Celtics Rumors

Evan Turner To Join Celtics As Assistant Coach

After spending two years in Boston from 2014-16, Evan Turner will be returning to the Celtics for the 2020/21 season — but not as a player. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter), Turner is finalizing a deal to join the C’s as an assistant coach, with a focus on player development.

The second overall pick in the 2010 draft, Turner has spent 10 seasons in the NBA as a player for the Sixers, Pacers, Celtics, Trail Blazers, and Hawks. He has averaged 9.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 3.5 APG in 705 career regular season games (26.9 MPG).

Although Turner had some productive seasons earlier in his career, he wasn’t an effective rotation player in 2019/20, averaging 3.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 19 games (13.2 MPG) for Atlanta. He was traded to Minnesota at the February deadline and never appeared in a game for the Timberwolves — the two sides explored a buyout, but didn’t end up reaching a deal.

It’s not clear if Turner is transitioning from playing to coaching for good, as he’s still just 32 years old and hasn’t technically announced his retirement. Still, for this season at least, it sounds like he’ll try his hand at player development in a role on Brad Stevens‘ staff.

And-Ones: Season, Coronavirus, Extensions, G League

The NBA released a 139-page memo to its 30 teams outlining the COVID-19 regulations for the 2020-21 season, listing important rules to follow and explaining the procedure to follow when someone tests positive for the virus, Shams Charania and Sam Amick write for The Athletic.

The league acknowledged it will receive positive tests among its players this season, something that didn’t happen in the controlled Orlando campus last fall.

“It is likely that some staff, players, and other participants in the 2020/21 season nonetheless will test positive or contract COVID-19, particularly as the virus remains prevalent in particular team markets and surrounding communities,” the memo read, according to The Athletic. “The occurrence of independent cases (i.e., cases not spread among players or team staff) or a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the 2020/21 season.”

The memo described the procedure for a positive test in length, specifying that the individual would miss a minimum of 12 days. It also outlawed miscellaneous activities for team traveling parties, including using hotel amenities such as spas or gift shops.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Celtics and Jazz would’ve benefited from declining to give Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell fifth-year player options, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. Hollinger believes the clubs had leverage to push for straight five-year deals with no options, given that they were willing to include favorable Rose Rule language and 15% trade kickers.
  • NBA G League writer Adam Johnson provided further clarity (via Twitter) on the G League’s potential bubble idea this season, adding that the idea of a January campus in Atlanta (similar to Orlando) is being discussed. A minimum of 12 games would be played, with daily testing and quarantine periods required for each of the participants. Teams would likely have a $500K entry fee in the proposed idea, with the league hopeful of adding more games over time, Johnson tweets.

Hornets Add Gordon Hayward Via Sign-And-Trade With Celtics

3:43pm: The Celtics’ new trade exception will actually be worth $28.5MM, Marks clarifies (via Twitter).

2:42pm: The Hornets have completed their acquisition of Gordon Hayward, having officially added the veteran free agent forward via a sign-and-trade deal with the Celtics.

According to the Celtics (via Twitter), Boston are sending a pair of future second-round picks to Charlotte in the deal along with Hayward. Those will be 2023 and 2024 second-rounders, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As part of the trade, the Celtics will creative a massive trade exception worth the amount of Hayward’s 2020/21 salary ($27.9MM, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks). Boston will also receive a future second-round pick from the Hornets, though that pick will be heavily protected and is unlikely to change hands, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. It’ll be a 2022 second-rounder, Charania adds.

Hayward’s agreement with the Hornets on a four-year, $120MM contract was first reported on November 21 after an eventful free agency that saw the 30-year-old draw significant interest from Indiana and New York as well.

By waiving and stretching Nicolas Batum‘s $27MM expiring salary, the Hornets created more than enough cap room to sign Hayward outright. However, the opportunity to create a massive trade exception that can be used at the trade deadline or during the 2021 offseason incentivized the Celtics to explore a sign-and-trade deal.

That $27.9MM trade exception – which is the largest in NBA history, per Marks – can be used to acquire one or more players earning up to that amount without having to send out any salary, giving Boston an intriguing weapon on the trade market over the next 12 months. Danny Ainge and the Celtics’ front office determined that exception was valuable enough to give up two second-round picks.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Traded Player Exception]

From the Hornets’ perspective, the only downside of agreeing to a sign-and-trade instead of signing Hayward outright – besides helping out the Celtics – was hard-capping themselves for the 2020/21 league year. However, Charlotte remains well below the $109MM cap, so it’s safe to say the $139MM hard cap won’t be an issue. So essentially, the Hornets picked up a pair of extra second-rounders for a move they were making anyway.

For more info on Hayward’s deal, check out our original story on his agreement with the Hornets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nicolas Batum Waived By Hornets, Plans To Sign With Clippers

As expected, the Hornets have waived veteran forward Nicolas Batum, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team has officially confirmed the move in a press release.

Batum was excised from the Hornets’ rotation this past season, appearing in just 22 games (23.0 MPG) and playing poorly in his limited time, with 3.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 3.0 APG on .346/.286/.900 shooting. However, he’s only entering his age-32 season and should look more appealing on a minimum-salary deal than he did on his five-year, $120MM contract.

The Clippers are willing to bet on a bounce-back season from Batum, with Charania reporting (via Twitter) that the forward intends to sign with L.A. once he clears waivers. The Clips only have 12 players on fully guaranteed salaries and could use some additional depth on the wing, so Batum should be a good fit on the roster.

According to Charania (via Twitter), the Clippers were one of multiple contending teams with interest in Batum once Charlotte made it clear he would be cut. Golden State, Toronto, Utah, and Milwaukee were previously cited as potential suitors.

A report back on November 21 first indicated that Charlotte planned to waive Batum and stretch his $27MM+ salary across three seasons, opening up the cap room necessary for the team to sign Gordon Hayward to his new four-year, $120MM contract.

Once the Celtics and Hornets began discussing the possibility of turning Charlotte’s Hayward acquisition into a sign-and-trade, there was some uncertainty about whether releasing Batum would be necessary. The Hornets were believed to be exploring the possibility of sending him to Boston or – more likely – another team as part of a Hayward deal.

Although that won’t happen, that doesn’t mean that Hayward can’t still be acquired via sign-and-trade. We continue to await word on that front, but a sign-and-trade agreement would benefit the Celtics, who could generate a massive traded player exception in such a deal.

Now that Batum has been waived, it will make little difference from the Hornets’ perspective whether they sign Hayward outright or acquire him via sign-and-trade. If they can extract a sweetener (ie. a second-round pick or two) from Boston, it would make sense for Charlotte to accommodate the C’s and turn it into a sign-and-trade. We should find out soon whether or not that’s in the cards.

[UPDATE: Hornets Add Gordon Hayward Via Sign-And-Trade With Celtics]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Rockets, Tatum, Ibaka, Craig, Patterson

Sterling Brown‘s new deal with the Rockets is a one-year, minimum-salary contract that is fully guaranteed, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). That makes it one of the simpler, more straightforward deals Houston has finalized this week.

Newly-signed forwards Bruno Caboclo and Jae’Sean Tate, on the other hand, got multiyear contracts, but they both only have $50K guarantees for now, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Caboclo will have his 2020/21 salary fully guaranteed if he’s on the opening night roster, while Tate will get a $500K partial guarantee if he survives to the regular season opener, Marks writes.

While Caboclo has a two-year, minimum-salary deal, Tate’s three-year contract required the Rockets to dip into their mid-level exception and is worth more than the minimum in year one. As Smith details (via Twitter), Tate’s first-year salary will be $1,445,697 – typically the minimum for a player with one year of NBA experience – instead of the standard rookie minimum of $898,310.

Here are a few more new contract details:

  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum got a 15% trade kicker on his new five-year, maximum-salary extension with Boston, while big man Serge Ibaka received a 15% trade kicker on his two-year contract with the Clippers, according to Keith Smith (Twitter links).
  • Torrey Craig‘s one-year deal with the Bucks is a guaranteed contract worth the veteran’s minimum, tweets Smith. That doesn’t come as a surprise, as Milwaukee had no exception money left besides the minimum for Craig.
  • Rather than re-signing him to a minimum-salary contract, the Clippers re-signed Patrick Patterson using his Non-Bird rights, giving him 20% more than the minimum, according to Bobby Marks (Twitter link). That means a one-year, $3.08MM contract for the veteran forward.

NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2020/21

The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $109,140,000 threshold once their room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit of $132,627,000 as well — the Warriors project to have a nine-figure tax bill this season as a result of their spending.

The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows a club like Golden State to build a significant payroll without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped, as we explain in a glossary entry.

When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5,718,000) of the mid-level exception, that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.

When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron was set $6MM above the luxury tax line in 2017/18 (the first year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement) and creeps up a little higher each time the cap increases. For the 2020/21 league year, the tax apron – and hard cap for certain clubs – is set at $138,928,000.

More than half the teams in the NBA have been willing to hard-cap themselves this offseason, and in some cases, it will significantly impact a team’s ability to add further reinforcements later in the league year. The Bucks and Lakers are among the teams right up against the hard cap, which may prevent them from being players in free agency during the season unless they can shed salary.

For other clubs, the hard cap is just a technicality that won’t affect their plans. The Hawks and Thunder are among the hard-capped clubs that will have zero practical concerns about reaching that threshold in 2020/21.

Listed below are the hard-capped teams for the 2020/21 league year, along with how they created a hard cap.

Atlanta Hawks

Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets

Dallas Mavericks

Denver Nuggets

Detroit Pistons

  • Acquired Jerami Grant from the Nuggets via sign-and-trade.

Houston Rockets

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Serge Ibaka.

Los Angeles Lakers

Miami Heat

Milwaukee Bucks

New York Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder

Phoenix Suns

  • Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Jae Crowder.

Portland Trail Blazers

Toronto Raptors

Utah Jazz

Washington Wizards

  • Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Robin Lopez.

This list could continue to grow during the offseason if other teams acquire a player via sign-and-trade, use more than the taxpayer portion of their mid-level exception, or use their bi-annual exception.

Central Notes: Pacers, Hayward, Kennard, Pistons, Bucks, Bulls

In a pair of stories, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) provide a few additional details on the Pacers‘ pursuit of Gordon Hayward in free agency, confirming that the Celtics sought a second starting player in addition to Myles Turner in a potential Hayward sign-and-trade. That lines up with what Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported last week.

Agness says that Hayward and his family purchased a home in the Indianapolis area over a year ago and that his wife was excited about the possibility of moving back to Indiana. However, Ainge apparently drove a hard bargain in trade discussions — Michael reports that even an offer of Turner, a first-round pick, and a rotation player (possibly Doug McDermott, as Washburn reported) wasn’t enough to win over the Celtics.

It’s possible that the hard line drawn by Ainge wouldn’t have ultimately mattered — the Hornets‘ offer of four years and $120MM was about $15MM higher than the Pacers were willing to go, according to Agness. That difference certainly may have been enough to lure Hayward to Charlotte even if the Pacers and Celtics had agreed to trade terms.

Still, both Agness’ and Michael’s reports seem to suggest there was a window when the two teams’ inability to work out a sign-and-trade agreement may have been the only thing standing in the way of Hayward going to Indiana. According to Michael, once the Hornets put their $120MM offer on the table, Ainge wanted to go back to the Pacers to negotiate in “good faith,” but Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein “pulled the plug” on that as the veteran forward chose Charlotte.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • It flew under the radar a little since it wasn’t reported as part of the initial agreement, but the Pistons gave up an eye-popping four second-round picks in their deal that sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers and landed them No. 19 pick Saddiq Bey. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link), those four second-rounders “appear to have been in part the cost of Kennard’s past knee issues.” However, Kennard’s camp is confident those issues are behind him, and it seems the Clippers are too, writes Lowe.
  • While the 2020 draft may not be packed with future stars, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said his club “really liked” this year’s class, which was why the team traded for multiple extra picks. “We liked the players that were in it and we just felt there were quality young men that could help continue to build our program, we were aggressive,” Weaver said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Referring to Bey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Saben Lee, the Pistons’ GM added, “Hopefully, we can look back in time and call this our core four.”
  • The failed Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade was a bad look for the franchise, but Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required) contends there’s a case to be made that the Bucks will ultimately be better off with the moves they made instead. Not landing Bogdanovic allowed Milwaukee to offer more than the minimum to add role players like D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, and Bryn Forbes, and the team didn’t end up having to part with promising 23-year-old Donte DiVincenzo.
  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago fields questions about the Bulls‘ surprising No. 4 draft pick and the club’s relatively quiet free agent period.

Details On The Celtics' Decision Not To Trade For Turner

The Celtics had an opportunity to add Pacers big man Myles Turner in a sign-and-trade package deal for departing forward Gordon Hayward. Zach Lowe of ESPN believes that Turner “would probably be a Celtic” if the club really wanted to add him.

The Celtics wound up adding former Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson in free agency instead of making the trade for Turner. Turner is set to earn $18MM/year for the next three seasons, while Thompson inked a two-year deal worth $9.5MM annually.

Celtics Sign Jayson Tatum To Five-Year Max Extension

NOVEMBER 25: Tatum’s maximum-salary contract extension with Boston is now official, the Celtics have announced on their official site.

NOVEMBER 22: The Celtics have agreed to a five-year, maximum-salary contract extension with forward Jayson Tatum, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The deal will go into effect for the 2021/22 season, once Tatum’s rookie contract expires. Ryan McDonough of Radio.com tweets that the deal includes a fifth-year player option for the 2025/26 season.

Tatum, 22, blossomed into an All-Star during his third season in Boston. He posted career-high averages of 23.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.9 BPG across 66 games for the Celtics during the regular season. Tatum also logged impressive shooting splits of .45/.403/.812.

Along with his fellow 2020 Boston All-Star, point guard Kemba Walker, and ascendant young forward Jaylen Brown, Tatum led the Celtics to their second Eastern Conference Finals appearance of his young tenure during the 2019/20 season.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details (Twitter link), Tatum’s starting salary will be worth at least 25% of the 2021/22 salary cap. If he makes an All-NBA team again in 2021, his deal will start at 30% of next year’s cap. Based on a 3% cap increase, Tatum’s first-year salary will range from about $28.1MM to $33.7MM.

Marks notes in a separate tweet that, if Tatum and/or his fellow recently-extended young All-Star Donovan Mitchell, qualifies for the full 30% extension by making any of the three All-NBA teams next season, either player would earn the biggest rookie extension in NBA history. Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons holds the current record at $177.2MM.

Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox could also earn the 30% max on his new deal, though he’ll have to earn All-NBA First Team honors to do so, per the terms of his own extension. Among this year’s players eligible for rookie contract extensions, Tatum, Mitchell and Fox are the only three who have agreed to terms so far.

With Brown’s own extension (for $103MM in guaranteed money plus an additional $12MM in possible incentives) locked in through the 2023/24 season, getting off the contract of oft-injured veteran forward Gordon Hayward a year early has helped streamline Boston’s books for the immediate future, while securing their young core. Hayward opted out of the final year of his deal with Boston to sign a four-year, $120MM contract with the Hornets yesterday.

In terms of the team’s immediate roster-building, Boston will be able avoid the luxury tax this season thanks to Hayward’s departure. The club can still upgrade its roster using its $3.6MM biannual exception, along with trade exceptions acquired through the moves of Vincent Poirier and Enes Kanter.

Brown, Walker, and Tatum will all be under contract together for the next two seasons. Walker has a $37.7MM player option for 2022/23, his age-33 season. Defensive stalwart Marcus Smart has the team’s next-biggest contract, and is owed $27.8MM through the 2021/22 season.

Yesterday, the Celtics added center Tristan Thompson, signed into the club’s full mid-level exception. He will earn $19MM through 2021/22. Boston also fully guaranteed the contracts of incumbent starting center Daniel Theis and reserve forward Semi Ojeleye. Theis may be in line for a raise when he enters unrestricted free agency in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hornets, Celtics Still Exploring Sign-And-Trade Structure For Hayward Deal

NOVEMBER 25: The Celtics and Hornets have continued to work on ways to turn the Hayward deal into a sign-and-trade, with Charlotte trying to find a team that might be able to take on Batum’s $27MM expiring deal so that he doesn’t have to be waived-and-stretched, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It sounds as if the Celtics don’t have any interest in taking on Batum or another player from the Hornets, preferring to generate a significant trade exception for signing-and-trade Hayward. The Thunder and Knicks may be the two teams best positioned to accommodate a salary dump, but there would be cap-related challenges in both cases.

NOVEMBER 21: The Celtics and Hornets are still discussing the possibility of turning Charlotte’s signing of Gordon Hayward into a sign-and-trade, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).

Hayward reached an agreement earlier today to join the Hornets on a four-year, $120MM contract. Charlotte doesn’t have the cap room necessary to fit Hayward’s first-year salary in without making a corresponding roster move, so the team is reportedly planning to waive and stretch the final year of Nicolas Batum‘s contract, creating an extra $18MM in space.

Whether or not the Hornets intend to move forward with their plan to use the stretch provision on Batum, it makes sense to explore the possibility of a sign-and-trade.

Sending out enough salary to altogether avoid having to waive Batum would create future cap savings for Charlotte, though it’s not clear if acquiring a player like Terry Rozier or Cody Zeller would be of any interest to the Celtics after they reportedly reached deals with Jeff Teague and Tristan Thompson tonight.

Even if the Celtics don’t get anything of substance back from Charlotte in exchange for Hayward, the ability to create a massive traded player exception worth the forward’s outgoing salary should appeal to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, as that exception could come in handy at some point over the next year. Boston may be willing to send the Hornets a small asset – such as a future second-round pick or cash – in order to create a sizeable TPE.

If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, Charlotte can simply move forward with its initial plan to waive and stretch Batum.