At this point in the NBA offseason, most free agents who remain on the open market will have to settle for minimum salary contracts, if they receive an NBA offer at all.
There are some exceptions, particularly on the restricted free agent market, where Mason Plumlee just signed a three-year, $41MM deal with the Nuggets. Within the last week or two though, we’ve seen top remaining unrestricted free agents like Shabazz Muhammad, Tony Allen, and Andrew Bogut settle for minimum salary contracts.
That’s good news for several teams who have used all their available cap room and/or exceptions and can only offer minimum salary contracts for the rest of the 2017/18 league year. They won’t necessarily be at a disadvantage when it comes to signing free agents if those players aren’t being offered more than the minimum by teams with the means to do so.
In some cases though, an inability to offer more than the minimum can handicap a team. Dante Cunningham‘s free agent decision this week reflects this — according to multiple reports, the deal Cunningham agreed to with the Pelicans is actually worth $2.3MM, which is more than his minimum salary of $2.1MM. While we haven’t seen the official terms of Cunningham’s new contract yet, it’s possible that the $200K difference was one reason Cunningham chose New Orleans over a suitor like the Timberwolves, who could only offer the minimum.
Teams with the flexibility to offer more than the minimum could also benefit later in the NBA season. For instance, if Dwyane Wade negotiates a buyout with the Bulls and considers which team to join as a free agent, the fact that the Heat have retained their $4.328MM room exception could be a factor — it would allow Miami to make a stronger offer than the Cavs could.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the teams that currently don’t have the ability to offer more than the minimum salary, which is $815,615 for a first-year player:
- Boston Celtics
- Detroit Pistons
- Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets: $350 of mid-level exception available
- Los Angeles Clippers: $774,770 of mid-level exception available
- Memphis Grizzlies: $1,440,385 of mid-level exception available, but will use at least $815,615 to sign Ivan Rabb.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New York Knicks
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Meanwhile, the following teams have less than $3.29MM (the value of the bi-annual exception) to offer to free agents:
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $2,549,143 of taxpayer mid-level exception available
- Utah Jazz: $1,128,000 of room exception available
- Washington Wizards: $1,902,000 of taxpayer mid-level exception available
Of course, just because a team has an exception available, that doesn’t mean the club will be eager to use it. Teams like the Bucks or Pelicans, for instance, still have various MLE and BAE exception money available, but their proximity to the luxury tax threshold will make them reluctant to offer more than the minimum salary to anyone the rest of the way.
It appears all but certain at this point that the Knicks will begin training camp with Carmelo Anthony still on their roster, but Anthony’s camp is holding out hope that the team can get a trade done before Monday, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. According to Isola, Anthony and his family have “mentally” moved to Houston, having believed that the Knicks would get a deal done with the Rockets.
Unless the Knicks were bluffing all offseason about their unwillingness to take Ryan Anderson‘s contract in a trade with the Rockets, it doesn’t seem likely that the two teams will get a deal done in the coming days, so we’ll see what happens if and when Anthony has to report to camp with the Knicks.
In the meantime, here are a few more items from around the Atlantic division:
- Having lost some veteran depth in the offseason, the Raptors will be counting on some young players to step up and claim rotations roles. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca explores whether those youngsters will be ready to contribute.
- Within his piece, Lewenberg also notes that the Raptors don’t expect to get injured first-round pick OG Anunoby back on the court until November at the earliest, and writes that the team is taking a “zero tolerance” policy with Bruno Caboclo. Caboclo was removed from Brazil’s national team this summer for refusing to re-enter a game, and Raptors sources cited some behavioral issues in the G League last season as well, says Lewenberg.
- Following up on Kyrie Irving‘s comments this week on ESPN’s First Take, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders suggests there’s nothing wrong with the new Celtics point guard wanting to get out from under LeBron James‘ shadow and be his own star.
- Earlier this afternoon, we passed along several comments from Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, including his assertion that the club is “cautiously optimistic” about working out an extension for Joel Embiid.
SEPTEMBER 20: Childress has officially signed his new contract with the Nuggets, according to RealGM’s log of NBA transactions.
SEPTEMBER 12: Josh Childress has reached an agreement with the Nuggets, making him the first BIG3 player to get an NBA deal, reports Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. According to Scotto, it’ll be a one-year, non-guaranteed pact for the veteran forward.
Childress, 34, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2013/14 season, when he had a four-game stint with the Pelicans. He was the sixth pick in the 2004 draft and had four strong seasons with the Hawks before signing in Greece in 2008. He returned to the United States in 2010, spending two seasons with Phoenix and one with Brooklyn before being waived. He has also played in Australia and the G League and spent last season in Japan.
Childress will be a long shot to make the team in Denver, but there is a potential roster spot open. His signing brings the Nuggets to 17 players in camp, with 14 having guaranteed money. Those totals don’t include restricted free agent center Mason Plumlee, who remains unsigned.
Speaking to reporters today, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo confirmed that discussions concerning an extension for Joel Embiid are underway. Colangelo added that the 76ers are “cautiously optimistic” that they’ll be able to find common ground with Embiid before next month’s deadline (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of The Athletic).
Although he has only appeared in 31 total NBA games, Embiid is entering his fourth season as a pro, making him eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. He and the Sixers have until October 16 to work out an agreement — if they can’t strike a deal, the young center will be on track to reach restricted free agency in 2018.
[RELATED: Extension Candidate: Joel Embiid]
If the Sixers could be fully confident in Embiid’s health going forward, the club likely wouldn’t hesitate to offer a maximum salary extension, but the 23-year-old’s ability to stay on the floor remains a question mark. Head coach Brett Brown indicated today that Embiid hasn’t played 5-on-5 ball yet, and he isn’t sure what to expect from the fourth-year center in training camp next week (Twitter link via Bodner).
While Embiid hasn’t yet been cleared to participate in all basketball activities for training camp, he also hasn’t suffered any setbacks, Colangelo stressed today. The Sixers are taking an “ultra-conservative” approach with their potential franchise center, and will have a better idea next week of what he’ll be able to do in camp (Twitter links via Bodner).
Here’s more on the Sixers:
- Colangelo and the Sixers don’t anticipate any restrictions in camp for Ben Simmons, who has been playing 5-on-5 for some time — Simmons has been “dominating the gym,” per Colangelo (Twitter links via Bodner).
- Although the Sixers used a chunk of their cap room this offseason, the team stuck to one-year deals for J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, retaining future flexibility, as Ian Thomsen of NBA.com details. “We went through free agency this year with discipline by not spending multiyear dollars,” Colangelo said. “That was hard but it was the right thing to do, and I think that we’re going to be very happy. That’s not to say that J.J. Redick or Amir Johnson will be a one-and-done guy. We’re going to see how we play and grow with this group.”
- The goal in avoiding multiyear contracts for free agents was to retain max room for 2018, and Colangelo believes that space will come in handy next summer, as Thomsen writes. “Right now we see a great young core of players that will hopefully maintain the type of health we have currently — and then the ability not only to develop that core but to be in a position to add a max player next year,” Colangelo said. “We think it’s very feasible.”
- While expectations are on the rise for the Sixers, Colangelo is trying to keep them in check, per Thomsen. “Any talk of playoffs is getting a little ahead of ourselves,” Colangelo said. “You clearly want that to be a goal that you discuss internally. But the reality is we’re so young, we’re so inexperienced right now. … Forecasting (the playoffs) would be definitely, I believe, unrealistic. But hoping for that? It’s on everybody’s mind.”
Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2017 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2017/18 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Dallas Mavericks.
- Dirk Nowitzki: Two years, $10MM. Second-year team option.
- Nerlens Noel: One year, $4.188MM. Signed qualifying offer.
- Jeff Withey: Two years, minimum salary. First year partially guaranteed ($350K).
- Maxi Kleber: Two years, minimum salary. First year fully guaranteed.
- Johnathan Motley: Two-way contract. Two years, $50K guaranteed in each season.
- Brandon Ashley: One year, minimum salary. Exhibits nine and 10.
- Gian Clavell: One year, minimum salary. Exhibits nine and 10.
- P.J. Dozier: One year, minimum salary. Exhibits nine and 10.
- Maalik Wayns: One year, minimum salary. Exhibits nine and 10.
- Acquired cash ($175K) from the Rockets for DeAndre Liggins.
- Acquired cash from the Rockets for Jarrod Uthoff.
- Acquired Josh McRoberts, cash ($5.1MM), and a 2023 second-round pick from the Heat in exchange for A.J. Hammons.
- 1-9: Dennis Smith Jr. — Signed to rookie contract.
- Nicolas Brussino (waived)
- A.J. Hammons
- DeAndre Liggins
- Jarrod Uthoff
Salary cap situation:
- Operating as an over-the-cap team with full mid-level ($8.406MM) and bi-annual ($3.29MM) exceptions available.
- Can create up to approximately $18MM in cap room by renouncing exceptions and waiving non-guaranteed contracts.
Check out the Dallas Mavericks’ roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.
Story of the summer:
The Mavericks finished with a losing record last season for the first time since the 1999/2000 campaign, and the team’s 33-49 mark, good for 11th place in the Western Conference, appeared to serve as a wake-up call.
Having been a perennial player for big-money free agents in recent years, the Mavericks sat out the summer fun in 2017, rightly recognizing that they weren’t just a player or two from title contention. When the Mavs won the championship in 2011, they were one of several teams that had a viable shot at a title, but the dominance of the present-day Warriors likely helped Mark Cuban and company realize that it would require more than just a little good fortune in the postseason to return to the NBA Finals.
Rebuilding certainly wasn’t the Mavs’ preference — the club had prioritized win-now moves over the last several years in the hopes of getting Dirk Nowitzki a shot at one last title. But even with the clock running out on Nowitzki’s playing career, the time was right for a rebuild in Dallas, as the team entered the offseason with a top-10 draft pick in hand for the first time in nearly two decades. With many of their conference rivals loading up to make a run at Golden State, the Mavs made a $5MM guarantee for Nowitzki their biggest free agent expenditure of the summer.
SEPTEMBER 20: The Nuggets have officially re-signed Plumlee, issuing a press release today to announce the deal.
SEPTEMBER 18: The Nuggets have reached a three-year deal with restricted free agent Mason Plumlee valued at $41MM, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Agent Mark Bartelstein tells Wojnarowski that the two sides struck an agreement late Sunday night.
Plumlee came to Denver in a trade with Portland at last year’s deadline, with the Nuggets giving up Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick for Plumlee and a second-rounder. The 27-year-old center was used mainly in a reserve role behind Nikola Jokic and averaged 9.1 points and 6.4 rebounds over 27 games.
Plumlee confirmed the signing in a “Letter to Nuggets Fans” posted on his website, saying he is looking forward to the upcoming season. “I meant what I said when I was traded here last year,” he wrote. “This is an exciting, talented young team with a bunch of high character guys and I’ve always admired the loyalty and dedication of Nuggets fans. With some of the big additions this summer and another year of experience for the young guns, I believe this team can compete with anyone in the league.”
Plumlee, who made a little more than $2.3MM last season, got a deal similar to the four-year, $56MM extension the Hornets gave Cody Zeller last fall, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The signing pushes Denver’s salary total to $103.2MM, which ranks 20th in the league (Twitter link).
At this point in the offseason, given the lack of cap room available around the NBA, it’s a strong deal for Plumlee, and reflects the value the Nuggets place on him, even with Jokic and Paul Millsap penciled in as the starters up front.
The Nuggets’ next priority, Wojnarowski adds, will be reaching an extension with Gary Harris before the October 16 deadline.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
After posting a 54-28 record in 2013/14, the Trail Blazers have found themselves slowly slipping down the Western Conference standings in recent years, with their win total declining from 54 to 51 to 44 to 41. Although the club earned a playoff spot last season, its 41-41 regular season record was a letdown.
The late-season arrival of Jusuf Nurkic provided a spark for the Blazers and gives the team a reason for optimism heading into the 2017/18 season. Since LaMarcus Aldridge‘s departure in 2015, Portland’s offense has been driven by its backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but if Nurkic recovers from his broken leg and continues playing like he did in his first 20 games with the Blazers (15.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.9 BPG), the team’s attack looks more balanced.
Still, while a full season with Nurkic in the lineup would bode well for the Blazers’ chances to improve, they won’t have it easy in a Western Conference that looks more daunting than ever. In Portland’s division alone, the Thunder added Paul George, the Timberwolves acquired Jimmy Butler, and the Nuggets signed Paul Millsap.
The Blazers, on the other hand, didn’t make any notable additions outside of rookies Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, who aren’t likely to make a major impact right away. Portland had to dump Allen Crabbe for nothing in order to cut team salary and reduce its projected luxury tax bill, giving the club one fewer outside shooter to rely on in 2017/18.
Despite Portland’s quiet summer and a loaded Western Conference, oddsmakers still project a very modest improvement for the Blazers this season, with offshore betting site Bovada putting the club’s over/under at 42.5 wins.
What do you think? Are the Blazers, with the help of Nurkic, set to bounce back and improve on last year’s record, or will they be hard-pressed to top 42 wins in a tough conference? Vote below and jump into the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!
Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.
Previous over/under voting results:
- Golden State Warriors: Over 67.5 (53.57%)
- Boston Celtics: Over 55.5 (63.5%)
- Houston Rockets: Over 55.5 (65.57%)
- San Antonio Spurs: Over 54.5 (67.74%)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Over 53.5 (68.82%)
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Over 50.5 (71.77%)
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Over 48.5 (55.69%)
- Toronto Raptors: Over 48.5 (64.21%)
- Washington Wizards: Over 47.5 (71.29%)
- Milwaukee Bucks: Over 47.5 (63.88%)
- Denver Nuggets: Under 45.5 (50.44%)
- Los Angeles Clippers: Over 43.5 (60.7%)
- Miami Heat: Over 43.5 (55.39%)
- Charlotte Hornets: Over 42.5 (51.07%)
An eventful series of free agent meetings in July had Andre Iguodala on the verge of signing with the Rockets before the Warriors swooped in and met his demands at the last minute, Chris Haynes writes in a fascinating piece for ESPN.com.
Back on July 1, we heard that Iguodala was expected to circle back to Golden State after getting an offer he liked from Houston, but Haynes goes into far more detail in describing the process that got Iguodala to that point. Here are a few highlights from the ESPN report:
- As free agency opened, the Warriors increased their initial offer for Iguodala to $42MM over three years, with a partial guarantee in year three, according to Haynes. However, the swingman wasn’t satisfied with Golden State’s pitch and opted to take meetings with several suitors rather than accepting the Dubs’ offer.
- The Lakers were the first team to speak with Iguodala, but as was the case throughout free agency, L.A. only offered one year, aiming to preserve 2018 cap room. The Lakers’ one-year offer was worth $20MM, per Haynes.
- Iguodala met with the Spurs next, and San Antonio offered a fully guaranteed four-year deal. The Spurs only had their mid-level exception to offer, meaning they couldn’t offer more than about $36MM, but Iguodala – who likes being involved in the tech world – was intrigued by the team’s proximity to Austin.
- The Kings met with Iguodala next and, armed with about $43MM in cap room, essentially asked him to name his price — within reason. If Iguodala named a price that Sacramento was willing to match, the Kings wanted a commitment on the spot, according to Haynes. Not wanting to commit right away, the 33-year-old held off on specifics, but recognized that Sacramento likely had the means to offer him the most money.
- The Rockets were the next team to make a pitch to Iguodala, and one source within his camp called it “the best recruiting presentation of all time,” per Haynes. Houston was limited to its mid-level exception, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey began proposing “lucrative sign-and-trade scenarios like a mad scientist” in an effort to meet Iguodala’s demands. Following the meeting with the Rockets, Iguodala cancelled his remaining meetings, including sit-downs with the Sixers, Clippers, Timberwolves, and Jazz, and there was “a strong sentiment that he was Houston-bound.”
- Iguodala decided to meet one last time with the Warriors, though he expected to use the meeting as an opportunity to say goodbye, sources tell Haynes. Golden State offered a fully guaranteed three-year, $45MM deal, but Iguodala wasn’t budging from his asking price of $16MM per year, and intended to sign with the Rockets if Golden State didn’t meet that demand.
- Shortly after Iguodala’s meeting with the Warriors ended, GM Bob Myers went to team owner Joe Lacob to ask for a little more money, and received approval to offer $48MM over three years, which was enough to bring Iguodala back into the fold.
The Bucks are looking to improve on their 42-win campaign and they’re banking on continuity to give them a boost in the standings, Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel writes. Milwaukee has hardly made any changes to its roster this offseason, with 13 of 15 players who finished last season with the team still under contract.
“[Continuity is] going to be huge, I think, with training camp being a little shorter,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “The veteran teams are going to have the advantage — there’s not a lot of time before your first game. Just understanding that continuity is big for us. We’re still young, but hopefully, we feel we’re going in the right direction. Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage early on in the season.”
Here’s more from the Central Division:
- Nikola Mirotic remains on the market, albeit as a restricted free agent, and executive Bulls VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson indicates that the power forward’s qualifying offer is still on the table, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com tweets. The power forward will make approximately $7.23MM this upcoming season should he accept his qualifying offer, and has until October 1 to do so.
- The Bulls hired Doug Collins as a senior advisor on Tuesday, and he expects to do just that — advise. During his introductory press conference, the former head coach indicated that he won’t return to the sidelines to coach the Bulls “under any circumstances,” and stressed that he won’t have decision-making power in the front office (Twitter links via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune).
- Tyronn Lue won’t commit to Kevin Love as his starting center, though the Cavaliers coach said the UCLA product will be more involved in the offense this upcoming season.“Right now we’re just trying to get all of our pieces together and right now Tristan [Thompson]‘s our starter,” Lue tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “I’m just thinking we’re going to run a lot more stuff through Kevin, more at the elbows, like we’ve done the last year and a half. Just trying to figure out with our new pieces and our new players and just see what works best for us.”
Luke Adams contributed to this post.