Warriors Rumors

Western Notes: Capela, Brunson, Kings, Roberson

Clint Capela‘s thumb injury could cost him a $2MM bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The Rockets center has a 2,000-minute criteria tied into the team reaching the Western Conference Finals and for a defensive rebounding percentage above 30%. He has another bonus for attempting 150 or more free throws and a free throw percentage above 65%. He is currently shooting 62.6% from the line. Through 42 games, Capela has played 1,436 minutes. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks rookie Jalen Brunson and veteran Devin Harris will pick up the minutes vacated by backup point guard J.J. Barea, who suffered a torn Achilles on Friday, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Brunson played 30 minutes against the Warriors on Sunday but Harris will see his role expand as well. “He’s going to be ready and he’s going to be there for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Harris.
  • Kings assistant coaches under Dave Joerger are having their options for next season picked up by the front office, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. That group includes Bryan Gates, Elston Turner, Bob Thornton, Jason March, Duane Ticknor, Larry Lewis, Bobby Jackson, Phil Ricci and Dan Hartfield. It’s a way of aligning the contracts of the staff with Joerger’s deal. The surprising Kings are currently a game above .500.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac warned members of the executive board to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Divac made the pronouncement during a conference call with 13 members of the  executive board, along with lead owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac has been frustrated by internal complaints and used the forum to demand respect, Amick adds.
  • Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson remains sidelined indefinitely, coach Billy Donovan told Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman and other media members. “He’s worked hard, he’s doing all he needs to do but he’s still in the rehab process.”  Roberson suffered a season-ending left knee injury last January and suffered a setback in late November when an MRI revealed an avulsion fracture in the knee.

NBA Concludes McCaw Investigation, Finds No CBA Violations

The NBA announced today in a press release that it has concluded its investigation into the Cavaliers‘ signing – and subsequent release – of Patrick McCaw. According to the announcement, the league found that there was no violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, including the anti-circumvention rules.

McCaw, the final restricted free agent of 2018’s class, held out for most of the first half of the season before signing a two-year, $6MM offer sheet with the Cavaliers. The offer sheet was non-guaranteed, but was signed just a week and a half before all salaries for 2018/19 would become guaranteed — if the Warriors had matched, they would have had to pay McCaw his full $3MM salary for this season or waive him within about a week, putting him in line for unrestricted free agency.

Golden State opted not to match the offer sheet, so McCaw became a Cavalier. However, his stint in Cleveland only lasted for about a week, as the Cavs released him before the league-wide salary guarantee deadline. The third-year shooting guard subsequently signed a minimum salary contract with the Raptors once he became an unrestricted free agent.

Once the Cavs parted ways with McCaw, it looked suspiciously like the team had done his agent a solid, paving the way for the 23-year-old to become an unrestricted free agent. It also didn’t hurt that Cleveland’s series of transactions cost the rival Warriors an asset.

The NBA looked into the matter and could have levied fines or lost-draft-pick penalties on the Cavs if there was evidence of wrongdoing, but that outcome was always unlikely. Given their injury-ravaged roster, the Cavs had a clear motive for signing McCaw. And given his poor audition for the team – 1.7 PPG on 22.2% shooting in three games (17.7 MPG) – Cleveland also had an obvious motive for moving on from him last week.

Even though the Cavs have been cleared in this instance, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the league and the players’ union revisits this issue at some point. ESPN’s Bobby Marks suggests (via Twitter) that it might make sense, in the next CBA, to require the first year of offer sheets to be fully guaranteed. Another option, per Marks, would be to prohibit a player from re-signing with the team that waives him after signing him to a non-guaranteed offer sheet (ie. McCaw would have been ineligible to re-sign with the Cavs after being cut).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Resisting Buyout For Robin Lopez

The Bulls are adamantly opposed to negotiating a buyout with Robin Lopez, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. According to Haynes, Lopez’s representation has been in talks with Bulls management since late December about a possible exit strategy for the veteran center. However, the team intends to stand firm.

While the Bulls aren’t opposed to parting with Lopez, they remain focused on trading him for an asset, rather than losing him for nothing, Haynes writes. That could be tricky — while Lopez has an expiring contract, his $14.36MM cap hit will make it difficult to move him for anything of value without taking back any future salary.

If Lopez is bought out and/or waived at some point, the Warriors would be his next team, sources tell Haynes. The center position has been an area of some concern for Golden State this season, but the Dubs will be getting DeMarcus Cousins back very soon and they look like locks to land Lopez as well if he reaches free agency at some point during the season.

“I think it’s an appealing situation for just about anybody in the league,” Lopez told Haynes when asked about the Warriors. “You go there, they share the ball, they play defense, they play the right way. But right now, that’s something we’re aspiring to do here. And there’s a certain joy in trying build a culture like that, and I appreciate being a veteran in that position of helping shepherd a team towards that point.”

It makes sense that the Bulls would keep all their options open up until the February 7 trade deadline. Early-season buyouts – like the ones negotiated by Tyson Chandler and Austin Rivers in Phoenix – are somewhat rare, with veteran buyouts typically happening between the trade deadline and March 1.

It’s not clear whether the Bulls will continue to maintain a hard-line stance with Lopez if they’re unable to find a suitable trade. The team values his leadership, as Haynes notes, and is of course under no obligation to do a favor for the defending champions. However, allowing Lopez to join a contender rather than keeping him on a lottery-bound roster could buy Chicago some league-wide goodwill with veterans and agents.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/13/19

Here are Sunday’s NBA G League assignments and recalls from across the league:

  • The Wizards have recalled rookie wing Troy Brown Jr. from their G League affiliate, according to a tweet from the team. Brown has appeared in 21 games so far for the Wizards, averaging just 2.3 points per game.
  • The Warriors recalled (via Twitter) rookie guard Jacob Evans from the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team’s G League affiliate. Evans has also appeared in 21 games this season, but is averaging just 4.4 minutes per game.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/10/19

Here are Thursday’s NBA G League assignments and recalls from across the league:

NBA To Talk With McCaw’s Representatives

The NBA will speak to representatives for Patrick McCaw tomorrow as part of its investigation into whether the Cavaliers acted improperly in signing him to a non-guaranteed offer sheet and waiving him shortly afterward, writes Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News.

McCaw spent barely a week with Cleveland and appeared in three games after agreeing to a two-year, $6MM offer sheet that the Warriors elected not to match. Cleveland didn’t guarantee any money in the offer, so the club was only on the hook for about $323K. The decision to release him a day before this season’s $3MM salary would have guaranteed led to accusations that the Cavs only gave McCaw the offer as a way to make him an unrestricted free agent and give him a way out of Golden State.

Shortly after clearing waivers today, McCaw agreed to join the Raptors on a veteran’s minimum contract for the rest of the season. His representatives contacted about eight other teams before settling on the deal with Toronto, according to Medina.

The Cavaliers face severe penalties, including fines and possible loss of draft picks, if the league determines they violated the collective bargaining agreement. However, their recent roster chaos gives them a strong defense, contends Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Cleveland had just nine healthy players on December 28 when it extended the offer sheet to McCaw. One of the starters that night was two-way player Jaron Blossomgame, while fellow two-way player Jalen Jones was on the bench. The Cavs needed extra wing players because Rodney Hood was sidelined with Achilles soreness and David Nwaba was out with lower leg injuries.

During McCaw’s first game in Cleveland, Matthew Dellavedova was injured while stepping on another player’s foot, leaving the team without a backup point guard. The Cavaliers bolstered that position by waiving McCaw and signing former Bull Cameron Payne.

“I don’t think it was as much what didn’t happen [with McCaw], it was really mostly what we needed,” coach Larry Drew said. “With Delly going down, we really didn’t have a backup point. I had to throw Alec [Burks] in there as backup point, and that wasn’t really fair to him. So we made the decision.”

Vardon adds that under the circumstances, it would be difficult to build a strong case against the franchise unless McCaw or agent Bill Duffy admits that an under-the-table agreement was in place.

Cousins Expected To Make Warriors’ Debut On January 18

JANUARY 9, 12:13am: Speaking tonight to reporters, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr confirmed that the team expects Cousins to make his debut soon, but suggested the January 18 date isn’t set in stone (Twitter link via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area). It could also happen on January 16 (vs. Pelicans) or January 21 (vs. Lakers), per Kerr.

JANUARY 8, 9:39pm: DeMarcus Cousins is expected to make his highly-anticipated debut with the Warriors on January 18, sources tell Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Golden State will play the Clippers in Los Angeles that Friday night and then take on the Lakers two days later at the Staples Center.

Cousins is recovering from the torn Achilles he suffered last season with the Pelicans. He signed a one-year deal with the Warriors with the expectation of hitting the free agent market again in 2019. The team can only offer him a modest raise on his $5.3MM deal, though at least one insider has predicted that Cousins may consider playing on a similar one-year deal during the 2019/20 campaign.

Playing with the Warriors will be different than any team Cousins has ever played on. The pace and real title expectations are unlike anything Cousins has seen since he came into the league.

“They play faster than most other teams. It’s not even about the rust. That’s going to be part of the process. I’m aware of that. It’s about having my body in the best shape possible for an NBA game,” Cousins said last month.

NBA To Review Patrick McCaw’s Deal With Cavaliers

The NBA plans on formally reviewing the Cavaliers‘ signing and waiving of Patrick McCaw for possible salary cap circumvention, Mark Stein of The New York Times reports.

McCaw was a restricted free agent sitting under Warriors team control through most of the season as he sat out and waited for an offer from a rival club. The Cavaliers presented him with a two-year, $6MM offer sheet, which was non-guaranteed, and Golden State chose not to match it, leaving McCaw to join Cleveland.

The swingman was with the team less than a week before he was released, and some around the league suspect the move was designed to help McCaw get out from under the Warriors’ control rather than the Cavaliers actually wanting him on the team. Stein adds that the Warriors requested the investigation.

Stein notes that NBA teams are not allowed to make “unauthorized agreements” based on “expressed or implied” deals or include “promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind” with respect to player contracts. Penalties can include fines in the $3-6MM range and could cost a team draft picks.

However, unless the Cavs or agent Bill Duffy tell the NBA that the two sides intentionally entered their agreement in an effort to eventually get McCaw to free agency, it seems unlikely that the league will come down hard on Cleveland. As Joe Vardon of The Athletic observes, the Cavs have a good alibi for taking a flier on McCaw, in the form of a “roster in shambles.”

The Cavs have expressed interest in re-signing McCaw to a cheaper deal if he clears waivers. He made roughly $323K during his brief stint in Cleveland.

Amick’s Latest: T. Chandler, Walton, Joerger

Before he signed with the Lakers, Tyson Chandler gave legitimate consideration to joining the division-rival Warriors instead. As he tells Sam Amick of The Athletic, Chandler loves Golden State’s style of play and was told the team would be interested in adding him, but he knew there may not be much of a role for him when DeMarcus Cousins returned.

“For me, it became (a question of), ‘Where would I make the most impact?'” Chandler said. “Do I want to go there and — back-to-back champs — just a well-oiled machine, be one of the guys, maybe be that vet on the bench after DeMarcus comes back? Or do I want to come to the Lakers, where they were teeter-tottering a little bit, struggling at the time, but I’d seen it coming alive, and I’ve always loved the draft picks and the young players that they had here, and then (LeBron James) coming here, and then (Rajon) Rondo, and then having those vets? I’m like, let me go ahead and hop in that dogfight.”

Amick’s wide-ranging article on The Athletic also touches on several other topics, including whether or not Kevin Durant should (and would) shoot more three-pointers, Austin Rivers‘ adjustment to Houston, and more. Here are a few other highlights:

  • The dynamic between Lakers head coach Luke Walton and team management is complicated enough that it’s worth keeping an eye on for the rest of the season, says Amick. However, a source close to the situation tells him that there are “no signs of imminent danger” for Walton.
  • There has been speculation that Dave Joerger could be a good candidate for the Timberwolves‘ head coaching job since he’s a Minnesota native and has fans within the organization. There’s no indication that it’s likely though, according to Amick, who hears from sources that Joerger is still extremely high on the Kings‘ young core.
  • Previous reports, including a couple from Amick, have suggested that there’s tension between Joerger and Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams, but that situation appears “more tenable” as of late, per Amick. Sources tell The Athletic that Williams spent a lot of time on the road during the weeks after Joerger asked him to leave a November shootaround, in a concerted effort to relieve tensions. All signs now point to Joerger remaining safe in Sacramento at least through the end of the 2018/19 season, Amick adds.
  • For what it’s worth, here’s what Joerger told James Ham of NBC Sports California when asked about the Timberwolves‘ job: “Obviously I’m a Minnesota kid, so it’s interesting, but at the same time, my focus is right here, right now. I mean, we’re having a great time with our guys. We’re watching them grow every day. I feel like I’ve worked my tail off, I know the players have and the coaching staff — to put us in a position where we have tremendous chemistry.”

Teams Interested In Patrick McCaw

“About four” teams are interested in acquiring Patrick McCaw, who was waived by the Cavaliers yesterday, a source tells Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. Cleveland is believed to be among that group, although some playoff contenders have expressed interest as well.

The source isn’t clear on whether any team intends to claim McCaw off waivers or if they will all wait for him to become an unrestricted free agent. Anyone who claims McCaw would inherit the two-year, $6MM contract he signed with Cleveland last week, but the current season would become fully guaranteed.

The Cavs’ deal with McCaw turned out to be a way to get him out of his commitment to Golden State. As the final remaining restricted free agent, any offer that McCaw received could have been matched by the Warriors. By signing him to a non-guaranteed deal, Cleveland gave him a path to unrestricted free agency with a minimal financial commitment.

McCaw played just three games for Cleveland, averaging 1.3 PPG in 17.7 minutes per night. In addition to doing McCaw a favor, the Cavs wanted to open a roster spot to add point guard Cameron Payne, who signed a 10-day deal with the team yesterday.