Denver Nuggets

Should The Nuggets Pursue Hayward?

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 2/26/17

Here are the D-League transactions for Sunday:

NBA Teams Below Salary Cap For 2016/17

At this point in the season, most teams aren’t going to do much with any leftover cap room. Teams are no longer able to make trades, and most free agents still on the market won’t demand more than the minimum.

Still, there’s reason to consider which teams remain below the cap after this week’s trade activity. With useful veteran players potentially hitting the free agent market as a result of contract buyouts, a team with some extra cap room might have a leg up on teams without any spending flexibility.

For instance, if the Rockets and Warriors were to pursue the same free agent – perhaps Andrew Bogut, if he’s bought out by the Sixers – Houston could offer a deal worth up to about $3.5MM with cap room, while Golden State would be limited to offering a prorated minimum salary worth closer to $400K. That’s a significant difference.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on teams that remain below the minimum salary floor, since those clubs could enter the bidding for a bought-out player or could claim a player off waivers. The Jazz, for instance, probably don’t need a big man like Bogut, but if they wanted him and he became available, Utah has enough cap room to claim his entire $11MM+ contract. That would keep him off the open market and allow the Jazz to surpass the salary floor.

Using our Salary Cap Snapshots, let’s take a closer look at the teams below the cap, starting with teams still below the salary floor:

Teams below the salary floor:

  1. Utah Jazz: $13.64MM below cap ($4.23MM below floor)
  2. Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.66MM below cap ($3.24MM below floor)
  3. Denver Nuggets: $11.56MM below cap ($2.15MM below floor)
  4. Brooklyn Nets: $10.21MM below cap ($793K below floor)

Less than a month ago, there were six teams below the salary floor. Since then, the Nets and Nuggets have taken major steps toward the floor, while the Suns and Sixers have gotten above it entirely. That leaves the Jazz and Timberwolves as the clubs furthest below the salary floor.

As we’ve noted in the past, there’s no real penalty if a team remains below the floor — the team simply has to make up the difference by paying their current players a little more money. However, the Jazz and Wolves figure to be mulling other opportunities to reach the floor. That could mean placing a waiver claim or – in Utah’s case – renegotiating a contract.

We haven’t heard any rumors lately about the Jazz discussing a new deal with an extension-eligible veteran like George Hill or Derrick Favors, so that seems like a long shot. But the team does have until the end of February to renegotiate and extend either player’s contract, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Teams below the cap, but above the floor:

  1. Phoenix Suns: $9.226MM below cap
  2. Philadelphia 76ers: $8.62MM below cap
  3. Indiana Pacers: $4.14MM below cap
  4. Boston Celtics: $1.11MM below cap

Although the Suns and Sixers have inched above the salary floor, they’re not necessarily out of the woods quite yet. Phoenix needs the contracts of Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott to pass through waivers unclaimed, while the Sixers will require the same for Bogut if they eventually cut him. If any of those deals are claimed, they’ll move to another team’s cap, pushing Phoenix or Philadelphia back below the floor.

Teams that could clear cap room by renouncing exceptions:

  1. Houston Rockets: $3.54MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $3.33MM)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder: $3.05MM below cap if lone TPE ($4.94MM) is renounced
  3. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.75MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $5MM)
  4. Chicago Bulls: $1.59MM below cap if lone TPE ($5.46MM) is renounced

These teams are technically over the cap, but could go under if they chose to renounce their trade exceptions. In some cases, that might not make much sense. For instance, the Bucks and Bulls would have less than $2MM in cap room if they renounced their exceptions. Both teams have trade exceptions worth at least $5MM, so it probably makes sense to stay over the cap for now and see if those exceptions come in handy around the draft.

On the other hand, the amount of cap room the Rockets would have if they renounced their trade exceptions would be greater than the amount of their largest TPE, so it makes sense for Houston to dip below the cap, expunging those TPEs from their books. That would also allow the Rockets to use cap room to sign a free agent, something they couldn’t do using a trade exception.

The rest of the NBA’s 18 teams don’t currently have cap room. That includes the Lakers, whose moves this week took them over the cap by just $316K.

Bucks Sign Axel Toupane To 10-Day Deal

February 25: The Bucks formally signed Toupane this afternoon, the team announced via a press release on their official website. Their roster is now full at 15.

February 23: The Bucks will sign small forward Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract, tweets Chris Reichert of The Step Back.

Toupane has been playing for Toronto’s affiliate in the D-League, where he is averaging 16.1 points and 3.9 rebounds through 27 games. His only NBA experience came in 21 games for the Nuggets last season.

Milwaukee has a roster spot open after trading center Roy Hibbert to Denver earlier today. The Bucks received a protected 2019 pick in the deal.

Hawks Made ‘Aggressive’ Offers For George, Butler

8:40pm: Although the Hawks’ offers for George and Butler didn’t feature core players, one source tells Stein (Twitter link) that they included “more” than three first-round picks.

With extra picks on hand for 2018 and 2019, Atlanta theoretically could have offered a 2017 first-round pick, a 2018 first-rounder, and two 2019 first-rounders, and still would’ve adhered to the Ted Stepien rule.

4:43pm: The Hawks weren’t necessarily considered likely to make a big splash today and ultimately didn’t do so, but according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), it wasn’t for lack of trying. Stein reports that the Hawks made “aggressive” draft-pick-centric trade offers for both Paul George and Jimmy Butler.

Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter link) reported shortly after the trade deadline passed that the Hawks had been working on multiple “big deals” that didn’t come together, and these wouldn’t certainly qualify. GM Wes Wilcox had mentioned in the days leading up to the deadline that Atlanta wouldn’t hesitate to use its collection of draft picks to seek out roster upgrades — the Hawks have extra first-round picks in 2018 (from Minnesota) and 2019 (from Cleveland).

Reports on the talks between the Celtics and Bulls suggested that Chicago had wanted to acquire rotation-ready players in any deal for Butler, so a package heavy on draft picks may not have appealed to the club. As for the Pacers, even though team ownership was receptive to trade offers, president Larry Bird was determined to “swat away all pitches,” per Stein.

The Pacers were also said to have turned down a “monster” offer from the Nuggets, though ESPN’s Zach Lowe notes that Denver was reluctant to include Jamal Murray in that package. The Nuggets would have brought in trade assets from a third team in that scenario, per Lowe.

Meanwhile, though Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested this afternoon that the Celtics had been willing to include both Nets’ first-round picks in talks for George and Butler, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears that Boston never formally made the 2017 pick available in Butler discussions. Even if the C’s had been willing to include one or both picks for either player, it’s not clear whether the team would have sought to add protection those selections.

Nuggets Acquire Roy Hibbert From Bucks

4:09pm: The Nuggets have officially acquired Hibbert in exchange for a protected 2019 second-round pick, the team announced in a press release.

1:49pm: The Nuggets will acquire Roy Hibbert from the Bucks, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Denver will be sending a heavily protected second round pick to Milwaukee in exchange for Hibbert, Brian Windhorst of ESPN adds (Twitter link). According to Charles Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), it’s a 2019 second-rounder.

The Nuggets have the cap space to accommodate Hibbert. Denver entered the day $7,147,064 below the salary floor, and Hibbert’s one-year, $5MM contract will help them reach that mark. Hibbert was acquired by Milwaukee on February 2, but never appeared in a game for the Bucks.

Denver was close to acquiring Festus Ezeli of the Trail Blazers, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports, but the team opted to trade for a healthy big man instead. (Twitter link).

Mavs Working On Buyout Agreement With Deron Williams

2:57 PM: Dallas has told Williams that the team will pay him the full remaining amount of his $9MM salary if he would like to become a free agent, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

2:37 PM: The Mavericks are working with Deron Williams to come to an agreement on a buyout, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The scribe adds that the Cavs, Jazz, and Hawks expressed interest in the point guard via trade. There would presumably be more teams interested in him should he hit the open market.

Williams sat out practice over the last two days with what coach Rick Carlisle is calling a “pending situation,” Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). Williams is making $9MM this season after signing a one-year deal to return the Mavs during the offseason.

Dallas will be thin at the point guard position if it cuts ties with Williams. J.J. Barea remains out with a calf injury and he’s expected to miss at least three more contests. MacMahon (Twitter link) notes that the team could look to add a player via another 10-day deal.

The ESPN scribe adds that the team is preparing to give its top point guard spot to rookie Yogi Ferrell. Ferrell got his chance in Dallas after signing a 10-day contract earlier this season. He thrived in the starting role and helped the team get back into the playoff picture, as the Mavs sit just three games behind the Nuggets in the Western Conference’s eighth seed race.

Pierre Jackson is a player to keep an eye on later in the season, though that’s merely my speculation. Jackson was playing well for Dallas before straining his hamstring, an event that led the team to sign Ferrell. The injury was nearly a month ago and if Jackson is healthy enough to play, he could be a candidate to come to the team. However, it’s worth noting that a deal would have to be for the remainder of the season since Dallas already signed him to two 10-day deals.

Trade Rumors: Sixers, Bradley, Tucker, Bogut

The Sixers are seeking deals for defensive-oriented guards capable of playing alongside Ben Simmons, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Philadelphia has targeted Celtics guard Avery Bradley, but hasn’t gained any traction.

With Marcus Smart playing well lately and Jaylen Brown viewed as a potential star by the Celtics, Bradley could be somewhat expendable in Boston, but Philadelphia and Boston aren’t necessarily a great match in such a trade. Both teams are loaded with future draft picks, which is likely what the Sixers would offer for Bradley — the Celtics don’t really need any more picks, unless they think they could use them in a package for a star.

Here’s more from around the NBA with the trade deadline less than a half-hour away:

  • At least three teams – the Pelicans, Cavaliers, and Celtics – have opted against meeting the Suns‘ asking price of a first-round pick for P.J. Tucker, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
  • The Sixers don’t expect to flip Andrew Bogut in another trade before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that the two sides will immediately begin buyout discussions.
  • At this point, the Nuggets don’t expect to make any moves before the deadline, sources tell Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post (Twitter link).
  • The Pacers are still trying to fortify their roster, and remain in talks with the Kings about Arron Afflalo, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.

Pacers Declined Nuggets’ “Monster Offer” For Paul George

The Nuggets made a “monster offer” for Paul George but the talks gained no traction, Marc Stein of ESPN reports. Per Stein and Chris Haynes of ESPN, it was conveyed to Denver’s front office that George would be “highly unlikely” to commit to the Nuggets on a long-term deal (Twitter links).

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today corroborated Stein’s report, noting that the Nuggets “desperately” wanted in on the four-time All-Star (Twitter link). Haynes shed further light on George’s point of view, noting that he respects Denver’s vision, but- with the Spurs and Warriors in their way- didn’t envision the team having a path to the finals (Twitter link).

It may be a safe assumption that Nikola Jokic wasn’t a part of Denver’s offer. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (hat tip to RealGM.com), Jokic remains completely unavailable in trade talks. The Nuggets consider Jokic a franchise player who loves being in Denver.

Sam Amick of USA Today reiterated that George is “hell-bent” on becoming a Laker when he’s free agent-eligible, if no opportunity for a championship presents itself in Indiana (Twitter link).

We’d heard yesterday that the Lakers had inquired on George’s availability, but discussions- between team presidents Magic Johnson and Larry Bird- didn’t get past pleasantries. It appeared at the time that Indiana was simply feeling out the market for George, though the 26-year-old has been mentioned in several rumors today.

George has a player option worth $20,703,384 for the 2017/18 season.

Deveney’s Latest: Tucker, Favors, Gallinari, Anthony

P.J. Tucker‘s expiring, affordable contract makes him the player most likely to be dealt before today’s trade deadline, according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. The Suns are holding out for a first-round pick for the veteran small forward, even if it’s a future first-rounder that they can use down the road as an asset, Deveney continues. The Jazz, Celtics, Clippers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Hawks and Bulls have all shown interest in Tucker, giving the Suns hope they can get a first-round pick for him, Deveney adds.

Deveney touched on a number of other players who could be wearing a different uniform by the end of the day:

  • Luxury-tax concerns have the Jazz exploring the market for power forward Derrick Favors. Rudy Gobert‘s extension kicks in next season and Utah is hopeful of re-signing Gordon Hayward in the likelihood he opts out of the final year of his current contract this summer. That makes Favors expendable but his nagging knee injury has tempered the market for him.
  • Danilo Gallinari is drawing more interest on the market than fellow Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. Denver is seeking a first-rounder for either player but Gallinari’s ability to opt out of his contract after the season makes it more difficult for the Nuggets to get value for him.
  • Carmelo Anthony is likely to stay put unless Knicks president Phil Jackson can revive talks with the Clippers. Jackson is also trying to deal free agents he signed last summer — Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah — for draft picks.
  • The Hawks, Hornets and Bucks have shown interest in point guard Darren Collison as the Kings continue their latest rebuild in the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins blockbuster.
  • The Bulls, Pacers and possibly the Mavericks are still in play as potential suitors for Sixers power forward Jahlil Okafor but Philadelphia is not determined to move him unless it gets the right package.
  • The Mavericks are hopeful of getting a first-rounder for either Andrew Bogut or Deron Williams but may be willing to settle for a couple of second-rounders.
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