Pelicans To Re-Sign Dante Cunningham

Free agent forward Dante Cunningham has made a decision on where he’ll play in 2017/18, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports that Cunningham has agreed to re-sign with the Pelicans.Dante Cunningham vertical

According to Charania, Cunningham will get a one-year, $2.3MM deal from New Orleans. The minimum salary for a player with Cunningham’s NBA experience is $2,106,470, so if his salary exceeds that, the Pelicans would have to use a different exception — they also wouldn’t get any help from the NBA to cover the full amount, like they would for a one-year, minimum salary deal.

Either way, Cunningham is set to return to the franchise with which he spent the last three seasons. In 2016/17, the 30-year-old forward averaged 6.6 PPG and 4.2 RPG in a rotation role for New Orleans, and also added a reliable three-point shot to his arsenal — Cunningham’s 1.1 3PG and .392 3PT% were both career highs by a wide margin.

While it looked initially like Cunningham’s improved outside shot might make him a more coveted target on the free agent market, he didn’t draw as much interest as expected. A handful of teams – including the Timberwolves, Bucks, and Raptors, per Charania – were said to be in the running for him, but his new 2017/18 salary will be worth less than the $3.1MM player option he turned down in June.

Still, the Pelicans are likely happy to get Cunningham back at a reduced rate, particularly with Solomon Hill expected to miss a significant portion of the 2017/18 season with a torn hamstring. While New Orleans has an All-NBA caliber duo up front in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, the club doesn’t have a ton of depth at forward and could use more shooting help. Cunningham’s ability to play at both forward spots and his improved three-point shot should be valuable.

Once they finalize their reported agreements with Cunningham and Martell Webster, the Pelicans will have 19 players under contract. Cunningham’s deal would represent the club’s 14th fully guaranteed salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NBA Contract Extension Tracker

So far this offseason, we’ve been keeping close tabs on the way teams are acquiring new players, tracking free agent signings, draft pick signings, draft-and-stash deals, two-way contracts, and trades. However, there’s another form of transaction worth monitoring: contract extensions.

Extensions, of course, don’t involve adding a new player to the roster. By extending a contract, a team ensures that a current player will remain locked up for multiple years to come. While it may not change the club’s outlook on the court, it can have a major impact on that team’s salary cap situation — in terms of total value, the extensions signed this summer by James Harden and John Wall rank among the largest new contracts.

While rookie scale extensions are the most common form of contract extension, no fourth-year player has signed a rookie scale extension so far this offseason. Andrew Wiggins is expected to do so soon though, and there are many other players eligible for new deals up until the October 16 deadline. It’s common for about six to eight players entering the final year of their respective rookie contracts to sign extensions before the October deadline, and I wouldn’t expect this year to be any different.

[RELATED: Players eligible for rookie-scale extensions]

While they’re less common than rookie-scale extensions, veteran extensions are happening a little more frequently these days, with the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement expanding the rules for eligibility and creating some additional incentives for star players to sign new deals before they reach free agency. So far this offseason, each new contract extension signed has been a veteran extension.

Listed below are the players who have finalized contract extensions so far in the 2017/18 league year. This list, which can be found on the right-hand sidebar under “Hoops Rumors Features” on our desktop site (or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu) will be kept up to date throughout the offseason, and even into the ’17/18 season, if any veteran players ink an extension at that point.

Veteran extensions:

Rookie scale extensions:

  • None

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.

Heat Exercise 2018/19 Option On Justise Winslow

The Heat have exercised their fourth-year team option on Justise Winslow, the club announced today in a press release. Winslow’s status for the coming season won’t be affected by the move, but it will guarantee his salary for the 2018/19 season.

Winslow, the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft, missed nearly all of his second NBA season in 2016/17 due to a shoulder injury. After playing in 78 games in his rookie year, Winslow appeared in just 18 last season, averaging 10.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 3.7 APG. He looks good to go for the 2017/18 campaign, however, and is expected to battle for the starting small forward job in the preseason.

By exercising their final team option on Winslow, the Heat ensure that he’ll count for $3,448,926 against the cap in 2018/19. The move will also make Winslow eligible for an extension during the 2018 offseason. If he and the Heat don’t strike a deal at that time, the 21-year-old would be on track to reach restricted free agency in 2019.

Decisions on 2018/19 rookie scale team options are due by the end of October, so we should start hearing about more of those moves in the coming weeks. You can follow along with those team option decisions right here.

Bulls Hire Doug Collins As Senior Advisor

The Bulls have hired former NBA head coach Doug Collins to a front office role, announcing today in a press release that Collins is joining the organization as a senior advisor of basketball operations. Collins will report to Bulls executive VP of basketball ops John Paxson, according to the team.

“Doug will be great in this capacity for our organization. The position of ‘senior advisor’ has proven to work well around the NBA in recent years, and I am confident the same will hold true with the Bulls,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “The fact that our relationship goes back more than 30 years certainly helps, but he is especially qualified to assist our leadership in rebuilding the Bulls.”

In a statement of his own, Paxson suggested that Collins will “regularly contribute observations, insights and suggestions” to the Bulls’ front office, with Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com (Twitter link) likening Collins’ new role to the one that Jerry West previously held with the Warriors — and now holds with the Clippers.

Collins, of course, began his NBA coaching career more than three decades ago for the Bulls. He was named Chicago’s head coach in 1986, and held that position until 1989. Collins later went on to coach the Pistons, Wizards, and Sixers, with his most recent coaching stint in Philadelphia coming to an end in 2013. He has served as an ESPN analyst in recent years.

Poll: Charlotte Hornets’ 2017/18 Win Total

The Hornets have bounced up and down the Eastern Conference standings over the last five years, with their win total going from 21 to 43 to 33 to 48 to 36 during that stretch. While last year’s 36-46 record was a disappointment, Charlotte has reason to believe that better things are in store for the 2017/18 season.

Although the Hornets didn’t make major changes to their roster, the moves they did make look like good ones. A trade with the Hawks that sent Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli to Atlanta cost the club some outside shooting, but allowed Charlotte to acquire Dwight Howard, who should be an upgrade up front over Plumlee.

Meanwhile, the Hornets were able to replace some of that outside shooting in the draft, nabbing Malik Monk – who was viewed by most experts as a probable top-10 pick – with the No. 11 selection. Charlotte also made a savvy second-round pick, scooping up promising rookie Dwayne Bacon at No. 40.

While the Hornets made a few solid roster moves, the team didn’t have the cap flexibility to make any major splashes, and there are still question marks at some spots on the roster. Charlotte struggled to get reliable point guard production behind Kemba Walker last year, for instance, and while the team addressed that issue in free agency by replacing Ramon Sessions and Brian Roberts with Michael Carter-Williams and Julyan Stone, MCW is battling injuries again, and Stone hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2014.

Oddsmakers are optimistic about the Hornets’ chances of improving over last year, with offshore betting site Bovada putting their over/under at 42.5 wins.

What do you think? Does a seven-game improvement on last season’s record seem reasonable for the Hornets, or are there still too many areas of concern on the roster for the club to rack up 43 or more wins? Vote below and share your thoughts in the comment section!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Previous over/under voting results:

Northwest Notes: Durant, Wolves, Thunder

More than a year after leaving Oklahoma City for Golden State, Kevin Durant can’t seem to escape the drama that came with that decision. As Weston Shepherd of Daily Thunder outlines, a pair of tweets sent from Durant’s Twitter account earlier this week suggested that the star forward “didn’t like the [Thunder] organization or playing for Billy Donovan” and that OKC’s roster wasn’t talented enough to win a championship.

While those tweets were sent from Durant’s account, they referred to him in the third person, so it’s possible that someone with access to his Twitter published them without realizing which handle he was using. The tweets were quickly deleted, but there has been no explanation from KD, which may be a sign that his(?) comments on the Thunder weren’t far off the mark.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News passes along a couple updates from Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, tweeting that Taylor has spoken personally to Dante Cunningham and is waiting on the forward’s free agent decision. Wolfson adds that Nemanja Bjelica believes he’s ready to go after suffering a broken foot last season, but the club will take things slow with him in camp.
  • The Thunder don’t yet have recovery timelines for Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson, who are dealing with knee injuries, but both players are making progress, as Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman details.
  • While Shabazz Napier is one of 21 fourth-year players eligible for a rookie scale extension, he’s not a great candidate for a new deal. As Joe Freeman of The Oregonian writes, Napier is “little more than an insurance policy” for the Trail Blazers this season, and will have a hard time earning extended minutes.

Lakers, Andrew Bogut Agree To One-Year Deal

The Lakers have reached an agreement with free agent center Andrew Bogut, agent David Bauman tells Shams Charania of The Vertical. According to Charania, Bogut will sign a one-year contract with Los Angeles. David Aldridge of TNT adds (via Twitter) that the deal will be worth the veteran minimum, while ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweets that it’ll be partially guaranteed.Andrew Bogut vertical

Bogut, who will turn 33 in November, began last season with the Mavericks, appearing in 26 games (21 starts) for Dallas before being traded to the Sixers in a deadline deal. He was subsequently bought out by Philadelphia and joined the Cavaliers as a free agent, but fractured his tibia in his first game with his new team, ending his season.

Bauman suggested last week that a CT scan on Bogut’s tibia showed “complete healing,” with a radiology report showing that the center’s leg is “solidly united.” With a medical green light, Bogut was expected to find a new NBA home quickly, and ultimately landed with the Lakers, who will add him to a promising frontcourt that already features Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, and rookies Kyle Kuzma and Thomas Bryant.

[RELATED: Lakers’ depth chart at RosterResource.com]

Even if he’s fully healthy heading into the 2017/18 season, Bogut likely won’t make a major on-court impact at this point in his career — since the start of the 2012/13 season, he has been a role player, averaging 5.9 PPG in 23.5 minutes per contest. Still, he has provided reliable rim protecting and rebounding, chipping in 1.6 BPG and 8.2 RPG during that stretch, so he could have some value in L.A.’s rotation.

According to Aldridge (via Twitter), the Timberwolves made a “major pitch” to Bogut, and the Celtics and Cavaliers were in the mix too. However, the former first overall pick liked L.A.’s “vibe,” not to mention the opportunity to reunite with head coach Luke Walton, who played a part in recruiting the ex-Warrior (Twitter link). While Boston was frequently linked to Bogut during his free agency, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) suspects the Celtics didn’t push overly hard to land him.

The Lakers entered the day with 19 players under contract, so their roster will be at the 20-man offseason maximum when they finalize their agreement with Bogut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Remaining Free Agents

Tony Allen and Shabazz Muhammad agreed to new deals within the last week, while Dante Cunningham appears set to follow suit, further reducing the number of appealing players on the unrestricted free agent market. Meanwhile, on the restricted free agent front, we finally saw some movement this week, with Mason Plumlee and the Nuggets reaching an agreement on a multiyear contract.

As our list of 2017 free agents shows, there are still some intriguing players available, particularly on the restricted market, where Alex Len, JaMychal Green, and Nikola Mirotic remain unsigned. However, the Suns, Grizzlies, and Bulls all have plenty of flexibility to bring back their own RFAs, so those players are good bets to remain with their current teams, like Plumlee and Nerlens Noel did before them.

The unrestricted market features less upside — there are former first-round picks in their mid-20s out there, such as Trey Burke, Thomas Robinson, and Derrick Williams, but those guys appear to have settled into roles as back-end rotation players, barring a late and unexpected leap.

The most interesting names on the UFA market are veterans with a little more experience, including Deron Williams, Monta Ellis, and Aaron Brooks in the backcourt. Gerald Green, Matt Barnes, and Alan Anderson may also have some appeal for teams in need of a swingman. Up front, veteran centers like Andrew Bogut, Spencer Hawes, and Roy Hibbert are still looking for work [Update: Bogut has agreed to sign with the Lakers], while power forwards like David Lee and Kris Humphries also seek new homes.

We shouldn’t count on any of those players to be the difference between winning and losing a playoff series next spring, but some of them could still have a little value, particularly on low-risk, minimum salary contracts.

What do you think? Which of the remaining free agents would you invest in? Are there any teams that you think would be particularly good fits for any available FAs? Or do you think clubs would be better off passing on this group of players in favor of a G League call-up or an undrafted rookie?

Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts on the remaining players from this year’s free agent class.

Bucks Re-Sign Jason Terry

SEPTEMBER 18: The Bucks have officially re-signed Terry, the team announced today in a press release. Terry’s new deal will give him the ability to veto trades during the 2017/18 season.

SEPTEMBER 15: The Bucks are signing Jason Terry to a one-year, $2.3M deal, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. It’s a guaranteed minimum salary deal for Terry, who will earn $2,328,652 despite only counting for about $1.471MM against Milwaukee’s cap.

Now on the verge of his 19th professional campaign, Terry brings his considerable wealth of knowledge (not to mention his respectable stroke from beyond the arc) back to the young Bucks roster. The veteran, who is celebrating his 40th birthday today, logged 18.4 minutes per game in 74 contests with Milwaukee last season.

The decision to bring back Terry for a second year with the club will increase Milwaukee’s guaranteed contract total up to 14 players, although it’s not clear what sort of on-court role he’ll actually see in 2017/18.

The Bucks watched Malcolm Brogdon blossom into a Rookie of the Year at the point last year, backed up by the ever-scrappy Matthew Dellavedova. Similarly, at the two, they’ve already re-signed Tony Snell (at over $9M this year) and may look to integrate third-year man Rashad Vaughn.

The logjam in the backcourt, however, likely had little bearing on the guard’s free agency either way. Considering that Milwaukee has officially arrived on the scene as an upstart playoff contender, simply having someone with Terry’s experience swinging towels on the sidelines will likely pay off in the end.

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