Month: August 2022

Pacific Notes: Wiggins, LeBron Extension, Kings

Appearing with Taylor Rooks on her Bleacher Report show, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban cited Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins as the difference in the Western Conference Finals. Wiggins was outstanding in the five-game series, averaging 18.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per night while shooting 46.2% from the field.

“It was just guys who knew their roles, like an Andrew Wiggins,” Cuban said. “I think he was the one who beat us. And I told him that after the series, you know? We knew what to expect from Klay (Thompson), from (Stephen Curry) and from Draymond (Green). We didn’t know what to expect or how Wiggs would step up, and he did.”

Cuban doesn’t believe there’s a huge talent disparity between his team and the eventual NBA champions, but he said Golden State benefited from having its core together for so many years.

“I think the Warriors deserve a lot of credit because they had played together so long, their execution was phenomenal,” he said. “… That wasn’t as much talent as it was corporate knowledge, the experience of having played together for all those years and been in crunch situations knowing what to do.” 

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Now that LeBron James has agreed to an extension, the Lakers‘ best strategy may be to commit to trying to win a championship this season instead of targeting 2024 or 2025, contends Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha believes James’ decision on the extension was tied to a promise from management to be aggressive about improving the roster. Sources around the team had been confident that James would eventually commit to a longer stay with the Lakers, Buha adds.
  • The Lakers may have doomed themselves to more years of mediocrity with the James extension, writes Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times. He argues that James isn’t good enough to carry a team to a title anymore, while Anthony Davis is too injury-prone and James’ deal ensures that the franchise won’t have enough cap room to add another star while he’s still around.
  • Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee examines the Kings‘ schedule to see whether it will help or hurt their effort to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

And-Ones: NBA Schedule, Scoring Record, Bronny James

The process of creating the NBA schedule, which was released earlier today, begins in earnest in early July, Gene Li, the NBA’s Senior Director, National Broadcast Lead, tells Katie Heindl of Uproxx. The league starts collecting open arena dates from teams in the fall, but the process of putting games on the board doesn’t get underway until after the draft and the early days of free agency.

An emphasis in recent years has been reducing the amount of air travel that teams have to endure. In total, there are 50,000 fewer travel miles in this year’s schedule and there are 88 instances with no travel, where road teams either play the same opponent twice in a row or they stay in the same city and face the Knicks and Nets or Lakers and Clippers.

“In the past we actually had reservations about doing those,” Li said. “We weren’t sure how the teams would feel, both competitively and having the same opponent visit your market for two nights, but with these past two seasons and the small sample size, we’ve seen that there really isn’t a downside from a competitive standpoint. So we’ll keep monitoring that for the seasons to come, but we’re glad it’s working out, that the teams like it and that it’s had that positive impact on travel.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • The ESPN staff picks out highlights from this season’s schedule, including Ben Simmons‘ return to Philadelphia on November 22 and Rudy Gobert‘s return to Utah on December 9. Zach Harper of The Athletic also includes those matchups on his list of the most anticipated games.
  • One of the NBA’s most hallowed records is likely to fall this season as LeBron James is on pace to overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time scoring leader. An ESPN story examines the timeline for James, who is 1,325 points behind and will need 49 games if he maintains his career scoring average of 27.1 PPG. L.A.’s 49th game is January 25 against the Spurs, but ESPN notes that injuries prevented James from reaching 49 games until the Lakers’ 67th game of last season. That will take place March 10 against the Raptors.
  • James took to social media to dispute a report that Oregon has “emerged as the front-runner to land a commitment” from his son, Bronny James, writes Geoffrey C. Arnold of The Oregonian. Bronny will be a senior at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, California, and LeBron has expressed a desire to play on the same team with him in the NBA. “He hasn’t taken 1 visit yet and has only had a few calls with coaches and universities,” James tweeted. “When Bronny makes his choice you’ll hear it from him.”

Woj: Lakers Willing To Trade Two First-Round Picks

The Lakers remain active in trade talks and would part with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in the right deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in an appearance on Sports Center (video link).

Those picks “have a lot of value in the marketplace” if they’re unprotected, Wojnarowski states. He adds that L.A. would be willing to give them up in a trade for Kyrie Irving, but the Nets haven’t been interested.

The Lakers have also engaged in “on and off again” talks with the Pacers about Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, sources tell Wojnarowski, but L.A. wouldn’t trade both future first-rounders in that deal.

Russell Westbrook would have to be included in either trade with Brooklyn or Indiana to help match salaries.

The Lakers are hoping to add outside shooting and size before the regular season begins in October, per Wojnarowski. However, holding on to their draft picks gives them the ability to do something later in the season if a better opportunity arises.

Woj also addresses LeBron James‘ decision to accept a contract extension, saying it eases the pressure on the front office to make a trade right away. He adds that James decided to take the extension after examining the free agent market in 2023 and not seeing a scenario he prefers to staying with the Lakers.

Central Notes: Walker, Stewart, Bulls, Bucks

The Pistons are likely holding onto Kemba Walker to see if he might have any value in a potential trade, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes in a mailbag column. There have been rumors since late June of a buyout agreement for Walker, who was acquired from the Knicks in a trade that was agreed upon on draft night but couldn’t be finalized until the moratorium lifted.

There’s little chance that Walker will play for Detroit, but with training camp almost six weeks away, there’s no urgency to complete a buyout. If the Pistons need to open a spot on their 20-man camp roster, a buyout deal can be done at any time, but for now the team is waiting to see if his $9.2MM contract could be a trade asset.

The Hornets have reportedly shown an interest in bringing back Walker, who was a star in Charlotte for eight seasons. He has been slowed by knee soreness and played just 37 games for New York last season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Isaiah Stewart is a “heavy favorite” to be the Pistons‘ starting center again this season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Stewart was used mainly at power forward in Summer League, playing alongside rookie center Jalen Duren. Langlois notes that Duren will need playing time this season, but it may be hard to get at the NBA level with Stewart, Kelly Olynyk, Marvin Bagley III and Nerlens Noel in the same frontcourt. Langlois suggests that Duren may see some time in the G League while he develops his NBA skills.
  • The Bulls will only have 14 nationally televised games — seven on ESPN, three on TNT and four on NBA TV — which Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic sees as a disappointing number for a playoff team in a major market. Examining Chicago’s schedule, Mayberry notes that a lot of conference tests will come early, with 12 of the Bulls’ first 13 games against Eastern teams.
  • The Bucks will be on national TV 32 times, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including their season opener October 20 at Philadelphia that will feature a matchup of perennial MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.

Southwest Notes: Zion, W. Green, Spurs, Grizzlies

The schedule of nationally televised games for the upcoming season indicates that league officials are still skeptical about the prospect of a full year from Zion Williamson, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Not counting games on NBA TV, the Pelicans will play in front of a national audience just 11 times — six on TNT and five on ESPN — which ranks 13th in the league. New Orleans was featured 10 times last season, Guillory notes, and 20 times in Williamson’s rookie season.

Williamson, who signed a max contract extension last month, is reported to be healthy after missing all of last season following surgery on his right foot. However, his physical condition will always remain a concern after he managed just 85 combined games in his first three seasons.

Guillory notes that the league can always flex the Pelicans into more national games if they get off to a strong start, but both they and Williamson have a lot to prove before that might happen. Even though New Orleans is coming off an exciting playoff run, the team was only 36-46 during the regular season and doesn’t have a lot of national appeal without its star player.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The way Williamson is utilized will be among the most important questions for the Pelicans, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. This will be the first chance for Willie Green to coach Williamson, who was a primary ball-handler under Stan Van Gundy. Other topics Clark identifies as important are the battle for backup point guard minutes, the roles for Larry Nance Jr. and Jaxson Hayes and whether Trey Murphy is ready for more minutes in his second season.
  • The Spurs will play four home games in sites other than the AT&T Center, the team announced in a press release. In addition to hosting the Heat in Mexico City on December 17, San Antonio will return to its former home in the Alamodome on January 13 and will play a pair of games in Austin on April 6 and 8. The games are part of the team’s 50th anniversary celebration. “Hosting these four games is part of our vision to purposefully engage and celebrate our entire Spurs following from Mexico to Austin, while fostering the next generation of fans,” said RC Buford, CEO for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.
  • The Grizzlies will be on national TV a franchise-record 18 times, notes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. They will be part of the NBA’s traditional showcases on both Christmas Day and Martin Luther King Day.

L.A. Notes: Powell, Seattle Game, LeBron, Lakers

Norman Powell is looking forward to a fresh start with the Clippers after suffering a left foot fracture shortly after being acquired in a February trade, writes David Yapkowitz of 213 Hoops. Powell played just three games before the injury, then returned for two games late in the season and two more in the play-in tournament. He said it was difficult trying to adapt to a new team without being on the court.

“It’s kind of a tough hill to climb on, only playing for three games and then coming back for the playoffs, it’s tough,” Powell said. “I really didn’t get a full chance to show what I bring to the table, just a little bit of a spark there.”

The Clippers envision Powell as a complementary scorer when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both healthy and as someone who can carry the offense when they’re not on the court. After winning a title with the Raptors in 2019, Powell believes he’s on another team that can reach that level.

“We got nine, 10 guys that can be starters on other teams and to have them all on one team is really big especially throughout the course of the season,” he said. “We showed last year that with injuries and things, guys can step up and play big minutes, but if everybody is healthy, it’s a real good shot to have a championship.”

There’s more NBA news from Los Angeles:

  • The Clippers and Trail Blazers will play a preseason contest October 3 in Seattle, marking the first time the former NBA city has hosted a game since 2018. The location was the idea of head coaches and longtime friends Tyronn Lue and Chauncey Billups, who both have team owners with ties to the Seattle area, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.
  • LeBron Jamesnew extension will put the Lakers in a tight financial situation over the next two years, says Bobby Marks of ESPN (video link). If Talen Horton-Tucker and Damian Jones both pick up their player options for the 2023/24 season, the team will have just $22MM in cap space with only five players under contract. If the Lakers keep next year’s first-round pick, that number could fall to about $19MM (depending on where exactly the pick lands), which isn’t nearly enough to sign a high-level free agent.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic analyzes the Lakers‘ schedule, which is loaded with tough games early in the season.

Lakers To Retire Pau Gasol’s No. 16 Jersey In March

The Lakers will retire Pau Gasol‘s No. 16 jersey on March 7, 2023, the team announced today in a press release. The Lakers will be playing host that night to the Grizzlies, the club that acquired Gasol in a draft-night trade in 2001 and eventually sent him to L.A. in 2008.

After being acquired by the Lakers in that blockbuster deal that landed his brother Marc Gasol in Memphis, Pau appeared in 429 regular season games for the franchise, averaging 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game in 35.7 minutes per contest while shooting 52.2% from the floor.

Gasol, who announced his retirement last October at age 41, played a key role in the Lakers’ 2009 and 2010 championships, putting up 18.9 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, and 2.0 BPG in 46 games (40.1 MPG) during those two postseason runs. The standout forward/center made three All-Star teams during his time in Los Angeles and also earned a spot on the All-NBA Third Team in ’09 and ’10, as well as a place on the Second Team in ’11.

Gasol will be the 11th player to have his jersey number retired, joining teammate Kobe Bryant (Nos. 8 and 24), as well as Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44), and Jamaal Wilkes (52).

Because he hasn’t played in the NBA since 2019, Gasol will be eligible to be part of the 2023 Hall of Fame class and has an excellent chance to be inducted. In addition to his impressive NBA résumé, Gasol also won several medals in international competition with the Spanish national team.

2022/23 NBA Schedules By Team

The NBA has officially unveiled its full regular season schedule for 2022/23.

The season will begin on Tuesday, October 18 and wrap up Sunday, April 9. The play-in tournament will take place from April 11-14, with the playoffs beginning on April 15.

The league’s announcement highlighted the fact that the estimated average miles traveled per team in 2022/23 has been reduced to 41,000, which is a new record low since the NBA has had 30 teams and played an 82-game season.

The league also confirmed several previously reported marquee matchups, including its five-game Christmas Day slate, an opening night doubleheader of Sixers at Celtics and Lakers at Warriors, and games taking place in Mexico City and Paris.

Listed below are links to the full 2022/23 season schedules for each NBA team, organized by conference and division. The team-by-team schedules for ’22/23 can also be viewed in a single document right here, while the full schedule by date can be viewed here.


EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

Central Division

Southeast Division


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Northwest Division

Pacific Division

Southwest Division

Lakers, LeBron James Agree To Extension

Superstar forward LeBron James has agreed to a contract extension with the Lakers, agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It’ll be a new two-year, maximum-salary deal that includes a second-year player option, per Wojnarowski. That means James is now under contract with the Lakers through at least the 2023/24 season, with an option on ’24/25. The agreement also includes a 15% trade kicker, Woj adds.

James is earning $44,474,988 in 2022/23, which exceeds the standard maximum of $43,279,250 for a player with 10-plus years of NBA experience. Because he’s still eligible for a 5% raise on a new extension, LeBron’s 2023/24 salary will likely be $46,698,737. His ’24/25 player option will be worth $50,434,636, an 8% raise on the first year of his extension, for a total two-year value of $97,133,373.

The value of James’ extension could increase further if the NBA salary cap for ’23/24 comes in higher than anticipated. The cap is currently projected to be $133MM, but if it ends up exceeding $133,425,000, LeBron’s starting salary on the extension would instead be worth 35% of the cap.

[RELATED: 2022/23 NBA Contract Extension Tracker]

James became eligible for a new two-year extension on August 4. He was ineligible to sign a deal longer than that due to the NBA’s Over-38 rule.

Despite his new eligibility, there was a sense that James wouldn’t rush into a new deal right away. The four-time MVP would have been able to retain leverage and perhaps wield more influence on the Lakers’ roster moves by holding off on that commitment. Taking that route would also have given LeBron a chance to assess the team’s roster additions – and new head coach Darvin Ham – during the 2022/23 season.

However, it appears that James was comfortable renewing his commitment to the Lakers despite last season’s disappointing 33-49 showing and lingering questions about the roster. The new deal will give LeBron the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent at age 39, at which point he’s expected to try to team up with his son Bronny James, who would be draft-eligible no earlier than 2024.

While the Lakers almost certainly wouldn’t have considered moving him anyway, James’ extension will make him ineligible to be traded during the 2022/23 season — he can’t be dealt for six months after signing the contract, since it exceeds the NBA’s “extend-and-trade” restrictions.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) previously noted, the Lakers’ potential 2023 cap room won’t be affected in any real way by James’ new extension, since his free agent cap hold would have been equivalent to his extension salary. Los Angeles projects to have over $20MM in room next summer when several contracts – including Russell Westbrook‘s – expire, which will open up some options for the team but won’t be enough for another maximum-salary player.

James’ new deal makes him the highest-paid player in NBA history in terms of total earnings, at least for the time being, Marks tweets. Assuming LeBron’s deal ends up being worth $97.1MM, he’ll be at $532MM in career earnings, surpassing Kevin Durant‘s $508MM.

Hoops Rumors Glossary: Poison Pill Provision

The poison pill provision isn’t technically a term defined in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, the concept of a “poison pill” has colloquially come to refer to a pair of NBA concepts.

The first of those concepts relates to the Gilbert Arenas Provision, which we’ve explained in a separate glossary entry. When a team uses the Arenas provision to sign a restricted free agent with one or two years of NBA experience to an offer sheet, that team can include a massive third-year raise that’s often referred to as a “poison pill,” since it makes it more difficult for the original team to match the offer.

The second meaning of the “poison poll” is the one that has become more common – and more frequently relevant – in recent years. It relates to players who recently signed rookie scale extensions.

The “poison pill provision” applies when a team extends a player’s rookie scale contract, then trades him before the extension officially takes effect. It’s a rare situation, but it features its own set of rules, since extensions following rookie contracts often create a large gap between a player’s current and future salaries.

For salary-matching purposes, if a player is traded between the time his rookie contract is extended and the following July 1 (when that extension takes effect), the player’s incoming value for the receiving team is the average of his current-year salary and the annual salary in each year of his extension.

His current team, on the other hand, simply treats his current-year salary as the outgoing figure for matching purposes.

Let’s use Heat guard Tyler Herro as an example. Herro, who is currently viewed as both a trade candidate and an extension candidate, is set to earn $5,722,116 in 2022/23, the final year of his rookie scale contract. Any extension he signs would be significantly more lucrative. To illustrate our point, let’s assume he and the Heat agree to a four-year, $120MM rookie scale extension that would begin in ’23/24.

If the Heat decide after signing Herro to that extension that they want to trade him, the poison pill provision would complicate their efforts. From Miami’s perspective, Herro’s current-year cap hit ($5,722,116) would represent his outgoing salary for matching purposes. However, any team acquiring Herro would have to view his incoming value as $25,144,423 — that’s the annual average of the five years and $125,722,116 he has left when accounting for both his current contract and his (hypothetical) new extension.

As we explain in our glossary entry on the traded player exception, NBA rules dictate that over-the-cap teams must send and receive approximately the same amount of salary in any trade. So applying the poison pill provision to a player like Herro and creating a difference of nearly $20MM between how two trade partners account for him would make salary-matching far more difficult than usual.

The poison pill provision is one key reason why the Heat are unlikely to extend Herro until they’re fairly certain they won’t use him in a blockbuster trade. Without an extension in place, his current-year salary of $5,722,116 is both his outgoing and incoming cap hit for matching purposes.

Trades involving a player who recently signed a rookie scale extension are already rare. After all, those players are generally young, and a player who signed an extension is promising enough to have warranted a long-term investment. Those aren’t players that teams often trade. The poison poll provision further disincentivizes a deal involving one of those recently extended players by complicating salary-matching rules, making those trades that much more rare.


Note: This is a Hoops Rumors Glossary entry. Our glossary posts will explain specific rules relating to trades, free agency, or other aspects of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.

Earlier versions of this post were published in 2012, 2018, and 2021.