Hoops Rumors Originals

2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Golden State Warriors

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Golden State Warriors.


Salary Cap Outlook

The Warriors won’t have any cap room available in the 2020 offseason. In fact, adding the cap hit for a top-five draft pick to their already-pricey roster will easily put the Dubs in luxury tax territory.

Still, assuming team ownership remains willing to spend big, Golden State has some flexibility to add roster upgrades using the taxpayer mid-level exception (which should be worth at least $5.7MM) and a $17.2MM traded player exception.

Our full salary cap preview for the Warriors can be found right here.


Roster Decisions To Watch

Options:

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

  • None

Free Agents:

  • None

2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 1 overall pick (pending lottery results)

The Warriors are tied for the most favorable lottery odds, with a 14.0% chance at the No. 1 overall pick and a 52.1% chance to receive a top-four selection. Because they had the NBA’s worst record, they can’t fall further than No. 5 (47.9%).

Second Round:

  • No. 48 overall pick (pending final standings)

The Warriors traded away their own second-round pick (No. 31), but acquired the Mavericks’ selection, which currently projects to land at No. 48.


Three Key Offseason Questions

1. What will the Warriors do with their top-five draft pick?

If the Warriors were in a position to draft a potential generational talent such as Zion Williamson with their lottery pick this fall, there would be little doubt that they’d hang onto their first-rounder and simply plug that player into their lineup.

However, with no consensus on who should be the No. 1 pick in 2020 and no surefire superstars in this year’s draft class, it might make more sense for the veteran team to shop its top-five pick and trade it to the highest bidder.

Just one year removed from their fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance, the Warriors are well positioned to bounce back in a big way in 2020/21, with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in the mix. The right deal could give Golden State the immediate upgrade necessary to once again enter the season as the championship frontrunner.

Unlike most clubs picking high in the lottery, the Warriors aren’t in desperate need of an infusion of young talent. And with teams around the NBA potentially tightening their purse strings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, acquiring a high-upside rookie on a cost-controlled four-year contract could hold significant appeal to a potential Warriors trade partner, increasing the Dubs’ leverage in negotiations.

Still, there are compelling reasons for Golden State to considering keeping the pick. For one, the Warriors’ stars are all now in their 30s — going all-in on veterans would mean risking having the franchise’s window of contention close within the next few years. Adding a young building block could help eventually ease the transition from the Curry/Thompson/Draymond Green-era Warriors to the next generation.

It’s also worth considering what exactly the Warriors could get back in a trade involving their lottery pick. When the Lakers landed the No. 4 pick in the 2019 lottery, it was a foregone conclusion that they’d use that pick as part of their offer for Anthony Davis. There are no superstars this fall who are locks to be on the trade block and who have conveyed a desire to play in the Bay Area. A top-five pick could net the Warriors a good return, but the opportunity to land a bona fide star may simply not be there this offseason.

Although I certainly expect the Warriors to explore a variety of trade options involving their lottery pick, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team’s approach to that selection is similar to the one it took with D’Angelo Russell. When Golden State acquired Russell in a sign-and-trade, it did so knowing he’d have enough value to eventually be flipped for an asset – or assets – that better complemented the current roster.

The Warriors could take the same path with their top pick, using it to draft a player while recognizing that that prospect could eventually headline an appealing package if the right veteran star reaches the trade market.

2. What will the Warriors do with their $17MM+ trade exception?

The Warriors’ decision on trading their draft pick is complicated by the fact that they have a $17MM+ traded player exception that will expire if it’s not used by October 24. The exception allows the team to acquire a player (or players) earning up to $17,285,185 without sending out any salary themselves. That ability could be extremely useful in any draft-day trade.

Most trade exceptions expire without being used, but this one – besides being unusually large – is also one of the only viable avenues for the Warriors to make a roster upgrade this fall. They project to be well over the tax line, meaning they’ll have no cap room, no bi-annual exception, and will only have the taxpayer version of the mid-level exception. If they don’t use this TPE, their flexibility to add talent will be limited.

That’s not to say that the Warriors are obligated to use the exception. Adding salary to the roster will increase Golden State’s tax bill exponentially. And while Joe Lacob and company have never been shy about spending big, we’re in uncharted territory now, with no real sense of when fans might be allowed back in the Warriors’ new arena. The revenues from the Chase Center were supposed to help offset the rising cost of the club’s roster, but barring a major nationwide and statewide improvement on the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the club won’t be selling out its building anytime soon.

The Warriors will want to take advantage of Curry’s and Thompson’s prime years and aren’t about to cut costs. But acquiring a player earning $17MM would likely increase the team’s tax bill by three or four times that amount. Although there are some intriguing potential targets out there, guys like Evan Fournier, Will Barton, J.J. Redick, or Josh Richardson aren’t exactly stars — increasing overall 2020/21 payroll by $50-80MM to land one of them might not be the best use of the organization’s resources.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that using a $17MM trade exception to acquire a player earning $5MM – instead of $17MM – shouldn’t be viewed as a wasted opportunity. If a lesser-priced player can provide similar production, it’s the prudent move, even if it means not taking advantage of the full exception. As such, if the Warriors use their TPE, they may prioritize finding a bargain veteran or a player on a rookie contract who could be acquired without breaking the bank.

3. What’s the plan for Andrew Wiggins?

The cleanest way for the Warriors to avoid an astronomical tax bill while still making some changes to their roster would be to trade Wiggins. Of the four Warriors players earning more than $22MM in 2020/21, he’s the most expendable, having not been part of their championship teams.

But Wiggins still doesn’t have positive trade value at this point. When he was dealt to Golden State for Russell, there was plenty of talk about how playing on the wing alongside Curry, Thompson, and Green would be an ideal situation for the former No. 1 pick, giving him a chance to rebuild his value as a complementary option rather than a go-to guy. However, we haven’t actually seen whether that forecast will come to fruition, in part because he hasn’t had a chance to play with the team’s three stars yet.

In the limited action he did see for the Warriors, Wiggins didn’t look all that different from the player we saw in Minnesota. He can score, but not especially efficiently. And the team was worse defensively when he was on the court than when he sat.

With three years and $94.7MM left on his contract, Wiggins still has to take significant strides before he can realistically be considered a positive trade asset. That means it probably doesn’t make much sense for Golden State to try to move him this offseason.

If the team legitimately believes that Wiggins will thrive in his new role, it should give him a chance to do so. If it works, Warriors management can decide at that point whether it makes more sense to keep him in that role or to revisit the trade market with a more appealing asset in hand.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Detroit Pistons

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Detroit Pistons.


Salary Cap Outlook

Trading Andre Drummond at the February trade deadline ensured that the Pistons will be able to create some cap room this offseason.

The exact amount available will hinge on several factors, including how many non-guaranteed contracts and free agents the team wants to retain, where its lottery pick lands, and how much the league-wide salary cap increases, if at all.

However, even a fairly conservative estimate – which assumes no cap increase and Detroit retaining its non-guaranteed players and Christian Wood‘s cap hold – should comfortably get the Pistons to $25MM+ in space.

Our full salary cap preview for the Pistons can be found right here.


Roster Decisions To Watch

Options:

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:


2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 5 overall pick (pending lottery results)

The Pistons have the fifth-best lottery odds, but their most likely pick is No. 7 (26.7%). They have a 10.5% chance at the No. 1 pick and a 42.1% chance at a top-four selection, with No. 6 (19.6%) and No. 8 (8.8%) also realistic possibilities. No. 5 (2.2%) and No. 9 (0.6%) are longer shots.

Second Round:

  • None

Three Key Offseason Questions

1. How much longer will Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose be Pistons?

Trading Drummond and buying out veteran point guard Reggie Jackson earlier this year signaled that the Pistons are entering a full-fledged rebuild. The hiring of Troy Weaver – a longtime member of the Oklahoma City front office who advocated for drafting Russell Westbrook back in 2008 and helped turn the Thunder into perennial contenders – suggests that the new general manager will get a chance to put his own stamp on the franchise as it accumulates talent.

With that in mind, it’s hard to see how former No. 1 overall picks Griffin and Rose fit into the Pistons’ plan going forward. Both players are 31 years old and have troublesome injury histories. Rose is entering a contract year, while Griffin has two years left on his deal. In other words, neither player seems all that likely to be part of the next Pistons playoff team.

That doesn’t mean that Detroit will look to move them both this offseason though. Rose will certainly enter the fall as a trade candidate, but the Pistons decided not to trade him at the 2020 deadline despite receiving offers. It wouldn’t be a shock if they rebuff interest again and wait until next year’s trade deadline to seriously consider moving on from the former MVP.

As for Griffin, his value took a major hit following a lost 2019/20 season in which he was limited to 18 games due to knee problems. With $75.8MM owed to him over the next two years, Griffin is a negative trade asset, meaning it wouldn’t be in the Pistons’ best interests to pursue a deal at this point.

It makes far more sense for the team to be patient in the hopes that Griffin can bounce back in 2020/21, rebuilding his value and perhaps becoming a more viable trade chip before his contract expires in 2022.

If the right deal comes along, Weaver certainly won’t hesitate to move both Rose and Griffin sooner rather than later. But if they don’t get any offers they love, the Pistons shouldn’t be in any rush to move the former All-Stars, whose veteran leadership could still be useful for a young team.

2. Is Luke Kennard a long-term keeper or a trade chip?

The 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Kennard is still just 24 years old and remains a year away from restricted free agency, with a very affordable $5.3MM cap hit for 2020/21. There’s no reason he can’t be part of the Pistons’ rebuilding process if the team views him as a long-term contributor.

However, it remains to be seen how committed Detroit is to making Kennard a franchise building block. The young sharpshooter was the subject of trade rumors in February, with reports at the time suggesting that a proposed deal with the Suns was close to being completed, before it fell apart.

With Weaver now in the front office mix, it will be interesting to see which direction the Pistons go with Kennard, whose shooting ability and still-modest cap charge would make him an intriguing target for cost-conscious teams seeking three-point help in ’20/21.

The former Duke standout will become eligible for a rookie scale extension this October, and engaging in exploratory talks on a new deal should give the Pistons a sense of how much it will cost to retain Kennard. If the team feels that money would be better spent elsewhere, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear Kennard’s name resurface in trade rumors in the coming months. On the other hand, if the price is right, the two sides will be in good position to commit to a long-term union.

3. How much are the Pistons willing to pay to retain Christian Wood?

Kennard’s extension isn’t the most pressing contract decision the Pistons will have to make on one of their current players. Unlike Kennard, who remains under contract for one more year, Wood will become a free agent this October, and he’ll be unrestricted, free to sign with any team.

Wood will hit the free agent market on the heels of a breakout year. His full-season stats (13.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG) don’t tell the full story — after he entered the starting lineup following the Drummond trade, Wood recorded 22.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, and 2.0 APG over his final 13 games. He also showed off an improved three-point shot, making 54-of-140 attempts (38.6%) on the season, despite having only attempted 42 threes prior to 2019/20.

Wood’s impressive performance, his age (25 in September), and a weak 2020 free agent class will make him one of the fall’s most attractive young UFA targets. However, a massive payday is no lock. His lack of track record could hurt him, and so will the fact that only a small handful of teams have cap room available. If those teams use their space elsewhere, Wood could have trouble finding an offer worth more than the mid-level from any team besides Detroit.

Recognizing that Wood’s market might be limited, the Pistons will want to avoid overpaying to retain the big man, who – like Kennard – is young enough to be part of the team’s rebuild.

With few long-term financial commitments on their books, the Pistons can comfortably afford to go up to the $15MM-per-year range for Wood, but if that doesn’t get it done, the team may be wary about surrendering additional flexibility for a player with such a limited résumé (Wood had appeared in 51 total games for four teams before this season).

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Summer Breakout Players

Perhaps no player has taken a more impressive leap this summer than Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who has taken on an increased role due to injuries to Jamal Murray, Will Barton, and Gary Harris. After averaging a modest 7.5 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 49 games (14.2 MPG) prior to the March stoppage, Porter has exploded for 26.3 PPG and 10.0 RPG in four games (34.7 MPG) during the restart.

Porter’s scorching-hot shooting line (.578/.500/.941) is unsustainable, and his numbers figure to dip a little if and when Murray, Barton, and Harris are all healthy. Still, in the span of a week, MPJ has gone from promising young prospect to franchise cornerstone.

Porter is one of nine players highlighted by ESPN’s writers in an article focusing on several of the summer’s up-and-coming breakout players.

Second-year swingman Gary Trent Jr. is another unsurpising inclusion on ESPN’s list. Trent is still coming off the bench for the Trail Blazers, but he’s playing 32.9 minutes per contest so far in Orlando and is shooting the lights out from beyond the arc, knocking down 22-of-35 three-point attempts (62.9%) through four games.

Grizzlies shooting guard Grayson Allen, who had played limited minutes in his first two NBA seasons and was sidelined with a hip injury prior to the hiatus, has played the best basketball of his professional career at Walt Disney world, averaging 14.3 PPG on .606/.667/.750 shooting entering today’s game.

A pair of Spurs also show up on ESPN’s list. Derrick White has taken his game to another level in Orlando, racking up 24 points in today’s win after averaging 21.3 PPG and 5.5 APG with a .455 3PT% in his first four games. Rookie forward Keldon Johnson, who played in just nine games earlier this season, has been one of San Antonio’s most-used bench players, with 13.0 PPG and 5.3 RPG entering today’s game.

Troy Brown (Wizards), Thomas Bryant (Wizards), Danuel House (Rockets), and Aaron Holiday (Pacers) also showed up on ESPN’s list.

Now that we’re halfway through the summer’s seeding games, we want to get your input. Which young players have impressed you the most in Orlando so far?

ESPN’s list focuses on up-and-comers, but have you been pleasantly surprised by what you’ve seen from certain veterans as well, such as Pacers forward T.J. Warren? Are you skeptical of small-sample sizes in some cases, or are you ready to declare that certain players have taken noticeable steps forward?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Atlanta Hawks

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Atlanta Hawks.


Salary Cap Outlook

With so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020/21 salary cap, it’s impossible to say exactly how much space the Hawks will have. But they currently project to have more flexibility than virtually any other team in the NBA.

Even if the cap remains the same as it was in ’19/20, Atlanta could comfortably get to $43MM+ in room, depending on where the team’s lottery pick lands. Once they use up all that space, the Hawks will have the room exception available — it’d be worth $4.77MM if the cap doesn’t increase.

Our full salary cap preview for the Hawks can be found right here.


Roster Decisions To Watch

Options:

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:


2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 4 overall pick (pending lottery results)

The Hawks have the fourth-best lottery odds, but their most likely pick is No. 6 (25.7%). They have a 12.5% chance at the No. 1 pick and a 48.1% chance at a top-four selection, with No. 5 (7.2%), No. 7 (16.8%), and No. 8 (2.2%) also in play.

Second Round:

  • No. 51 pick (pending final standings)

The Hawks will receive the more favorable of the Heat’s and Rockets’ second-round picks. Right now, Miami is 43-26 and Houston is 43-25, so this one remains very much up in the air — the pick could still come from either team and could move up or down.


Three Key Offseason Questions

1. How will the Hawks use their cap room?

Under general manager Travis Schlenk, the Hawks haven’t been major players in free agency, preferring to hang back and wait for the potential bargains that are available a few days after the league year opens. Atlanta has generally had no shortage of cap space in those years, but has preferred to use it to absorb unwanted contracts to gain extra draft picks.

With the Hawks looking to soon make the transition from rebuilding team to perennial playoff threat, it would seem to be a prime time to adjust their free agency philosophy. With so much space available this fall, Atlanta could theoretically make a major splash, adding a veteran or two who could help push the team’s young core over the top.

While that plan may sound good to team ownership, a couple of practical factors could complicate matters. For one, this year’s free agent class isn’t exactly loaded with stars for the Hawks to target. None of the players at the top of our free agent power rankings are really logical options for Atlanta.

Anthony Davis isn’t leaving L.A.; the Pelicans almost certainly aren’t letting Brandon Ingram get away; Montrezl Harrell doesn’t make sense for a team that just acquired Clint Capela; and Fred VanVleet probably isn’t an ideal partner for Trae Young in what would be a very undersized backcourt. There are players further down that list that could appeal to the Hawks, but investing big long-term money in any of them would be risky.

On top of that, this offseason sets up perfectly for Atlanta to stick with its formula of using cap room to accommodate salary dumps and collect assets. After all, with team owners across the league expected to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, there may be several teams who are looking to cut costs and are willing to part with draft picks to do so.

The Hawks won’t be in asset-gathering mode forever, and they can afford to be a little more aggressive on the free agent market in 2020. But being one of the only teams with maximum-salary cap room doesn’t mean they’ll come out of the offseason with a max-caliber player.

2. Is it time to consolidate assets in a trade?

If the Hawks can’t land a star on the free agent market, could they do so in a trade? They have no shortage of trade chips available if they want to try to make a move, including an extra 2022 first-round pick and a handful of future second-rounders.

Young looks like an obvious keeper, but there’s no one else on the Hawks’ roster that is 100% assured of a long-term stay in Atlanta — the team would surely consider moving the likes of De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and/or Kevin Huerter if the price is right, and even John Collins was mentioned in trade rumors earlier this year.

Given Young’s ability on offense and lack thereof on defense, the most logical fit for the Hawks would be a two-way wing who can lock down opposing scorers and doesn’t necessarily need to dominate the ball.

Those players aren’t easy to find though, and the most frequent subjects of trade speculation these days don’t quite fit the bill — Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine, for instance, aren’t strong enough defenders to pair with Young. Stars who might’ve made sense for the Hawks in past years when they were unhappy with their situations – such as Jimmy Butler or Paul George – are now in their preferred destinations and likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

The Hawks have done business with the Nets in recent years, and if Brooklyn makes Caris LeVert available this offseason in its search for a third star, that’d be an opportunity worth exploring. Otherwise, it’s hard to find many ideal fits on the trade market if the Hawks want to cash in some chips for an impact wing.

3. Will the Hawks extend John Collins this fall?

Currently, Capela is the only player on the Hawks’ roster who is owed more than $15MM in any future season. He’s also the one who has a fully guaranteed salary beyond 2021, with the exception of the players on their rookie contracts.

However, Atlanta will have to start making major financial decisions on its young talent as early as this offseason, when Collins becomes eligible for his rookie scale extension. There are compelling reasons for the Hawks to wait on a new deal for Collins and equally compelling reasons for the team to get something done this fall.

Waiting until 2021 to make a decision on Collins would give the Hawks a chance to evaluate how their Collins/Capela frontcourt actually looks on the court, since the two big men have yet to play a game together.

Additionally, since Collins has said multiple times in recent months that he feels as if he’s worthy of a maximum-salary contract, it might make more sense to have him fully earn that max deal with a strong contract year rather than handing it to him after a season that started with a 25-game suspension for a drug violation.

Waiting for Collins to reach restricted free agency would also significantly increase the Hawks’ flexibility in 2021. Rather than entering that offseason with a max salary for Collins (likely in the $28-30MM range) already on the books, the team would just have to carry his $12.4MM cap hold — that would create a ton of extra cap flexibility for the Hawks before they go over the cap to re-sign him.

On the other hand, the fact that Collins has so frequently talked about the possibility of an extension suggests it’s important to him to get something finalized sooner rather than later for the sake of security, and Atlanta may not want to risk alienating one of its potential cornerstones.

A handful of factors – that 25-game suspension, a disappointing season for the Hawks, and the NBA’s current financial outlook – may also give the club some leverage to negotiate something below the max for Collins. If he’s open to that possibility, it could save the team some money in the long run. The Celtics and Pacers, for instance, were wise to complete extensions with Jaylen Brown and Domantas Sabonis last fall, since they would’ve been candidates for more lucrative offer sheets this offseason.

Whichever path the Hawks take, it won’t necessarily represent their final decision on whether Collins is a long-term building block for the franchise. Trading him in a year or two will still be possible if he signs an extension, and locking him up in 2021 shouldn’t be a problem even if the two sides don’t agree to an extension this year.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Community Shootaround: Possible Head Coaching Changes

When the Knicks launched a search for a new permanent head coach that ultimately led them to Tom Thibodeau, it was considered likely to be the first of multiple NBA coaching hires in 2020. However, it’s no longer clear whether or not that will be the case.

In our 2020 head coaching search tracker, we suggest that the situations in Brooklyn, Houston, and Chicago are among those worth keeping an eye on. Jacque Vaughn was a midseason replacement who was promoted to head coach in March, Mike D’Antoni is on an expiring contract, and Jim Boylen is coming off a disappointing season and being evaluated by a new-look front office.

There’s a possibility that none of those teams makes a change though. Multiple reports this summer have indicated that Vaughn will be given every opportunity to win the Nets‘ permanent job; D’Antoni has handled the Rockets‘ transition to “micro-ball” admirably so far; and Boylen is reportedly gaining momentum to retain the Bulls‘ job.

Today’s report on Boylen noted that financial considerations could be a major factor in the Bulls’ decision, and Chicago probably isn’t the only club in that boat. The coronavirus pandemic will result in major revenue losses for teams across the NBA, so giving an incumbent head coach one more year may look a whole lot more appealing than firing him, hiring a new coach, and paying off multiple contracts.

Additionally, a number of the teams that finished near the bottom of this year’s standings or who have underachieved this season have head coaches who are safe due to their rock-solid résumés (ie. Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, and Terry Stotts) or because they’re recent hires who deserve a longer look (ie. Luke Walton and Ryan Saunders).

Even taking into account those caveats, it’s possible we’ll see some coaching changes this summer or fall. Teams that disappoint in Orlando will be worth monitoring. D’Antoni could be back on the hot seat, for instance, if Houston doesn’t win at least a playoff series or two. And it’s hard to imagine Brett Brown returning for another season if the Sixers don’t make it out of the first round.

We want to know what you think. Do you expect to see some more coaching changes happen in 2020, or will be things relatively quiet on that front? If you anticipate changes, which teams do you see making moves?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

2020 NBA Draft Lottery Update

The 2020 NBA draft lottery, originally scheduled for May 19, will now take place on August 20, two weeks from today. Besides happening three months later than usual, this year’s lottery also figures to look a little different, since the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will almost certainly make it impossible for the NBA to bring representatives from the bottom 14 teams to a single location.

As we wait to see what the league has in mind for this year’s event, here are a few updates and reminders on the 2020 NBA draft lottery:


The bottom eight teams are already locked into their lottery spots

Much has been made in the last 24 hours about the Wizards (24-44), who are participating in the NBA’s summer restart, slipping below the inactive Hornets (23-42) in the Eastern Conference standings.

Fortunately for Hornets fans – and unfortunately for Wizards backers – the lottery odds for those two teams won’t hinge on which team finishes with the better overall record. For the NBA’s bottom eight teams, one silver lining of not getting an invite to Orlando this summer for the restart is that their spot in the top eight of the lottery has been locked in, based on the league standings as of March 11.

The Hornets will have the eighth-best odds and the Bulls will have the seventh-best odds even if the Wizards go 0-8 this summer and fall below both teams in the standings.


The race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference could impact the lottery odds

With the non-Orlando teams frozen in the top eight lottery positions, the other six spots will be determined by two factors:

  • Which six teams in Orlando don’t make the playoffs.
  • What their records were as of March 11.

This is great news for a team like Phoenix. Having won their first three games in Orlando – as the Grizzlies lost their first four – the Suns are very much alive in the race for the No. 8 seed in the West. It will still take a strong finish and some luck for the Suns to qualify for a play-in tournament, but let’s suppose they do.

In that scenario, if the Suns win the play-in tournament and earn a postseason spot, their first-round pick would be 15th overall, best among the playoff teams, since they entered the hiatus with a 26-39 record, worse than Orlando or Brooklyn.

If they were to lose a play-in tournament, Phoenix would end up with the 10th-best lottery odds, ahead of the rest of Orlando’s non-playoff teams besides the Wizards, who were the only one of the 22 invited teams with a worse record than the Suns as of March 11.

Essentially, if you want to determine the back half of the lottery standings, you just have to sort the 22 teams in Orlando by their March 11 records, from worst to first, then remove the 16 teams that end up in the playoffs.


The Grizzlies could theoretically still keep their first-round pick

The Grizzlies owe their 2020 first-round pick to the Celtics, but it includes top-six protection.

As long as Memphis makes the playoffs, that protection doesn’t really matter — Boston would receive the pick. However, with the Grizzlies’ hold on the No. 8 seed slipping, there’s still an outside chance that they could keep the pick.

Let’s say Memphis falls out of the No. 8 spot and either loses a play-in tournament or altogether misses out on qualifying for a play-in. In that scenario, the Grizzlies would enter the lottery with the 14th-best odds, since they had a better record on March 11 than any of their fellow lottery teams. That would give them a 2.4% chance at moving into the top four, where their pick would be protected.

Those aren’t good odds. In all likelihood, missing the playoffs would just mean the Grizzlies sent the Celtics the No. 14 pick instead of a selection in the 15-17 range. Still, the outside chance at another top pick would at least be a small silver lining if Memphis can’t grab that No. 8 spot. If the Grizzlies do hang onto this year’s pick, they’d owe Boston an unprotected first-rounder in 2021.

Over in the East, the Nets owe a lottery-protected pick to the Timberwolves and would keep it if they fall out of the postseason. However, the Wizards’ struggles have essentially ruled out that possibility. One more Brooklyn win or Washington loss will ensure that the Nets make the playoffs and send their pick to Minnesota.


Current lottery odds

Listed here are the odds for the teams not invited to Orlando, who will hold the top eight spots in the lottery standings.

The numbers in the chart indicate percentages, so the Warriors, for example, have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 pick and a 47.9% chance of ending up at No. 5. If a team’s odds are listed as >0, that percentage is below 0.1%.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
GSW 14 13.4 12.7 12 47.9
CLE 14 13.4 12.7 12 27.8 20
MIN 14 13.4 12.7 12 14.8 26 7.1
ATL 12.5 12.2 11.9 11.5 7.2 25.7 16.8 2.2
DET 10.5 10.5 10.6 10.5 2.2 19.6 26.7 8.8 0.6
NYK 9 9.2 9.4 9.6 8.6 29.6 20.6 3.8 0.2
CHI 7.5 7.8 8.1 8.5 19.7 34.1 12.9 1.3 >0
CHA 6 6.3 6.7 7.2 34.5 32.1 6.7 0.4 >0

The tentative odds for the bottom six spots, assuming the Grizzlies hang onto the No. 8 seed, can be found right here.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Cleveland Cavaliers.


Salary Cap Outlook

The Cavaliers have approximately $78.4MM in guaranteed money on their books for 2020/21 and will likely add Andre Drummond‘s $28.75MM player option to that figure, reducing their odds of creating any cap room this offseason.

The club should have its full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available, with breathing room below the luxury tax line.

Our full salary cap preview for the Cavaliers can be found right here.


Roster Decisions To Watch

Options:

  • Andre Drummond, player option: $28,751,774 (Oct. 17 deadline)

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

Free Agents:


2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 2 overall pick (pending lottery results)

The Cavaliers have the second-best lottery odds but could easily end up picking as low as No. 5 (27.8%) or No. 6 (20.0%). They have a 14.0% chance at the No. 1 pick and a 52.1% chance at a top-four selection.

Second Round:

  • None

Three Key Offseason Questions

1. What’s the Cavaliers’ plan for Andre Drummond?

When the Cavs acquired Drummond from the Pistons at the trade deadline, the cost wasn’t exactly prohibitive — all it took to land the two-time All-Star was a pair of expiring contracts (belonging to John Henson and Brandon Knight) and a 2023 second-round pick.

For a team that doesn’t typically attract top free agents, paying such a modest price for a productive center like Drummond seemed like a worthwhile investment. However, the deal raised some questions as well. For instance, will Drummond opt into the final year of his contract in 2020/21? Even before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season and complicated the salary cap outlook for next season, the answer to that question appeared to be yes.

With that in mind, did it make sense for Cleveland to sacrifice potential 2020 cap room for Drummond? And how will the acquisition affect incumbent big men like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson? Does a Love/Drummond frontcourt pairing work? Will Thompson decide to sign elsewhere now that the center spot on Cleveland’s depth chart is a little more crowded?

Although his style of play is perhaps more suited to the NBA of the 1990s or 2000s than today’s modern game, Drummond’s elite rebounding skills and his rim-protecting ability make him a solid contributor, and he’s probably better than any free agent the Cavs could’ve convinced to sign in Cleveland using their cap space this fall.

Still, there are other options for rebuilding teams with cap room, such as taking on unwanted contracts in order to collect additional draft assets. The Cavaliers’ decision to acquire Drummond suggests they’re anxious to be more competitive in the short term. That’s a somewhat risky play, though Drummond’s ability as a rim-runner and lob catcher could help young guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland develop further on offense.

I think evaluating Drummond’s fit in 2020/21 before his potential free agency next offseason is a fairly low-risk approach, but reports have indicated that a multiyear contract extension isn’t out of the question this offseason. I’d be more wary of going that route if I were the Cavs, since I’m unconvinced he’s the long-term answer in the middle for the club.

2. Will perennial trade candidate Kevin Love be moved?

Ever since it became clear in 2018 that LeBron James was leaving Cleveland for a second time, Love has been viewed as a trade candidate. However, the possibility of a deal was complicated by the big-money contract extension he signed in July 2018, just weeks after LeBron’s departure.

That extension will keep Love under contract through 2023 — he still has three years and $91.5MM on the deal after this season. By the time, he inks his next NBA contract, he’ll be entering his age-35 season.

Love’s injury history doesn’t help his trade value. Neither does the fact that his numbers over the last two seasons have only been good, not great, even as he ostensibly became the Cavs’ go-team option with LeBron and Kyrie Irving no longer around.

The Cavs have insisted over and over that they wouldn’t consider a salary-dump deal for Love and would only move him if they get good value – such as first-round draft picks and/or young players – in return. At this point though, especially given how the coronavirus pandemic will affect teams’ financial decisions, Love probably doesn’t warrant such a package from any interested suitor.

It’s possible the Cavs are just playing hardball and don’t really expect much more than a Drummond-esque return for Love. But if they stick to their stated stance, it seems safe to assume that Love won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, since no team will meet Cleveland’s alleged price.

3. How will the Cavaliers use their lottery pick after selecting guards in 2018 and 2019?

About a month ago, Killian Hayes‘ agent dropped an interesting tidbit during a podcast appearance, suggesting that his client wasn’t planning to meet with the Cavaliers, since the Cavs aren’t expected to draft a guard in this year’s lottery.

On one hand, that makes sense — in Sexton and Garland, Cleveland has two potential long-term building blocks. On the other hand, those two guards haven’t really shown enough in the last two years to convince the franchise that the backcourt is set for the next five or 10 years. Armed with a top-six pick, the Cavs should perhaps still be in best-player-available mode in this year’s draft, even if that player is another guard.

If the Cavs do make an effort to avoid drafting another guard, it would narrow their options in the lottery. James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu are the top centers available and could appeal to Cleveland. However, the wing looks like the team’s most glaring need.

Zeroing in on a wing would mean the Cavs would be doing plenty of homework on the likes of Deni Avdija, Obi Toppin, Isaac Okoro, and Devin Vassell. There’s no real consensus among draft experts on how to rank those players, as they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Vassell is the best shooter of the bunch, while Okoro is probably the strongest defender. Avdija has promising play-making ability, while Toppin – who is more of a power forward – is one of the draft’s most intriguing athletes.

Obviously, the Cavs’ pick will depend in large part on where they land in the draft and which players are available when they’re on the clock. But if the team prefers a wing, it would be interesting to see what general manager Koby Altman does if he lands a top-two pick. Would the Cavs consider trading down a little if another team wants to move up for a guard like LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards?

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors App For iOS/Android

If you enjoy Hoops Rumors on your smartphone or tablet, be sure to check out our free Trade Rumors app!

Trade Rumors, available for iOS and Android, is the best way to consume our content on a mobile device. Here’s what it delivers, all for free:

  • All the articles from Hoops Rumors, MLB Trade Rumors, Pro Football Rumors, and Pro Hockey Rumors in an easy-to-navigate, eye-catching format. Swipe through stories to quickly consume all the news and rumors from our four sites. Not into all four sports? No problem – any sport can be easily removed.
  • Customize what you see. You can create feeds for any team or player across any of our sites.
  • Notifications. For any team or player, you can set up push notifications to ensure you always get breaking news instantly. Notifications can also be set up at the sport level.
  • Commenting. You can read and contribute comments on the app seamlessly.
  • Customer service. If you find a bug, we’ll fix it. If you have a feature request, we’ll consider it. The app is continually evolving and improving.
  • Did we mention Trade Rumors is a free app? What do you have to lose? Download it now!

Community Shootaround: Western Conference Playoff Race

When the NBA’s restart got underway last Thursday, the Grizzlies were in the driver’s seat for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, with at least a 3.5-game cushion on each of their five potential challengers. However, a slow start from the Grizzlies – who have lost three consecutive games to teams chasing them – has created a fascinating, wide-open race for that final playoff spot in the West.

After an 0-3 start, Memphis’ lead for that No. 8 spot is down to 1.5 games, and all five of their challengers are now within 3.5 games. To make matters worse, the Grizzlies will be without key big man Jaren Jackson Jr. for the rest of the season due to a meniscus tear, and the team’s schedule isn’t getting any easier. Contests against Utah, Oklahoma City, Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee are on tap for the Grizzlies, who will have to hope that some of those Eastern teams are locked into their seeds by the last week of the season and decide to rest some starters.

The Trail Blazers, who currently hold the No. 9 spot, have looked like the biggest threat to Memphis so far in Orlando. With Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins healthy again, Portland is nearly at full strength and has recorded impressive wins over the Grizzlies and Rockets, sandwiching a tough loss to Boston. The Blazers are only a year removed from appearing in the Western Conference Finals. After struggling for much of the season, they’ve recently played more like the 2018/19 squad than the team that went 29-37 before the hiatus.

The Spurs and Suns have also looked rejuvenated since the season resumed. They own a combined 5-1 record so far, with the only blemish coming on Monday, when San Antonio lost a 132-130 heart-breaker to Philadelphia. The Spurs were four games out of the playoffs when the restart began, and the Suns were six games back, but they’re now within just two games and three games, respectively.

The Pelicans got off to a slow start last week, but their schedule is so forgiving that they’re still in a pretty good position to push for the No. 8 or 9 seed. After beating the Grizzlies on Monday, the Pelicans will play their final five seeding games against teams with losing records — Washington, San Antonio, Orlando, and Sacramento (twice). With Zion Williamson rounding into form, New Orleans has the most favorable schedule of any Western playoff contender.

Of course, those two games against the Kings loom large. Sacramento has been one of the summer’s most disappointing teams so far, having lost winnable games to San Antonio, Orlando, and Dallas. But the Kings are still just 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies and aren’t dead yet — those two games against the Pelicans will be massive, and Friday’s matchup against Brooklyn is certainly favorable.

No matter what happens over the next week-and-a-half, it looks like a near certainty at this point that we’ll get a play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed. The No. 8 team can only avoid a play-in tournament by finishing more than four games ahead of the No. 9 team, and right now even the 13th-seeded Kings are withing four games of Memphis.

Positioning will be crucial though. Only two teams can participate in that play-in tournament, so finishing 10th means little. Conversely, finishing in eighth place is massive, since it means only having to win once in the play-in tournament, rather than twice. At this point, there’s no guarantee the Grizzlies hang onto the No. 8 spot entering a play-in tournament — there’s even a chance they could slip to 10th or lower.

We want to know where you stand on the Western Conference playoff race. Has your opinion changed at all through the first six days of summer games? Which two teams do you think we’ll see in a play-in tournament? Which club do you expect to ultimately claim the No. 8 seed and face the Lakers in the first round of the postseason?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

Poll: Lakers Vs. Clippers

Following Thursday’s game at the NBA campus in Orlando, the Lakers and Clippers have now faced each other four times this season, with each team winning a pair of those games.

Los Angeles’ teams are widely viewed as the top two contenders to make it out of the Western Conference and compete in the NBA Finals this fall. While a challenger like the Nuggets, Jazz, or Rockets could break up the all-L.A. party, the Lakers and Clippers are on track to play on opposite sides of the West bracket in the postseason, putting them on a collision course to meet in the Western Finals.

Assuming the two L.A. teams do meet again in the playoffs and we haven’t seen the last of the LeBron James/Anthony Davis vs. Kawhi Leonard/Paul George showdowns of the 2019/20 season, we want to know what you expect to happen in a best-of-seven series between the Lakers and Clippers.

The Lakers had the last word on Thursday night, as a last-minute LeBron put-back proved to be the game-winner in a 103-101 victory. But the Clippers were missing key players like Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. The Clips were +16 in minutes that Leonard played, and having second-unit standouts like Williams and Harrell available could have made those non-Kawhi minutes more manageable.

On the other hand, it’s not like we saw the Lakers at their best either. James and Davis combined to go 14-of-38 from the field, showing some rust after not playing real games in over four-and-a-half months. The club is also still experimenting with its summer rotation and will likely continue to do so until everyone – including the players who arrived in Orlando late – is up to full speed.

Another point worth considering: The Lakers have all but clinched the No. 1 seed, but their lack of home court advantage over the Clippers at Walt Disney World may be even more meaningful in an all-L.A. series than it would be in other series — if every game were played at Staples Center, the Lakers might end up with a de facto home court advantage for the entire series, as their fans often show up en masse at Clippers “home” games. That won’t happen on a neutral court in Orlando.

What do you think? After watching the Lakers and Clippers face each other four times this season, which team would you pick to win a seven-game postseason series? Do you fully expect the two L.A. teams to meet again in the playoffs, or will one of them falter before the Western Finals?

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

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.