- The Hornets complicated their cap situation when they acquired Miles Plumlee earlier this month but retain some expiring contracts that could be dealt ahead of the deadline. General manager Rich Cho, Bobby Marks of The Vertical explains, has made four trade deadline deals since his first year with the squad back in 2011.
In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic and Northwest. Today, we’re examining the Southeast.
The Wizards (33-21) have been one of the NBA’s best teams since the first 10 games of the 2016/17 season, but their roster probably isn’t quite deep or talented enough to match up to a healthy Cavaliers squad in the playoffs. Washington doesn’t exactly have a huge collection of promising young players to dangle in trade talks, but the team does have all of its future first-round picks, and could use at least one of them to strengthen its rotation. A deal similar to last year’s Markieff Morris acquisition wouldn’t move the needle enough to make the Wizards conference favorites, but it would make the club a little more dangerous in the postseason without mortgaging much of its future.
The Southeast’s second-place team, the Hawks (32-24), looked like sellers a month ago, but the team is prepared to buy now, and has several future draft picks and expiring contracts to dangle in trade discussions. As some observers have pointed out, Atlanta actually looks like a good fit for Carmelo Anthony, matching up better as a trade partner for the Knicks than most of Carmelo’s preferred destinations. Anthony’s no-trade clause makes a move to the Hawks extremely unlikely though, so the team will have to look elsewhere for scoring help on the wing or in the backcourt.
The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.
On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.
Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.
Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.
Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:
- New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
- Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
- Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
- Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
- Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
- Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
- Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
- Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
- Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
- Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
- San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
- Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
- Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
- Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
- Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
- Washington Wizards: $1 billion
- Orlando Magic: $920MM
- Utah Jazz: $910MM
- Detroit Pistons: $900MM
- Denver Nuggets: $890MM
- Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
- Indiana Pacers: $880MM
- Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
- Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
- Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
- Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
- New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM
For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.
1:34pm: After initially keeping their 15th roster spot open to acquire Chris Andersen, the Hornets have officially waived the Birdman, allowing the team to finalize Tobey’s second 10-day contract. The team confirmed the signing this afternoon in a press release.
9:32am: Like Hornets teammate Ray McCallum, rookie center Mike Tobey will sign a second 10-day contract with Charlotte, a league source tells Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While McCallum’s deal is official, Tobey’s new contract has yet to be formally confirmed by the Hornets.
Tobey, a 7’1″ center out of Virginia, averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 15.7 minutes per contest during his senior year in 2015/16. The 22-year-old joined the Hornets for Summer League action in Orlando last year, then inked a training camp deal with Charlotte that featured a $75K guarantee. However, he didn’t earn a spot on the team’s regular season roster, and landed with the Hornets’ D-League affiliate instead.
In 28 games this season with the Greensboro Swarm, Tobey averaged 11.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.3 BPG in 25.9 minutes per contest, earning a call-up to Charlotte earlier this month. Although the Hornets re-added Tobey to their roster after trading Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes to Milwaukee, the Virginia alum has yet to make his regular-season NBA debut.
With Tobey and McCallum back under contract, the Hornets will have a full 15-man roster for the next week and a half. Both 10-day deals are set to expire the night before the trade deadline, which will give Charlotte some deadline-day roster flexibility if needed.
1:18pm: The Hornets issued a press release confirming their acquisition of Andersen, and announcing that they’ve already waived the injured center.
11:18am: The second-round pick Cleveland gets in the deal is top-55 protected for 2017, a league source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Based on the Hornets’ current record, there’s virtually zero chance of that pick changing hands, as expected.
11:04am: The Cavaliers have opened up a spot on their 15-man roster by making a trade with the Hornets, the team announced today in a press release. According to the Cavs, Cleveland is sending injured big man Chris Andersen and cash to Charlotte in exchange for a protected second-round pick.
Although the Cavs are receiving a second-round pick in the swap, that selection will likely be a heavily-protected pick that never actually changes hands. Andersen has no value this season, since he’s out for the year with a torn ACL, so Charlotte is doing the Cavs a favor by taking him off their hands. In return, the Hornets will likely get more than enough cash to cover Andersen’s remaining salary, so they’ll come out ahead in the transaction.
While Cleveland will probably never receive that protected second-round pick, the team had been motivated to move Andersen. By sending the Birdman’s contract elsewhere, the Cavs will ensure that they don’t have to pay an extra tax charge for him at season’s end. The club is currently so far into tax territory that every dollar spent results in an extra $2.50 tax charge — that means Andersen’s $980K minimum salary would have cost more than $2.4MM in tax payments. By trading him, the Cavs reduce their tax bill and create an opportunity to add someone new to fill that newly-opened 15th roster spot in the coming days or weeks.
Cleveland had previously sent out $2.75MM in cash in a few separate trades, and teams are limited to $3.5MM in outgoing cash for the 2016/17 league year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cavs sent out the rest of their available trade money ($750K) in this deal, though the specifics aren’t yet known. The Cavs will also create a modest trade exception in the swap, worth Andersen’s cap hit ($980,431). It will expire a year from today.
Charlotte, meanwhile, had an open roster spot after Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey saw their 10-day contracts expire overnight. McCallum already re-signed with the team, but Tobey hasn’t formally inked a new deal yet. The Hornets will likely waive Andersen shortly in order to make room to re-sign Tobey.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Hornets have re-signed Ray McCallum to a second 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. McCallum briefly became a free agent today after his initial 10-day deal with Charlotte expired last night.
McCallum, who has played for the Kings, Spurs and Grizzlies over the course of his NBA career, spent most of this season with the D-League’s Grand Rapids Drive, averaging 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game for Detroit’s NBADL affiliate. The 25-year-old was cut by the Pistons just before the start of the season — he appeared to have a roster spot won, but was let go when the organization decided to claim Beno Udrih off waivers.
The Hornets signed McCallum on February 3 after a trade with the Bucks created an extra opening on their 15-man roster. Since joining the team, McCallum has not appeared in a single game, though the Hornets apparently liked what they saw in practice enough to keep the veteran guard on the roster.
Charlotte signed rookie big man Mike Tobey to a 10-day contract on the same day the team inked McCallum earlier this month. Tobey’s deal also expired last night, though there’s no indication yet whether the Hornets will bring him back on a second contract, sign someone else, or keep a roster spot open.
FEBRUARY 8: Although Sessions had hoped to avoid surgery, he went under the knife to repair his lateral meniscus tear, the Hornets announced today in a press release. According to the team, Sessions is expected to be sidelined for about four to six weeks.
FEBRUARY 3: Ramon Sessions has a meniscus tear in his left knee, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Sessions will miss Saturday’s game against Utah and will be reevaluated upon returning to Charlotte, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
To this point, Sessions hasn’t missed a game all season; most recently playing against the Warriors on Wednesday. Sessions’ ailment was initially reported as “knee soreness,” preventing the 30-year-old from practicing on Friday. A timetable has yet to be released for the injury, but torn meniscus injuries typically result in multi-week absences.
Now in his 10th NBA season, Sessions has averaged 6.2 points with 2.6 assists through 50 games with the Hornets.
Though the size of his contract may skew fans’ perceptions of their newly acquired center, Miles Plumlee performed admirably in his Hornets debut Saturday, writes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. So long as realistic expectations are applied, it’s hard to knock what the big man brings to the table.
Plumlee arrived in Charlotte earlier this week after a trade between the Hornets and Bucks and will step into the rotation immediately as a reliable low-post presence capable of defending the pick-and-roll. As well, Bonnell notes, he’ll provide a badly needed source of physicality for head coach Steve Clifford.
Hornets guard Ramon Sessions hopes he can avoid surgery on the knee injury he suffered this week, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Sessions was diagnosed with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee after landing awkwardly while jumping Wednesday. He has been ruled out for tonight’s game in Utah and will be re-evaluated after the team returns home Sunday. “It’s not automatic surgery,” Sessions said. “From what the doctor in Utah saw, it wasn’t the worst tear. It was a little tear. Surgery or not, we don’t know. But it already feels better than it did the first night.” Sessions has been in the NBA for 10 years without surgery. The Hornets have a $6.27MM option on his contract for next season.
- Charlotte traded for Miles Plumlee because GM Rich Cho believed the team needed more “physicality” and “athleticism,” he said in a conference call with reporters. The Hornets sent Spencer Hawes to the Bucks in the deal, along with Roy Hibbert, who just signed with the team in July. Cho blamed injuries for the difficulties Hibbert had in Charlotte. “I think that we had pretty high expectations when we signed Roy and, as you know, he had a really good first game,” the GM said, “but then he had some injuries and it’s kind of tough to get in a rhythm, into a groove when you’re up and down with the injuries. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for Roy here, but one thing that you have to do when you’re a team, when you feel like something’s not working, [you have to] try and move on quickly.”
FEBRUARY 4th, 12:50pm: The Warriors have signed Weber to a 10-day contract, Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News tweets.
FEBRUARY 3rd, 2:14pm: The Warriors have issued a press release officially confirming that they’ve waived Varejao.
Weber’s signing is not yet official, but he’s on track to join the Warriors after also receiving offers from the Heat and Hornets, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.
1:46pm: The Warriors’ frontcourt has been plagued by injuries lately, but the team doesn’t seem to be worried about its depth up front, having decided to part ways with one of its healthy big men. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Golden State is waiving Anderson Varejao, opening up a roster spot to sign Briante Weber to a 10-day contract.
Varejao, 34, re-signed with the Warriors last summer on a one-year, minimum-salary deal, but has played sparingly. The veteran center has averaged 1.3 PPG and 1.9 RPG in just 14 games (6.6 MPG) in 2016/17. Even with Draymond Green, David West, and Zaza Pachulia out of the lineup on Thursday, Varejao saw only eight minutes of action.
In addition to Green, West, and Pachulia, the Warriors are also carrying JaVale McGee, Damian Jones, Kevon Looney, and James Michael McAdoo at the four or five. As such, the team could afford to part with Varejao, particularly since the injury bug has spread to the backcourt — Shaun Livingston has missed the Warriors’ last two games with a back strain, so Weber will provide depth at guard.
Despite receiving a substantial guarantee ($328K) from the Heat, Weber didn’t make Miami’s regular season roster this past fall, and landed with the team’s D-League affiliate instead. Weber has made a strong case for a call-up, averaging 16.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.2 APG, and 3.0 SPG in 29 games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He was recently named the NBADL’s Player of the Month for January.
The Heat didn’t currently have the roster flexibility to bring Weber back, but were believed to be eyeing him for a potential call-up, as we heard yesterday. Miami is out of luck for now, though it remains to be seen if Weber will stick with the Warriors — Golden State could sign him to up to two 10-day deals, then lock him up for the rest of the season. However, with the trade deadline and buyout season approaching, the Dubs may want to use their 15th roster spot on someone else in the coming weeks.
As for Varejao, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers on Sunday. Denver is one team that may have interest in adding the vet, per Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter link). The Nuggets would move closer to the salary floor by claiming Varejao and could save some money in the process, in the same way they did by acquiring Mo Williams.