Agency, More

Between the end of the 2019/20 season and the start of his free agency, veteran forward Gordon Hayward underwent a minor surgical procedure on his left foot, he revealed to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Known as “Morton’s neuroma” surgery, the procedure addressed the left foot discomfort that Hayward played through last season and required about four weeks for the incision to heal, according to Amick, who notes that the Hornets were well aware of when they made their four-year, $120MM offer to Hayward and were comfortable with his medical status.

In an extensive conversation with Amick, Hayward also spoke more about his free agency process, his time as a Celtic, and a handful of other topics. Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber:

On the teams that were in the mix to sign him in free agency:

“Atlanta was a team that I was really interested in. … New York was in the mix — the Knicks. Indiana was another team that was really interested, and we had mutual interest for a while. Boston was — like, let’s not forget about Boston. I really wanted to go back to Boston too. There were just a lot of options, and a lot of potential teams that I could go to, but I’d say those were the main ones. Atlanta, New York, Boston, Indiana, and then Charlotte obviously.”

On why he ultimately chose the Hornets:

“I talked to a lot of people about Charlotte, and have talked to a lot of former players, teammates, about Charlotte. And nobody has ever said a bad thing about Charlotte as a city. Everyone loves it in Charlotte.

“… I think the opportunity to go somewhere, get a fresh start, be in a position to try to maximize my potential as a basketball player, I think, going somewhere where I’d have the ability to try and help a franchise get to that next level, it grew on me more and more after talking to the coaching staff, talking to the front office, obviously talking with my agent and my wife and family. That challenge kind of resonated with me. Talking with (Hornets) coach (James) Borrego, and more and more it was like, ‘Man, this is something I think I really want to do,’ so we just went with it.”

On how he’ll look back on his three years with the Celtics:

“Obviously it was disappointing with how everything played out there. A lot of it is just not under my control. I would have never imagined myself getting injured my very first year there and missing the whole year, having a serious injury. That’s obviously very disappointing. Last year, I feel like I played really well, and I feel like our team was in a really good position and I get injured again — like, a fluke injury — the first game of the playoffs. I honestly shouldn’t have come back and played, but tried to play through it and wasn’t able to be myself, so I don’t think we had our full team there at the end.

“… I have no regrets about anything that happened in Boston, and I really appreciate all the fan support — for supporting me through a wild ride of ups and downs.”