Nuggets Rumors

Two Nuggets TPEs Expire; Grant Acqiusition Praised

A pair of Nuggets traded player exceptions expired on Monday, one year after the team sent Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur to Brooklyn in a salary dump. Denver created trade exceptions worth $13.76MM and $5.92MM in that swap, but ultimately didn’t end up finding a use for them.

While those Nuggets TPEs went unused, the team did take advantage of another trade exception earlier this month — Denver created an exception worth over $12MM last July when the team sent Wilson Chandler to Philadelphia, and subsequently used that exception last week to acquire Jerami Grant from Oklahoma City.

Adding Grant’s $9MM+ salary to their books moved the Nuggets’ team salary close to the luxury tax threshold, reducing the likelihood of the club using those other TPEs.

  • Speaking of Jerami Grant, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer thinks the Nuggets‘ acquisition of the former Thunder forward was one of the very best moves of the 2019 offseason. As O’Connor outlines, Grant is the sort of quality wing who can complement Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray on offense while helping to cover for them on defense, which is exactly the sort of player Denver was missing last season.

Latest On Andre Iguodala

The Rockets and Clippers continue to be the two teams most seriously pursuing Grizzlies swingman Andre Iguodala, Shams Charania of Stadium reports (video link). However both Houston and Los Angeles “seem to be at a standstill” in talks with Memphis, per Charania.

According to Charania, the Rockets aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of going deep into luxury-tax territory for Iguodala. While Charania doesn’t specify what exactly Houston’s package would look like, he refers to “a potential sign-and-trade” — that would likely involve Iman Shumpert attached to a draft pick, as I wrote last Friday.

Currently, Houston’s team salary is below the tax line, but taking on Iguodala’s $17MM+ salary without sending out any guaranteed money could bump the Rockets’ projected tax bill up to about $20MM, says Charania.

As for the Clippers, Maurice Harkless‘ expiring contract is the most logical salary-matching trade chip for L.A. in any deal involving Iguodala. However, Charania hears that the Clips don’t want to part with Harkless in an Iguodala trade.

Both the Rockets and Clippers have explored three- or four-team scenarios that might work for Iguodala, per Charania, but that’s probably a long shot. Meanwhile, the Mavericks and Nuggets have also engaged with the Grizzlies on Iguodala, but neither team has really gained any real traction in trade discussions.

Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) previously suggested there’s a belief in league circles that the Grizzlies may be leaning toward keeping Iggy on their roster into the season unless they receive a trade offer that includes a first-round pick. We’ll see if that ends up being the case if no potential suitors meet their asking price.

Latest On Bradley Beal

The Wizards have publicly maintained that they have no interest in trading All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal. But if Beal opts not to ink a three-year, $111MM extension expected to be offered later this month, things may change, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

Despite Beal’s reported interest in the aforementioned extension, there is growing sentiment around the NBA that the extension is not a done deal and that Beal will likely not remain in Washington for the entirety of his career. As Buckner reports, one well-placed person within the NBA has predicted that Beal is “out of there.”

Two of the factors that lead those in the know, including several NBA executives, to surmise that Beal may now be interested in moving on are the Wizards’ ostensible rebuilding efforts and the lack of permanent leadership at the top of the organization.

The Wizards let promising point guard and restricted free agent Tomas Satoransky leave in free agency, and the team has perhaps signaled it wants to go younger by acquiring seven players with one or fewer years of NBA service this summer, including first-round pick Rui Hachimura.

Additionally, more than 100 days have now passed since the Wizards parted ways with Ernie Grunfeld, and the open president of basketball operations position remains a hot topic around the league, with one Western Conference senior executive saying it would be hard to predict Beal’s future until the team’s leadership is settled.

If Beal decides not to sign an extension, it will force Washington into the same conundrum that other teams have recently faced, and as Buckner notes, when a star player does not sign an extension, it usually ends with a break-up between player and team (see the Knicks and Kristaps Porzingis and the Celtics and Kyrie Irving as two recent examples). “If he doesn’t accept [the extension],” said a rival general manager, “it will be a big blow to Washington.”

Given Beal’s talent, there will be multiple franchises interested in his services should the Wizards change course and put the 26-year-old All-Star on the trading block. But it would likely take an organization with draft picks and young prospects intriguing to the Wizards to pull off a potential trade for Beal. Buckner notes the Nuggets, Heat, and Timberwolves as franchises that fit that criteria.

Nuggets Expected To Sign Vlatko Cancar

The Nuggets are expected to sign Slovenian prospect Vlatko Cancar, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). Cancar was Denver’s second-round pick (49th overall) in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Cancar, 22, was selected as a draft-and-stash player, expected to remain in Europe for a couple of seasons before joining the Nuggets. The 6-foot-8 forward has appeared in three Summer League games for Denver, averaging 9.7 PPG and 4.0 RPG.

The forward suited up for San Pablo Burgos in Spain last season.

Iguodala Drawing Interest From At Least Five Teams

1:53pm: In addition to the Rockets, Clippers, and Mavericks, the Nuggets and Lakers also have interest in Iguodala, tweets Stein.

Stein first mentioned Denver’s interest in Iguodala in his newsletter last week, though Amick tweets that the Nuggets view Memphis’ asking price as too high. If they do make a play for Iggy, Mason Plumlee‘s expiring $14MM contract would be their best salary-matching piece.

As for the Lakers, they have no clear path to matching Iguodala’s salary until after December 15, so they’re an unlikely suitor unless he’s bought out.

11:32am: After acquiring Russell Westbrook from Oklahoma City, the Rockets‘ top priority will be to find a way to land veteran forward Andre Iguodala, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

According to Amick, Houston continues to push to acquire Iguodala from the Grizzlies via trade. The Clippers are also known to be among the most serious suitors for the former Warrior, Amick adds.

In order to match Iguodala’s $17,185,185 salary, the Rockets or Clippers would have to send out at least $12,185,185 in salary of their own, which will be difficult, but not impossible.

Los Angeles could use Maurice Harkless‘ $11,511,234 expiring contract, but would have to include at least one more piece — likely either Jerome Robinson or one of their 2019 draftees. Those two 2019 draft picks (Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann) can’t be dealt until at least August 9 after signing on Tuesday.

The Rockets, meanwhile, probably wouldn’t want to move Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, or Eric Gordon for Iguodala, so a sign-and-trade involving Iman Shumpert could be their most viable path for matching salaries. Shumpert would have to sign a three-year contract in that scenario, but only the first year would need to be fully guaranteed. He could sign for exactly $12,185,185, and presumably he’d be open to the idea, since he won’t receive that kind of money from any other team as a free agent.

Although Amick doesn’t name any other suitors for Iguodala, Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com suggests that the Mavericks are interested in the former Finals MVP too, and are willing to offer Courtney Lee‘s expiring contract and a second-round pick. Lee has a $12,759,670 cap hit, so no additional players would need to be added to such an offer for matching purposes. However, the Grizzlies don’t appear to have interest in taking on Lee, according to Fisher.

The Grizzlies acquired Iguodala as a salary dump, receiving a future first-round pick and cash from the Warriors for their troubles, so if they’re able to flip him and acquire positive assets, they’ll be coming out ahead.

Still, Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) says there’s a belief in league circles that Memphis may be leaning toward keeping Iggy on their roster into the season unless they receive a trade offer that includes a first-round pick.

Five Creative NBA Offseason Cap Maneuvers

The 2019 NBA offseason has been perhaps the craziest in league history. Since the 2018/19 All-NBA teams were announced in May, six of the 15 stars from that group (Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and Kemba Walker) have changed teams.

Current and former All-Stars like Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, D’Angelo Russell, and Al Horford also have new homes. So do impact players such as Mike Conley, Danilo Gallinari, and Malcolm Brogdon.

[RELATED: 2019 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

As NBA teams revamp their rosters, many of them have gotten particularly creative in how they’ve acquired players within the rules of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Cap space has been maximized. Trade exceptions have been created, used, and re-used. And sign-and-trades have made a comeback in a major way, with 10 players having been dealt via sign-and-trade this offseason (a total of four players were signed-and-traded during the previous four offseasons).

[RELATED: 2019 NBA Offseason Trades]

We’re still stepping back and taking stock of all of this summer’s salary-cap machinations, but there are a few maneuvers in particular that have stood out to me, which I think are worth highlighting.

These aren’t necessarily the cleverest cap maneuvers of the offseason, and these five teams certainly aren’t the only ones that have employed creative tactics to acquire players. However, the moves listed below are five of my favorites of the offseason so far.

Let’s dive in…

1. The Nets create space to sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan without using the room exception.

When the free agent period began, the Nets didn’t have quite enough cap room to accommodate maximum salaries for Durant ($38.2MM) and Irving ($32.74MM). Another move appeared to be required to carve out that space.

However, not only did the Nets avoid making that extra move, but they also found enough cap room to sign Jordan to a four-year, $40MM deal.

Cap expert Albert Nahmad first broke down the Nets’ sequence of events last week, explaining that by retaining their rights to D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier, and Treveon Graham, the Nets were able to sign Irving to a near-max contract and give Jordan a starting salary close to $10MM before going over the cap to acquire Durant in a sign-and-trade.

Irving signed a contract that featured a starting salary just $1MM below his max, though he can make up the difference in unlikely incentives. Once the Nets signed Jordan and second-rounder Nicolas Claxton, the team used nearly every dollar of its leftover room to sign Russell to his new four-year contract.

Because Russell’s deal was signed using cap space, base year compensation rules for salary matching didn’t apply, meaning the Nets had the ability to use D-Lo’s full $27,285,000 first-year salary for matching purposes. However, Brooklyn needed to send out $30,479,200 in order to satisfy the matching rules and take in Durant’s new $38,199,000 salary.

In order to bridge that gap, the Nets included Napier and Graham in the deal. Both players had non-guaranteed contracts, which don’t count toward a team’s outgoing salary total for matching purposes, so Brooklyn gave each player a partial guarantee worth $1,597,100. Combined with Russell’s cap hit, those partial guarantees pushed the Nets’ outgoing salary total right to the required $30,479,200, essentially allowing them to “sign” Durant to a full max deal without having nearly enough space for it.

Throw in the fact that the Nets managed to get the Warriors’ 2020 first-round pick (top-20 protected) in the Durant sign-and-trade, and it turned out to be a very nice piece of business for GM Sean Marks and Brooklyn’s front office.

Read more

Free Agent Notes: Ellis, Green, Speights

Representatives from nearly half of the league’s teams were in attendance for a workout that included former NBA stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Monta Ellis, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Knicks, Thunder, Bucks, Pistons, Kings, Nuggets, Blazers, Magic, Hawks, Wolves and Wizards were all in attendance. Haynes adds that 15 international teams from Europe and Asia also had representatives in Las Vegas for the workout.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Spurs, Nuggets, and Knicks were all interested in JaMychal Green before the forward re-signed with the Clippers, Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes. Those teams were offering him a more lucrative offer than the one he signed with Los Angeles. The Clippers put on a “full-court press” to retain Green, Buha adds, and the 29-year-old ended up inking a two-year deal worth slightly under $10MM.
  • Green has the ability to be a free agent next summer, having secured a player option as part of his deal with the Clippers. Buha (in the same piece) speculates that Green could have commanded a deal in the $10MM+ range this offseason and that the forward should have the opportunity for a similar contract next summer.
  • Mo Speights, who played in China last season, is working out for teams in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated tweets. Speights last played in the NBA for the Magic during the 2017/18 season.

Kosmider Examines Jerami Grant Acquisition

  • While Jerami Grant is unlikely to start over Paul Millsap, the Nuggets will continue to be “judicious” with Millsap’s playing time moving forward, giving Grant plenty of opportunities in Denver, writes Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. In his analysis of the Nuggets’ latest acquisition, Kosmider suggests that Grant projects as an ideal floor spacer next to Nikola Jokic.

Malone Raves About Grant's Defense

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is thrilled with the acquisition of forward Jerami Grant from the Thunder, as he told Alex Labidou of the team’s website. He believes Grant will mesh well with franchise player Nikola Jokic and significantly improve the team’s defense. “Watching film, he’s guarded Damian Lillard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, the guy can guard anybody,” Malone said. “I think that versatility is exciting.”