Cavaliers Rumors

Recent History Of NBA Taxpaying Teams

As we detailed last week, five NBA teams finished the 2018/19 season in luxury tax territory, with the Thunder, Warriors, Raptors, Trail Blazers, and Celtics on the hook for an estimated total of $153.5MM in tax payments.

It was the first time since 2016’s salary cap spike that as many as five teams were taxpayers, and the projected league-wide tax payments of $153.5MM appears to be a new high. While two teams – Oklahoma City and Golden State – contributed significantly to that figure, the rising number of clubs in the tax reflects that teams are once again going well over the salary cap, as annual cap increases have slowed in recent years.

Listed below are the NBA’s taxpayers for the last five seasons, based on data from ESPN, Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, and our own records.

As this list shows, the Thunder, Warriors, and Cavaliers were each taxpayers in three of the last four seasons, making those teams eligible for repeater-tax penalties if they finish in tax territory again in 2019/20. Repeater penalties are more punitive — the tax for every dollar spent above the tax line starts at $2.50 rather than $1.50. As such, those teams figure to do their best to avoid excessive spending next season.

The 2019/20 tax line is expected to be around $132MM, based on the NBA’s latest cap projections, and the Thunder already have nearly $138MM in guaranteed salaries on their books, per Basketball Insiders. The Cavaliers are at about $123MM, but may increase that figure substantially if they trade J.R. Smith‘s non-guaranteed contract for guaranteed salary. As for the Warriors, they’re only at $82MM in guaranteed money, but would be at risk of going well into the tax if they re-sign Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

As we prepare to keep an eye on those teams’ spending this offseason, here are the reported luxury tax figures from the last five NBA seasons:

2018/19

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder: $61.6MM
  2. Golden State Warriors: $51.5MM
  3. Toronto Raptors: $21.4MM
  4. Portland Trail Blazers: $15.1MM
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.9MM
    Total: $153.5MM
    Note: This season’s figures are still subject to change, based on postseason-related contract incentives.

2017/18

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($50.7MM)
  2. Golden State Warriors ($32.3MM)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder ($25.4MM)
  4. Washington Wizards ($7MM)
    Total: $115.4MM

2016/17

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($24.8MM)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers ($3.6MM)
    Total: $28.4MM

2015/16

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($54MM)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers ($19.9MM)
  3. Golden State Warriors ($14.8MM)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder ($14.5MM)
  5. Houston Rockets ($4.9MM)
  6. San Antonio Spurs ($4.9MM)
  7. Chicago Bulls ($4.2MM)
    Total: $117.2MM

2014/15

  1. Brooklyn Nets ($20MM)
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers ($7MM)
  3. New York Knicks ($6.9MM)
  4. Los Angeles Clippers ($4.8MM)
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder ($2.8MM)
    Total: $41.5MM

Information from Basketball Insiders, Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, and ESPN’s Bobby Marks was used in the creation of this post.

2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Cleveland Cavaliers

After four straight NBA Finals appearances, the 2018/19 season was one of transition for the Cavaliers, who lost their best player (LeBron James), dismissed their head coach (Tyronn Lue), and shifted their focus to the future. While Cleveland may have moved on mentally from those LeBron-led squads, the team’s cap sheet is still catching up — many of the Cavs’ priciest veteran contracts run for one more year.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Cavaliers financially, as we launch our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • J.R. Smith ($11,810,000) 1
  • Total: $11,810,000

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistically, there’s no way the Cavaliers will be able to create cap room for 2019/20. Dumping salary to get under the cap would almost certainly mean attaching assets that they’ve accumulated during their rebuild, and since they were willing to take on salary to acquire those assets in the first place, it would be counter-intuitive to switch gears now.
  • In fact, with $123MM+ in guaranteed money already on their books for 2019/20 and the possibility of adding even more salary if they can find a favorable J.R. Smith trade, the Cavs will likely be more concerned with staying below the $132MM luxury tax line than with finding a way to create cap space.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $2,760,095 (expires 12/9/19)
  • Trade exception: $1,544,951 (expires 2/7/20)
  • Trade exception: $1,512,601 (expires 2/7/20)
  • Mid-level exception: $9,246,000 5
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,619,000 5

Footnotes

  1. Smith’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.
  2. The salaries for two-way players don’t count against a team’s cap, but their cap holds do during the offseason.
  3. The cap hold for this pick will depend on where it ultimately falls in the lottery.
  4. Because Chriss’ fourth-year rookie scale option was declined, the Cavaliers are ineligible to offer him a starting salary greater than his cap hold.
  5. These are projected values. Additionally, the Cavaliers will not be able to use these exception if their team salary exceeds the tax apron. In that scenario, they’d instead receive the taxpayer mid-level exception, worth a projected $5,711,000.

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Most Appealing NBA Head Coaching Opening

As our head coaching search tracker shows, there are currently three NBA head coaching jobs up for grabs. That number looked like it might get as high as five early in the offseason, but the Kings quickly replaced Dave Joerger with Luke Walton, while the Timberwolves appear likely – for now – to retain interim coach Ryan Saunders.

That leaves three teams in the market for a head coach. The most noteworthy club in that group is the Lakers, who are undergoing some upheaval in the front office as well after Magic Johnson‘s abrupt resignation.

Walton was originally hired in Los Angeles to help develop the team’s group of young prospects, and he was doing a decent job of that before the 2018/19 season rolled around. Once LeBron James joined the Lakers, expectations changed for Walton and the team, and like David Blatt in Cleveland, he was no longer viewed as the right man for the job.

Coaching James isn’t an easy job, and the Lakers are in disarray at the moment, but they’re still the Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in any sport. And of the three teams seeking head coaches, they’re the closest to contention, particularly if they’re able to land a second star to pair with LeBron on the trade market or in free agency this summer. That should make the job appealing to veteran coaches, particularly those with previous head coaching experiences.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, will likely be in the market for a younger, up-and-coming coach who has a strong player-development background and perhaps extensive experience as an assistant as well.

With LeBron no longer around in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are still in the relatively early stages of a full-fledged rebuild, with building blocks like Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance, and a top-six pick in 2019 making up the future core. Since contention isn’t an immediate priority, the Cavs will want to find their own version of Kenny Atkinson or Lloyd Pierce, who can grow along with the team’s young players.

As for the Grizzlies, they might be somewhere in the middle. As long as Mike Conley is still on the roster, the team won’t be entering a full-fledged rebuild. But there’s no guarantee that the new decision-makers in the front office won’t trade Conley this season, kick-starting a rebuild centered around Jaren Jackson.

None of these jobs necessarily represents a perfect situation for a new head coach. The Lakers haven’t been to the postseason since 2013, their president of basketball operations just quit on the team, and no NBA player has more power than LeBron. The Cavs’ roster isn’t exactly loaded with talent, and Dan Gilbert doesn’t have a reputation as one of the league’s best owners. The Grizzlies just fired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff hours after since-demoted general manager Chris Wallace assured reporters that Bickerstaff would be back for 2019/20.

What do you think? Which of these head coaching openings looks most appealing? And would the Kings have been your pick if they hadn’t filled their vacancy so quickly?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

2019 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker

So far this spring, we have yet to see the sort of NBA head coaching turnover we got a year ago, when eight teams made changes. However, a handful of clubs have parted ways – mutually or otherwise – with their head coaches since the end of the 2018/19 regular season.

In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.

Updated 4-16-19 (11:57am CT)

Active Searches:

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Out: Larry Drew (story)
  • Expected to interview: Juwan Howard (story), Jamahl Mosley (story), Alex Jensen (story), David Vanterpool (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Jordi Fernandez (story), Nate Tibbetts (story), Wes Unseld Jr. (story), Darvin Ham (story)
  • Although Drew did an admirable job in difficult circumstances with the Cavaliers in 2018/19 after taking over for Tyronn Lue six games into the season, he never seemed to want the job on a permanent basis. He and the Cavs agreed to part ways at season’s end, and the team is now exploring the NBA assistant and college ranks in the hopes of hiring a coach with a strong background in player development.

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Out: Luke Walton (story)
  • Expected to interview: Tyronn Lue (story), Monty Williams (story), Juwan Howard (story)
  • Other rumored candidates or targets: Mark Jackson (story)
  • Even after Magic Johnson‘s resignation as president of basketball operations, the Lakers decided to make a head coaching change. General manager Rob Pelinka is running the search for Walton’s replacement in the absence of a president of basketball ops.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Out: J.B. Bickerstaff (story)
  • Rumored candidates or targets: None
  • The Grizzlies‘ front office is in a state of upheaval as well, as veteran general manager Chris Wallace was re-assigned to the scouting department as the same time as Bickerstaff was dismissed. No names have really emerged yet as candidates to replace Bickerstaff, so perhaps Memphis will focus first on finalizing its new-look front office before hiring a new head coach.

Completed Searches:

Sacramento Kings

  • Out: Dave Joerger (story)
  • In: Luke Walton (story)
  • Also considered: Ettore Messina (story), Monty Williams (story)
  • Just two days after they fired Joerger and one day after Walton officially left the Lakers, the Kings reached an agreement to hire Walton as their head coach on a contract that will run through the 2022/23 season. The expedited process reflected the fact that Walton was the No. 1 choice on Vlade Divac‘s wish list, as the recently-extended Kings GM wasted no time in going after his top target. Originally hired by the Lakers to focus on developing their young prospects, Walton should be tasked with a similar role in Sacramento.

Lakers To Interview Juwan Howard

2:28pm: Members of the Lakers’ front office will travel to meet with Williams sometime after Game 2 of the Sixers’ playoff series, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

2:14pm: The Lakers have received permission to talk to Heat assistant Juwan Howard about their head coaching vacancy, tweets ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. An interview will probably take place next week, she adds.

Howard is the third name to appear in the Lakers’ coaching search since they parted ways with Luke Walton on Friday. L.A. also plans to discuss the job with former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue next week and has gotten permission from the Sixers to interview assistant coach Monty Williams.

Earlier today, we told you that Howard and Jamahl Mosley will interview to replace Larry Drew in Cleveland

Cavs To Interview Juwan Howard, Jamahl Mosley, Others

1:32pm: The Cavs also plan to interview Utah’s Alex Jensen and Portland’s David Vanterpool when their teams are done with the playoffs, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link).

12:55pm: Heat assistant Juwan Howard and Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley will be the first two candidates to interview for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Both interviews are expected this week.

Cavs GM Koby Altman plans to go through a long list of candidates before hiring a replacement for Larry Drew, Woj adds. The team will start with assistant coaches on teams that didn’t reach the playoffs.

Howard has been part of Erik Spoelstra’s staff in Miami since retiring from the NBA in 2013. Mosley was an assistant in Cleveland for four seasons before leaving for Denver in 2014.

Lakers Notes: Walton, Lue, Pelinka, Caruso

Luke Walton‘s fatal mistake with the Lakers was not insisting that everyone else defer to LeBron James, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Tyronn Lue, who won a title with LeBron in Cleveland and is considered among the top candidates to replace Walton in L.A., established a clear order when he took over for David Blatt in 2016. Lue demanded that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love set aside any individual agendas and let James run the show.

Walton never made similar demands after LeBron came to the Lakers, according to Vardon. He was fine with several players serving as the primary ball-handler and didn’t adjust the offense much to feature his new weapon.

“We had our system coming into training camp, and it was similar to the last few years,” former Lakers center Ivica Zubac said after being traded in February. “We all knew LeBron was the guy, but no, that’s not how it was. Luke wants to play fast and he said it right after camp started. I think we played the right way until LeBron got hurt, and then we just didn’t have enough to win.”

There’s more news from Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers haven’t contacted Lue about their coaching job yet, but he is in much better health now than when he had to take a leave of absence last season, Vardon adds. Lue has lost 35 pounds, changed his diet and works out twice a day.
  • GM Rob Pelinka will be in charge of the search for a new coach, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. That’s one more sign that Pelinka’s position with the organization is secure after the departure of team president Magic Johnson. The front office talked briefly to Walton’s representatives to see if they could work out an agreement to retain him as coach, Shelburne adds (Twitter link). However, discussions didn’t go very far.
  • Alex Caruso, Johnathan Williams and Jemerrio Jones may not return next season, but they provided an inspiring effort after the Lakers’ playoff hopes were extinguished, relays Kevin Ding of NBA.com. After making his NBA debut March 31, Jones thanked Walton after each game for giving him a chance to play. Caruso expressed similar gratitude to Walton and Pelinka in his exit interview on Wednesday. Caruso also credits South Bay Lakers president Joey Buss for helping him to land a two-way contract last season. “Might not be here now,” Caruso said. “It’s all butterfly effect getting to this point.”

2019 NBA Draft Order Tiebreaker Results

The NBA’s draft order is determined by the league’s reverse standings for that year, with the first four spots in the draft up for grabs via the lottery. However, when two teams finish the season with identical records, an additional step is necessary.

In order to determine which of those tied teams will move ahead of the other(s) in the draft order, the NBA conducts tiebreakers via random drawings. The league completed the random drawings for 2019’s tiebreakers today, and we have the results below. Let’s dive in…

Tiebreaker No. 1:

  • Teams: Phoenix Suns vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63)
  • Draft positions: 2-3
  • Winner: Cavaliers

Tiebreaker No. 2:

  • Teams: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks vs. Memphis Grizzlies (33-49)
  • Draft positions: 7-9
  • Winner: Pelicans
  • Second place: Grizzlies
  • Note: Grizzlies’ pick will go to Celtics if it falls outside top eight; Mavericks’ pick will go to the Hawks if it falls outside top five.

Tiebreaker No. 3:

  • Teams: Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets (39-43)
  • Draft positions: 12-14
  • Winner: Hornets
  • Second place: Heat
  • Note: Kings’ pick belongs to Celtics (or Sixers if it’s No. 1).

Tiebreaker No. 4:

  • Teams: Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic (42-40)
  • Draft positions: 16-17
  • Winner: Magic

Tiebreaker No. 5:

  • Teams: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs vs. Indiana Pacers (48-34)
  • Draft positions: 18-20
  • Winner: Pacers
  • Second place: Spurs
  • Note: Clippers’ pick belongs to Celtics.

Tiebreaker No. 6:

  • Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Boston Celtics (49-33)
  • Draft positions: 21-22
  • Winner: Thunder

Tiebreaker No. 7:

  • Teams: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets (53-29)
  • Draft positions: 25-26
  • Winner: Trail Blazers
  • Note: Rockets’ pick belongs to Cavaliers.

Teams’ lottery odds didn’t really change as a result of today’s tiebreakers. In instances where two or more lottery teams finish with identical records, the lottery combinations are split evenly among them, with the tiebreaker winner getting one extra combination if there’s an odd number.

However, today’s results were still important. As a result of ending up at No. 8, for instance, the Grizzlies now have a 57.4% chance of retaining their own top-eight protected pick, something they don’t really want to do unless it jumps into the top four.

The Celtics, who already have three first-round selections for 2019 and would prefer to roll that Memphis pick over to 2020, will get it if it falls outside of the top eight. There’s only a 42.6% chance that will happen. The Grizzlies’ result was the only good news today for the Celtics, who lost their other three tiebreakers.

The pre-lottery 2019 draft order for the first round is listed below. For more information on the lottery odds for the top 14 teams, be sure to check out our recap from Thursday, as well as our glossary entry on the draft lottery. This year’s lottery will take place on Tuesday, May 14.


  1. New York Knicks
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Atlanta Hawks
  6. Washington Wizards
  7. New Orleans Pelicans
  8. Memphis Grizzlies
    • Note: The Celtics will receive this pick if it falls out of the top eight (42.6% chance).
  9. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks)
    • Note: The Mavericks will keep this pick if it moves up into the top four (26.2% chance).
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves
  11. Los Angeles Lakers
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. Miami Heat
  14. Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings)
    • Note: The Sixers will receive this pick if it moves up to No. 1 (1.0% chance).
  15. Detroit Pistons
  16. Orlando Magic
  17. Brooklyn Nets
  18. Indiana Pacers
  19. San Antonio Spurs
  20. Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers)
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder
  22. Boston Celtics
  23. Utah Jazz
  24. Philadelphia 76ers
  25. Portland Trail Blazers
  26. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets)
  27. Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets)
  28. Golden State Warriors
  29. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors)
  30. Milwaukee Bucks

Information from Tankathon.com was used in the creation of this post.

Cavaliers, Larry Drew Agree To Part Ways

The Cavaliers and head coach Larry Drew have mutually agreed to part ways, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team has confirmed the news in a press release.

Drew, who took over for Tyronn Lue on Cleveland’s sidelines very early in the 2018/19 season, wasn’t dealt a particularly strong hand this year. Following LeBron James‘ offseason departure, remaining star Kevin Love missed most of the season due to health issues, J.R. Smith was exiled from the club, and team management traded veterans like Kyle Korver, George Hill, Rodney Hood, and Alec Burks for future assets over the course of the season.

In total, Drew led the Cavs to a 19-57 record following the club’s 0-6 start under Lue. It was Drew’s stint third stint as an NBA head coach — he previously served as the Hawks’ coach for three seasons and spent a year on the sidelines for the Bucks.

While Drew didn’t do a bad job coaxing a strong effort out of his remaining veterans and developing rookie guard Collin Sexton, he never seemed enthusiastic about the idea of remaining in the Cavs’ head coaching role for the long term. He told The Athletic back in January, “I don’t know if I ever want to be a head coach again after this year.”

A source tells Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link) that the Cavs offered Drew the opportunity to be part of their upcoming coaching search as one of the candidates they’d consider, but he “respectfully declined.”

With Drew no longer in the picture, the Cavs are expected to launch a wide-ranging search and will likely take a look at experienced NBA assistants such as Alex Jensen (Jazz), David Vanterpool (Trail Blazers), Nate Tibbetts (Trail Blazers), Wes Unseld Jr. (Nuggets), and Darvin Ham (Bucks), says ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez has also been identified as a potential target for Cleveland. Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that the team figures to examine the college ranks as well, with a focus on player development.

The Cavs are the third team to make a coaching change today, joining the Kings (Dave Joerger) and the Grizzlies (J.B. Bickerstaff).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavaliers Notes: Nwaba, Drew, Sexton, Frye

Having signed a one-year contract with the Cavaliers last summer in the hopes of playing a regular role, David Nwaba put up modest numbers in Cleveland, averaging 6.7 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 50 games (19.4 MPG) while playing solid perimeter defense. Now, he’s hoping for a longer-term stay with the Cavs, as he tells Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Nwaba said. “Hopefully everything works out where I’m back here. I don’t know what their plans are, but I want to come back.”

Nwaba, who missed time due to health issues in 2018/19, can be a restricted free agent this summer if the Cavaliers opt to issue a qualifying offer worth approximately $1.9MM. It remains to be seen if the team will do so.

Here’s more from out of Cleveland:

  • Prior to what could have been his last game as the Cavaliers’ head coach, Larry Drew sidestepped a question asking whether he wanted to keep the job in 2019/20, writes Fedor. “I really don’t want to get into that part of it right now,” Drew said. “What I really want to do is just finish this game tonight and (general manager) Koby (Altman) and I will sit down and talk about it. We’re going to give it a few days and we’ll sit down and discuss it.”
  • It has been mostly a lost season in Cleveland, but the development of rookie point guard Collin Sexton has been a major silver lining, as Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com details.
  • In an entertaining piece for Cleveland.com, Fedor spoke to several of Channing Frye‘s teammates, ex-teammates, and executives who know him well. Those sources shared their memories of Frye, who will retire after having played his last NBA game on Tuesday.