Month: July 2024

Clippers Sign Derrick Jones To Three-Year Deal

JULY 9: The Clippers have officially signed Jones, per the NBA’s transaction log.

JUNE 30: The Clippers are signing free agent forward Derrick Jones to a three-year, $30MM contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic that the agreement is fully guaranteed with no player or team option. Jones will also receive a 5% trade kicker, Iko adds (via Twitter).

It’s possible that Jones could be acquired in a sign-and-trade, but if not, Los Angeles will use most of its non-taxpayer mid-level exception to complete the deal. Either scenario will hard cap the Clips at the first tax apron, which is set at $178.1MM.

After playing a fairly modest role off the bench with Chicago from 2021-23, the high-flying Jones was one of the NBA’s best bargains last season while on a minimum-salary contract with the Mavericks. He started 66 of his 76 regular games with Dallas in 2023/24, averaging 8.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG on .483/.343/.713 shooting.

Jones was a key role player as the Mavs advanced to the NBA Finals, averaging 9.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 1.0 BPG on .481/.369/.733 shooting in 22 postseason contests (29.4 MPG). He was frequently tasked with defending opposing teams’ top scorers.

A former undrafted free agent who played one year of college ball at UNLV, Jones has made previous stops with Phoenix, Miami and Portland in addition to Chicago and Dallas. The 27-year-old won the dunk contest back in 2020.

Jones’ free agency was supposed to be complicated by the fact that he recently changed agents, but evidently that didn’t stop him or his representatives from working out a deal with the Clips. The Mavericks reached a three-year, $27MM deal with free agent wing Naji Marshall before Jones’ deal with L.A. was reported.

Ironically, while Marshall was reportedly a fallback option in case Jones left Dallas, Jones himself is a consolation prize of sorts for the Clippers, who are losing Paul George. The nine-time All-Star is expected to sign a four-year max contract with the Sixers.

Magic Guaranteeing Caleb Houstan’s 2024/25 Salary

The Magic are guaranteeing Caleb Houstan‘s $2.02MM salary for the 2024/25 season, according to Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

Houstan’s contract included a salary guarantee deadline of June 30, meaning Orlando had to waive him on Sunday in order to avoid locking in his minimum salary. However, the decision to guarantee that money was long expected and had been accounted for in the club’s cap room projections for the summer, Beede writes.

Houston, 21, was the 32nd overall pick in the 2022 draft. He has played a modest role off Orlando’s bench in his first two NBA seasons, averaging 4.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game across 110 total regular season appearances (17 starts).

The 6’8″ forward shoots almost exclusively from beyond the arc – he attempted 193 three-pointers and just 13 two-pointers in 2023/24 – and bumped his three-point percentage to 37.3% on 3.3 attempts per game in his second NBA season.

Houstan’s contract includes a $2.19MM team option for the 2025/26 season.

Four other players besides Houstan had June 30 salary guarantee dates in their contracts, as our tracker shows. Chris Paul (Warriors) and Troy Brown (Pistons) were waived prior to the deadline, while Alex Caruso (Thunder) was assured of his full guaranteed following the trade to Oklahoma City. There has been no specific reporting on Jaden Hardy‘s guarantee, but it’s safe to assume the Mavericks will lock in the $2.02MM salary for the promising young guard.

[Update: Michael Scotto of HoopsHype has confirmed (via Twitter) that Hardy’s salary for 2024/25 is now guaranteed.]

Western Notes: Edey, Canada, Spurs, Castle, Clippers

The Grizzlies selected back-to-back college Player of the Year Zach Edey with the No. 9 pick in the 2024 draft. The 7’4″ center, who is from Toronto, was on the preliminary roster for the Canadian national team, but he decided to withdraw from consideration for the 12-man roster ahead of the team’s training camp as it prepares for the Olympics in Paris next month, tweets Michael Grange of Edey will be prioritizing his development with Memphis ahead of his rookie NBA season.

“Representing Canada in the Olympics remains a lifelong dream of mine, but for now, I look forward to being the team’s biggest fan from this side of the Atlantic,” Edey said as part of a larger statement (Twitter link via Grange).

Here are a few more notes from around the Western Conference:

  • The Spurs intend to sign future Hall of Famer Chris Paul to a one-year, $11MM+ contract once he clears waivers. That one-year agreement isn’t a coincidence, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News, who hears the team is prioritizing short-term contracts to maximize financial flexibility for the 2025 offseason (Twitter link). The list of free agents for next year can be found here. Of course, it’s possible the Spurs may be more focused on trade possibilities in 2025 than free agency, as they control several future first-round picks.
  • Spurs No. 4 overall pick Stephon Castle is thrilled to team up with reigning Rookie of the Year Victor Wembanyama, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “Just the thought of playing with him, of course it circulates in your mind, but it really doesn’t feel real until it becomes reality,” Castle said. “So I mean, just to know that that’s going to be my future teammate now, I’m just really excited for what our future looks like.” Castle won a championship with UConn in his lone collegiate season.
  • With Mason Plumlee heading to Phoenix and Daniel Theis, Moussa Diabate and Kai Jones all unrestricted free agents, the Clippers are looking for a new backup big man, per Law Murray of The Athletic. The Clips expect to work out a new deal with Jones and there’s a chance Diabate could be back too, Murray says, but neither player has a proven track record in the NBA.

NBA Minimum Salaries For 2024/25

An NBA team that has spent all its cap space and doesn’t have any of its mid-level or bi-annual exception available still always has the ability to sign a player to a minimum-salary contract, unless that club is right up against its hard cap.

Teams with cap room or with access to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception will have a little more flexibility to sign players to longer-term minimum-salary contracts. However, teams without cap room and without any other exceptions on hand can still use the minimum salary exception to add as many players as roster limits and the hard cap allow, for contracts of up to two years.

[RELATED: Values of 2024/25 mid-level, bi-annual exceptions]

Undrafted free agents and second-round picks are often recipients of minimum-salary contracts, but there are plenty of veterans who end up settling for the minimum too. Because a player’s minimum salary is determined by how much NBA experience he has, many veterans will earn more than twice as much money as a rookie will in 2024/25 on a minimum-salary contract.

Listed below are 2024/25’s minimum salary figures, sorted by years of NBA experience. If a player spent any time on an NBA club’s active regular season roster in a given season, he earned one year of experience. So any player with zero years of experience has not yet made his NBA debut.

These figures represent approximately a 3.36% increase on last season’s minimum salaries, since that’s the amount of the NBA’s salary cap increase for 2024/25.

Here’s the full breakdown:

Years of Experience Salary
0 $1,157,153
1 $1,862,265
2 $2,087,519
3 $2,162,606
4 $2,237,691
5 $2,425,403
6 $2,613,120
7 $2,800,834
8 $2,988,550
9 $3,003,427
10+ $3,303,771

Because the NBA doesn’t want teams to avoid signing veteran players in favor of cheaper, younger players, the league reimburses clubs who sign veterans with three or more years of experience to one-year, minimum-salary contracts. Those deals will only count against the cap – and against a team’s bank balance – for $2,087,519, the minimum salary for a player with two years of experience.

For instance, Eric Gordon, who has 16 seasons of NBA experience, will reportedly sign a one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Sixers, who will only be charged $2,087,519 for Gordon’s contract. He’ll earn $3,303,771, but the NBA will make up the difference. This only applies to one-year contracts, not to multiyear deals.

If a player signs a minimum-salary contract after the regular season begins, he’ll earn a prorated portion of the amount listed above.

Those figures listed above also only apply to players who are signing new contracts in 2024/25. Players who are in the second, third, or fourth year of a minimum-salary deal will be earning a slightly different predetermined amount.

For example, Warriors big man Trayce Jackson-Davis – who signed a minimum-salary contract last offseason and now has one year of NBA experience – will earn a $1,891,857 salary in the second year of his contract, more than the $1,862,265 he would receive if he were signing a new minimum deal this fall. That’s because his second-year salary is based on a 5% raise over last season’s minimum salary for a player with one year of experience, whereas the cap rose by just 3.36%.

Here’s what multiyear minimum-salary contracts signed in 2024/25 will look like:

2024/25 2025/26 2026/27 2027/28
0 $1,157,153 $1,955,377 $2,296,271 $2,486,995
1 $1,862,265 $2,191,897 $2,378,864 $2,573,347
2 $2,087,519 $2,270,735 $2,461,462 $2,789,215
3 $2,162,606 $2,349,578 $2,667,944 $3,005,085
4 $2,237,691 $2,546,675 $2,874,429 $3,220,959
5 $2,425,403 $2,743,776 $3,080,918 $3,436,836
6 $2,613,120 $2,940,876 $3,287,406 $3,453,941
7 $2,800,834 $3,137,977 $3,303,770 $3,799,338
8 $2,988,550 $3,153,598 $3,634,150 $3,799,338
9 $3,003,427 $3,468,960 $3,634,150 $3,799,338
10+ $3,303,771 $3,468,960 $3,634,150 $3,799,338

Technically, a minimum-salary contract could cover five years for a player with full Bird rights, but in actuality, that never happens.

While some second-round picks and undrafted free agents will sign three- or four-year minimum-salary contracts, a minimum deal exceeding two years is rare for a player with more than a year or two of NBA experience under his belt.

Mavericks Sign Naji Marshall To Three-Year Deal

JULY 6: Marshall has officially signed with the Mavericks, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JUNE 30: The Mavericks are signing free agent wing Naji Marshall to a three-year, $27MM contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

A former undrafted free agent who played college ball at Xavier, Marshall has spent his entire four-year NBA career with New Orleans, initially starting out on a two-way contract. Known for his energy and tenacious defense, the 26-year-old had a career year from deep in 2023/24, converting 38.7% of his three-point looks, though it was on very low volume (2.3 attempts per game).

Notably, Marshall was one of the Pelicans’ top performers in their first-round loss to the Thunder, averaging 9.0 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 40% from long distance in 21.0 minutes per contest. He averaged 7.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 19.0 minutes across 66 regular season appearances last season, almost entirely off the bench (he made one start).

It’s a huge raise for Marshall, who finished last season on a minimum-salary contract. A report last month indicated New Orleans didn’t expect Marshall back next season due to financial reasons.

Marshall was considered a fallback option for Dallas if the team was unable to re-sign starting forward Derrick Jones, whose free agency was complicated by the fact that he recently switched agents. Veteran reporter Marc Stein confirms the Mavs are preparing to move on from Jones, citing league sources who say the team is still focused on landing Klay Thompson in a sign-and-trade with Golden State (Twitter links).

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon says (via Twitter) the Mavs are using a significant portion of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Marshall. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks has noted, there’s an expectation that Dallas will use its bi-annual exception to acquire Quentin Grimes from Detroit, creating a trade exception worth Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s full outgoing salary (nearly $16.2MM). If a deal comes to fruition, Thompson’s contract would fit into that new TPE.

The 2024 offseason is the first time that the MLE and BAE can be used to acquire players in trades or waiver claims, not just to sign free agents.

The first tax apron for the 2024/25 league year ($178,132,000) will be the hard cap for any team that acquires a player via sign-and-trade, signs a player using more than the taxpayer portion of the mid-level exception, signs or acquires a player using a bi-annual exception, uses any portion of its mid-level exception to add a player via trade or waiver claim, acquires more than 100% of the outgoing salary in a trade, or uses a trade exception generated prior to the start of the 2024 offseason. The Mavs will meet several of those criteria, which means they cannot exceed the first apron salary threshold.

Marshall came in at No. 33 on our list of 2024’s top 50 free agents.

Chris Paul Intends To Join Spurs After Clearing Waivers

Chris Paul intends to sign with the Spurs once he clears waivers, Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report tweets.

Paul was waived by the Warriors at the start of free agency. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent once he goes through waivers but he didn’t wait that long to choose his new team.

He’ll sign a one-year deal worth more than $11MM, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Earlier on Sunday, Marc Stein (Twitter link) reported that San Antonio has “strong” interest. The 12-time All-Star figures to be a natural, if short-term, pick-and-roll partner for Victor Wembanyama.

It’s unclear whether the Spurs intend to use Paul as their starting point guard or if they’ll have him coming off the bench, as he did a majority of this past season in his one year with the Warriors.

San Antonio used a variety of players to initiate the offense in Wembanyama’s rookie season with Tre Jones getting a majority of the starts at that position. Still, given that the Spurs seemed reluctant to make Jones their starter and didn’t do so until January, it seems unlikely that he would get the nod in next year’s starting five over the veteran Paul.

San Antonio’s cap space gave it an advantage over some other potential suitors for Paul. The Spurs could sign him without waiving Devonte’ Graham, whose guarantee date was pushed back to July 8.

Graham’s contract is already partially guaranteed for $2.85MM for next season, but it will increase to $12.65MM if the Spurs retain him. If they waive Graham and their other non-guaranteed players, they would still have a $16MM in cap space at their disposal to sign Paul, cap expert Yossi Gozlan tweets.

At the moment, the Spurs are considered an over-the-cap team. If they stay that way, they could instead sign Paul by using a majority of their $12.8MM mid-level exception, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Golden State had to make a decision today whether to guarantee Paul’s $30MM salary for the 2024/25 season. Both the Warriors and Paul agreed to push back the guarantee date from Friday to Sunday. The Warriors had attempted to include Paul’s contract in a blockbuster deal, including a potential swap with the Clippers for Paul George. However, they were unable to pull anything off.

Paul, who turned 39 in May, remained productive in 2023/24, averaging 9.2 points, 6.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game in 58 appearances (18 starts) for the Warriors. He posted a shooting line of .441/.371/.827.

Paul George To Leave Clippers, Likely Headed To Sixers

The Clippers were unable to gain any traction in negotiations with Paul George‘s representative and the veteran forward will sign elsewhere, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link)

Aaron Mintz of CAA, George’s agent, and Clippers president Lawrence Frank spoke a short time ago, Woj reports, but there was no new movement on a contract and George is prepared to join a new team. The Clippers have released a lengthy statement confirming the news, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN relays (via Twitter).

“Paul has informed us that he is signing his next contract with another team,” the Clippers announced. “… We negotiated for months with Paul and his representative on a contract that would make sense for both sides, and we were left far apart. The gap was significant. We understand and respect Paul’s decision to look elsewhere for his next contract. We explored an opt-in and trade scenario, but it would have left us in a similar position under the new CBA, with very little asset value to justify the restrictions.

“We will miss Paul. At the same time, we’re excited by the opportunities we’ve now been afforded, including greater flexibility under the new CBA.”

The Clippers now project to operate well below the first tax apron, so they’ll have the $12.9MM mid-level exception and a $4.7M bi-annual exception at their disposal. However, they won’t have the cap room necessary to sign a player capable of replicating George’s production.

Meanwhile, the Sixers will meet with George in California this evening and are the strong frontrunners to sign him, Wojnarowski confirms (Twitter links).

A report earlier on Sunday expressed optimism on the 76ers’ front that they’d land their top free agent target. The Athletic’s Law Murray now reports that George will likely make a decision tonight and no other teams besides Philadelphia are in the running for his services (Twitter link).

Philadelphia is armed with ample cap room to sign a max-level free agent and is reportedly prepared to offer George the four-year, maximum-salary contract the Clippers were unwilling to put on the table. Throughout their negotiations with George, the Clippers remained steadfast on a three-year deal, similar to Kawhi Leonard’s contract extension. Leonard signed a three-year, $152.4MM contract in January.

Another potential suitor, the Magic, essentially took themselves out of the picture by reaching a three-year agreement with another high-level wing, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Values Of 2024/25 Mid-Level, Bi-Annual Exceptions

The salary cap for the 2024/25 NBA league year has officially been set, with the league announcing that the cap will be $140,588,000, a 3.36% increase on last year’s number.

Under the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the values of the mid-level, room, and bi-annual exceptions are tied to the salary cap and the percentage that it shifts in a given year. Here’s how that math works:

  • Non-taxpayer mid-level exception: Worth 9.12% of salary cap.
  • Taxpayer mid-level exception: Increases at the same rate as the salary cap.
  • Room exception: Worth 5.678% of the salary cap.
  • Bi-annual exception: Worth 3.32% of the salary cap.

Listed below are the maximum annual and total values of each of these exceptions, along with a brief explanation of how they work and which teams will have access to them. For more information, check out glossary entries on the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception.

Mid-Level Exception (Non-Taxpayer):

Year Salary
2024/25 $12,822,000
2025/26 $13,463,100
2026/27 $14,104,200
2027/28 $14,745,300
Total $55,134,600

The non-taxpayer mid-level exception is the primary tool available for over-the-cap teams to add free agents. As long as a team hasn’t dipped below the cap to use cap space and doesn’t go over the first tax apron ($178,132,000) at all, it can use this MLE, which runs for up to four years with 5% annual raises.

In 2024/25, for the first time, this exception can also be used to acquire players via trade or waiver claim.

Mid-Level Exception (Taxpayer):

Year Salary
2024/25 $5,168,000
2025/26 $5,426,400
Total $10,594,400

This lesser form of the mid-level exception is capped at two years and can only be used to sign free agents, not to acquire players via trade or waiver claim. It includes a maximum raise of 5% for the second season.

This exception is essentially available to teams who expect their total salaries to fall between the first tax apron and the second apron ($188,931,000). It’s not available to teams above the second tax apron, so a team that does use it becomes hard-capped at that second apron. A team that uses more than $5,168,000 of its mid-level exception will be hard-capped at the first apron.

Room Exception:

Year Salary
2024/25 $7,983,000
2025/26 $8,382,150
2026/27 $8,781,300
Total $25,146,450

Although this is also a mid-level exception of sorts, it’s colloquially known as the “room” exception, since it’s only available to teams that go below the cap and use their cap room.

If a club goes under the cap, it loses its full mid-level exception, but gets this smaller room exception, which allows the team to go over the cap to sign a player once the team has used up all its cap space.

The room exception can be used to sign players for up to three years, with 5% annual raises. It can also be used to acquire players via trade or waiver claim.

Bi-Annual Exception:

Year Salary
2024/25 $4,668,000
2025/26 $4,901,400
Total $9,569,400

The bi-annual exception, as its name suggests, is only available to teams once every two years. Of the NBA’s 30 clubs, only three – the Cavaliers, Lakers, and Raptorsused it in 2023/24, so they won’t have access to it in ’24/25. The league’s other 27 teams could all theoretically use it this season.

Still, even if a team didn’t use its BAE in ’23/24, that club doesn’t necessarily have access to it for the coming year. As is the case with the non-taxpayer MLE, this exception disappears once a team goes under the cap to use room. It’s also not available to teams over the first tax apron — using the BAE creates a hard cap at that apron.

The BAE can be used to sign players for up to two years, with a 5% raise after year one. It can also be used to acquire players via trade or waiver claim.

FA/Trade Rumors: Hartenstein, Ingram, Harris, A. Holiday

With free agency officially underway, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium that the Thunder are meeting with UFA center Isaiah Hartenstein in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon (Twitter link).

According to Charania, the Magic — who just agreed to a three-year, $66MM deal with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — are prioritizing wings with their cap room, while the Knicks are trying to figure out how to avoid being hard-capped at the first apron as part of the Mikal Bridges trade, possibly opening the door for Oklahoma City. Charania also lists the Jazz as a team with interest in Hartenstein, but Utah is “focused on current roster decisions.”

Hartenstein, 26, is the top center on the open market after Nic Claxton agreed to a four-year, $100MM deal to return to Brooklyn.

Here are a few more trade and free agency rumors from around the NBA:

  • Sean Cunningham of Fox40 KTXL confirms the Kings have interest in trading for Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (Twitter link). As Cunningham observes, Ingram previously played under Alvin Gentry, who is now in a front office role with Sacramento. A one-time All-Star, Ingram will earn $36MM in 2024/25, which is the final year of his contract. New Orleans is reportedly unwilling to give the 26-year-old a maximum-salary extension, making Ingram a prime trade candidate.
  • The Pistons, Jazz, Spurs and Mavericks are among the teams interested in free agent forward Tobias Harris, who is meeting with potential suitors in California, a source tells Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. All four clubs have previously been linked to Harris, who has spent the past five-plus seasons with the 76ers. With no cap room available, Dallas would only be able to acquire Harris in a sign-and-trade, Pompey notes.
  • While the Rockets have interest in a reunion with veteran guard Aaron Holiday, they also recognize that he might find an opportunity for more minutes elsewhere, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The 27-year-old has multiple suitors in free agency, Iko adds. It’s worth noting that Houston drafted Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard with the No. 3 overall pick last week.

Clippers Trying To Trade Russell Westbrook

The Clippers are trying to work out a trade involving Russell Westbrook, who decided on Saturday to exercise his $4MM player option for next season, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). A potential Westbrook trade was also reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter), who says L.A. is actively looking for someone to take on the veteran guard.

Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hears that the team is working with Westbrook to find a trade that benefits both of them. It’s believed Westbrook has played his last game for the franchise, Haynes adds.

League sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic that Westbrook has expressed interest in joining the Nuggets (Twitter link). Denver has an opening for a backup point guard after reaching an agreement this week to trade Reggie Jackson to Charlotte. Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports confirms (via Twitter) that the rumors of the Nuggets acquiring Westbrook are legitimate.

Westbrook adapted to a reserve role in his first full season with the Clippers, coming off the bench in 57 of the 68 games he played. He averaged 11.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 22.5 minutes per night while shooting 45.5% from the field but just 27.3% from three-point range.

Westbrook provided a spark for the Clippers when he signed with the team late in the 2022/23 season following a buyout with the Lakers. However, his role diminished after a trade in early November that brought in James Harden to be the starting point guard.

The Clippers are facing salary cap and apron concerns and no longer view Westbrook’s salary as a wise investment as he nears his 36th birthday.