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Pacers Notes: Siakam, Raptors, Haliburton, Meeting, McDermott

Pascal Siakam made an emotional return to Toronto on Wednesday evening, including converting a bank shot that sealed the Pacers‘ victory with 25 seconds remaining, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

I tried to stay focused on the game as much as I could, but it [was] just hard, just coming in here and seeing so many familiar faces and reflecting on everything,” Siakam said. “Coming back here after eight years, just to see the reception and people being so genuinely happy for me, I think for me that was the most important thing. … I couldn’t really ever dream of that. It means a lot, so I appreciate everyone for everything. I’m humbled.”

As Lewenberg writes, Siakam seems truly happy to be playing for Indiana, which is a contrast to the “unfortunate end” of his tenure with the Raptors, who traded him to the Pacers last month.

It feels amazing,” Siakam said before the game. “[From the moment I got to Indiana] it’s just been so much love, so much appreciation and just like overly supportive in everything. It feels good to be in a place like that. I’m just looking forward to continuing to be there and just have an opportunity to do something special with that team.”

A source tells Lewenberg the Raptors reached out to Siakam’s camp to see if he’d be interested in a three-year, maximum-salary extension before the 2023/24 season began, though Lewenberg cautions that the offer was “informal, at best.” Siakam, meanwhile, wanted a fourth year added, and talks broke down after that.

Lewenberg believes the Raptors took Siakam for granted, but the two-time All-NBA member is “excited to have the opportunity” to play for the Pacers. The 29-year-old is set to hit free agency this summer and is widely expected to sign a long-term deal with Indiana, which holds his Bird rights.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • Speaking to JJ Redick on his Old Man and the Three podcast (Twitter link), All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton admitted he might’ve taken another game or two off following his hamstring injury if he didn’t have significant financial considerations at stake. Haliburton’s rookie scale extension features Rose rule language, which means he’s eligible to make 30% of next season’s salary cap instead of 25% if he makes an All-NBA team. However, he needs to play at least 65 games to qualify for major postseason awards due to a rule change in the new CBA.
  • Indiana held a brief players-only meeting following Monday’s loss to Charlotte, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “Some things were addressed after the game,” center Myles Turner said. “We all got together and we spoke without the coaches and just talked it out and I think we’re headed in the right direction.” However, Turner was miffed by the team’s performance, starting with his own. “There’s no excuses, man,” Turner said. “This isn’t the first time this has happened this season. It starts with me as a leader of this team. Our defense just wasn’t there tonight. I wasn’t very good defensively tonight. I think as a whole going into All-Star break, these games matter. I don’t think we had the right mindset tonight.” As Dopirak notes, while the Pacers are currently 31-25, the No. 6 seed in the East, they have several losses to teams at the bottom of the standings, including the Hornets (twice) Trail Blazers (twice), Wizards, Grizzlies and Raptors.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Doug McDermott is “thrilled” to be back with the Pacers, who traded for him prior to last week’s deadline, according to Dopirak. “It feels good to be a part of winning basketball,” McDermott said. “I haven’t really been a part of that in a couple years. Just to be a part of the Pacer organization, I’m super excited but very thankful for my time in San Antonio. I’ve always felt like this place is home for me. It’s kind of the place where I revamped my career.” The Midwest native previously played three seasons with Indiana, from 2018-21.

Celtics Notes: Trades, Stevens, Springer, Tillman, Roster

The Celtics made a somewhat surprising trade with a division rival on Thursday, landing third-year guard Jaden Springer from Philadelphia in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick. Speaking to the media on Friday, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said the former first-round pick was a player they’d been eyeing for a few years, writes Brian Robb of MassLive.com.

We’ve tracked his development pretty closely over the years,” Stevens said. “We liked him in the draft a few years ago. He was the youngest player in that draft. He’s still a puppy. He’s still 21 years old. He was unbelievable in the G League playoffs last year. He’s done a lot of good things against us when he’s been up in Maine. We’ve seen him live several times up there. He’s a guy we’ve been tracking for a while.”

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe hears from a source (Twitter link) that Springer was “strongly endorsed” by a pair of former 76ers assistant coaches who are now with the Celtics — Sam Cassell and Tyler Lashbrook.

He is an athlete that can play athletically in the playoffs, right?” Stevens said of Springer, per Jay King of The Athletic. “But he also has a lot of growing to get better and he’s committed to that. He’s got a long runway ahead. So we’ll see how this year shakes itself out for him. See how it all fits with the team. But he’s a guy that we believe in.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • According to King, Stevens indicated that part of the reason Boston was interested in Springer and Xavier Tillman, the team’s other trade acquisition (from Memphis), is that they’re young players who could develop with the Celtics, who have a chance to retain them long-term. Tillman will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but Boston has his Bird rights, so it will be able to potentially re-sign him without worrying about salary cap limitations. Springer, meanwhile, already had his fourth-year team option exercised, and will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2025 if he doesn’t sign a rookie scale extension in the offseason. The Celtics project to be over the second tax apron next season, when they’ll be more limited in how they can construct their roster due to the new CBA.
  • Stevens said the front office didn’t want to disrupt the team’s chemistry, which is why the Celtics made a pair of relatively minor moves. As with Springer, Tillman was a player they’d liked for quite a while, particularly due to his defensive versatility and basketball IQ. “He competes, he passes, thinks the game well,” Stevens said, per King. “All the stuff that we’ve been fortunate with the guys we have around our best players, that they brought to the table. He knows how to play. So we’re excited to have him.” However, Tillman indicated that he’s still dealing with a left knee injury and has no timetable for his Celtics debut.
  • While Stevens praised two-way center Neemias Queta, who has been viewed as a candidate to be promoted to a standard deal, he said the Celtics aren’t in a rush to fill the opening on their 15-man roster, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “I don’t know if making that final decision and saying, ‘OK, these are our 15 guys right now with two months left in the season,’ makes a lot of sense. I think we need to utilize this time to evaluate,” Stevens said.
  • The Celtics send the Trail Blazers $3MM in cash as part of their Dalano Banton trade, reports Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Suns Acquire Royce O’Neale In Three-Way Deal

7:22pm: The trade is official, according to a press release from the Grizzlies, who classified the draft asset they’re getting from the Suns as a “future first-round pick swap.”

Memphis will be able to swap its own 2026 first-round pick for the least favorable of the Suns’, Wizards’, and Magic’s first-rounders that year, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian.

As previously reported, Brooklyn waived Thaddeus Young and Memphis cut Victor Oladipo to make room on their respective rosters for the incoming players.


4:58pm: The Suns hung onto Boston’s 2028 second-round pick, tweets Gambadoro, which means the three future second-rounders they’re sending Brooklyn are as follows:

  • Either the Pistons’, Bucks,’ or Magic’s 2026 second-round pick (whichever is least favorable).
  • The Grizzlies’ 2028 second-round pick.
  • The Grizzlies’ 2029 second-round pick.

12:18pm: The Nets are finalized a trade to send forward Royce O’Neale to the Suns for matching salaries and three second-round picks, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Phoenix is also acquiring forward David Roddy from the Grizzlies in exchange for a pick swap, Charania adds. (Twitter link).

The Suns are sending out Keita Bates-Diop, Yuta Watanabe, Jordan Goodwin and Chimezie Metu, John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Phoenix tweets. They are all on minimum salary deals.

Watanabe and Metu will head to the Grizzlies, while Brooklyn will acquire Bates-Diop and Goodwin, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link).

O’Neale is in the final year of a four-year, $36MM contract and could enter unrestricted free agency this summer with full Bird rights. He’s making $9.5MM this season.

He’ll be extension eligible with the Suns for a maximum of two-years and $20.5MM, Yossi Gozlan of Hoops Hype tweets.

Roddy is making $2.72MM this season and already had $4.83MM option for next season picked up by Memphis. Phoenix can use the $4,975,371 traded player exception it generated in the Dario Saric trade with Oklahoma City last season to absorb Roddy’s salary. That exception expires on Friday.

The Suns were considered the top suitor for the Hornets’ Miles Bridges. However, Bridges reportedly told Charlotte’s front office he wouldn’t approve any trade. Phoenix pivoted to O’Neale, who will immediately jump into its rotation.

O’Neale gives Phoenix a playoff-tested, defensive-minded veteran. He has been coming off the bench most of this season but could slot into Phoenix’s star-laden lineup if the Suns want to use Grayson Allen in a sixth-man role.

O’Neale is averaging 7.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 24.5 minutes per game this season. He’s a career 38.1% 3-point shooter and should get plenty of open looks playing with Phoenix’s stars.

Phoenix will see its luxury tax bill rise by $13.5MM, Gozlan tweets. Overall, the Suns will have a payroll and luxury tax penalty adding up to more than $254.5MM this season, Gozlan notes in another tweet.

By swapping out four players for a pair, Phoenix will also have to add another player to reach the league minimum or 14. That will also increase their tax bill.

Watanabe and Bates-Diop are signed through next year. Metu has an expiring contract and Goodwin’s contract includes a team option for next season.

Raptors Acquire Olynyk, Agbaji From Jazz For 2024 First-Round Pick

2:52pm: The trade is official, the Raptors and Jazz announced in a pair of press releases.


9:38am: The Jazz have agreed to trade center Kelly Olynyk and wing Ochai Agbaji to the Raptors, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Utah will receive Kira Lewis, Otto Porter, and a 2024 first-round pick from Toronto in the deal.

That 2024 first-rounder will be the least favorable of the Thunder’s, Clippers’, Rockets’, and Jazz’s picks, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link), so it figures to land near the end of the first round. Utah’s pick is top-10 protected, meaning there’s a scenario in which the Jazz end up hanging onto their own first-rounder and receive a separate pick (likely OKC’s or L.A.’s) as a result of this deal.

While it’s a little surprising to see a lottery-bound team like the Raptors surrender a first-round pick, the deal will net them a solid big man in Olynyk and a promising young prospect in Agbaji, who was the 14th overall pick in the 2022 draft.

Assuming the Raptors intend to hang onto Olynyk, the Toronto native will become the ninth Canadian to play for the franchise and will provide some depth in a frontcourt that’s relatively thin behind Jakob Poeltl. A forward/center who can stretch the floor, Olynyk is averaging 8.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and a career-high 4.4 assists in 20.4 minutes per game across 50 appearances this season. The 32-year-old has made 42.9% of his three-pointers, boosting his career rate to 37.0%.

Olynyk is on an expiring contract, but the Raptors will control his Bird rights this offseason, giving them the ability to go over the cap to re-sign him or to figure out a sign-and-trade.

As for Agbaji, the young wing hasn’t shown much offensive game since entering the league last season, but is a solid defender who still has room to grow and is under contract through 2026. The Raptors have liked Agbaji for a while, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, and presumably view him as the type of player who can develop alongside the team’s young core of Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, and RJ Barrett.

The Jazz and Raptors had reportedly been discussing a similar deal that would have included Bruce Brown – rather than a first-round pick – going to Utah. However, Toronto controlled an excess of picks in a 2024 draft that the club isn’t believed to be especially high on, while the Jazz are at risk of losing their own ’24 first-round selection, so the inclusion of the low first-rounder makes some sense.

The Raptors still own the Pacers’ first-round pick and the Pistons’ second-round pick in 2024, and would hang onto their own first-rounder if it ends up in the top six.

Lewis’ salary couldn’t be aggregated in a trade after being acquired from Indiana last month, but that won’t be necessary, since Porter’s $6.3MM cap hit is enough on its own to match Olynyk’s $12.2MM incoming salary, while Lewis’ $5.7MM salary will be used to match Agbaji’s $4.1MM cap hit.

It remains to be seen whether the Jazz will hang onto Lewis and/or Porter for the rest of the season. Lewis is a former lottery pick and Porter has had some strong seasons as a three-and-D wing, but both players have battled injuries in recent years and haven’t played much outside of garbage time in 2023/24.

Jazz Trade Simone Fontecchio To Pistons

FEBRUARY 8: The Jazz and Pistons have officially completed their deal, issuing press releases to confirm the move.


FEBRUARY 7: The Jazz and Pistons have agreed to a trade that will send forward Simone Fontecchio to Detroit in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

That 2024 draft pick will be the more favorable of the Wizards’ and Grizzlies’ second-rounders, since that’s the only ’24 second-round selection the Pistons control, as Zach Lowe of ESPN confirms (via Twitter).

In addition to that pick, Utah is acquiring Detroit forward Kevin Knox, reports James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (via Twitter). The Jazz will also receive the rights to Gabriele Procida, the 36th overall pick in the 2022 draft, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).

An Italian forward who played in Europe for a decade before making the move to the NBA, Fontecchio signed a two-year, $6.25MM contract with the Jazz during the 2022 offseason. He played a modest rotation role in 52 games as a rookie, but has seen his minutes increase in 2023/24.

Fontecchio has averaged 8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 23.2 minutes per game across 50 appearances (34 starts) this season, posting a solid shooting line of .450/.391/.800 while attempting 4.7 three-point shots per night. He reportedly drew recent trade interest from the Celtics, Suns, and Cavaliers, among others, so Detroit may have had to outbid a few rival suitors to land him.

The Pistons view Fontecchio as a player whom they’ll retain beyond this season, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Although he’s on an expiring contract, the 28-year-old will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer and Detroit will control his Early Bird rights in addition to projecting to have no shortage of cap space, so the club is well positioned to re-sign him.

In exchange for Fontecchio, the Jazz will receive a draft pick that figures to land near the top of the 2024 second round, as well as Procida, a 21-year-old draft-and-stash prospect who was selected early in the second round two years ago. The Wizards’ 2024 second-rounder currently projects to be No. 32 overall, while Procida – another Italian wing – is playing for Alba Berlin in Germany.

Utah will also receive Knox, a former lottery pick who is unlikely to replicate Fontecchio’s role or his production – especially from the three-point line – and essentially functions as a salary-matching piece. However, it’s possible he’ll get an opportunity to vie for rotation minutes as the 10th-seeded Jazz fight for a play-in spot. The 24-year-old averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG on .462/.330/.909 shooting in 31 games (18.1 MPG) for Detroit.

Knox was signed by the Pistons on November 8, meaning he’ll become trade-eligible just ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Sending him out for salary-matching purposes will allow Detroit to retain the $5.7MM trade exception the team generated in last month’s deal with the Wizards.

The Jazz, meanwhile, will be able to take on Knox’s minimum-salary contract using the minimum salary exception, allowing them to create a new trade exception worth just north of $3MM for Fontecchio.

Miles Bridges Tells Hornets He Won’t Approve Any Trade

Miles Bridges has decided to veto any trade and will remain with the Hornets for the rest of the season, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter link). The news was confirmed by Bridges’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group.

The move means Bridges will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and will retain his Bird rights, which he would have lost if had been dealt to another team. Bridges is one of a handful of NBA players with the ability to turn down trades because he re-signed with his team on a one-year contract last summer.

The Bird rights issue and Bridges’ legal difficulties combined to limit his value on the trade market. Bridges received a 30-game suspension for a 2022 domestic violence incident and has a pending court appearance in March for allegedly violating a protection order.

Bridges has said several times that he prefers to remain in Charlotte, including Wednesday night in a post-game session with reporters, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Bridges posted his second straight 40-point game and has been a valuable weapon for the rebuilding Hornets.

Even if Bridges doesn’t re-sign with Charlotte, the team could potentially get a better return for him this summer in a sign-and-trade deal, tweets Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Bridges didn’t play in 2022/23, so the Hornets weren’t permitted to sign and trade him last offseason.

Trade Rumors: Sixers, Pistons, Bulls, Bridges, Mavs, Kuzma, Brown, Knicks, More

Appearing on SportsCenter late on Wednesday night (Twitter video link), Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said the Sixers and Pistons have had recent trade discussions about players like Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic, but that those talks “largely broke down” on Wednesday.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Sixers and Pistons won’t reengage on Thursday, but Philadelphia is exploring several avenues in search of size and shooting. The 76ers have also talked to the Bulls about multiple players, including DeMar DeRozan, Wojnarowski stated on the latest episode of the Woj Pod.

The challenge in trading with the Bulls, Woj explains, is that they want to remain competitive this season, so they’re not looking to sell off starters or key rotation players for draft assets. Given that position, it may be difficult for a contender to make more than a minor deal with Chicago, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) believes Philadelphia is the potential trade partner worth keeping the closest eye on for the Bulls.

Besides DeRozan, Andre Drummond is another Bulls player who has reportedly drawn interest from the Sixers. Chicago may take its Drummond talks down to the wire, according to Marc Stein, who says in his latest Substack story that the club could command multiple second-round picks for the veteran center.

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

  • Wojnarowski also indicated during his SportsCenter appearances that forward Miles Bridges is “very, very likely” to remain in Charlotte beyond the trade deadline, with the Hornets hoping to re-sign him this offseason. Stein (Substack link) has also heard that Bridges may very well stay put, despite interest from the Suns and a handful of other clubs. The 25-year-old has the ability to veto a trade and would lose his Bird rights if he approves a move to a new team.
  • According to Wojnarowski (via the Woj Pod), the Mavericks‘ efforts to pry Kyle Kuzma away from the Wizards haven’t been successful, so Dallas is believed to be pivoting to P.J. Washington and will likely keep talking to the Hornets on Thursday. Stein suggests that Kuzma’s preference has been to stay in D.C. rather than seek a change of scenery, which has been a factor in Washington’s apparent reluctance to move him.
  • The Knicks have been willing to attach a first-round pick to Evan Fournier‘s expiring contract in a trade offer for Raptors wing Bruce Brown, but they want to include one of their 2024 first-rounders (their own or Dallas’), reports Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto, which already controls at least two first-rounders and a high second-rounder in a 2024 draft considered to be weak, has sought a future pick, but New York wants to preserve those selections for a potential deal for a star, Grange explains.
  • Some teams have kicked the tires on Raptors center Jakob Poeltl, Grange reports, though he looks like a long shot to be moved. Although Dennis Schröder is a more likely trade candidate, Grange hears from a league source that the return for the veteran point guard would probably just be second-round picks at best.

Celtics Notes: Tillman Trade, Stevens, Queta

Xavier Tillman was exactly the type of player the Celtics had in mind when they accumulated second-round picks during last year’s draft in anticipation of eventually trading for a big man, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Boston cashed in two of those picks today, fortifying its front line by acquiring Tillman from Memphis.

Tillman provides the Celtics with a strong defensive presence off the bench for potential playoff matchups with the East’s best centers and power forwards. Weiss notes that he possesses the best qualities of the two backup centers the team has been using, combining Neemias Queta‘s physicality and Luke Kornet‘s basketball IQ. Weiss also points out that Tillman often initiated the Grizzlies’ offense from the elbow, the same way Boston does with Kornet. However, his poor shooting this season — 40.8% from the field and 22.6% from three-point range — may present a concern.

After tonight’s win over Atlanta, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla talked to reporters about what he expects Tillman to bring to the team, tweets Souichi Terada of MassLive.

“Skilled. Toughness. Well-coached,” Mazzulla said. “Obviously we paid a lot of attention to him … I think his extra defensive versatility.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Acquiring Tillman’s Bird rights is a significant move for a team that projects to be above the second tax apron, states Brian Robb of MassLive. Tillman has a $1.9MM expiring contract, but Boston won’t have to worry about cap limitations when negotiating his next contract. Beginning this offseason, second-apron teams can’t aggregate salaries, send cash or use traded player exceptions in any deal in addition to not having access to the mid-level exception, so today’s move is a way of adding another long-term piece to the roster before the team’s options become limited this summer.
  • The Celtics were focused on flexibility when they opted to send Lamar Stevens to Memphis in the deal rather than use one of their trade exceptions and fill their open roster spot, a league source confirms to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Stevens earned a place on the roster after signing an Exhibit 10 deal with Boston last summer, but he wasn’t able to crack the rotation and saw limited playing time in 19 games. Mazzulla complimented Stevens for his professionalism and said he and Stevens are excited about the greater opportunity for playing time with the Grizzlies, Weiss tweets.
  • The open roster spot preserves the chance to convert Queta’s two-way deal to a standard contract. Himmelsbach adds. The third-year center can appear in 28 more games as a two-way player, but he won’t be eligible for the postseason unless he’s on the 15-man roster.

Celtics Acquire Xavier Tillman From Grizzlies

6:06pm: The trade is official, the Celtics announced (via Twitter).


2:09pm: The Celtics will send forward Lamar Stevens to Grizzlies in the deal, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

That means Boston will maintain an open spot on its 15-man roster and won’t have to use an existing trade exception to take on Tillman. The C’s will also generate a small amount of tax savings, notes cap expert Yossi Gozlan (Twitter link).

Stevens, who is on a one-year, minimum-salary contract could immediately see rotation minutes for the injury-plagued Grizzlies. He appeared in just 19 games for Boston, averaging 2.8 points and 1.6 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per contest.


1:36pm: The Grizzlies have agreed to trade big man Xavier Tillman to the Celtics, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Memphis will receive a pair of future second-round draft picks from Boston in the deal: Atlanta’s 2027 second-rounder and Dallas’ 2030 second-rounder.

Tillman is in his fourth NBA season and has appeared in 207 total regular season games for Memphis since being drafted 35th overall in 2020.

He’s having a down year for the struggling Grizzlies in 2023/24, shooting a career-worst 40.8% from the field, but has been a reliable depth piece in the past, averaging 6.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 17.1 minutes per game with a .552 FG% in his first three seasons. He’s also a stout, versatile defender.

Tillman emerged as a trade candidate this season because he’s in the final year of his contract and didn’t project to be part of the Grizzlies’ future plans — he hadn’t signed a new deal with the club despite having been extension-eligible for the past two seasons.

Having fallen out of postseason contention this year, Memphis opted to get what it could for the 25-year-old, adding a couple second-round picks to its collection of draft assets after acquiring three second-rounders for Steven Adams last week.

The Celtics, meanwhile, will add frontcourt depth behind primary big men Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford. Luke Kornet and two-way player Neemias Queta have given Boston some solid minutes this season, but the team wanted to add another body up front for insurance purposes, especially since Porzingis and Horford have missed several games. Porzingis has dealt with minor health issues, while Horford has been held out of one half of all the club’s back-to-back sets.

The Celtics have an open spot on their 15-man roster, so they won’t have to cut anyone to take on Tillman. They also don’t necessarily have to send out any matching salary, even though the big man’s minimum-salary contract can’t be acquired using the minimum salary exception, since they have a traded player exception available to accommodate the incoming cap figure.

An extension is no longer a viable option for Tillman due to extend-and-trade limitations, so he’ll remain on track to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Boston will hold his Bird rights at that time, allowing the team to re-sign him without requiring cap space.

Bulls Rumors: DeRozan, Drummond, Caruso, Williams

With Zach LaVine out for the rest of the season after opting for foot surgery, the Bulls‘ most important decision at the trade deadline will involve DeMar DeRozan, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Mayberry believes the organization should think twice about committing big money to the 34-year-old forward, who will be a free agent this summer. DeRozan and the team haven’t been able to reach a deal in extension talks, and Mayberry questions whether it’s wise to keep the core of the team together amid another mediocre season.

Thursday’s deadline provides an immediate opportunity to part with DeRozan, Mayberry notes, adding that the Bulls should be able to obtain draft assets or young talent from a contender in need of a veteran scorer.

There’s also the possibility of an offseason sign-and-trade, but Mayberry points out that waiting until summer presents the risk of losing DeRozan in free agency with nothing in return. Holding DeRozan’s Bird rights, the Bulls will have the advantage of being able to offer him more money than rival teams, but Mayberry states that DeRozan won’t have any other reason to stay in Chicago if he wants to be part of a winner.

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Veteran center Andre Drummond is a target of several teams, including the Celtics, Mavericks, Lakers and Suns, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. He adds that the Rockets considered making an offer for Drummond before acquiring Steven Adams last week. Scotto points out that Drummond carries significant value for teams in need of rebounding as he’s collecting 18.9 boards per 36 minutes this season.
  • The Bulls are asking for two first-round picks in exchange for Alex Caruso, Scotto adds. In addition to being a defensive standout, Caruso is viewed as a bargain because of his $9.89MM salary for next season. Scotto also hears that teams are keeping an eye on the potential availability of Patrick Williams, who wasn’t able to reach a rookie scale extension agreement before the start of the season.
  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago examines the trading record of president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and speculates how it might influence the team’s direction at this year’s deadline.

Stein’s Latest: Lowry, Hayward, Washington, Green, Bucks, Wright, Drummond

The Hornets are engaged with multiple teams, looking to move Kyle Lowry‘s $29.7MM expiring contract before Thursday’s trade deadline, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack article.

Lowry was acquired from Miami last month as part of the Terry Rozier deal. The Magic are among the teams that have expressed exploratory trade interest in Lowry, Stein states.

If they’re unable to deal him, the Hornets could look to buy out Lowry. The Sixers and Lakers, as well as the Magic, would have interest in him if he winds up on the buyout market, Stein notes, adding that ncertainty regarding Joel Embiid‘s knee issue would not automatically rule out Philadelphia’s pursuit of Lowry if he’s bought out.

Here’s more tidbits from Stein:

  • The Hornets could also deal Gordon Hayward’s expiring $31.5MM contract this week but if he remains on the roster beyond the trade deadline, it’s unlikely a buyout will be pursued. Charlotte hasn’t ruled out re-signing the veteran forward this summer, and if he’s bought him out, Hayward would have to forfeit his Bird rights.
  • The Hornets have their sights set on Josh Green if the Mavericks seriously pursue forward P.J. Washington in trade discussions, Stein reports. However, there’s some buzz that the Clippers are also eyeing Washington despite their limited trade assets. The Mavericks are prioritizing power forwards over small forwards as they look to shore up size and defensive issues. They’ve also been linked to the Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma.
  • The Bucks have limited resources after all the moves they’ve made in recent years — including the Damian Lillard blockbuster — but they are still very active in the trade market. Milwaukee doesn’t have any first-rounders to deal, while Bobby Portis ($11.7MM this season) and Pat Connaughton ($9.4MM) are the only players making significant money besides the team’s stars who might attract interest in a potential move. However, Stein senses Milwaukee will do something before the deadline.
  • The Nuggets are searching for backcourt depth and the Wizards’ Delon Wright is one possibility, according to Stein.
  • The Bulls could look to trade Andre Drummond and his modest $3.36MM contract for draft capital, per Stein.

Knicks Notes: Hartenstein, Brunson, Anunoby, Grimes, LeBron

Isaiah Hartenstein can expect a huge raise when he becomes a free agent this summer and he hopes it comes from the Knicks, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Hartenstein grabbed 15 rebounds Saturday night, the latest in a string of impressive performances since he took over as the team’s starting center following Mitchell Robinson‘s injury. This is Hartenstein’s first extended experience as a starter in his six years in the NBA, and he’s proving he can handle the challenge.

“Yeah, it’s great timing, I can’t lie about that,” Hartenstein said about his upcoming free agency, “but at the end of the day, I love it here in New York. The plan would be to stay, but at the end of the day, you can’t predict what’s going to happen. So you have to just go game-by-game. But I love New York, I love the fans, I think it’s something special. And I love winning, I think that’s the biggest thing.”

After signing Hartenstein to a two-year, $16MM deal in 2022, the Knicks own his Early Bird rights and can go over the salary cap to keep him. However, there’s no guarantee they’ll be willing to make a long-term investment with Robinson already under contract for the next two seasons.

“I feel like in the past I’ve had times where I’ve played minutes like this, but I don’t think it was ever over a consistent two-month span. I guess I’m just proving that I can be a starter in the NBA. I think I’ve done that,” Hartenstein said. “And us still winning is a part of that. I feel like you can be a starter, you can have great stats on a losing team, but it doesn’t really mean much. So just being in that starting role and playing heavy minutes on a winning team, I think that says a lot.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Jalen Brunson may be the Knicks’ best point guard since Walt Frazier, but he’s uncomfortable with comparisons to the Hall of Famer, Botte adds in a separate story. Brunson expressed admiration for Frazier, who still has a visible role with the team as a broadcaster. “Whenever I see him. I have to say ‘hi’ to him. I can’t just walk past him because he’s a legend,” Brunson said. “But to be able to see him every day just knowing the presence he brings around this organization, you have to respect him and you have to understand the things that he did as a player are remarkable.”
  • Coach Tom Thibobeau wasn’t able to offer an update on OG Anunoby, who missed his fourth straight game Saturday with elbow inflammation, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Thibodeau said Quentin Grimes is doing more on-court work after suffering a knee sprain, but both players are considered day-to-day (Twitter link).
  • During Saturday’s visit to Madison Square Garden, Lakers star LeBron James told reporters that he considered joining the Knicks when he was a free agent in 2010, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Although he doesn’t give it any chance of happening, Stefan Bondy of The New York Post makes the case that New York may be a better fit for James than L.A. at this point in his career.

Trade Rumors: Warriors, D. Murray, Hayward, Lowry, Knicks

No one will be entirely off the table for the Warriors at the trade deadline except for Stephen Curry, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who said on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that Andrew Wiggins, Chris Paul, and maybe even Klay Thompson are among the players who figure to come up in discussions in the next 10 days.

However, the Warriors are high on youngsters like Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski, notes Charania, so those players are very unlikely trade candidates.

Additionally, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said on Monday (Twitter video link) that she doesn’t expect the Warriors to make any trades affecting their core unless Curry is “on board with that idea.” Thompson and Draymond Green are certainly part of that core, and it seems reasonable to assume Wiggins is in that group as well, given that he’s under contract for three more years and played a key role in Golden State’s 2022 championship.

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Hawks guard Dejounte Murray is considered a strong candidate to be moved at next Thursday’s trade deadline, but at least one notable member of the organization doesn’t want to see him go anywhere. Sources tell Marc Stein (Substack link) that head coach Quin Snyder has lobbied the Hawks to hang onto Murray, who is under contract for four seasons beyond this one.
  • While the Hornets will certainly explore trading Gordon Hayward and Kyle Lowry, two veterans on pricey expiring contracts, both players are considered potential buyout candidates if Charlotte can’t find a deadline deal it likes. However, according to Stein, Hayward is “far less likely” than Lowry to seek a buyout if they’re still in Charlotte after February 8. If the Hornets were to retain Hayward through the end of the season, he would retain his full Bird rights and they’d have the option of re-signing him or signing-and-trading him in the summer. Stein also confirms that the Sixers would have interest in Lowry if he’s bought out, as previously reported.
  • While the initial reports on Julius Randle‘s shoulder injury are relatively positive, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst notes that shoulder issues can bother players for “months” and have a tendency to reoccur. As Adam Zagoria of NJ.com relays, Windhorst argued during a TV segment that the Knicks should consider making a move on the trade market to help offset the loss of Randle.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) passes along an interesting stat about movable first-round draft picks, noting that just 11 teams control 75% of the first-rounders that can be traded.

Jazz, Suns, Pistons Among Possible Miles Bridges Suitors

The Jazz, Suns, and Pistons are among the teams that have called the Hornets to inquire on forward Miles Bridges, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Bridges, 25, is considered a potential trade candidate for a Hornets team that appears lottery-bound and already moved one key player (Terry Rozier) this week in exchange for a first-round pick. Bridges has been productive in his return to the court this season, averaging 20.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 37.0 minutes per game across 31 appearances, with a shooting line of .455/.355/.866.

However, Bridges’ trade value is complicated by a couple factors. One is his contract situation. Having accepted his qualifying offer as a restricted free agent last summer, Bridges will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He also has the ability to veto a trade and would lose his Bird rights if he’s dealt this season, which could affect what a team is willing to give up to acquire him.

The other factor limiting Bridges’ trade value is his legal situation off the court. The Hornets forward sat out the entire 2022/23 season following accusations of domestic violence and has faced new allegations following the resolution of that case. While the former Michigan State star would be an ideal fit on the court for many teams seeking another wing or forward with size, there may be teams unwilling to pursue him due to the off-court allegations.

According to Fischer, the Jazz are viewed as both a buyer and seller at this season’s trade deadline. While players like Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, and Talen Horton-Tucker are considered available, Utah is also keeping an eye out for possible additions who could help the team win now. One item on the Jazz’s wish list is a veteran who could handle point guard duties while rookie Keyonte George continues to learn the ropes. Hawks guard Dejounte Murray is one player Utah has expressed interest in, says Fischer.

The Suns’ interest in Bridges was reported earlier this week and has since been confirmed by Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Unlike Utah and Detroit, Phoenix isn’t in position to open up cap room this summer to potentially re-sign Bridges and would likely have to view him as a rental. However, if the cost is modest enough due to Bridges’ expiring contract and legal issues – perhaps Nassir Little and a couple second-round picks – the Suns would still be interested.

According to Fischer, the Suns are eyeing potential rotation players at various positions who could be acquired using Little as the primary outgoing salary-matching piece. That group includes guards Delon Wright and Monte Morris, forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Royce O’Neale, and center Nick Richards.

As for the Pistons, they project to have significant cap room this summer and appear to be attempting to get a head-start on free agency by acquiring a player to whom they could dedicate a chunk of that room. They were linked to Pascal Siakam before he was sent to Indiana and have reportedly discussed Zach LaVine as well.

In his latest Substack article, Marc Stein says that those talks with the Bulls about LaVine have “by no means gone dormant,” noting that the Pistons maintain interest in the two-time All-Star.

Lakers Exploring Trades For Murray, Numerous Other Players

The Lakers are exploring a number of avenues on the trade market with the Hawks’ Dejounte Murray arguably the biggest name on the wish list, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports.

Murray would give the club some much-needed playmaking and speed out of the backcourt. The fact that Murray is making $18.2MM this season before his four-year, $114MM extension kicks in could provide an additional bonus. The Lakers could engineer a two-for-one swap and shave some money off their luxury tax bill in the process.

However, the Lakers continue to resist including Austin Reaves in a potential deal. The Hawks recently inquired about Reaves, according to McMenamin’s sources, who speculates that the Lakers would have to give up some combination of Rui Hachimura, a future first-round pick, Reaves or other young players to land Murray.

The Lakers don’t plan to pivot to the Bulls’ Zach LaVine, per McMenamin, due to his hefty contract, injury issues and declining production. They could aim lower and pick up some bench pieces instead.

They’d like to add a quality backup guard with Gabe Vincent sidelined by a knee injury. The Jazz’s Collin Sexton and Wizards’ Tyus Jones have been discussed internally as potential targets. They also have the Raptors’ Dennis Schröder and Bruce Brown on their radar.

Schröder, who started 50 games for the Lakers last season, has seen his role diminish with the acquisition of Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett. Brown, a defensive ace who was instrumental in Denver’s championship run, was acquired by Toronto in the Pascal Siakam deal.

Brown was the Lakers’ top target with their mid-level exception last summer, according to McMenamin, but Indiana blew them out of the water with a two-year, $45MM offer.

The Nets’ Dorian Finney-Smith and Bulls’ Andre Drummond are two other players the Lakers are considering to fill key postseason roles. Finney-Smith could guard elite wings, while Drummond would give them more size to combat an opponent such as Denver. They’re not particularly interested in the Hornets’ Miles Bridges, a potential alternative to Finney-Smith, because they wouldn’t hold his Bird Rights and Bridges would likely sign a more lucrative contract elsewhere in the summer.

If the Lakers choose not to make a trade or do only minor tinkering before the deadline, they could have more flexibility to acquire another star in the offseason such as the Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell or Hawks’ Trae Young, McMenamin writes.

On the day of the draft, the Lakers pool of available first-rounders would grow to their picks in 2029, 2031 and either this year or 2025, depending on whether New Orleans chooses to use the pick L.A. owes it this June or the following summer.

The Lakers have discussed internally the possibility of packaging those three picks, along with players they already have on their books, to pursue that type of blockbuster, says McMenamin.

Lakers Notes: Irving, LeBron, Russell, Reaves, Lineup

Mavericks star guard Kyrie Irving had interest in reuniting with LeBron James in either Dallas or Los Angeles over the offseason, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Irving said as much to James before the Lakers‘ first-round Game 6 against the Grizzlies last year.

As detailed by Shelburne, the Lakers had internal discussions about whether to pursue Irving via trade or free agency last year and had called the Nets several times since June 2022, when Irving and the Nets didn’t come to terms on a contract extension. James was open to the idea of pairing up again with Irving, but didn’t want to push anything while the franchise was still recovering from the Russell Westbrook experiment, Shelburne writes.

The Mavericks held Irving’s Bird Rights and were determined to keep him and Luka Doncic together, re-signing him to a three-year, $126MM deal. After bringing back Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura and signing the likes of Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent and Cam Reddish, there was internal debate about whether or not the Lakers had the speed to keep up with the top guards of the Western Conference, but they decided it wasn’t a concern to address at the time, according to Shelburne.

Flash forward several months and Irving has avoided any off-court incidents that plagued him in Brooklyn while James and Anthony Davis are enjoying a healthy season at the top of their game. However, the Lakers lack consistent point guard play. The Mavericks sit at 24-18 and seventh in the west entering Thursday while the Lakers are 21-21, and 10th in the standings.

With the trade deadline approaching, the Lakers have roster questions to sort out to help alleviate some of the burden for James and Davis moving forward, Shelburne writes.

It’s just too much on Bron right now,” one rival player whose team recently defeated the Lakers said. “Everyone is just going to pack the paint and try to frustrate him because they need a lot. Speed. Play-making. Shooting.

We have more from the Lakers:

  • The Lakers recently turned back to their opening-night starting five for the foreseeable future after coach Darvin Ham experimented with lineups through the first half of the season. That means Reaves and D’Angelo Russell are once again starting next to each other, and the team is hoping that duo can be a catalyst for future success, Khobi Price of The Orange County Register writes. While Reaves and Russell have complementary skill sets, Price writes the defense needs some cleaning up if the Lakers want to start stacking wins.
  • That lineup is helping the Lakers reach a new offensive ceiling, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. After beating the Mavericks on Wednesday, Los Angeles has won four of its last six games after dropping 10 of its previous 13. Buha writes the ball movement and aggression were elements of L.A.’s offense that stood out in that game. The Lakers also boast an improved offensive rating since making the switch back to their original starting five. “We’re just moving the basketball,” Davis said. “Trying to play the right way. When we share the basketball, good things tend to happen.
  • When asked if his team needs to make trades before the deadline, James said he doesn’t “play fantasy basketball,” tweets ESPN’s David McMenamin. “It’s too disrespectful to think about what we need or what we don’t have,” James said. “I don’t do that to my teammates. We’ve been putting in the work and that’s what we’ve got to continue to do.

Stein’s Latest: Raptors, Siakam Trade, Brown, Knicks Targets, More

The Raptors don’t regret not moving Fred VanVleet last trade deadline before he departed that summer in free agency, Marc Stein details in his latest Substack post. Raptors president Masai Ujiri conveyed a similar sentiment earlier on Thursday. As Stein writes, the offers for VanVleet were lackluster and Toronto brass preferred to give the core of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and VanVleet one more shot at it, adding Jakob Poeltl to the equation.

Stein suggests that the Raptors could have traded VanVleet to the Clippers last year in exchange for Luke Kennard and modest draft capital, but instead opted to run it back with their team. However, VanVleet leaving Toronto in the offseason for Houston had an impact on their willingness to trade Siakam and Anunoby this season, according to Stein.

Though there’s an outside perception the Raptors could have gotten more for Siakam had they traded him earlier, Toronto is pleased with the package it received from the Pacers, according to Stein. As Stein explains, the Hawks offered De’Andre Hunter, AJ Griffin and a first-round pick over the summer, but the Raptors feel Indiana’s offer was better, even without Bennedict Mathurin, Jarace Walker, Andrew Nembhard or Jalen Smith, all of whom Toronto coveted. I recommend checking out the article in full if you are subscribed to Stein’s Substack page.

There are more notes from Marc Stein:

  • There’s a growing belief leaguewide that the Raptors will move recently acquired Bruce Brown in another trade. The Knicks have Evan Fournier‘s $18.9MM salary to help match Brown’s $22MM, Stein observes. An earlier report Thursday indicated Quentin Grimes ($2.4MM in 2023/24) was on the trade block, so perhaps the Knicks kick the tires on packaging Fournier and Grimes together for Brown. We wrote more on New York’s interest in Brown here. The Nuggets would undoubtedly be interested in Brown after he helped lift the franchise to their first NBA title in 2022/23, but they lack feasible ways of acquiring him, Stein adds.
  • Stein expresses skepticism that Brown is the type of scoring guard New York wants to bring in after moving away from Immanuel Quickley. The Knicks have “a level of interest” in Utah’s Jordan Clarkson, Charlotte’s Terry Rozier, Detroit’s Alec Burks and Portland’s Malcolm Brogdon, he adds.
  • Rival teams hold the belief that Siakam is a “lock” to re-sign with the Pacers after his current contract expires this summer, Stein writes. The Pacers can only offer Siakam a two-year, $81.5MM extension during the season, but they acquired his Bird rights in the trade, which was a motivating factor in getting him now. Acquiring Siakam’s Bird rights allows the Pacers to go over the salary cap to keep him giving them increased flexibility this summer.
  • After Siakam was traded, attention on the trade market turned to the HawksDejounte Murray, according to Stein, who says the going price for Murray starts at two first-round picks. We took a look earlier today at Murray’s market.

Pacers Finalizing Trade For Pascal Siakam

The Pacers and Raptors are finalizing an agreement on a trade that will send star forward Pascal Siakam to Indiana, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

The deal, whose framework was previously reported by Shams Charania and Jake Fischer, will send Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, and three first-round picks to Toronto, according to Wojnarowski. The Pelicans will also be involved, Wojnarowski notes, with fourth-year guard Kira Lewis headed to the Raptors.

Earlier reporting indicated that Indiana would likely include either Jalen Smith or Obi Toppin in their package for salary-matching purposes. However, by acquiring Lewis from New Orleans using their cap room, the Pacers will be able to immediately aggregate his salary with Brown’s and Nwora’s, making him the missing matching piece. As a result, the “three-team” deal will technically consist of two separate trades, ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms (via Twitter).

The three first-rounders going to Toronto will be the Pacers’ own 2024 pick, a second ’24 first-rounder (via Oklahoma City), and Indiana’s 2026 pick, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The 2024 pick from OKC will be the least favorable of the Thunder’s, Clippers’, Rockets’, and Jazz’s first-rounders. The 2026 pick will include top-four protection, according to Charania (Twitter link).

In the Pelicans/Pacers swap, New Orleans will receive cash from Indiana and will send a second-round pick to the Pacers, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez and Wojnarowski (Twitter link). That will be a 2024 selection, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com, which means it’ll be the least favorable of the Pelicans’ and Bulls’ second-rounders.

The blockbuster deal is the culmination of several months of trade rumors involving Siakam. He was also at the center of speculation over the 2023 offseason, at which time the Raptors reportedly spoke to the Hawks and others about the two-time All-Star. The Mavericks, Warriors, Pistons, and Kings are among the teams that have been linked to him in recent weeks.

After getting a limited return for Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade deal in 2021 and then losing Fred VanVleet for nothing in 2023 free agency, the Raptors were more proactive this season in moving key players on expiring contracts ahead of February’s trade deadline. Toronto sent OG Anunoby and two other players to New York at the end of December in exchange for Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, and a second-round pick.

The Pacers reportedly made an effort to acquire Anunoby before the Knicks landed him, but Siakam had been at the top of their wish list for over six months, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. While the Raptors were believed to be seeking a return headlined by a young player or two – like the one they got from the Knicks for Anunoby – Indiana was able to get the deal done with a pick-heavy package that didn’t include recent lottery selections Bennedict Mathurin or Jarace Walker.

By virtue of being traded, Siakam will no longer be eligible for a super-max contract in the event he makes an All-NBA team for a third time this season. Additionally, he won’t be able to sign an extension of more than two years with Indiana prior to free agency, since a longer-term extension deal isn’t permitted for six months after the trade.

However, the 29-year-old is excited to join the Pacers and is expected to be “eager” to figure out a new contract with the team this summer, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Pacers will hold his Bird rights, giving them the ability to offer up to five years once he becomes a free agent. They’ll have plenty of financial flexibility to make Siakam a part of the long-term core alongside star point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

“I’m excited that Pascal is getting a first class opportunity with the Pacers, being paired with Tyrese and Myles (Turner) and being coached by a great coach in Rick Carlisle,” Siakam’s agent Todd Ramasar said in a statement to Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link). “His future there looks bright there.”

The Raptors will now control at least two first-round picks in the 2024 draft, along with an early second-rounder from the Pistons that currently projects to be 31st overall. They traded their own ’24 first-rounder away to the Spurs in last season’s Jakob Poeltl deal, but it has top-six protection, so it’s not a lock to change hands — Toronto’s 15-25 record is tied for the sixth-worst mark in the NBA.

It’s unclear what Toronto’s plans are for Brown, who played an important role on the Nuggets’ championship team last season and could be a popular target for contenders on the trade market in the coming weeks.

Brown is on a pseudo-expiring $22MM contract — he has a $23MM club option for 2024/25, so if he remains a Raptor, the club could create in excess of $30MM in cap room by declining that option, notes Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Nwora ($3MM) and Lewis ($5.7MM) are also on expiring deals.

While the Pacers’ 2023/24 team salary will increase beyond the cap once they officially acquire Siakam, the Raptors and Pelicans will gain significant cap relief. After being only slightly under the luxury tax line prior to the trade, Toronto will have about $9MM in breathing room below that threshold, tweets cap expert Yossi Gozlan.

New Orleans, meanwhile, will move from above the tax line to about $2.8MM below it, Gozlan adds (via Twitter). That will give the Pelicans – one of two NBA teams to never pay the tax – more room to operate on the trade market or in free agency in the coming weeks.

The Pacers will have to waive a player in order to acquire Lewis from New Orleans. Veteran forward James Johnson will be that roster casualty, per Tony East of SI.com (Twitter link). The Raptors, who currently have one open spot on their 15-man roster, will also need to make a cut in order to accommodate their three-for-one deal with Indiana.

Both the Pacers and Pelicans will end up with 13 players on standard contracts once the two trades are completed. Teams aren’t permitted to carry fewer than 14 players on standard deals for more than 14 days at a time, so both clubs will have two weeks to re-add a 14th man.

Seventeen More Players Become Trade-Eligible

Today is Monday, January 15, which means that a total of 17 players who signed free agent contracts meeting specific criteria this past offseason are now eligible to be traded.

Most offseason signees became trade-eligible on December 15, but players who met the following criteria were ineligible to be moved for an extra month:

  1. The player re-signed with his previous team.
  2. He got a raise of at least 20%.
  3. His salary is worth more than the minimum.
  4. His team was over the cap and used Bird or Early Bird rights to sign him.

The following players met that criteria and are eligible to be traded as of Monday:

(* Players marked with an asterisk have the ability to veto trades.)

Most of the players on NBA rosters are now eligible to be moved, though a small handful still can’t be dealt. That group includes Heat guard Dru Smith, who becomes trade-eligible on Monday, Hornets guard Ish Smith (trade-eligible on January 24), Lakers star Anthony Davis (trade-eligible on February 6), and Pistons forward Kevin Knox (trade-eligible on Feb. 8).

There are also several players who won’t become trade-eligible prior to this season’s February 8 deadline, including stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Jaylen Brown. Players on 10-day contracts are also ineligible to be dealt.

Paul George “Optimistic” About Extension Talks With Clippers

After Kawhi Leonard signed a three-year, $152MM extension with the Clippers on Wednesday, teammate Paul George expressed confidence that he’ll agree sooner or later to a new deal of his own that keeps him in Los Angeles beyond this season, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“I mean, absolutely,” George said when he was asked if Leonard’s extension increases the chances of him signing his own contract. “You secure and lock in Kawhi. Definitely leaves the door open for myself, but very, very optimistic something will get done on my behalf, as well.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Wednesday in the wake of the Leonard news that the Clippers have been motivated to get both forwards locked up to longer-term contracts and that talks with George are ongoing. Asked later in the day about how close he and the Clippers are to finding common ground on an extension, George essentially confirmed Wojnarowski’s report.

“We’re working on it,” he said. “… I’m extremely excited and happy for Kawhi reaching a deal to hopefully make him a Clipper for the rest of his career. We’ll see my situation when we get there, but just happy they got the deal done on his end. I know he wants to stay here, myself as well. When my time comes, we’ll be ready for those conversations as well.”

Like Leonard, George has been affected by various injuries since he joined the Clippers in 2019 and didn’t appear in more than 56 regular season games in any of his first four years with the team. However, he has played in 35 of 37 contests so far this season and is performing at a high level, averaging 23.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in 34.6 minutes per contest, with a shooting line of .464/.414/.918.

George’s current contract situation is identical to the one Leonard was in before agreeing to his extension — he’s earning approximately $45.6MM this season and holds a $48.8MM player option for 2024/25. In order to sign an extension, George would have to decline that option, at which point he would be eligible to receive up to approximately $220MM over four years on his new deal.

Of course, Leonard accepted a three-year deal worth slightly below his maximum salary, and the two Clippers stars have essentially been on matching contracts since teaming up in Los Angeles, so it will be interesting to see if George’s next deal features terms similar to Kawhi’s. Leonard suggested on Wednesday that he feels good about the likelihood of both George and James Harden sticking with the Clippers beyond this season.

“With the conversation that I have with them about it, I think for the most part everybody is coming back,” Leonard said. “So with me signing an extension, I think it gives us a chance to sign both of those players.”

Harden won’t become extension-eligible prior to the expiration of his current contract, but the Clippers will hold his Bird rights this offseason.

Kings Rumors: Siakam, LaVine, Kuzma, Monk, Murray, Ellis

When the Kings and Raptors discussed a possible Pascal Siakam trade, the two teams are believed to have talked about a package that would have included Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter, Davion Mitchell, and a first-round pick, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

Shams Charania reported earlier in the week that Sacramento wanted to get a deal done quickly and pulled out of those talks when Toronto didn’t immediately accept the Kings’ initial offer. However, James Ham of The Kings Beat and ESPN 1320, appearing with Scotto on the HoopsHype podcast, said he thinks the Kings would still be in on Siakam if they felt more confident about their chances of re-signing him.

While Ham hasn’t been able to independently confirm the reporting of his ESPN 1320 colleague Damien Barling, he told Scotto that Barling has heard from his sources that Siakam made it clear he wouldn’t re-sign with Sacramento if the team were to acquire him.

Reports dating back to June have suggested that Siakam would be unwilling to re-sign with a team that trades for him — or at least would maintain that stance. The two-time All-Star would be eligible for a super-max contract during the 2024 offseason if he makes an All-NBA team this season, but only if he’s still a Raptor, as a trade would make him ineligible. With those financial considerations in mind, it makes some sense that Siakam might want to dissuade teams from trading for him.

It’s also worth noting that Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca reported over the weekend that the Kings aren’t interested in giving Siakam a standard (non super-max) maximum-salary contract. If that’s accurate and that was conveyed to the 29-year-old, it could also explain why he’d be hesitant to commit to Sacramento.

Here’s more on the Kings from Scotto and Ham:

  • Scotto has heard that the Kings and Bulls at least briefly discussed Zach LaVine earlier in the season. Barnes and Huerter came up in those talks, according to Scotto, who adds that Chicago likes Huerter and has done some background research on him. However, Ham is unconvinced that LaVine is a top target for Sacramento, given Mike Brown‘s focus on defense and LaVine’s massive contract.
  • Ham views Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma as a player who might be a better fit for Sacramento, noting that he has a more modest contract and pointing out that the Kings nearly traded Buddy Hield to the Lakers during the 2021 offseason for a package that would’ve included Kuzma. The team also had interest in Kuzma this past offseason, per Ham, but ultimately decided to extend Barnes to address the power forward position.
  • The Kings will hold Early Bird rights on Malik Monk when he reaches free agency this offseason, giving them the ability to offer up to $78MM over four years. Ham isn’t sure if that will be enough to retain the sharpshooting guard, who is averaging a career-best 14.8 points per game and a 41.2% three-point percentage, noting that he expects Monk to “chase money” if he gets an offer well above what Sacramento could put on the table. For what it’s worth, I’d be a little surprised if there’s a team willing to offer Monk much more than $20MM per year, but we’ll see how his season – and the market – plays out.
  • Ham says he asked a team source last year whether the Kings would be willing to trade Keegan Murray in a deal for Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen and was told, “No, we believe he’ll be better than Markkanen.”
  • While Ham doesn’t expect the Kings to fill their 15th roster spot with a rest-of-season signing prior to the trade deadline, he views two-way player Keon Ellis as a prime candidate to claim that spot if it’s still open after the deadline. “They have a lot of faith in who he is as a player and what he’s becoming,” Ham said of Ellis.

New York Notes: Hartenstein, McBride, Nets, Claxton

Isaiah Hartenstein continues to impress as the Knicks‘ starting center in place of the injured Mitchell Robinson, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Hartenstein had a monster double-double in Wednesday’s victory over Chicago, recording 10 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, and a career-high-tying five blocks.

I’m impressed with the way he’s protecting the rim, to be honest,” Julius Randle said after Wednesday’s win. “We’re used to Mitch doing that, covering up for our mistakes when we get beat off the dribble. But he’s a monster doing that. And to go up against (Bulls center Andre) Drummond and get 20 rebounds, it’s no slight. He’s been amazing.”

An unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Katz says Hartenstein is “due for an inevitable raise” on his $9.2MM expiring contract, and it will be difficult for New York to re-sign him, given the team’s commitments to Robinson and several other players. The Knicks will hold his Early Bird rights.

Right now, I’m a New York Knick,” Hartenstein said of 2024 free agency. “That’s the biggest thing. I feel like, yeah, sometimes you have that in the back of your mind. That’s normal. At the end of the day, I wanna be in New York, but it’s a business.”

Here’s more on the two New York-based teams:

  • Miles McBride had a shaky first two games as the Knicks‘ new primary backup point guard, but they still view him as a long-term replacement for Immanuel Quickley, sources tell ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. McBride inked a three-year, $13MM extension with New York shortly after the team traded Quickley to Toronto. For what it’s worth, McBride has 12 points in six minutes thus far during Friday’s contest vs. Philadelphia, making all four of his three-pointers.
  • Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily.com takes an in-depth look at Nic Claxton‘s value and future, writing that Claxton could be worth $20-25MM annually on the open market as a free agent this summer and the Nets would be wise to re-sign him to a long-term contract if that range is indeed accurate. Claxton won’t become extension-eligible prior to free agency.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post revisits the Nets‘ decision to promote Jacque Vaughn to head coach last season instead of hiring Ime Udoka, who eventually landed with Houston in the offseason after being suspended by Boston for all of 2022/23 for sexual misconduct.

Hoops Rumors Glossary: 10-Day Contract

During the early part of an NBA season, a team that wants to sign a player to a short-term contract generally does so by agreeing to a non-guaranteed deal, giving the club the flexibility to waive him without paying his full-season salary. But non-guaranteed contracts are only an option until January 7 — any standard, rest-of-season deal signed after that date must be guaranteed for the season.

Around the same time the league-wide salary guarantee date arrives, the NBA gives teams the ability to sign players to 10-day contracts, which essentially replace non-guaranteed deals during the second half of the season.

Ten-day contracts can be signed each year beginning on January 5 and are exactly what they sound like — contracts that cover 10 days (including the day they’re signed). A player who signs a 10-day deal on January 5 would remain eligible to play for his team through January 14, but not on January 15, unless he signs a new contract.

A team can sign a player to as many as two 10-day contracts before committing to him for the rest of the season or, as in many cases, letting him go. A player can’t sign three standard 10-day contracts with the same team, but after signing two 10-day deals with one club, he’s allowed to sign another with a separate club.

The NBA has tweaked this rule in recent years to allow three or more 10-day contracts with the same team for players who are signed via the hardship provision. In 2022, for instance, Drew Eubanks ended up signing five 10-day deals with the Trail Blazers. Eubanks was still limited to two standard 10-day contracts with Portland, but three of his deals came via a hardship exception, which the Blazers qualified for as a result of having four or more injured players.

While a team signing a player to a standard 10-day contract must have an open spot on its 15-man roster to accommodate the signing, a player signed via a hardship exception doesn’t count against that 15-man limit.

Under the NBA’s newest Collective Bargaining Agreement, a 10-day deal must be worth a prorated portion of the player’s minimum salary. In the past, a player could technically earn more than the minimum on a 10-day contract, though that essentially never happened.

A 10-day contract for a rookie this season will be worth $64,343, which is 10/174ths of the full-season rookie minimum salary. A one-year veteran will earn $103,550, and a 10-day deal for any veteran with two or more years of NBA service would represent a cost of $116,075 to the team.

Veterans with more than two years of NBA service would earn more than $116,075 on a 10-day contract, but the league would pay the extra freight. However, teams gain no financial advantage if they pass on 10-day agreements with more experienced players in favor of rookies or one-year veterans in an effort to limit their end-of-season luxury tax penalty — those deals count the same as the ones for two-year veterans when the league calculates a team’s salary for tax purposes.

Teams would be on the hook for a slightly higher salary if they sign a player to a 10-day contract and they have fewer than three games on their schedule over that 10-day period. In those cases, the length of the 10-day contract is extended so that it covers three games for the team.

It’s rare that any team would have such a light schedule, since most play at least three games a week, but the rule generally comes into play for contracts signed just before the All-Star break. If the Celtics were to sign a player to a 10-day contract on February 14, for instance, his contract would actually cover 11 days, since Boston plays games on Feb. 14, Feb. 22, and Feb. 24.

Here are a few more rules related to 10-day contracts:

  • A team may terminate a 10-day contract before it runs to term if it wants to use the roster spot to accommodate a waiver claim, signing, or trade acquisition. A team that terminates a 10-day contract early isn’t permitted to re-sign the player before the full 10-day term is over.
  • Players whose 10-day contracts are terminated early don’t go on waivers, so they become free agents immediately. Still, those players receive their entire 10-day salaries — the contracts are fully guaranteed for the 10 days.
  • A team is permitted to carry up to three players on standard 10-day contracts as long as the team has a full 15-man roster. A team with an open spot on its standard 15-man roster can only carry up to two players on 10-day deals. If a team has just 13 players on standard contracts, only one of them can be on a 10-day pact.
  • A 10-day deal must be a standard NBA contract. In other words, a team can’t sign a player to a two-way, 10-day contract.
  • A standard 10-day contract can’t be signed with fewer than 10 days left in the regular season. However, a hardship 10-day deal can be signed during that time and would simply be prorated to cover the remaining days in the regular season. At the conclusion of the regular season, a player on a hardship 10-day deal would immediately become a free agent, with his team holding no form of Bird rights on him.

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 previous years by Luke Adams and Chuck Myron.

Hoops Rumors Glossary: Hard Cap

The NBA’s salary cap is a “soft” cap, which is why most teams’ salaries have surpassed the $136,021,000 threshold for the 2023/24 season. Once a team uses up all of its cap room, it can use a series of “exceptions” – including the mid-level, bi-annual, and various forms of Bird rights – to exceed the cap.

Since the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t feature a “hard” cap by default, teams can construct rosters that not only exceed the cap but also blow past the luxury tax line ($165,294,000 in ’23/24). While it would be nearly impossible in practical terms, there’s technically no rule restricting a club from having a team salary worth double or triple the salary cap.

However, there are certain scenarios in 2023/24 in which a team can become hard-capped at one of two thresholds, known as the “tax aprons.” Those scenarios are as follows:

A team becomes hard-capped at the first tax apron if:

  1. The team uses its bi-annual exception to sign a player.
  2. The team uses more than the taxpayer portion of the mid-level exception to sign a player (or multiple players).
    • Note: In 2023/24, the taxpayer MLE is worth $5,000,000, compared to $12,405,000 for the full non-taxpayer MLE. The taxpayer MLE can be used to complete deals up to two years, while the non-taxpayer MLE can be used to complete deals up to four years.
  3. The team acquires a player via sign-and-trade.
  4. The team signs a player who was waived during the current season, if his pre-waiver salary for 2023/24 exceeded the amount of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12,405,000).
  5. The team takes back more than 110% of the salary it sends out in a trade (using salary-matching rather than cap room).

A team making any of those five roster moves must ensure that its team salary is below the first tax apron when it finalizes the transaction and remains below the apron for the rest of the league year.

For the 2023/24 league year, the first apron is set at $172,346,000, which is $7,052,000 above the tax line. A team that completes one of the five moves listed above can’t surpass that line under any circumstances.

A team becomes hard-capped at the second tax apron if:

  1. The team uses any portion of the mid-level exception.

Under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, every team was permitted to use at least some portion of the mid-level exception, but it’s no longer available to teams above the second tax apron, so a club that uses any part of the MLE is hard-capped at that second apron.

As noted above, a team that uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5MM) is hard-capped at the first apron, which means teams between the first and second apron are allowed to spend up to $5MM in MLE money.

For the 2023/24 league year, the second apron is set at $182,794,000, which is $17.5MM above the tax line.

So far in ’23/24, a total of 11 teams have hard-capped themselves at the first tax apron by acquiring a player via sign-and-trade, using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, using the bi-annual exception, or taking back more than 110% of the outgoing salary in a trade. Two more teams have hard-capped themselves at the second apron by using $5MM in mid-level money.

For many of those teams, the restriction is barely noticeable — they remain far below their hard cap and haven’t had to worry about whether a roster move might put them over it. However, a handful of clubs will have to be wary of that hard cap as they approach the trade deadline.

It’s worth noting that even if a team starts a new league year above the tax apron, that doesn’t mean they can’t become hard-capped at some point later in the season. For example, the Warriors are currently well above the second apron, but in the unlikely event that they dump a couple big contracts and then use $5MM of their mid-level exception to sign a free agent, a hard cap would be imposed and they’d be ineligible to surpass the $182.8MM second apron for the rest of the league year.

In other words, the hard cap applies from the moment a team completes one of the transactions listed above, but isn’t applied retroactively.

The list of roster moves that will impose a hard cap on a team will expand beginning in the 2024 offseason. After the last day of the 2023/24 regular season, the following restrictions will apply:

A team becomes hard-capped at the first tax apron if:

  1. The team takes back more than 100% of the salary it sends out in a trade (when over the cap).
    • Note: This will replace the fifth rule listed above, reducing the salary-matching limit from 110% to 100% for teams over the first apron.
  2. The team uses a traded player exception generated during the prior year (ie. between the end of the previous regular season and the end of the most recent regular season).

A team becomes hard-capped at the second tax apron if:

  1. The team aggregates two or more player salaries in a trade.
  2. The team sends out cash as part of a trade.
  3. The team acquires a player using a traded player exception if that TPE was created by sending out a player via sign-and-trade.

Typically, a team’s hard cap expires on June 30 when the current league year comes to an end, with the team getting a clean slate on July 1. However, beginning in the 2024 offseason, if a team engages in any of the trade-related transactions prohibited for first or second apron teams between the end of the regular season and June 30, the team will not be permitted to exceed that apron level during the following season.

If, for example, a team sends out cash in a trade in June of 2024, that team won’t be allowed to exceed the second tax apron during the 2024/25 league year. The inverse is also true — a team whose 2024/25 salary projects to be over the second apron won’t be able to trade cash in June.

This rule only applies to trade-related transactions because the ones related to free agency don’t come into effect between the end of the regular season and the start of the next league year.


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.

Previous versions of this post was published in 2020 and 2021.

Pistons Among Teams Eyeing OG Anunoby

The Pistons are expected to be active in the trade market prior to this season’s deadline and have interest in acquiring a forward, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, who identifies Raptors forward OG Anunoby as one of the players Detroit has its eye on.

Of course, as Edwards acknowledges, Anunoby is a trade target who will appeal to most teams across the NBA, given his three-and-D skill set and his seamless fit on virtually any roster. There’s also no guarantee that Toronto will make him available on or before February 8.

Even if Anunoby ends up on the trade block, it’s possible Detroit won’t aggressively pursue him during the season in the hopes that he could be signed in free agency next summer, Edwards adds. The 26-year-old has a player option for 2024/25 that he’s extremely likely to decline, while the Pistons are well positioned to create a significant amount of cap space in July.

Edwards identifies Sixers forward Tobias Harris as another veteran on an expiring contract who would be of interest to the Pistons, though Harris has played an important role in Philadelphia this season following James Harden‘s exit and seems unlikely to be traded unless it’s for an upgrade.

Losers of 22 consecutive games, the Pistons obviously aren’t looking to make a win-now move that will propel them to playoff contention this season. With that in mind, it may seem counterintuitive that they’d be interested in trading for players like Anunoby and Harris, who can become free agents in 2024.

However, if the Pistons were to acquire Anunoby, Harris, or someone else with a similar contract situation, the player’s Bird rights would be traded along with him, putting the Pistons in a strong position to extend or re-sign him.

Still, I’d be surprised if a lottery-bound team like Detroit is prepared to give up the sort of assets it would take to acquire an established impact player — the Pistons may be better off selling off some of their own veterans at this season’s deadline and taking the same approach next summer that Houston did this past offseason, adding vets in free agency instead of via trade.

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