Nets Rumors

Details On Starter Criteria For 2022 RFAs

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines the salaries first-round picks earn during their first four seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works in a typical year:

  1. A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.
  2. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games one year and 32 the next, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

The first method of meeting the starter criteria will remain unchanged this season, but that second method will look a little different due to the truncated nature of the 2020/21 season.

For starter criteria purposes, the number of starts and minutes a player logged last season will be prorated upward by 82/72 to account for the 72-game schedule, Hoops Rumors has learned.

For example, Suns center Deandre Ayton started 69 games last season. Typically, Ayton would require 13 more starts this season to meet the starter criteria, since 82 total starts would get him to the required average of 41 over the last two seasons.

However, Ayton’s 69 starts last season came in just 72 regular season games. Prorated across a typical 82-game schedule, he would’ve made 78 starts. That means he’ll only need four starts this season to meet the starter criteria. In other words, he should get there next Wednesday, barring an injury.

Hornets forward Miles Bridges, meanwhile, only started 19 games last season, but he played 1,932 total minutes in Charlotte’s 72 games. That works out to 2,200 minutes when prorated across an 82-game schedule, meaning he’d require just 1,800 more this season in order to meet the starter criteria. Since he’s part of the Hornets’ starting five now, Bridges could also meet the criteria by simply getting to 41 starts in 2021/22.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

In most cases, a qualifying offer is a mere placeholder that allows a team to retain its right of first refusal on a restricted free agent — very few players actually accept the one-year offer. Still, a player who fails to meet the starter criteria could have his free agency reshaped by an adjusted qualifying offer.

For instance, Kings big man Marvin Bagley III would be in line for a qualifying offer worth $14,762,309 if he meets the starter criteria or just $7,228,448 if he doesn’t.

Bagley would need to start 35 games this season in order to meet the starter criteria, which might be a long shot, given that he’s out of the rotation for now. Still, a $7.2MM qualifying offer could be more palatable to the Kings – or whichever team has him on its roster by the end of the 2021/22 season – than a $14.8MM one would be. Somewhat paradoxically, Bagley may have a better chance of actually receiving his QO if he starts fewer games this season.

Collin Sexton (Cavaliers), Lonnie Walker (Spurs), Donte DiVincenzo (Bucks), and Josh Okogie (Timberwolves) are some of the other top candidates to meet the starter criteria this season. We’ll be keeping an eye on them and the rest of 2022’s RFAs-to-be over the next several months.

Harden: Lack Of Contract Extension “Nothing To Worry About”

Nets guard James Harden was eligible for a contract extension this offseason, but had to get something done by October 18. Since Monday’s deadline passed without a new deal, Harden’s next opportunity to sign a new contract will come during the 2022 offseason. At that point, he could either pick up his player option for 2022/23 and potentially negotiate a extension, or turn down that option in order to become a free agent.

Although the Nets had hoped to extend Harden this offseason and won’t be able to complete a long-term deal with him during the season, the nine-time All-Star says the club has “nothing to worry about,” as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details.

“I love it here, myself and (team owners) Joe (Tsai) and Clara (Wu Tsai) and (general manager) Sean (Marks) and the front office and (alternate governor Oliver Weisberg) and (head coach) Steve (Nash),” Harden said. “From top to bottom, the communication has been unbelievable, it’s been amazing. I feel at home. It’s nothing to worry about. For me individually, I just want to focus on this year and that’s it.”

Nets fans may take Harden’s comments with a grain of salt, given that he’s less than a year removed from forcing his last team to trade him. However, there’s reason to believe the 32-year-old is being genuine — it will be more favorable financially to wait until next year to sign a new contract than it would have been to extend his deal this year.

If Harden had agreed to an extension with the Nets by Monday’s deadline, he could’ve tacked on three years and $161.1MM to the two years and $91.7MM left on his current contract, for a total of $252.8MM over five years, taking him through the 2025/26 season.

If Harden waits until next year and picks up his 2022/23 player option, he’ll be able to tack on four years and $222.8MM to his $47.4MM option salary, taking him through ’26/27. Combined with his 2021/22 salary ($44.3MM), that would work out to $314.5MM over the next six years, increasing his overall payday and giving him an extra year of security. That would be Harden’s best path to maximizing his earnings, even moreso than opting out next summer and signing a brand-new five-year contract with the Nets.

While Harden may not publicly cite those financial considerations as a primary factor in his decision, it’s probably safe to assume he’s thinking about them. If Brooklyn has a disappointing 2021/22 season, maybe he’ll reconsider his long-term commitment to the franchise, but for now, Harden’s decision to put off an extension shouldn’t be a cause for any concern.

“I don’t plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have,” he said on Tuesday, per Youngmisuk. “So my focus, honestly, is just focus on the season and then winning the championship. The contract and all that stuff will bear itself out, but my focus is going to be locked on this season.”

Atlantic Notes: Bonga, Simmons, Harden, Tatum

German-born wing Isaac Bonga was able to make the Raptors’ opening roster thanks in part to help from two of the best coaches Canada has to offer, in current German national team head coach Gordie Herbert and assistant coach Roy Rana, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

 “Their development and what they do up here, we all know,” the 21-year-old said in discussing the appeal of joining the Raptors on a non-guaranteed deal during the 2021 offseason. “Obviously in the past, people can see what they did with people like Pascal [Siakam], Chris [Boucher], OG [Anunoby].”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Though he still wants to be dealt, Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons has at least been physically present for practice in recent days and isn’t against playing for the team until a trade can be worked out, says Shams Charania of The Athletic. However, Simmons remains disengaged and isn’t “mentally ready” to get back to normal, sources tell The Athletic. Charania details the events of a tense practice that ultimately led to the 25-year-old’s one-game suspension today.
  • Nets All-Star guard James Harden didn’t come to terms on an extension agreement with Brooklyn before the October 18 deadline. Per Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Nets tendered Harden a $161MM extension offer. After successfully signing All-Star forward Kevin Durant to a lucrative contract extension earlier this summer, Nets team president Sean Marks expressed confidence he would be able to ink both Harden and All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to extensions before the season. Neither player has been locked up long-term, and both could opt out of their deals to become free agents in the summer of 2022. Lewis notes that Harden will be eligible for a four-year, $223MM extension next summer. “I love it here, I feel at home,” Harden said of his future with the club, per Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN (Twitter link). “For me individually, I just want to focus on this year… I don’t plan on leaving this organization.”
  • Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum hopes to become an undeniable two-way force this season, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston“The next step is … just dominating,” Tatum said. “Not going out there and being just the best player — like dominating the game. So people walk away from the game and be like there’s nothing they could do, on both ends.”

Cap/Contract Notes: Taxpayers, Allen, Carter, Shamet, Gafford

Now that all 30 regular season rosters have been set, 10 teams project to be taxpayers, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The Warriors, Nets, Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, Jazz, Sixers, Celtics, Trail Blazers, and Raptors are currently over the luxury tax threshold.

Some of those teams are in better shape than others. While the Warriors ($159.9MM) and Nets ($110.4MM) project to have nine-figure tax bills, the Raptors are barely into tax territory and should be able to sneak below the line, perhaps by waiving one of their two players who have partially guaranteed deals.

Besides Golden State and Brooklyn, the Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, and Jazz all have projected tax bills exceeding $33MM, according to Marks. The Sixers, Celtics, Blazers, and Raptors would owe less than $8MM each based on the current numbers.

Of course, these numbers can and will change over the course of the season as teams make roster moves, since tax bills are determined by the team’s year-end salary. For now though, the 20 non-taxpayers project to receive year-end payments of $12.7MM, Marks notes.

Here are a few more cap- and contract-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Grayson Allen‘s two-year extension with the Bucks features a base value of $17MM ($8.5MM per year) in guaranteed money, plus incentives, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The exact value of the incentives is $1.275MM annually, Hoops Rumors has learned. Currently, those are a mix of likely and unlikely bonuses, but since the deal doesn’t begin until 2022/23, those likely/unlikely designations will ultimately be based on what happens this coming season.
  • Wendell Carter Jr.‘s four-year extension with the Magic has a descending structure, Scotto tweets. It starts at $14.15MM in year one and dips to $10.85MM by year four. The deal is fully guaranteed, with no options.
  • In addition to having a team option on its fourth year, Landry Shamet‘s extension with the Suns has a non-guaranteed salary in year three, Hoops Rumors has learned. The last two years both have June 29 trigger dates, in 2024 and 2025. Only $19.75MM of Shamet’s $42.5MM deal is fully guaranteed for now.
  • Daniel Gafford‘s three-year extension with the Wizards doesn’t include any options or incentives, tweets John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Irving Situation Not League Issue, Silver Says

  • Commissioner Adam Silver said the Nets’ decision to sit Kyrie Irving and the city ordinance that led to that decision is not a league issue, Bontemps writes in a separate story. The Players Association never agreed to a vaccine mandate and Irving is prohibited from playing in Brooklyn unless he’s vaccinated. “This is between Irving and New York City right now,” Silver said. “This is not a league issue … but I think it would have been best for everyone if every player were vaccinated.”
  • With Irving out indefinitely, the Nets will need more out of Patty Mills and Jevon Carter, Zach Brazilier of the New York Post writes. Mills signed with Brooklyn on a two-year contract in free agency, while Carter was acquired in the Landry Shamet deal.

Nets Notes: Griffin, Aldridge, Two-Way Slot, Harden, Irving, Thomas

The Nets are likely to move away from their approach of spreading the court and could field one of the tallest rotations in the league, writes Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News. That decision was forced partially by the uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn focused heavily on the frontcourt in its offseason moves, re-signing Blake Griffin and adding veteran big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap.

Griffin played alongside center Nicolas Claxton with the first unit in Saturday’s practice, Winfield notes, but he frequently started at center after joining the team last season and can be effective at either position. Millsap and Aldridge have spent most of their careers as power forwards, but they will also see time in the middle.

“It’s not a traditional big lineup. Blake can switch a lot. I can switch at times. (Kevin Durant) can do it all,” Aldridge said. “I think it’s a big lineup, but it’s not traditional. You’re going to need that. I think teams can play big and play small, and I think having the ability to do both is nice for us.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets’ decision to give David Duke Jr. their final two-way spot and waive Devontae Cacok was based on their philosophy related to two-way deals, Winfield adds. “I think it’s more development at this point,” coach Steve Nash said. “I think when you look at a team like this, it’s hard for those guys fighting for two-way spots to be guys that are playing in the rotation. So it’s not impossible, but it’s more of a development spot, someone that we can groom and help grow into a piece of this organization’s future.”
  • The Nets were determined to trade for James Harden last season because they already had doubts about whether they could trust Irving, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast (hat tip to RealGM). Woj added that Brooklyn and Philadelphia haven’t discussed a trade involving Irving and Ben Simmons, and he doesn’t believe the Sixers would have any interest in such a deal. He also said the Nets are preparing to play the entire season without Irving.
  • Cameron Thomas put together a strong preseason after being named co-MVP of the Summer League, but he’s still not likely to have a spot in the Nets’ rotation, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Brooklyn has an experienced backcourt after the offseason additions of Patty Mills and Jevon Carter, and there may not be many minutes available for the rookie guard. “I think there’s some ground for him to make up, but we love him as a player and think he’s got a bright future, but it might take some time,” Nash said. “He’s joined a pretty tough team to crack into.”

Nets Convert David Duke Jr. To Two-Way Deal, Waive Devontae Cacok

4:10pm: The Nets have officially announced that they’ve converted Duke’s contract to a two-way deal and waived Cacok, issuing a pair of press releases to confirm the moves. The team’s roster is now set for the regular season.

2:40pm: The Nets will sign David Duke Jr. to a two-way contract, rewarding him for his impressive play during training camp, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The signing means that 25-year-old Devontae Cacok will likely be waived, as the two players were competing for a spot in training camp. Cacok’s G League rights were acquired by Long Island on Friday, signaling that he may end up as a returning-rights player for the Nets’ NBAGL affiliate after he’s cut.

In addition, the move signals that neither of Brooklyn’s two unsigned draft picks, Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray, will be receiving a two-way deal, with Duke and second-rounder Kessler Edwards occupying those spots. Zegarowski and Gray, who were drafted 49th and 59th overall, respectively, could end up signing G League contracts and reporting to Long Island while Brooklyn retains their NBA rights.

Duke, 22, went undrafted in July and signed an Exhibit 10 deal with Brooklyn in August. He averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game at Providence in 2020/21.

Nets Sign, Waive Jordan Bowden, Brandon Rachal

OCTOBER 15: The Nets confirmed today that they’ve waived Bowden and Rachal, as expected.

OCTOBER 12: The Nets have signed a pair of shooting guards, Jordan Bowden and Brandon Rachal, to non-guaranteed training camp contracts, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

Bowden, who went undrafted out of Tennessee in 2020, played for the Long Island Nets as a rookie, averaging 7.8 PPG and 2.9 RPG on .436/.362/.500 shooting in 14 games (20.6 MPG) for Brooklyn’s G League affiliate.

Rachal began his college career at LSU before making the move to Tulsa. He went undrafted earlier this year after recording 15.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 23 games (31.6 MPG) as a senior.

The signings give Brooklyn a full 20-man preseason roster, but both Bowden and Rachal figure to be waived soon, since they’re likely ticketed for Long Island. The Nets have Bowden’s returning G League rights and can make Rachal an affiliate player. They can also give both guards Exhibit 10 bonuses worth up to $50K if they spend at least 60 days in the G League.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Hachimura, Nets, Hawks, Magic

Although Ben Simmons has reported to the Sixers and head coach Doc Rivers has said he assumes the three-time All-Star plans to suit up and play for the team, we still don’t know when that will happen or what version of Simmons the club will get, writes Kyle Neubeck of

One source who spoke to Neubeck described Simmons as “going through the motions” during his individual workouts this week, though that source said things have improved each day since the 25-year-old’s return. The expectation is that Simmons will clear the health and safety protocols soon, but he’s considered “doubtful” to play in Friday’s preseason finale.

Within Neubeck’s report, he notes that the Sixers have shown little interest in a Pacers trade package that includes Malcolm Brogdon and/or Caris LeVert. The 76ers have been focused on acquiring a star, since trading Simmons for multiple “good” players isn’t something they believe will improve their title odds or increase their chances of acquiring another impact player down the road, Neubeck explains.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura remains in the health and safety protocols after recently reporting to the team, and he may miss some time at the beginning of the regular season as he gets back up to speed and adjusts to a new playbook and coaching staff, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I don’t think (him catching up) is way down the line,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “We already have some edits that we’ll send to him. Obviously, when he’s ready we’ll spend some time away from the court to try to help him get back up to speed. That in itself is going to take some time.”
  • Nets forward Kevin Durant admitted to reporters on Thursday that Kyrie Irving‘s absence is not an “ideal” situation and said he’d rather be playing alongside his friend this season. However, Durant added that he’s confident “things will work out the best for both parties” and said he’s not upset about the situation. “What is being mad going to do?” Durant said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We are not going to change his mind, know what I’m saying? We’ll let him figure out what he needs to do and the team figure out what they need to do.”
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash plans to lean on the team’s depth to replace Kyrie Irving, rather than putting that responsibility on one player, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. Bruce Brown and Patty Mills are among the obvious candidates for increased roles.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic liked the Hawks‘ offseason moves and is optimistic about the club’s chances of avoiding regression in 2021/22, projecting them to win 50 games and a playoff series. Predictably, Hollinger is far less bullish on the Magic, forecasting a 21-win season and a last-place finish in the East for Orlando.

Kyrie Irving Confirms He’s Unvaccinated, Says He’s Not Retiring

Appearing on Instagram Live on Wednesday night (video link), Nets guard Kyrie Irving publicly confirmed for the first time that he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19.

Due to a New York City mandate that requires individuals to have received at least one vaccine shot in order to enter public indoor venues, Irving is ineligible to play in over half of Brooklyn’s games this season. The Nets announced this week that Irving won’t be permitted to play or practice with the team – even on the road – until he can be a full-time participant.

Repeating many of the same points that were conveyed through sources by Shams Charania of The Athletic on Tuesday, Irving claimed on Wednesday that his decision is “not about being anti-vax,” adding that he’s “being true to what feels good for me” and understands the ramifications of remaining unvaccinated, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details.

“I am going to just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates and just be part of this whole thing,” Irving said, though he gave no indication that he plans to receive the vaccine. “This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organization. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do.”

The death toll from COVID-19 has surpassed 700,000 in the United States and 4.5 million worldwide, while many others are still dealing with long-term health effects from the virus. Data has shown that the vaccines reduce the risk of infection and drastically lessen the likelihood of an affected individual being hospitalized or dying. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has stated that about 96% of the NBA’s players are vaccinated.

Irving said on Wednesday he was under the belief entering the fall that he’d be able to receive an exemption that would make him eligible to play in New York this season. It’s unclear whether or not he applied for a medical or religious exemption. Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins attempted to get a religious exemption in the hopes of circumventing a similar mandate in San Francisco, but his request was denied by the NBA and the city stated it wouldn’t have approved such an exemption anyway. Wiggins subsequently agreed to get vaccinated.

Irving, on the other hand, appears to be digging in his heels, telling viewers on his Instagram Live that he’s prepared to face the financial consequences of his decision.

The NBA has indicated that players who are ineligible to play in games due to local vaccine mandates will lose 1/91.6th of their salary for each game they miss. While the NBPA has pushed back against the league’s interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the expectation is that Irving’s stance will cost him $381K per game over the course of 43 games (41 in Brooklyn, plus two at Madison Square Garden), for a total of nearly $16.4MM in lost base salary, plus more in incentives that he’ll be unable to achieve.

Though it remains unclear if we’ll see Irving at all on the court this season, he stressed on Wednesday that he has no intention of walking away from basketball altogether.

“No, I am not retiring. And no, I am not going and leaving this game like this,” Irving said. “There is still so much more work to do.”

Nets general manager Sean Marks previously expressed interest in signing Irving to a contract extension this offseason, but multiple reports have suggested those discussions are no longer taking place, for obvious reasons.