Boston Celtics

Terrence Jones Unlikely To Join Celtics

Having cleared waivers and reached free agency, Terrence Jones had interest in joining the Celtics, and his camp initiated talks with the club, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, according to Himmelsbach, the former Pelicans big man is unlikely to land with the Cs.

While Jones is one of the more appealing options available on the buyout market, a source tells Himmelsbach that the 25-year-old is hoping to find a team that would allow him to play significant minutes. The Celtics could use a big man, but they have a fairly deep rotation and are carrying 15 players on guaranteed contracts, so Jones may not get the opportunity he’s seeking in Boston.

Five Teams Have Contacted Andrew Bogut

The Cavaliers, Spurs, Rockets, Celtics and Jazz have talked to representatives for center Andrew Bogut over the past 24 hours, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical.

The 32-year-center has reportedly been negotiating a buyout with the Sixers ever since Thursday’s trade that sent him from Dallas to Philadelphia. Bogut must be waived before Wednesday’s deadline to be eligible for the post-season with another team.

Bogut hasn’t reported to the Sixers, but Charania relays that he spoke to coach Brett Brown over the phone. Bogut said he has respect for Brown and the culture of the team, but he wants to help a championship contender.

Of the five teams in Charania’s report, Utah has a massive financial advantage with $13.64MM in available cap space. That’s enough for the Jazz to claim Bogut’s entire $11MM contract once he hits waivers. Houston made two deals this week to clear cap room and has about $3.54MM open. Boston is $1.1MM under the cap, while Cleveland and San Antonio are both over.

The NBA ruled on Thursday that Bogut could rejoin the Warriors, even though they traded him in July, but so far there hasn’t been any indication that Golden State is interested in a reunion.

NBA Teams Below Salary Cap For 2016/17

At this point in the season, most teams aren’t going to do much with any leftover cap room. Teams are no longer able to make trades, and most free agents still on the market won’t demand more than the minimum.

Still, there’s reason to consider which teams remain below the cap after this week’s trade activity. With useful veteran players potentially hitting the free agent market as a result of contract buyouts, a team with some extra cap room might have a leg up on teams without any spending flexibility.

For instance, if the Rockets and Warriors were to pursue the same free agent – perhaps Andrew Bogut, if he’s bought out by the Sixers – Houston could offer a deal worth up to about $3.5MM with cap room, while Golden State would be limited to offering a prorated minimum salary worth closer to $400K. That’s a significant difference.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on teams that remain below the minimum salary floor, since those clubs could enter the bidding for a bought-out player or could claim a player off waivers. The Jazz, for instance, probably don’t need a big man like Bogut, but if they wanted him and he became available, Utah has enough cap room to claim his entire $11MM+ contract. That would keep him off the open market and allow the Jazz to surpass the salary floor.

Using our Salary Cap Snapshots, let’s take a closer look at the teams below the cap, starting with teams still below the salary floor:

Teams below the salary floor:

  1. Utah Jazz: $13.64MM below cap ($4.23MM below floor)
  2. Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.66MM below cap ($3.24MM below floor)
  3. Denver Nuggets: $11.56MM below cap ($2.15MM below floor)
  4. Brooklyn Nets: $10.21MM below cap ($793K below floor)

Less than a month ago, there were six teams below the salary floor. Since then, the Nets and Nuggets have taken major steps toward the floor, while the Suns and Sixers have gotten above it entirely. That leaves the Jazz and Timberwolves as the clubs furthest below the salary floor.

As we’ve noted in the past, there’s no real penalty if a team remains below the floor — the team simply has to make up the difference by paying their current players a little more money. However, the Jazz and Wolves figure to be mulling other opportunities to reach the floor. That could mean placing a waiver claim or – in Utah’s case – renegotiating a contract.

We haven’t heard any rumors lately about the Jazz discussing a new deal with an extension-eligible veteran like George Hill or Derrick Favors, so that seems like a long shot. But the team does have until the end of February to renegotiate and extend either player’s contract, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Teams below the cap, but above the floor:

  1. Phoenix Suns: $9.226MM below cap
  2. Philadelphia 76ers: $8.62MM below cap
  3. Indiana Pacers: $4.14MM below cap
  4. Boston Celtics: $1.11MM below cap

Although the Suns and Sixers have inched above the salary floor, they’re not necessarily out of the woods quite yet. Phoenix needs the contracts of Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott to pass through waivers unclaimed, while the Sixers will require the same for Bogut if they eventually cut him. If any of those deals are claimed, they’ll move to another team’s cap, pushing Phoenix or Philadelphia back below the floor.

Teams that could clear cap room by renouncing exceptions:

  1. Houston Rockets: $3.54MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $3.33MM)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder: $3.05MM below cap if lone TPE ($4.94MM) is renounced
  3. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.75MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $5MM)
  4. Chicago Bulls: $1.59MM below cap if lone TPE ($5.46MM) is renounced

These teams are technically over the cap, but could go under if they chose to renounce their trade exceptions. In some cases, that might not make much sense. For instance, the Bucks and Bulls would have less than $2MM in cap room if they renounced their exceptions. Both teams have trade exceptions worth at least $5MM, so it probably makes sense to stay over the cap for now and see if those exceptions come in handy around the draft.

On the other hand, the amount of cap room the Rockets would have if they renounced their trade exceptions would be greater than the amount of their largest TPE, so it makes sense for Houston to dip below the cap, expunging those TPEs from their books. That would also allow the Rockets to use cap room to sign a free agent, something they couldn’t do using a trade exception.

The rest of the NBA’s 18 teams don’t currently have cap room. That includes the Lakers, whose moves this week took them over the cap by just $316K.

Celtics Rumors: Deadline Talks, Jones, Yabusele

Although the Celtics were frequently linked to Jimmy Butler and Paul George in the days and hours leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe hears that talks never got really “serious” with the Bulls, who didn’t seem overly motivated to trigger a rebuild by moving Butler. Meanwhile, appearing on CSNNE, Chris Mannix of The Vertical suggests that the Celtics probably weren’t close to getting George either, having drawn “a line in the sand that they weren’t going to cross.”

There were conflicting reports on whether the Celtics made one or both of their Nets picks available, but Mannix suggests that Danny Ainge was willing to discuss both the 2017 and 2018 selections, while sources tell Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that the C’s made those picks available “separately” in trade offers. However, according to Bulpett, in their discussions with the Bulls, the Celtics wanted protections on that 2017 pick.

Mannix adds that Boston was also reluctant to package multiple players like Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown with its picks. As Lowe explains, Ainge and the Celtics weren’t able to find a package that left them feeling comfortable about both their present and its future, so they decided to hang onto their assets for now and revisit trade scenarios down the road.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • In Bulpett’s piece (linked above), The Herald reporter notes multiple times that the ability to be a major player for a max free agent this summer seemed to be a high priority for Ainge and the Celtics as they considered potential trades.
  • If Boston had the chance to acquire an impact player in a favorable deal at the deadline, the team certainly would have been willing to give up that chance at max space, but Bulpett says the team has projected a “seemingly odd confidence” about its opportunities this summer, given the inherent uncertainty in free agency and the draft. “The fact (Ainge) was so comfortable waiting for the draft and summer scares the (expletive) out of me,” one rival league executive told Bulpett.
  • In a piece for The Vertical, Chris Mannix makes a case for why it was perfectly fine for the Celtics to stand pat at the deadline, while A. Sherrod Blakely lays out a similar argument in an article for CSNNE.com.
  • Terrence Jones, who will be an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers, has some interest in the Celtics, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • According to Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Ainge hinted during a radio appearance today that draft-and-stash prospect Guerschon Yabusele may join Boston’s D-League affiliate in Maine after the Chinese Basketball Association’s season ends.

Bulls Notes: Rondo, Butler, Hoiberg, Gibson

The Bulls don’t plan to buy out Rajon Rondo, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. GM Gar Forman confirmed that tonight, telling reporters the organization would rather hold onto the veteran point guard and use his contract as a trade chip in the offseason. Rondo signed a two-year deal with Chicago in July, but only $3MM of his $13,397,000 salary for next season is guaranteed before June 30. Rondo’s time with the Bulls has been a disappointment, as he was benched briefly, then relegated to the second unit. Although he has been effective in that role, there’s no guarantee it will continue after today’s trade for Cameron Payne.

There’s more post-deadline news out of Chicago:

  • The Celtics were willing to include one of the Nets’ first-rounders in trade talks for Jimmy Butler, but sources tell Johnson that Boston wanted to place protections on it (Twitter link). The scope of those protections was not released.
  • Bulls executive John Paxson says the organization wouldn’t commit to rebuilding without “certainty” and never got close to that in any of the offers for Butler (Twitter link). He acknowledges that trade discussions with the Celtics will probably start again by June, and insists Chicago’s playoff fate won’t factor into the decision on Butler (Twitter link).
  • Paxson hasn’t wavered in his support for coach Fred Hoiberg, saying there has been growth in his second season behind the bench (Twitter link).
  • The deal that sent Taj Gibson to Oklahoma City was made to create more playing time for Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine (Twitter link). “When you’re trying to develop a team with young players, you need them to get on the floor,” Paxson said (Twitter link).
  • Gibson said he knew of eight teams that were trying to trade for him (Twitter link). “The hardest part was seeing people’s faces on the way out,” Gibson said in a radio interview. “It’s family.”
  • Gibson would consider coming back to Chicago “at the right price,” tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. He will be a free agent this summer after making $8.95MM this season. Gibson also indicated that he would consider being a coach with the Bulls when his playing days are finished (Twitter link).

Sixers Trade Nerlens Noel To Mavericks

8:48pm: The trade is official, according to a press release from the Sixers. The announcement suggests that if the 2017 first-round pick from the Mavs isn’t conveyed, Philadelphia will receive Dallas’ second-round picks for 2017 and 2020, though that may be a typo — RealGM’s log of traded picks shows that the Sixers would get the 2017 and 2018 picks, as noted below.

11:58am: According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links), if the Sixers don’t receive the Mavs’ first-round pick this year, they’ll instead receive 2017 and 2018 second-round picks from Dallas. Since that first-rounder is top-18 protected, it seems very unlikely to change hands, so the conditions on the pick make the deal look even better for the Mavs.Nerlens Noel vertical

11:30am: There are still some moving parts to sort out in the deal before it becomes official, according to Jake Fischer of SI.com, who tweets that the trade may expand to involve a third team so that the Sixers don’t have to waive a player.

10:46am: The Sixers are in agreement with the Mavericks on a deal that will send Nerlens Noel to Dallas, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Philadelphia will receive Justin Anderson and a first-round pick from the Mavs. ESPN’s Marc Stein adds (via Twitter) that the Sixers will also get Andrew Bogut‘s expiring contract.

According to Stein (via Twitter), the first-round pick heading to the Sixers in the deal will be top-18 protected in 2017, which makes it unlikely that it will change hands this year. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, Dallas currently projects to have the No. 7 overall pick, though Noel should help improve this year’s team. Future protections on the first-rounder have not yet been reported.

Noel, who will turn 23 in April, was frequently mentioned as a trade candidate earlier this season, particularly after he publicly questioned the Sixers’ decision to head into camp with a logjam at center. However, the former sixth overall pick had played well as of late, averaging 8.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and a career-best .611 FG% in less than 20 minutes per game for the season.

Recent trade rumors had focused more on Jahlil Okafor than Noel, so it will be interesting to see if the Sixers end up moving Okafor today as well. In his full report on the trade, Wojnarowski suggests Okafor is now likely to stay put. However, as Jake Fischer of SI.com notes (via Twitter), the Sixers have been “steadfast” this week in their efforts to move Okafor, so it would be a change of direction to hang onto him now.

[RELATED: Latest on Jahlil Okafor]

For the Mavs, Noel represents a substantial upgrade at center, giving the team the sort of athletic, rim-protecting big man it had been seeking. As Wojnarowski tweets, Dallas has “long been intrigued” by Noel, and will look to lock him up this summer. The Kentucky product will be a restricted free agent, so the Mavs will have the opportunity to match any offers he receives from other teams.

From the Sixers’ perspective, the move represents a chance to pick up a young player and a draft pick while also potentially not having to worry about reaching the salary floor. Anderson has yet to make a real impact in his two NBA seasons, but he’s still just 23 years old and won’t be a restricted free agent until the summer of 2019. Meanwhile, the combined salaries for Bogut ($11MM+) and Anderson ($1.51MM) are worth approximately $8MM more than Noel’s salary, allowing Philadelphia to surpass the salary floor.

However, if the Sixers were to flip Bogut in another deadline deal, that could change the equation, and the team has yet to decide what they’ll do with the veteran center, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). ESPN’s Chris Haynes reports (via Twitter) that Bogut and the Sixers are expected to engage in buyout talks, with potential suitors like the Cavs keeping a close eye on the situation. However, TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter links) suggests Philadelphia could reroute the former No. 1 pick to another team, with the Celtics as one possibility.

A couple final bookkeeping notes on the swap: Assuming it’s completed as reported, Dallas should have the opportunity to create a pair of trade exceptions in the deal. One would be worth about $6.64MM (the difference between Bogut’s and Noel’s salaries), while the other would be worth approximately $1.51MM (Anderson’s salary). The Mavs should also now comfortably avoid the luxury tax this season, having previously been about $1MM away from the tax threshold.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hawks Made ‘Aggressive’ Offers For George, Butler

8:40pm: Although the Hawks’ offers for George and Butler didn’t feature core players, one source tells Stein (Twitter link) that they included “more” than three first-round picks.

With extra picks on hand for 2018 and 2019, Atlanta theoretically could have offered a 2017 first-round pick, a 2018 first-rounder, and two 2019 first-rounders, and still would’ve adhered to the Ted Stepien rule.

4:43pm: The Hawks weren’t necessarily considered likely to make a big splash today and ultimately didn’t do so, but according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), it wasn’t for lack of trying. Stein reports that the Hawks made “aggressive” draft-pick-centric trade offers for both Paul George and Jimmy Butler.

Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter link) reported shortly after the trade deadline passed that the Hawks had been working on multiple “big deals” that didn’t come together, and these wouldn’t certainly qualify. GM Wes Wilcox had mentioned in the days leading up to the deadline that Atlanta wouldn’t hesitate to use its collection of draft picks to seek out roster upgrades — the Hawks have extra first-round picks in 2018 (from Minnesota) and 2019 (from Cleveland).

Reports on the talks between the Celtics and Bulls suggested that Chicago had wanted to acquire rotation-ready players in any deal for Butler, so a package heavy on draft picks may not have appealed to the club. As for the Pacers, even though team ownership was receptive to trade offers, president Larry Bird was determined to “swat away all pitches,” per Stein.

The Pacers were also said to have turned down a “monster” offer from the Nuggets, though ESPN’s Zach Lowe notes that Denver was reluctant to include Jamal Murray in that package. The Nuggets would have brought in trade assets from a third team in that scenario, per Lowe.

Meanwhile, though Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested this afternoon that the Celtics had been willing to include both Nets’ first-round picks in talks for George and Butler, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears that Boston never formally made the 2017 pick available in Butler discussions. Even if the C’s had been willing to include one or both picks for either player, it’s not clear whether the team would have sought to add protection those selections.

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Okafor, Ainge, Lopez, Hawks

Before making today’s deal with Oklahoma City, the Bulls tried to obtain point guard Patrick Beverley from the Rockets, tweets Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago. Chicago reached out to Houston on Wednesday with an offer of Taj Gibson and Isaiah Canaan in exchange for Beverley, but the Rockets turned it down.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference on an active deadline day:

  • The Sixers didn’t trade center Jahlil Okafor, but it wasn’t because they didn’t try, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). He says Philadelphia made a strong effort to unload Okafor but was unable to find equal value so close to the deadline.
  • The Celtics were rumored to be seeking Jimmy Butler and Paul George, but decided to stand pat. GM Danny Ainge explained the conservative approach to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). “We had a lot of conversations,” Ainge said. “There were things we could do to improve our team, but nothing that was good enough to do.” The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski claims that Boston was willing to make both of the Nets‘ first-round picks available (Twitter link).
  • Nets GM Sean Marks didn’t indicate if he tried to trade Brook Lopez, tweets Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. “Brook’s here and we’re happy he’s here,” Marks said when asked about the veteran center. “He’s been the face of this franchise for a long time.”
  • After shipping Mike Scott to the Suns, the Hawks have two open roster spots, notes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter link). The team will focus on the buyout market and possibly D-League callups.

Celtics, Cavs, Pacers, Others Stand Pat At Deadline

A number of teams who had been considered good bets to make trades at the deadline opted to stand pat, unable to find any deals to their liking, according to various reports. Here’s a breakdown of some of the teams that decided not to make a move:

  • The Celtics didn’t make a trade today, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). All of Boston’s assets, including the Nets’ next two first-rounders, remain under team control.
  • In essence, Kyle Korver was the big deadline acquisition for the Cavaliers, who stood pat today, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Not only did the Pacers keep Paul George, but the team didn’t make any move to fortify the roster either, according to Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star and Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports (Twitter links).
  • A source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that the Pistons didn’t make any trades today. In a tweet, Ellis expresses doubts about just how “available” some of Detroit’s players were.
  • The Kings fielded offers for Ben McLemore, Darren Collison, and Arron Afflalo, but will wait until the summer to make more trades, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.
  • The Jazz also made no deadline deals, per Andy Larsen of Salt Lake City Hoops and KSL.com (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Sixers, Bradley, Tucker, Bogut

The Sixers are seeking deals for defensive-oriented guards capable of playing alongside Ben Simmons, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Philadelphia has targeted Celtics guard Avery Bradley, but hasn’t gained any traction.

With Marcus Smart playing well lately and Jaylen Brown viewed as a potential star by the Celtics, Bradley could be somewhat expendable in Boston, but Philadelphia and Boston aren’t necessarily a great match in such a trade. Both teams are loaded with future draft picks, which is likely what the Sixers would offer for Bradley — the Celtics don’t really need any more picks, unless they think they could use them in a package for a star.

Here’s more from around the NBA with the trade deadline less than a half-hour away:

  • At least three teams – the Pelicans, Cavaliers, and Celtics – have opted against meeting the Suns‘ asking price of a first-round pick for P.J. Tucker, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
  • The Sixers don’t expect to flip Andrew Bogut in another trade before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that the two sides will immediately begin buyout discussions.
  • At this point, the Nuggets don’t expect to make any moves before the deadline, sources tell Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post (Twitter link).
  • The Pacers are still trying to fortify their roster, and remain in talks with the Kings about Arron Afflalo, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.
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