Hoops Rumors Originals

Five Key Stories: 8/10/19 – 8/17/19

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

DeMarcus Cousins suffered his third serious injury in the past 19 months, tearing his left ACL while working out Monday in Las Vegas. Although no timetable has been set, there’s a possibility that Cousins will miss all of the 2019/20 season. Because the injury happened so late in the summer, the Lakers have limited options for replacing Cousins, who signed as a free agent last month.

De’Aaron Fox announced that he was leaving Team USA to concentrate on the upcoming season. The Kings guard is the latest in a series of high-profile withdrawals that have dwindled the number of players competing for roster spots. P.J. Tucker, Kyle Lowry and Marvin Bagley also left the team this week.

Joseph Tsai reached an agreement with Nets majority shareholder Mikhail Prokhorov to acquire full ownership of the team. Tsai also receives the Barclays Center in the deal, which still must be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

The Clippers are reportedly nearing a deal to add Tyronn Lue as the top assistant to Doc Rivers. Lue, who coached the Cavaliers to the NBA title in 2016, is a long-time friend of Rivers and has been in demand since he was fired early last season.

The NCAA amended its new regulations for agents who represent prospects considering the NBA draft. The change got rid of the controversial “Rich Paul Rule” that required all prospective agents to have a bachelor’s degree.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from the past week:

  • The NBA released its schedule Monday for the 2019/20 season, with the Pelicans visiting the Raptors and the Lakers facing the Clippers on opening night. Full schedules for all 30 teams are available here.
  • Michael Beasley reached an agreement with the Pistons and is expected to battle for the final roster spot. If he makes the team, Beasley will miss the season’s first five games because of a drug suspension.
  • The Clippers signed forward Patrick Patterson to a veteran’s minimum deal. He reached a buyout with the Thunder at the beginning of August.
  • Justin Patton, whose time with the Timberwolves was derailed by injuries, signed with the Thunder. Patton, who was traded to the Sixers last season, got into just three games for Philadelphia before being waived in April.
  • The Bucks invited Hasheem Thabeet for a private workout. The second player picked in the 2009 draft, Thabeet hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014.
  • Speculation grew about a possible destination for Carmelo Anthony amid a report that he was working out regularly with several Nets players. However, a source said Brooklyn has no current interest in adding Anthony.
  • A knee injury will prevent Heat big man Kelly Olynyk from representing Canada in the FIBA World Cup. He is expected to recover in time for the start of the regular season.
  • Several Chinese teams are willing to welcome Jeremy Lin if he doesn’t get invited to an NBA training camp.
  • Shabazz Muhammad, who spent five seasons with the Timberwolves and Bucks, and Zhou Qi, who played briefly for the Rockets, both reached new deals in China.
  • Jonas Jerebko, who appeared in 73 games with the Warriors last season, has signed to play in Russia.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 8/10/19 – 8/17/19

Every week, the Hoops Rumors writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are our original segments and features from the past seven days:

  • Luke Adams analyzed how players who turned down player options fared in free agency this offseason. He found a number of players who made the right move.
  • Adams broke down with players are going to be free agents next offseason by team and made a list of notable big men on the free agent market right now.
  • In honor of Magic Johnson’s 60th birthday (and the NBA legend’s Twitter feed), we made a list of the top 60 players heading into the 2019/20 season.
  • We outlined some of the key dates and deadlines this NBA preseason.
  • Dana Guaruder asked whether the Pistons should offer Andre Drummond an extension in one Community Shootaround discussion and started a conversation about the NBA schedule changes in another.
  • In an additional Community Shootaround, we asked how DeMarcus Cousins‘ injury will impact the Lakers.
  • We asked which team is going to win the Southeast Division next season. As of this writing, over 40% of Hoops Rumors readers believe it will be the Heat.
  • Roughly a third of Hoops Rumors readers who answered our poll on the Northwest Division believe the Nuggets will again take the division crown.
  • Adams detailed the 2019 draft-and-stash signings and chronicled which teams claimed players off of waivers so far during the 2019/20 league year.
  • Which players have trade kickers in 2019/20? Adams listed each player along with the percentage of salary amounts of each trade kicker.
  • The Spurs have appeared in 22 straight postseasons. In a Community Shootaround, Arthur Hill asked whether the team will make it 23 in a row.
  • Which NBA clubs have a G League affiliate? We provided the answer.

Community Shootaround: Andre Drummond

Unlike the free agent frenzy this summer, next year’s open market will produce precious little drama.

Unless Anthony Davis is serious about testing the waters after the Lakers expended many assets to acquire him, there will be no marquee names on the unrestricted free agent list.

Pistons center Andre Drummond might be the most intriguing and polarizing player on the market.

He can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his player option of $28.75MM. It might be the ideal time for Drummond to test the waters, considering the lack of star power in next year’s free agent class.

He’s the league premier rebounder, particularly at the offensive end. Despite not developing a 3-point shot — though coach Dwane Casey is willing to give him some chances in the future — Drummond averaged a career-best 17.3 PPG last season.

His free throw shooting is still poor but he’s improved enough to stay on the court in crunch time, going from below 40 percent to around 60 the past two seasons.

He’s adept in pick-and-roll situations and led his team in blocks and steals last season. However, his overall defense often leaves something to be desired.

The Pistons have a dilemma on their hands. They could try to work out an extension with Drummond, who is still only 26 and in the prime of his career.

They could also opt to play things out and perhaps trade him before the deadline if their season goes sour. However, if Drummond has a big year and they hold onto him, they could lose him for nothing next summer and face another long rebuild.

Since Drummond didn’t make an All-NBA team last season, he’s not eligible for the super max. If he wanted a maximum extension, he’d have to decline his player option, then receive a 20 percent raise on his $27MM salary for the upcoming season.

With 8% raises during the ensuing three seasons, Drummond could receive a four-year, $145.65MM extension beginning in 2020/21.

The Pistons have been handcuffed by a bad salary cap situation but beyond Blake Griffin‘s contract, they have few salary commitments after this season and will be in pretty good position to make moves next summer.

That leads us to our question of the day: Should the Pistons offer Andre Drummond an extension? If so, would it be in Drummond’s best interests to accept the offer or should he shop his services in a weak free agent market next summer?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

How Players Who Declined Options Fared In Free Agency

Heading into the 2019 offseason, 27 veterans held player options on their contracts, allowing them to either opt in for the 2019/20 season or opt out and reach the open market. Of those 27 players, a dozen decided to turn down their options and become free agents.

For some players, that decision was a simple one. Kyrie Irving, for instance, was never going to exercise his $21.3MM option with the Celtics, since opting out allowed him to get a raise, gain long-term security, and land with his preferred team.

The decision wasn’t so easy for every player who opted out though. Now that most of those 12 veterans have officially signed new contracts and the salary details are in, we want to look back on those decisions and see if they paid off.

Let’s dive in…

Opting out was definitely the right call:

  • Kevin Durant
    • Option: $31,500,000 (Warriors)
    • New contract: Four years, $164.3MM (Nets)
  • Kyrie Irving
    • Option: $21,329,752 (Celtics)
    • New contract: Four years, $136.5MM (Nets)
  • Kawhi Leonard
    • Option: $21,329,752 (Raptors)
    • New contract: Three years, $103.1MM (Clippers)
  • Jimmy Butler
    • Option: $19,841,627 (Sixers)
    • New contract: Four years, $140.8MM (Heat)
  • Khris Middleton
    • Option: $13,000,000 (Bucks)
    • New contract: Five years, $177.5MM (Bucks)
  • Julius Randle
    • Option: $9,073,050 (Pelicans)
    • New contract: Three years, $56.7MM (Knicks)

These six players were among free agency’s biggest winners. Durant, Leonard, and Butler landed maximum-salary contracts, Irving can reach the max via incentives, and Middleton secured more overall guaranteed money than all of them. Randle’s overall payday paled in comparison to the others, but it was still a no-brainer for him to turn down his option to return to New Orleans.

All six of these players will receive significant raises for the 2019/20 season over what they could have received on their options, and they all scored multiyear contracts.

Opting out hurt a little in the short term, but will pay off in the long term:

  • Al Horford
    • Option: $30,123,015 (Celtics)
    • New contract: Four years, $109MM (Sixers)
  • Harrison Barnes
    • Option: $25,102,512 (Kings)
    • New contract: Four years, $85MM (Kings)
  • Jonas Valanciunas
    • Option: $17,617,976 (Grizzlies)
    • New contract; Three years, $45MM (Grizzlies)

Horford, Barnes, and Valanciunas will earn less in 2019/20 than they would have if they’d picked up their respective options. But that modest trade-off was worth it for the long-term security.

Horford and Barnes each tacked on upwards of $60MM+ in total guaranteed money to their contracts by opting out. Valanciunas, meanwhile, will accepted a pay cut of about $1.6MM this season in order to secure an extra two years and $29MM on his new deal.

It’s essentially a wash:

  • Nerlens Noel
    • Option: $1,988,119 (Thunder)
    • New contract: One year, $2MM (Thunder)
  • James Ennis
    • Option: $1,845,301 (Sixers)
    • New contract: Two years, $4MM (Sixers)

Noel and Ennis each had minimum-salary options on their contracts. They opted out and signed for… the minimum.

It wasn’t a huge win for either player, but they can each at least claim they’ll be making more in 2019/20 than they would have if they’d opted in. Noel’s salary increased from $1,988,119 to $2,028,594, while Ennis gets a slight bump from $1,845,301 to $1,882,867 (his second year is another player option).

The jury’s still out, but it’s not looking great:

  • Nene
    • Option: $3,825,360 (Rockets)
    • Remains unsigned

The only unsigned player on this list, Nene is unlikely to match the $3.8MM salary he would have earned with the Rockets. Still, if he can catch on with an NBA team on a minimum deal, he’ll at least recoup a good chunk of his lost money — the 2019/20 veteran’s minimum for a player with his experience is $2,564,753.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Which Team Will Win Southeast In 2019/20?

When we recently asked you to make your picks on which teams would win the Pacific and Northwest divisions, there were a handful of strong, viable choices. It’s not outlandish to view the Clippers, Lakers, or Warriors as potential division winners in the Pacific, while the Nuggets, Jazz, and Trail Blazers all have a realistic chance to finish atop the Northwest.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the Southeast is another division that doesn’t have an overwhelming favorite, but it’s not because there are a handful of potential Southeast powerhouses — it’s because the division isn’t particularly strong.

Last season, only one of the East’s playoff teams came out of the Southeast, as the 42-40 Magic sneaked into the postseason and claimed the division crown. The other four Southeast teams finished between ninth and 12th in the conference.

The division doesn’t project to be a whole lot stronger in 2019/20, though the Magic retained all their key free agents and still have room for growth. Orlando had one of the league’s best defenses during the second half of the 2018/19 season, and ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus projections are bullish on the club going forward. As Kevin Pelton details in an Insider story, ESPN’s RPM projections place the Magic fourth in the Eastern Conference for ’19/20, behind only Milwaukee, Boston, and Philadelphia.

Still, the Magic won’t enter the season as the Vegas favorites to win the Southeast. Betting site BetOnline.ag lists the Heat as the current frontrunners. Although Miami missed the postseason last season with a 39-43 record, the team is hopeful that replacing Josh Richardson with Jimmy Butler and getting further development from young players like Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow will be worth several wins.

At this point, Orlando and Miami look like the only truly viable contenders for the division title, but it’s possible one of the other three clubs will significantly exceed expectations. The Hawks might be the best contender. John Collins, Trae Young, and Kevin Huerter should only get better, and if rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish can provide positive contributions immediately, Atlanta could surprise some teams.

The outlook looks a little bleaker for the Wizards and Hornets. Washington, at least, has an All-Star player in Bradley Beal, but the team won only 32 games last season with Beal healthy, and he won’t have much more help this season. In Charlotte, the 39-43 Hornets are expected to take a step back after replacing All-NBA point guard Kemba Walker with Terry Rozier.

What do you think? Which team do you expect to win the Southeast in 2019/20? And are any of the teams in the division capable of winning a playoff series or two in the spring?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your two cents!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

2020 NBA Free Agents By Team

Hoops Rumors’ up-to-date list of 2020 free agents by team is below. These are players who are eligible for restricted or unrestricted free agency after the 2019/20 season.

Players with team or player options for the 2020/21 season are listed, unless they’re still on their rookie scale contracts. Potential restricted free agents are marked with (RFA). Two-way free agents will be added to this list later in the year once we’ve confirmed which deals are for one or two years.

Players whose 2020/21 salaries aren’t fully guaranteed are also listed below, assuming they have fully guaranteed salaries in all previous seasons. Players with earlier non-guaranteed salaries will be moved to this list if and when all seasons before ’19/20 become guaranteed. For now, they can be found here.

This list will continue to be updated throughout the 2019/20 season, so be sure to use it and our list of 2020 free agents by position/type as points of reference. Both lists can be found anytime under “Hoops Rumors Features” on the right-hand sidebar of our desktop site, or in the “Free Agent Lists” section of our mobile menu. If you have any corrections or omissions, please contact us.

Updated 8-16-19 (12:51pm CT)

Atlanta Hawks

  1. Allen Crabbe
  2. Alex Len
  3. Chandler Parsons
  4. Evan Turner
  5. DeAndre’ Bembry (RFA)
  6. Damian Jones (RFA)
  7. Jabari Parker ($6,500,000 player option)

Boston Celtics

  1. Jaylen Brown (RFA)
  2. Brad Wanamaker (RFA)
  3. Gordon Hayward ($34,187,085 player option)
  4. Enes Kanter ($5,005,350 player option)
  5. Semi Ojeleye ($1,752,950 team option)
  6. Daniel Theis ($5,000,000 non-guaranteed salary)

Brooklyn Nets

  1. Wilson Chandler
  2. Joe Harris
  3. Caris LeVert (RFA)
  4. Taurean Prince (RFA)
  5. Garrett Temple ($5,005,350 team option)
  6. Theo Pinson ($1,701,593 team option)
  7. David Nwaba ($1,824,003 non-guaranteed salary)

Read more

Key 2019 NBA Preseason Dates, Deadlines

The most notable dates of the 2019 NBA offseason are behind us now that we’re through the draft and the free agent period. However, there are still a number of dates and deadlines to keep an eye on in the coming weeks and months before teams take the court again to kick off the 2019/20 regular season.

The list below doesn’t include every event or deadline that will take place prior to opening night on October 22, but these are several of the most important upcoming dates for teams and players.

Here’s the breakdown:

August 31:

  • Last day that teams can waive players and apply the stretch provision to their 2019/20 salaries. After August 31, teams can still use the stretch provision on players who have multiple years left on their contracts, but their ’19/20 cap hits will remain unchanged.

August 31 – September 15:

  • The 2019 FIBA World Cup takes place in China. The first round will run through September 5, with the second round wrapping up on September 9. The quarterfinals will take place on September 10-11, followed by the semifinals on the 13th and the final on the 15th.

September 5:

September 28:

  • Training camps begin for teams participating in preseason games outside North America. This applies to the Pacers and Kings (India), Rockets and Raptors (Japan), and Nets and Lakers (China).

October 1:

  • Training camps begin for the rest of the NBA’s teams.

October 19:

  • Last day for players on fully non-guaranteed contracts to be waived and not count at all against a team’s 2019/20 cap. They must clear waivers before the first day of the regular season.

October 21:

  • Last day of the 2019 offseason.
  • Roster limits decrease from 20 players to 15 (4:00pm CT)
  • Last day for teams to sign a player to a rookie scale extension (5:00pm CT). [RELATED: Players eligible for rookie scale extensions]
  • Last day for teams to sign an extension-eligible veteran player with multiple seasons left on his contract (ie. Bradley Beal) to an extension. An extension-eligible veteran player on an expiring deal (ie. Kyle Lowry) can still be extended after October 21.
  • Last day for teams to complete sign-and-trade deals.
  • Last day for teams to convert an Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way contract.

October 22:

Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ and NBA.com were used in the creation of this post.

Community Shootaround: How Will Cousins’ Injury Impact Lakers?

Today’s news that DeMarcus Cousins has been diagnosed with a torn left ACL is a devastating turn of events for the veteran big man, who had aspirations of returning to full strength in 2019/20.

A strong comeback season at age 29 might have set up Cousins for the sort of big payday that has eluded him over the past couple summers due to Achilles and quad injuries. Instead, he’ll spend most – or all – of the season recovering from yet another major leg injury.

Cousins’ torn ACL is an unfortunate development for his new team too. The Lakers were counting on the four-time All-Star to potentially be their starting center, viewing him as a low-risk, high-reward gamble on a one-year, $3.5MM contract. If he could have come anywhere close to recapturing his old All-Star form, Cousins would have provided offensive firepower alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis and helped the Lakers compete for a championship.

With Cousins no longer expected to be a factor, the Lakers suddenly look pretty thin at center. Last year’s primary starter JaVale McGee will return, but he only played 22.3 minutes per contest in 2018/19, and I wouldn’t expect that number to increase substantially, if at all.

The Lakers will almost certainly have to ask Davis – who prefers to play the power forward position – to spend more time at the five. With James and Kyle Kuzma expected to be among the Lakers’ most-used players, it makes more sense for the team to play AD at center anyway — leaning on lineups that featured Davis, LeBron, and Kuzma plus a center would have been tenuous with or without a healthy Cousins.

Of course, even if Davis is willing to play more center, the club might have to add reinforcements at the position. The Lakers have at least one regular season roster spot available, and could have two if Cousins is ruled out for the season and they’re willing to release him (he’d still receive his full salary). And there are at least a handful of noteworthy big men on the free agent market, as we outlined earlier this week.

In an Insider article, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton names Salah Mejri and Joakim Noah as his preferred free agent targets for the Lakers, noting that Kenneth Faried and Nene are out there too. Amir Johnson, Marcin Gortat, and Marreese Speights, who worked out in front of Frank Vogel last month, also remain unsigned. None of those guys would move the needle in a huge way, but there are a few that could provide 10-15 solid minutes per game if needed.

As the Lakers determine a recovery timeline for Cousins and mull their frontcourt options, we want your two cents. Do you think the Lakers should target a certain free agent big man? Will they be fine with Davis and McGee handling the center minutes?

Regardless of how the Lakers address their newly-created frontcourt hole, do you think Cousins’ injury significantly affects the club’s ceiling for 2019/20? How will his absence impact the Lakers’ title chances?

Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

NBA Players With Trade Kickers In 2019/20

A trade kicker is a contractual clause that pays an NBA player a bonus when he’s traded. They’re one of the tools teams have at their disposal to differentiate their free agent offers from the ones put on the table by competing clubs.

Sometimes the kicker is worth a fixed amount, but usually it’s based on a percentage of the remaining value of the contract. So, a player who has a 10% trade kicker is eligible for a bonus worth 10% of the amount of money he has yet to collect on his deal.

Regardless of whether a trade kicker is set at a fixed amount or a percentage, the bonus can’t exceed 15% of the remaining value of the contract. Most trade kickers are worth 15%, the highest percentage allowed.

A trade bonus must be paid by the team that trades the player, rather than the team acquiring him. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement also allows a player to waive his trade kicker as part of a deal, if he so chooses.

If you want a more detailed explanation of how trade kickers work, check out the Hoops Rumors Glossary entry on the subject.

With the help of contract information from Basketball Insiders, here’s a list of the NBA players who have active trade kickers for 2019/20, listed alphabetically, along with the details of those trade bonuses:

The following players have trade bonuses on their contracts, but those bonuses would be voided if they were to be traded during the 2019/20 league year, since they’re already earning this season’s maximum salary:

The following players have signed contract extensions that will include trade kickers, but those extensions won’t go into effect until the 2020/21 season:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Spurs’ Playoff Streak

Gregg Popovich found the right solution when he decided to fire head coach Bob Hill early in the 1996/97 season. Popovich, who was serving as San Antonio’s general manager and VP of basketball operations, named himself as coach, taking over a team that was crumbling under injuries to David Robinson, Sean Elliott and Chuck Person. The Spurs didn’t rally to make the playoffs that season, but they haven’t missed since.

Some lottery luck brought Tim Duncan to San Antonio and started one of the most remarkable runs of success in North American sports. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili later became important components of a team that was among the NBA’s best for nearly two decades. Even after all the stars were gone, the Spurs continued to win, extending their playoff streak to 22 games last season, tied for the longest ever with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers, who did it from 1950 to 1971.

Keeping that tradition alive seems to get tougher every year. In the Western Conference, where nearly all the contenders made a flashy summer move, DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles were the Spurs’ most significant offseason additions. They join a veteran-laden lineup built around LaMarcus Aldridge (34), Rudy Gay (32) and DeMar DeRozan (30). The team’s best hope for improvement lies in Dejounte Murray‘s return from a torn right ACL and continued progress from Lonnie Walker and Derrick White.

Playoff spots will be at a premium in the West this year, and many seemed sewed up before the season starts. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should keep the Clippers in the postseason, while the Lakers are likely to join them after trading for Anthony Davis. The Warriors will have a different look after five years at the top, but they still have an All-Star backcourt, plus Klay Thompson is expected to return sometime before the playoffs.

The Nuggets, Jazz and Trail Blazers all look strong in the Northwest, and the Rockets should also get in with a pair of MVP guards. That’s seven spots already locked up without considering other potential contenders such as the Pelicans, Mavericks, Thunder, Timberwolves and Kings.

Popovich believes in his system and has shown an ability to adapt and get the most from his players. However, surviving the Western Conference gauntlet and stretching the playoff streak to 23 might be his greatest coaching challenge yet.

We want to get your opinion. Do you see the Spurs as a playoff team, or is this the year the streak finally ends? Please leave your responses in the space below.