Bradley Beal

Woj’s Latest: Butler, Timberwolves, Thibodeau

In a piece regarding the final days of the Jimmy Butler saga in Minnesota, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN provides a closer look into the Timberwolves‘ front office and the back-and-forth that went down before the trade was finally completed. Let’s dive into some of the highlights he provides:

  • Tom Thibodeau sold Timberwolves‘ owner Glen Taylor on passing on the initial offer from the Heat centered around Josh Richardson because he believed that Pat Riley would come back with a better offer down the road (the Heat never returned with Richardson on the table in subsequent trade talks).
  • Taylor considered firing Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden this past summer before the Butler saga broke out and continues to think about the possibility of replacing both of them.
  • According to Woj, the Timberwolves desperately tried to find other trade partners throughout the past week, including reaching out to the Pelicans and Wizards, to no avail. The Wolves actually had “extensive” discussions with the Pels, but New Orleans wouldn’t offer Jrue Holiday or multiple draft picks. Washington, meanwhile wouldn’t offer Bradley Beal, which comes as no surprise.
  • The Sixers initially offered the Timberwolves their choice of Robert Covington and Dario Saric in an offer for Butler before eventually agreeing to include both players.
  • The Sixers believe they are operating out of a position of leverage when it comes to dealings with Butler. According to Woj, there are league executives that understand that Butler must be on his best behavior in order to get the full five-year max contract he desires this summer.

NBA Super-Max Candidates To Watch In 2018/19

The Designated Veteran Extension, as we explain our glossary entry on the subject, is a relatively new addition to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It allows players with 7-9 years of experience, who would normally qualify for a maximum starting salary of 30% of the cap, to qualify for a “super-max” contract that starts at 35% of the cap, a level normally reserved players with 10+ years of experience.

A player who has seven or eight years of NBA service with one or two years left on his contract becomes eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension if he meets the required performance criteria and hasn’t been traded since his first four years in the league. A Designated Veteran contract can also be signed by a player who is technically a free agent if he has eight or nine years of service and meets the required criteria.

The performance criteria is as follows (only one of the following must be true):

  • The player was named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.

With those criteria in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on several players who could qualify for a super-max veteran contract with their play this season. Let’s dive in and examine a few of those guys…

Players who already qualify for a super-max contract:

Davis can’t yet sign a Designated Veteran Extension, but his All-NBA appearances over the last two seasons have ensured that he’ll qualify, even if he somehow doesn’t earn another All-NBA nod in 2018/19.

As of next July, the Pelicans will be able to offer Davis a contract extension that tacks an additional five years onto his $27.09MM salary for 2019/20. Based on the NBA’s latest cap projection for 2020/21 ($118MM), that five-year extension would be worth a staggering $239.54MM.

Players who could qualify for a super-max contract by meeting the criteria in 2018/19:

Technically, any player who earns an All-NBA spot in 2018/19 and meets the contract criteria can qualify for a super-max, but the players listed above are probably the only legitimately viable candidates. And even in this group, guys like Beal and Drummond are a real stretch — if they were to improbably make an All-NBA team, their clubs still probably wouldn’t put Designated Veteran Extension offers on the table, since they’re not bona fide superstars.

Thompson and Walker will both be unrestricted free agents in 2019, so if they meet the DVE criteria, they’d be eligible for five-year contracts with their respective teams worth up to a projected $221.27MM. Lillard and Green are still under contract for at least one more year beyond this season, but they’d qualify for super-max extensions if they meet the criteria — Lillard could get an extra four years, while Green could get five.

A team can only give Designated Veteran Extensions to two players, so the Warriors wouldn’t be able to offer both Thompson and Green super-max contracts, since Stephen Curry already has one. On the plus side, Kevin Durant won’t figure into this equation for Golden State, since he has 10+ years of experience. A deal starting at 35% of the cap for Durant wouldn’t count toward the Dubs’ super-max limit.

Finally, while Antetokounmpo can qualify for a super-max by earning All-NBA honors this season, he wouldn’t actually be able to sign such a deal until 2020, since he’ll only have six years of experience at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. Essentially, he’d be in the same spot that Anthony Davis is in now.

Players who can no longer qualify for a super-max contract because they were traded:

Butler, Irving, and Leonard are probably more worthy of a super-max investment than most of the players in the above group, but they no longer qualify because they were traded while on their second contracts — Butler from the Bulls, Irving from the Cavaliers, and Leonard from the Spurs. They’ll need to reach 10 years of NBA experience before qualifying for a starting salary worth up to 35% of the cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Notes: Leonsis, Beal, Satoransky, Brown

A couple of recent comments by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis suggest he is running short on patience with the team’s 1-7 start, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Leonsis, who attended Saturday’s debut game for the G League’s Capital City Go-Go, responded to a comment from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about increased scoring around the league. “They just have to play us,” Leonsis said about teams wanting to score more points.

Leonsis was still frustrated after watching his team surrender 79 points in the first half — and 134 overall — in Friday’s loss to the Thunder. “When you score 125 points and you’re losing by 25, it usually says you need to play a little bit of defense,” he said afterward. “Right now, we really have to get a structure in place and especially defend the three-ball.”

Leonsis issued a “no-excuses” ultimatum to the organization before the start of the season, making it clear that he expected a title contender. Hughes notes that Leonsis has a right to want a return on his investment after giving the team a $133MM payroll, a highly paid head coach and a newly built, state-of-the-art practice facility.

There’s more today out of Washington:

  • The Wizards are paying the price for years of failing to make bold moves, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic. They traded away a lottery pick in 2009 and passed on the chance to get Stephen Curry; they let a team leader in Paul Pierce get away and replaced him with Jared Dudley; and they refused to admit that last year’s problems went beyond John Wall‘s extended absence with a knee injury. An unidentified scout predicts major changes in Washington once the season ends, saying, “April 9, “That’s it for these guys.”
  • All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal says the team has to ignore the negativity in order to turn the season around, Lee shares in the same piece. Beal is putting together his best season, posting a 23.1/4.0/3.8 line through eight games, but it hasn’t translated into victories. “I’m a leader of this team,” he said. “I’ve been here for seven years. I refuse to have any type of ship sinking. I can’t let it sink without fighting.”
  • Hughes offers several suggestions for coach Scott Brooks to shake things up in a separate story. His ideas include changing the starting lineup, giving more minutes to Tomas Satoransky or rookie Troy Brown and offering Jason Smith or Thomas Bryant a chance to crack the rotation.

Lakers Notes: Walton, Beal, Improvements

The Lakers are off to a disappointing 3-5 start which has called head coach Luke Walton‘s job security into question. After the team defeated the Mavericks on Wednesday, team president Magic Johnson reportedly “admonished” Walton for the team’s poor start and lack of identity as a team.

Walton downplayed the ESPN report of his meeting with Johnson, indicating that he is in constant communication with the front office about improving the team. Instead, Walton focused on the team’s ability to play the best team’s in the NBA competitively, per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register.

“We’ve been saying since the beginning, we’re gonna to be patient — we know where we’re going and how to get there,” Walton said. “It takes time and takes hard work. Our guys work extremely hard, we’ve had a couple setbacks with some suspensions. But we’ve played some good teams and had a chance to win a lot of those games.”

Walton, in his second year as Lakers head coach, added that his job security is not a concern at this juncture.

“I feel like I have a great relationship with management,” Walton said.

Check out more Lakers notes below:

  • As the Wizards’ horrendous start to the season continues, it remains to be seen how Washington handles the situation. If the team does decide to break up the core, a potential trade of Bradley Beal to the Lakers makes sense, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype outlines. The 25-year-old sharpshooter would give the Lakers a lethal threat from beyond the arc the current roster lacks and would likely improve from playing alongside LeBron James.
  • As the Lakers continue to find consistency, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk examine how Los Angeles can improve. Among the suggestions for the 3-5 squad is playing better late in games, getting creative with lineups, showing improvements in rebounding and avoiding foul trouble.

Wizards Notes: Slow Start, Trades, Rivers, Porter

Austin Rivers, one of the newest Wizards, had some pointed words for his teammates after the team dropped to 1-5 this season, E. Jay Zarett of the Sporting News relays. Washington is giving up a league-worst 125 PPG.  “Nobody’s going to feel bad for us,” the combo guard said. “People are laughing at us. … I don’t know how we expect to get wins when they are just walking into the paint, (we are) giving up threes. It comes from effort and talking. You have got to have personal pride. You’ve got to get mad when someone scores on you. We are not the Warriors.”

We’ve got more on the Wizards:

  • Breaking up the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal and finding a taker for Otto Porter Jr.’s big contract is the only way for Washington to begin a meaningful rebuild, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype opines. Wall and Beal remain the team’s best assets despite Wall’s extension kicking in next season and Beal having two more years left on his contract, Urbina continues.  If the front office doesn’t do something bold, it seems destined to deal with constant dysfunctional mediocrity, Urbina adds.
  • Rivers told father Doc Rivers that he was unsure whether he’d re-sign with the Clippers as a free agent in 2019 before he was dealt to Washington, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times reports. Austin Rivers wanted to establish that he could be an effective NBA player without playing for his father. Rivers, who is making $12.65MM this season, was swapped for center Marcin Gortat. “I felt like my head was hitting a ceiling because I was ultimately playing for my dad and no matter what I did it always came back to that. … I could score 60, 50, 40, whatever and people would be like, ‘Oh, his dad’s the coach,’” Rivers said.
  • Porter has not been carrying his share of the load offensively, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Porter is averaging just 9.8 PPG while shooting 41.1% from the field and 21.7% from 3-point range.
  • Coach Scott Brooks continues to have the full support of the organization despite the club’s poor start. Get all the details here.

Wizards Notes: Wall, Beal, Porter, Gortat

The new version of the Wizards seems as dysfunctional as ever, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. John Wall and Bradley Beal both questioned the team’s effort and focus following Friday’s loss in Sacramento, which dropped Washington to 1-4.

“That’s the proof in the pudding. Everybody on their own agenda,” Wall said. “We showed glimpses when we do stuff as a team. We show how good we can be and then we go back to trying to do it individually, and that’s mostly on the defensive end. Not helping each other out, not team rebounding, and that’s what’s killing us.”

Wall also claimed that some players are “worried about who’s getting shots, where the ball is going on the offensive end,” while Beal suggested the team needs to “get out of our comfort zone.” Disunity and public disputes between players have plagued the Wizards in the past, Buckner notes, but there were hopes this season might be different after some offseason personnel moves.

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • Wall and Beal didn’t specify who their comments were directed at, but coach Scott Brooks may have provided a clue, Buckner relays in the same story. Kelly Oubre turned in a 22-point performance and played 29 minutes, taking time away from Otto Porter. “I don’t know if you’ve seen Kelly the last three games. He deserved more minutes. … He’s going to keep playing more minutes if he keeps playing well,” Brooks said. “ … Otto, you know, he has to just keep playing and can’t worry about your shots and worry about your shot-making, but Kelly is playing well.”
  • The Wizards will get their first look at Marcin Gortat tomorrow since an offseason trade that sent him to the Clippers. Gortat was sometimes portrayed as a disruptive influence, but Brooks had nothing but kind words for his former center, Buckner tweets. “March was good. I had him for two years. He gave us consistent effort. He gave us consistency,” Brooks said. “He was the machine. The Polish Machine, and that’s a good name for him because he practiced every day, he played every game.”
  • The Wizards have been carrying 13 players since opening night and have three more days to fill one of their open roster spots.

Wizards Notes: Rivers, Howard, Green, Bryant

It was already common knowledge that the NBA’s Western Conference has long been stronger than the Eastern Conference. Critics continue to call for a conference realignment even when the odds of it happening are slim to none.

But now that the game’s best player has moved from the East to the West, the gap has widened even more, leaving many Eastern Conference players, including newly acquired Wizards’ guard Austin Rivers, more confident in their team’s chances to make a run at the NBA Finals, reports Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“This training camp, this season is just gonna be a different type of mindset,” Rivers said. “[Before] you would play and you know you’re going to run into Golden State. Here, in the East, it’s really like everybody can get there. You can go to the Finals or the conference finals if you’re a playoff-caliber team, which this team is. 

I think that puts a different confidence, focus and energy on a team. I think that will probably be a focal point in training camp, I’m sure the coaches and everyone will say this is something we need to take advantage of.” 

Per Hughes, Rivers did acknowledge that the Celtics are probably the favorites now, having been Eastern Conference runners-up the last two seasons despite missing two of their best players during the 2017/18 playoffs. But, Rivers is excited to see what he and his new teammates are capable of after falling short in the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

There’s more out of the D.C. area tonight:

  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated takes a look at the Wizards’ reported free agent signings of veterans Jeff Green and Dwight Howard. Woo gives both signings a “B” grade, calling both moves thrifty and low-risk due in large part to the one-year length of both deals.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Washington, Hughes gives his own analysis of the Howard signing, agreeing that the move is low-risk, high-reward. Hughes writes that Howard gives Washington an upgrade from last season at center and that he should be at his best surrounded by three-point shooters like Otto Porter and Bradley Beal.
  • In another, albeit more under-the-radar move we relayed earlier this week, the Wizards claimed promising young big man Thomas Bryant off waivers from the Lakers after he was cut to increase L.A.’s cap room.

Wizards Notes: Gortat, Porter, Oubre, Meeks, More

Bradley Beal and John Wall expressed a belief near the start of the 2017/18 season that the Wizards were the team to beat in the East, but the club ultimately finished eighth in the conference, and lasted just six games in the postseason. After their early exit from the playoffs, the Wizards are left searching for answers about what went wrong over the course of the season, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington details. Hughes spoke to Beal, Markieff Morris, and Ian Mahinmi about the club’s shortcomings, with Mahinmi noting that roster continuity didn’t really pay off for Washington in ’17/18.

“When you’re talking about continuity, it’s supposed to be better. You expect better. I feel like we didn’t do better than last year,” Mahinmi said. “It’s hard. I love those guys, but we have our issues. Unless we work those issues out, we’re gonna continue to struggle at times. We’re gonna continue to not be consistent. We definitely have to have good communication this summer. Before looking elsewhere we have look at each other and be honest.

“I feel like we might not have identified the real issues,” Mahinmi added.

As the Wizards look to identify their “real issues,” here are a few more notes out of D.C….

  • Wizards center Marcin Gortat, never shy about sharing what’s on his mind, implored teammates Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. to spend the offseason bulking up, per Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Skill-set wise, [Porter]’s unbelievable. He’s got everything. He can rebound. He can shoot the ball. He can post up. He can pass. He can definitely defend, if he’s healthy,” Gortat said. “As I told him and I told Kelly, they’ve both got to improve in the weight room. They’ve got to get into the weight room.”
  • Asked if he’d work on improving his shooting range in the offseason, Gortat dismissed the idea that he needs to modernize his game by shooting three-pointers, as Buckner relays. “I truly believe I’m a solid, good shooter up to 15, 17 feet. But I’m not going to shoot threes,” Gortat said. “No, I’m not going to do that. I want to go into the paint. Body people. Be physical. Get scratches. Bleed. That’s how I made a living in for 11 years, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to pop on the three-point line and shoot threes. I’m not going to do that. I’ve got one more year left. I’m going to try to play as best as I can.”
  • The Wizards’ front office will have its work cut out for it this offseason as it looks to improve the roster, ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes in an Insider-only piece. Marks wonders if Washington has enough confidence in Oubre to consider the possibility of trading Porter, and notes that Gortat and Morris will be entering the last year of their respective contracts.
  • In a pair of tweets, Marks breaks down how Jodie Meekssuspension will affect his earnings and the Wizards’ tax bill. As Marks observes, Washington will be on the hook for approximately $7MM in tax payments for 2017/18.
  • Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com takes a closer look at Ty Lawson‘s unexpected return to an NBA rotation role for the playoffs. Lawson spent the season in China before signing with the Wizards on the last day of the NBA regular season.

Poll: Breaking Up The Wizards’ Backcourt

After winning their division and taking the Celtics to the brink in a second-round series last year, the Wizards entered this season among the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they settled for an eighth seed and a first-round elimination.

It appeared Washington might miss the playoffs altogether when John Wall underwent knee surgery at the end of January. However, the Wizards managed a 15-12 record in his absence, sparking whispers that the team was better without him because of better ball movement.

Backcourt mate Bradley Beal, who has been beset by injury problems in the past, played all 82 games for the first time. He emerged as a team leader in Wall’s absence, averaging 22.6 points per game and posting career-best marks in rebounds (4.4 per game) and assists (4.5).

Washington has its All-Star backcourt locked up for the foreseeable future, but at a very expensive price. Wall will make nearly $19.2MM next season, then will start enjoying the benefits of a supermax extension that pays him $170MM over four years. Beal is owed nearly $81.3MM over the next three seasons.

With Otto Porter also getting a rich new extension last summer, the Wizards have extreme cap concerns over the next three years. They are already nearly $15MM over next season’s cap without counting possible player options for Jason Smith ($5.45MM) and Jodie Meeks ($3.45MM).

Operating so close to the luxury tax, the Wizards are limited in their ability to shake up the roster without a major trade. We’re asking our readers if they think it’s time to consider moving Wall or Beal as a potential cap solution. Please vote in our poll and give us your opinion on how Washington should handle the offseason.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Southeast Rumors: Hezonja, Schroder, Walker, Beal

Swingman Mario Hezonja hasn’t been helping his cause lately as he approaches free agency, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel notes. The Magic declined to pick up his option for the 2018/19 season last summer, which ensured Hezonja would be an unrestricted free agent in July. He is shooting 38.2% from the field and 22.4% from long range this month, in part because he’s impatient and attempts too many low-percentage shots, Robbins continues. The No. 5 pick in the 2015 draft admits he’s not sure what to expect this summer. “It’s almost impossible to know what’s going to happen,” Hezonja told Robbins. “It’s a weird situation that is great for me.”

In other developments from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks guard Dennis Schroder’s legal issues have grown, as his misdemeanor case stemming from an incident last September could be prosecuted as a felony, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. According to court records, the case has been transferred to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office under a recommendation of prosecuting it as felony aggravated battery. The DA says the case remains under investigation and no decision has been made on charges, Cunningham tweets. The incident involved a scuffle at a shopping center parking lot.
  • Kemba Walker will enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2019 and playing for a winner will be a prime consideration, as he revealed to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. The Hornets point guard says he’s tired of missing the playoffs so often after winning a national championship in 2011 with Connecticut. “I’ve always felt like I’m a winning player. Like I deserved it to be in the playoffs – to be battling,” Walker said. “That’s what it will be all about in the future.”
  • The Wizards have slumped this month and they’re destined for an early playoff exit if they don’t pick up their play, guard Bradley Beal warned Chase Hughes of NBC Sports and other media members. Beal feels like the team isn’t trying hard enough as the regular season winds down. “It’s just the same thing over and over,” he said. “Until we do it individually and together collectively, we’re going to get our [butts] kicked in the playoffs. This isn’t even remotely acceptable, how we are playing right now.”