- Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com says he’s gotten the sense that the Cavaliers have set an “internal price tag” on Tristan Thompson. Fedor believes the Cavs are probably unlikely to move the big man unless they get a first-round pick — a package like the one they got for Jordan Clarkson probably wouldn’t be enough.
3:26pm: The Cavaliers have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed Mooney to a two-way contract.
8:00am: After releasing Levi Randolph on Sunday to open up a two-way contract slot, the Cavaliers are expected to fill that opening by signing G League guard Matt Mooney, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. It’ll be a two-year, two-way deal for Mooney, Fedor adds.
An undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech, Mooney signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Grizzlies in September and spent training camp with Memphis. Once the regular season got underway, he joined the franchise’s G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, where he has started 22 of 24 games, averaging 12.6 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.7 SPG with a shooting line of .479/.368/.955.
Mooney, who will be Cleveland’s second two-way player alongside Dean Wade, will be eligible to spend up to 24 days in the NBA before the G League regular season ends in March. If the Cavs keep him for the entirety of his new two-way contract, Mooney will be eligible for restricted free agency during the summer of 2021.
- Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. is set to make his return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Clippers, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Nance has been sidelined for nearly two weeks with knee soreness. The 27-year-old is holding season averages of eight points, seven rebounds and 24.3 minutes per game in 31 contests.
The Cavaliers have applied for a disabled player exception in response to Dylan Windler‘s season-ending leg injury, sources tell Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (Twitter link). Windler is undergoing surgery to address his nagging lower left leg stress reaction.
As we outline in our glossary entry on the disabled player exception, a team can apply for a DPE to replace a seriously injured player. In order for the exception to be granted, an NBA-designated physician must determine that the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of that league year.
If granted, the disabled player exception allows a club to sign a replacement player for 50% of the injured player’s salary, or for the amount of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception, whichever is lesser. In the case of Windler, the exception would be worth just $1.02MM, half of his $2.04MM salary for 2019/20.
The DPE, which doesn’t give a team an extra roster spot, can also be used to acquire a player on an expiring contract via trade or waivers if his salary fits into the exception.
Given how modest the Cavs’ disabled player exception for Windler would be, they’re unlikely to use it even if their request is granted. Still, it doesn’t hurt to apply, since it’s possible the team could find a creative use for it later in the season.
January 15 is the deadline to apply for a disabled player exception, so the Cavs may end up being the last team to apply for one this season. The Wizards, Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Lakers, and Nets all have DPEs available, while the Pistons and Magic have each submitted recent applications.
The deadline to use a DPE is March 10.
While those offers seem likely to improve by February 6, it still remains unclear how much teams will be willing to give the Pistons for a player who could be had in free agency this summer. Edwards examines a few rumored suitors, arguing that the Hawks and Hornets make more sense than clubs like the Knicks, Celtics, and Cavaliers.
- Now a top assistant for the Clippers, Tyronn Lue admits that he wishes he were still the Cavaliers‘ head coach, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Yeah, I do,” Lue said after a long pause. “What I tried to build there, I think the culture I tried to set … I thought we could do it together. Koby (Altman) being a young GM, me being a young coach, having young players. I won a championship there, so you have a chance and an opportunity to do something different, and you should have that leeway to be able to go through a couple challenging years. To win a championship and go to the Finals should buy you a little time, you would think.”
We’re nearly at the halfway mark of the 2019/20 NBA regular season, with several teams having already played their 41st game. As such, it’s a good time to check in on the traded 2020 first-round picks that have protections on them to get a sense of whether or not those protections will be applied this year.
Of this year’s 30 first-round selections, 10 have been traded, and all 10 have some form of protection on them. In other words, the ’19/20 standings will dictate whether or not those first-rounders actually change hands in 2020.
Here’s our latest look at which of those picks are safe bets to move, which ones will likely be retained, and which ones are still up in the air:
Likely to change hands:
- Bucks acquiring Pacers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
- Celtics acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-7 protected)
- Nets acquiring Sixers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
- Thunder acquiring Nuggets‘ pick (top-10 protected)
It’s safe to say at this point that the Pacers (25-15), Bucks (35-6), Sixers (25-16), and Nuggets (27-12) aren’t missing the playoffs this season, which means their traded first-round picks, which range from lottery-protected to top-7 protected, will be on the move.
Currently, the Milwaukee and Denver picks project to fall near the end of the first round, while the Philadelphia and Indiana selections could end up in the late-teens or early-20s, as our Reverse Standings show.
Unlikely to change hands:
- Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘ pick (1-7, 15-30 protected)
- Nets acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected)
The Warriors (9-32) keeping their first-round pick is the safest bet on the board. Not only will that first-rounder land within the top 20, but it appears likely to be a top-five selection. Brooklyn will see the value of that asset decline significantly when it’s officially protected this year, receiving a 2025 second-round pick in place of that first-rounder.
Meanwhile, the Jazz (27-12) would have to finish out of the playoffs for the Grizzlies to get their first-rounder this year. That was always unlikely to happen, even before Utah’s recent hot streak. The protections on that pick will roll over to 2021 and will be identical next year (1-7 and 15-30).
Still up in the air:
- Celtics acquiring Grizzlies‘ pick (top-6 protected)
- Hawks acquiring Nets‘ pick (top-14 protected)
- Pelicans acquiring Cavaliers‘ pick (top-10 protected)
- Sixers acquiring Thunder‘s pick (top-20 protected)
Usually by this point in the season, we have a reasonably clear idea of which draft picks will be protected, but these four first-rounders are still very much up in the air.
The Thunder (23-17) weren’t considered a probable playoff team entering the season, but they’re comfortably holding the seventh seed in the West for now and project to have the No. 18 pick. Another winning streak or two could move that pick outside the top 20, which would be good news for the Sixers. If the pick is protected this year and Oklahoma City keeps it, Philadelphia would instead receive second-rounders in 2022 and 2023.
Like OKC, the Grizzlies (18-22) are defying modest expectations and hold one of the final playoff spots in the West. If they keep playing like this, there’s no chance their pick will end up in the top six, so it would be sent to the Celtics. But if Memphis doesn’t make the playoffs, there’s always a chance the lottery could push that selection into the top four, where the Grizzlies would keep it. In that scenario, Memphis would owe Boston its unprotected 2021 first-round pick.
The Nets (18-20) are the eighth seed in the East for the time being, and would send their lottery-protected to Atlanta as long as they hang onto a playoff spot. The Hawks would be happy for the Nets to stay where they are, resulting in the No. 16 overall pick. If Brooklyn slips out of the playoff picture and hangs onto its protected first-rounder, Atlanta would almost certainly receive a less valuable pick in 2021 when Kevin Durant returns and makes the Nets a more dangerous team.
Finally, it may seem safe to assume that the Cavaliers (12-28) will keep their top-10 protected pick, but we’re not writing that in pen yet. Even though the Cavs currently have the NBA’s fourth-worst record, only 3.5 games separate them from the 15-24 Timberwolves, who are the league’s 11th-worst team. I expect Cleveland to continue losing as the team shops its veterans, but there are enough bad teams in the NBA that hanging onto their pick can’t quite be considered a lock.
After an extended period of rehabilitation and treatment over the last several months, Windler will now undergo surgery to fix the issue. The procedure is scheduled for January 21.
The 6’6″ Windler was sidelined early in training camp after being diagnosed with the injury, which originally had a 4-6 week timetable. After looking good in practices and scrimmages, he was expected to make his NBA debut last month.
Windler suffered a setback in mid-December and underwent additional treatment and rehabilitation but continued to experience discomfort. He sought a second opinion from Orthopedic Specialist Dr. David Porter of IU Health Methodist Hospital and Sports Medicine in Indianapolis. Ultimately, it was determined that surgery was necessary.
Windler moved up the prospects list during his senior season at Belmont, in which he averaged 21.3 PPG and 10.8 RPG with a .540/.429/.847 shooting line in 33 games.
The Cavaliers could apply for a disabled player exception as a result of Windler’s injury, but it would be worth just $1.02MM if granted.
January 15 is the last day that NBA teams can sign a player to a two-way contract this season. After that date, teams can still waive two-way players or promote them to their 15-man rosters, but they can’t bring aboard new players on two-way contracts as replacements.
[RELATED: 2019/20 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]
With that deadline looming, we could get a mini-flurry of activity related to two-way deals this week. While it’s impossible to predict which teams will simply choose to replace one two-way player with a new one, there are a few specific situations worth keeping an eye on, based on certain players’ performances or teams’ roster situations.
Here are a few two-way contract situations to watch this week:
The Suns, Cavaliers, and Heat
The Suns and Cavaliers are currently the only two teams not carrying a pair of players on two-way contracts, while the Heat are expected to join them tomorrow.
Phoenix has only had one player (Jared Harper) on a two-way contract all season long, but it would still be a surprise not to see the team add a second two-way player by Wednesday. Cleveland, meanwhile, just waived Levi Randolph on Sunday, while Miami is poised to promote Chris Silva to the 15-man roster, opening up a two-way slot for each club.
Rotation players Lee and Bowman have been two of the most likely candidates for promotions all season long. The Warriors have a pair of open roster spots, but based on their hard cap, they only have the flexibility to promote one of their two-way players for now.
Lee is expected to be first in line, as we heard when Golden State waived Marquese Chriss last week. A deal appeared imminent at that time, but nothing has been completed yet, even now that Lee has reached his 45-day NBA limit. It’s possible the two sides are still haggling over the length of the contract (the Warriors could offer as many as four years), but the team may just be taking its time to maximize its financial flexibility below the hard cap.
Assuming Lee is promoted by Wednesday, as expected, Golden State figures to add a new two-way player to pair with Bowman, who may get a promotion of his own later in the season. The Dubs’ new two-way player would be able to spend up to 24 days in the NBA before the end of the G League season.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (Nets)
Brooklyn won’t technically have a roster spot open until Justin Anderson‘s 10-day pact expires on Wednesday night, but could terminate that contract a day or two early in order to promote Luwawu-Cabarrot and sign a new two-way player by Wednesday’s deadline.
Norvel Pelle (Sixers)
If the Sixers intend to promote Pelle, it’d be in their best interests to do it by Wednesday in order to sign a new two-way player to replace him. However, it remains unclear whether or not that will happen. After guaranteeing Trey Burke‘s salary last week, Philadelphia has a full 15-man roster and would probably have to release a player like Jonah Bolden, Raul Neto, or Kyle O’Quinn to make room for Pelle.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Cleveland originally signed Randolph, a veteran of the team’s G League affiliate in Canton, earlier in the month. He didn’t appear in any games with the franchise and could head back to Canton in the coming days.
Randolph, an intriguing 6-foot-6 guard, has averaged 15.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and three assists per game in 22 G League contests this season.
The Cavaliers now have an open two-way contract to use, with guard Dean Wade currently occupying the other two-way slot. Cleveland also waived Tyler Cook and Alfonzo McKinnie last week before re-signing both players to 10-day deals.
- Cavaliers players are eager to move past the latest John Beilein controversy, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In comments that he later apologized for, the coach caused a stir this week when he said his team was “no longer playing like a bunch of thugs” when he meant to say “slugs.” “He says it all the time, so it’s all good,” Collin Sexton said. “He calls us slugs, because we slow. But it’s good. We knew what he meant, just blown out of proportion.”