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2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks were viewed by prognosticators as perhaps the NBA’s worst team entering the 2018/19 season, and while they still didn’t crack the 30-win mark, they exceeded their modest expectations and flashed some intriguing long-term potential. With a handful of core pieces already in place, Atlanta has the draft assets and the cap flexibility to keep adding more this offseason.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Hawks financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Deyonta Davis ($1,645,357)
  • Jaylen Adams ($1,316,852) 1
  • Total: $2,962,209

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistic cap room projection: $41.64MM
  • The Hawks have nine players on fully guaranteed contracts for 2019/20. If they simply keep those players plus both of their first-round picks, then renounce or waive the rest of their players, this would be their cap room projection. That’s not an unrealistic scenario, since none of Atlanta’s free agents are players the team must re-sign.
  • The cap holds on the Hawks’ two first-round picks are wild cards here. For instance, if the club lucks out and jump from No. 5 to No. 1, the cap hold for that top pick would increase by more than $3.3MM. That’s a trade-off Atlanta would happily accept though, given the talent available at the very top of the draft. Conversely, if that second first-rounder, from the Mavericks, moves into the top four, it would be protected and Dallas would keep it, creating some extra cap space for the Hawks.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $1,378,242 (expires 2/7/20) 4
  • Room exception: $4,760,000 5

Footnotes

  1. Adams’ salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 19.
  2. The salaries for two-way players don’t count against a team’s cap, but their cap holds do during the offseason.
  3. The cap hold for these picks will depend on where they ultimately fall in the lottery. Additionally, if the second pick (currently projected to be No. 9 overall) moves into the top four, the Mavericks will keep it.
  4. The Hawks will lose this exception if they go under the cap to use room.
  5. This is a projected value. In the unlikely event that the Hawks remain over the cap, they’d instead gain access to the mid-level exception ($9,246,000) and bi-annual exception ($3,619,000).

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Improved Player

While the NBA won’t announce this year’s award winners until June, we’re making our picks for 2019’s major awards this week and next week.

The Hoops Rumors writing team has weighed in with our choices below, but we also want to know which players, coaches, and executives you think are most deserving of the hardware this season, so jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts.

We’re keeping things going today with the award for Most Improved Player. Here are our selections:

Luke Adams: Pascal Siakam (Raptors)
In a season littered with breakout performances, nearly half of the NBA’s rosters feature at least one legit candidate for this award. None has a stronger case than Siakam.

Grouped together with young Raptors role players like Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby a year ago, Siakam has raised his ceiling significantly since then, improving every aspect of his game, from his ball-handling to his outside shooting to his defensive versatility. The Raptors leaned on Siakam as one of their primary play-makers on offense and asked him to guard points guards, centers, and everything in between on the other end of the floor. He responded admirably to every challenge, emerging as an indispensable part of a 58-win team and as a future All-Star.

Dana Gauruder: Pascal Siakam (Raptors)
Siakam only started five games last season before blossoming into the second-best player on a prime playoff contender in 2018/19, his third NBA campaign. The 25-year-old averaged nearly 10 points more than last season, was one of the Raptors’ top rebounders (6.9 RPG), and improved his assist totals as the season went along (4.1 in the month of March). Even if Kawhi Leonard leaves in free agency, Siakam may be primed to step into a starring role.

JD Shaw: Pascal Siakam (Raptors)
This is the easiest award for me to vote on, mostly because Siakam’s improvement on both ends was so clear this season that you really don’t have to look at the stat sheets. He was tasked with a much larger role under head coach Nick Nurse and accepted the challenge, cementing his role as starting power forward and helping lead the Raptors to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 58-24.

If you do check the numbers, you’ll see Siakam raised his shooting marks drastically. He shot 55% from the floor, up from 51% last season, and 37% from 3-point range, up from 22%, to go along with an average of 16.9 points per game, good for the second-most on his team.

Arthur Hill: D’Angelo Russell (Nets)
Injury-free for the first time since his rookie season, Russell developed into the leader the Lakers were hoping for when they drafted him second overall in 2015. His stats didn’t improve as much as those of other candidates (21.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 7.0 APG this season, compared to 15.5/3.9/5.2 last year), but he became the top crunch-time option for a Nets team that reached the playoffs for the first time in four years. Russell was Brooklyn’s leader in scoring, 3-pointers, assists, steals, deflections, games played, minutes played and PER, and appears ready to be one of the top point guards in the East for years to come.

Chris Crouse: Pascal Siakam (Raptors)
Russell took a huge step forward this year, while Siakam took a Giannis-from-the-free-throw-line style leap.

Siakam’s improvement came in ever-changing circumstances. The Raptors only saw Leonard and Kyle Lowry suit up together in 43 games. Siakam played in 80 contests and was part of 19 different starting lineups for Toronto. His role routinely fluctuated from top defensive stopper to floor-spacing third option to isolation play-maker to in-transition tempo-setter.

Due to injuries, Russell also had to deal with a rotating cast beside him, but he consistently was the No. 1 option. He led the Nets to the playoffs first the first time since Paul Pierce was in Brooklyn, scoring 4.6 more points and dishing out nearly two more assists per game than he did last season without increasing his turnovers. His player efficiency rating skyrocketed from barely above league average to 19.4.

Russell’s year-to-year usage in Brooklyn remained steady and he deserves credit for becoming more efficient with his opportunities. Siakam expanded his game and earned additional opportunities, upping his scoring by nearly 10 points per contest with a completely new offensive game. Brooklyn’s first-time All-Star appears to want the award more than Siakam, but the Raptors’ utility knife has the better case for 2018/19’s Most Improved Player.

Who is your pick for Sixth Man of the Year? Share your choices and your thoughts in the comment section below!

Previously:

Still to come:

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Most Valuable Player

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: 2019 All-NBA First Team

NBA teams in 2018/19 played at the fastest league-wide pace in three decades, and scoring totals increased in turn. According to Basketball-Reference, clubs scored an averaged of 111.2 points per game this season, the highest mark the league has seen since the NBA-ABA merger.

As a result, some historic individual numbers were recorded in 2018/19, making the All-NBA races particularly compelling. For a handful of players, the All-NBA selections will also have major financial consequences, impacting their potential maximum salaries this offseason.

The league isn’t expected to announce its All-NBA teams for about another month, but we want to give you an opportunity to make your own picks before then. We’re starting today with the First Team, before moving onto the Second Team on Monday, and the Third Team later next week.

Polls for the guards, forwards, and center are below — you’ll have the opportunity to pick two players apiece in the guard and forward polls. We’ll leave today’s polls open through the weekend before naming the players with the most votes to our All-NBA First Team and moving on to voting for the Second Team.

Vote for your All-NBA picks below, and then take to the comment section to explain your reasoning. And if there’s a player not listed below that you believe deserves All-NBA consideration, be sure to mention him in the comment section too — if I agree, I’ll make sure he’s included in our Second and Third Team polls.

Guards:

(Choose two)

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA First Team guards.

Forwards:

(Choose two)

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA First Team forwards.

Center:

(Choose one)

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote on the All-NBA First Team center.

Recent History Of NBA Taxpaying Teams

As we detailed last week, five NBA teams finished the 2018/19 season in luxury tax territory, with the Thunder, Warriors, Raptors, Trail Blazers, and Celtics on the hook for an estimated total of $153.5MM in tax payments.

It was the first time since 2016’s salary cap spike that as many as five teams were taxpayers, and the projected league-wide tax payments of $153.5MM appears to be a new high. While two teams – Oklahoma City and Golden State – contributed significantly to that figure, the rising number of clubs in the tax reflects that teams are once again going well over the salary cap, as annual cap increases have slowed in recent years.

Listed below are the NBA’s taxpayers for the last five seasons, based on data from ESPN, Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, and our own records.

As this list shows, the Thunder, Warriors, and Cavaliers were each taxpayers in three of the last four seasons, making those teams eligible for repeater-tax penalties if they finish in tax territory again in 2019/20. Repeater penalties are more punitive — the tax for every dollar spent above the tax line starts at $2.50 rather than $1.50. As such, those teams figure to do their best to avoid excessive spending next season.

The 2019/20 tax line is expected to be around $132MM, based on the NBA’s latest cap projections, and the Thunder already have nearly $138MM in guaranteed salaries on their books, per Basketball Insiders. The Cavaliers are at about $123MM, but may increase that figure substantially if they trade J.R. Smith‘s non-guaranteed contract for guaranteed salary. As for the Warriors, they’re only at $82MM in guaranteed money, but would be at risk of going well into the tax if they re-sign Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

As we prepare to keep an eye on those teams’ spending this offseason, here are the reported luxury tax figures from the last five NBA seasons:

2018/19

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder: $61.6MM
  2. Golden State Warriors: $51.5MM
  3. Toronto Raptors: $21.4MM
  4. Portland Trail Blazers: $15.1MM
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.9MM
    Total: $153.5MM
    Note: This season’s figures are still subject to change, based on postseason-related contract incentives.

2017/18

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($50.7MM)
  2. Golden State Warriors ($32.3MM)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder ($25.4MM)
  4. Washington Wizards ($7MM)
    Total: $115.4MM

2016/17

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($24.8MM)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers ($3.6MM)
    Total: $28.4MM

2015/16

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers ($54MM)
  2. Los Angeles Clippers ($19.9MM)
  3. Golden State Warriors ($14.8MM)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder ($14.5MM)
  5. Houston Rockets ($4.9MM)
  6. San Antonio Spurs ($4.9MM)
  7. Chicago Bulls ($4.2MM)
    Total: $117.2MM

2014/15

  1. Brooklyn Nets ($20MM)
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers ($7MM)
  3. New York Knicks ($6.9MM)
  4. Los Angeles Clippers ($4.8MM)
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder ($2.8MM)
    Total: $41.5MM

Information from Basketball Insiders, Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, and ESPN’s Bobby Marks was used in the creation of this post.

2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki‘s 21-year career with the Mavericks came to an end this season, signaling the end of an era in Dallas. But after a pair of trades – one on 2018’s draft night and one leading up to the 2019 deadline – the Mavs believe they’ve identified a pair of young building blocks capable of leading the franchise for years to come. In addition to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavs are also armed with some cap flexibility entering the 2019 offseason.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Mavericks financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistic cap room projection: $29.33MM. This scenario would see the Mavericks retain all their players on guaranteed contracts, including Powell (if he opts in), along with the cap holds for Porzingis, Finney-Smith, and Kleber. Once they use up their space, they could go over the cap to re-sign their three RFAs.
  • The Mavs could potentially clear a little more cap room if they agree to a longer-term deal with Powell that lowers his cap hit for 2019/20. Stretching Lee would also be an option to create about $7.6MM in extra space, but in order to seriously consider such a move, the team would need to have a clear, pressing need for that space.
  • Max cap room scenario: $48.26MM. This would be achieved by Powell opting out, followed by the Mavs renouncing all of their non-Porzingis free agents, waiving all their non-guaranteed salaries, and stretching Lee. It’s probably not a realistic outcome.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $1,233,152 (expires 1/31/20) 4
  • Trade exception: $21,299,378 (expires 2/7/20) 4
  • Room exception: $4,760,000 5

Footnotes

  1. The salaries for two-way players don’t count against a team’s cap.
  2. Broekhoff’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 29.
  3. The Mavericks have a 26.2% chance of moving up into the top four in the draft lottery and keeping their first-round pick. In that scenario, a cap hold for the pick would be added to this list.
  4. The Mavericks will lose these exceptions if they go under the cap to use room.
  5. This is a projected value. In the event that the Mavericks remain over the cap, they’d instead gain access to the mid-level exception ($9,246,000) and bi-annual exception ($3,619,000).

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Sixth Man Of The Year

While the NBA won’t announce this year’s award winners until June, we’re making our picks for 2019’s major awards over the next two weeks.

The Hoops Rumors writing team has weighed in with our choices below, but we also want to know which players, coaches, and executives you think are most deserving of the hardware this season, so jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts.

We’re keeping things going today with the award for Sixth Man of the Year. Here are our selections:

Clark Crum: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams has (once again) put together one of the greatest regular season performances of any reserve in NBA history.

If you limit the definition of “reserve” to only those players who started 5 games or less during a season (i.e. true reserves) while playing 20+ MPG, Williams’ 2018/19 numbers rank third all-time in PPG (behind Ricky Pierce in 1989-90 and 1990-91) and APG (behind Hall-of-Famer John Stockton in 1986-87 and Jarrett Jack in 2012-13) and ninth all-time in PER. And while his numbers last season were even better, Williams was able to help lead his team to the playoffs this year.

There are certainly other candidates who had fantastic seasons, including – but not limited to – Williams’ teammate, Montrezl Harrell, and Pacers’ big man Domantas Sabonis, but Williams’ impact on the game is still unmatched in today’s NBA.

Arthur Hill: Lou Williams (Clippers)
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is an easy choice to win the award again. He averaged better than 27 points per 36 minutes and provided the Clippers with enough scoring punch to  reach the playoffs after trading away Tobias Harris. Williams fits the instant offense role as well as anyone ever has and may contend for this award every year until he retires.

Luke Adams: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Williams’ eligibility for this award, which I expect him to win unanimously, seems almost unfair. But the fact that the Clippers can bring their most talented scorer off the bench is a testament to their depth, which allows Doc Rivers to run out a solid starting five before plugging in Williams and Harrell to pound teams’ second units.

Of course, it’s not as if Williams was padding his stats against bench players all season — he was a key closer for the Clippers in crunch time, finishing third in the NBA in total fourth quarter points, behind only James Harden and Kemba Walker.

Dana Gauruder: Lou Williams (Clippers)
At the rate he’s going, Williams will be averaging 30 points per game when he turns 40. He’s getting better as he gets older. Not only did he average 20 PPG, but his assist total was a career best 5.4 APG. He also led the Clippers on some crazy second-half comebacks. His $8MM salary is one of the league’s biggest bargains.

JD Shaw: Lou Williams (Clippers)
Several people have privately questioned why the Clippers choose to bring him off the bench, but the one-two punch of Williams and Harrell (another deserving Sixth Man of the Year candidate) has taken teams by surprise all season long. Williams averaged 20 points per game, his second straight season of scoring 20 or more, shooting 42.5% from the floor and 36.1% from 3-point range. It would be the third Sixth Man of the Year award in his 14-year career (2015, 2018).

Who is your pick for Sixth Man of the Year? Share your choices and your thoughts in the comment section below!

Previously:

Still to come:

  • Most Improved Player
  • Rookie of the Year
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Most Valuable Player

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Teams That Can’t Trade/Acquire Cash Until July

During each NBA league year, teams face limits on the amount of cash they can send out and receive in trades. Once they reach those limits, they’re no longer permitted to include cash in a deal until the following league year.

For the 2018/19 NBA season, the limit is $5,243,000. The limits on sending and receiving cash are separate and aren’t dependent on one another, so if a team has sent out $5,243,000 in trades and also received $5,243,000 in separate deals, they don’t have a clean slate — they’ve reached both limits for the season.

Thanks to reporting by cap experts like Bobby Marks, Eric Pincus, and Albert Nahmad, we’ve been able to keep tabs on the cash sent and received in trades by teams during the 2018/19 NBA league year, so we have a pretty clear idea of each club’s flexibility heading into the draft.

Being able to send or receive cash on draft day is particularly useful, since it can provide a simple means of acquiring – or moving – a second-round pick. A year ago, five of the trades agreed upon in June that featured 2018 draft picks included cash.

Of course, three of those five trades weren’t actually completed until July, which highlights a simple way to work around these restrictions. A team that can’t send or receive cash at this year’s draft could still technically agree to a deal involving cash, then officially finalize it sometime after July 1, when the cash limits reset for the 2019/20 league year.

Still, the 2018/19 restrictions are worth noting, since in some cases a player’s changing cap figure or contract status can make it impossible to wait until July to make a trade official.

With that in mind, here are some of the limitations facing teams until July 1:

Ineligible to receive cash:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Toronto Raptors

The Hornets reached their limit less than a week until the 2018/19 league year, having received $5MM from the Nets in their Dwight Howard trade and $243K from the Thunder in a deal involving Hamidou Diallo.

As for the Bulls, they reached their yearly limit in three separate transactions, acquiring approximately $2.63MM in a pair of swaps with the Rockets involving Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo Anthony. Chicago then received another $2.61MM from the Thunder in a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot salary dump.

Based on the reported figures for the Raptors ($5MM from the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard blockbuster, plus $110K apiece from the Sixers and Nets in deadline deals), they could technically acquire another $23K. However, $110K is the minimum amount of cash a team can include in a trade this season, so Toronto can’t actually acquire any more.

Outside of these three teams, every NBA club is eligible to acquire at least $2MM before July. The Magic ($2,226,778), Sixers ($2,743,000), Mavericks ($3,148,049), and Hawks ($3,187,090) are most limited.

Ineligible to send cash:

  • None

No NBA teams have reached their limits for sending out cash this season, though some are close.

The Nets ($243,000) and Spurs ($243,000) can barely trade any cash after sending out $5MM in deals last July. The Thunder ($411,294) and Rockets ($565,513) are also nearly tapped out, having made a handful of moves aimed at reducing – or in Houston’s case, eliminating – their luxury tax bills.

The Wizards ($2,365,456), Grizzlies ($2,660,069), and Celtics ($2,737,090) are also somewhat limited in their ability to trade cash, but no other teams have less than $3MM available.

Poll: Most Appealing NBA Front Office Opening

On Tuesday, we asked which NBA head coaching vacancy looks like the most appealing, and so far, the Lakers are the pick. Despite all the drama in Los Angeles, the Lakers’ basketball situation still appears to be more favorable than that of the Grizzlies or Cavaliers.

The Lakers are also one of four teams with an opening at the top of their front office. In the wake of Magic Johnson‘s resignation, general manager Rob Pelinka is running the show in L.A., but there’s an expectation that the team will eventually hire someone to join him at the top of that hierarchy. It remains to be seen whether that means hiring a new president of basketball operations or perhaps promoting Pelinka and hiring someone underneath him.

Either way, a high-ranking job in the Lakers’ front office would be an intriguing one. Despite the team’s struggles in 2018/19, L.A. still has one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players (LeBron James) under contract for at least two more seasons and has the cap flexibility to pursue another star this summer. Some of the Lakers’ young players, such as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, saw their value dip a little in recent months for health-related reasons, but there’s still a solid core of young players on the roster who could be dangled in trade talks or who could be contributors on the Lakers’ next playoff team.

The Grizzlies are another team in the market for a high-ranking basketball executive, though as in the case of the Lakers, it’s not clear exactly what that exec’s role would be. After demoting Chris Wallace, the Grizzlies announced that president of business operations Jason Wexler would oversee basketball operations too, with Zach Kleiman elevated to executive VP of basketball operations.

Neither Wexler nor Kleiman – who has a law background – is a true basketball executive, however. Presumably, the club will target a candidate with more of a background in player evaluation, scouting, and personnel decisions to join them in a key front office role. And that role could be an interesting one — Jaren Jackson looks like a keeper, and Mike Conley is a borderline All-Star who could be retained or traded. Owing a first-round pick to the Celtics is a nuisance, but once that pick is conveyed, Memphis would be in position to launch a full-fledged rebuild, allowing a new exec to help put his stamp on the team.

The Wizards‘ and Timberwolves‘ searches for new additions to their respective front offices appear more straightforward. Washington is seeking a replacement for Ernie Grunfeld, the team’s top decision-maker for years, and Minnesota publicly announced that it’s on the lookout for a new president of basketball operations.

In some ways, the Wizards’ and Timberwolves’ situations are similar. Each team has one overpriced long-term contract that may be a cap burden going forward – John Wall in Washington and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota – but the presence of an All-Star (Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal) at least gives each franchise some hope.

Having players like Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Josh Okogie locked up in Minnesota may appeal to front office candidates. Of course, in D.C., only Wall, Beal, and Troy Brown are under contract beyond the 2019/20 season, which might be intriguing to a candidate looking for a bit more of a clean slate. Plus, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis probably has a better league-wide reputation than Glen Taylor, who has been known to get involved in the Wolves’ basketball decisions.

What do you think? Assuming the roles are relatively similar, and taking into account rosters, assets, and ownership situations, which of these four front office positions looks the most appealing to you?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

2018/19 Hoops Rumors Contract MVPs: Part I

Hoops Rumors is breaking down each type of contract in the NBA to find out which players were the most valuable under each type of deal.

The rules are simple: To qualify, a player must have played under that contract during the 2018/19 campaign. Players who see their status change (such as 10-day contracts converted to full-season deals) maintain the same status they began with.

Without further ado, here are our 2018/19 “Contract MVPs”:


Two-Way Contract

Two-way contracts—a mechanism designed to allow a player to split time between a G League team and its parent club— were introduced in the latest CBA and implemented at the start of the 2017/18 league year. House is on track to become the most accomplished player ever on a two-way deal after stepping up during Houston’s unfortunate season filled with injuries (Monte Morris probably has the biggest claim to dislodge House from this the theoretical two-way contract throne; Quinn Cook may also stake a claim. Both players previously saw their two-way deals converted).

The CBA limits players on these deals to just 45 days of NBA action – or fewer if a player signs during the season – and practice days count against that limit. House, who played 24.8 minutes per game and made 39.0% of his 3-pointers during his time spent on the two-way deal this season, hit the limit in mid-January. He began negotiations on a new deal, though Houston smartly attempted to leverage the situation into a three-year contract. House’s camp wanted to hit free agency as soon as possible. Progress toward a new deal stalled for two months.

Two-way players earn a different rate depending on whether they are in the NBA or G League. House earned nearly $4,800 on each of the 45 days he was called up to the NBA. The daily rate when he was in the G League: roughly $550. The bet made on himself in not taking the long-term, guaranteed minimum-salary deal offered by the Rockets didn’t come without opportunity cost.

With House trapped in the G League, the Rockets maintained their winning ways behind James Harden‘s historic scoring streak. From the outside, it created the illusion that House’s contributions could be easily replicated, but the front office knew it had to alleviate Harden’s burden or run the risk of him running out of gas by the time the playoffs arrived.

GM Daryl Morey inked House for the remainder of the season in mid-March. The 25-year-old Houston native will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year and the team will try to bring him back once that deal expires but first, our two-way contract MVP will have a chance to further improve his stock as part of the Rockets’ playoff rotation.

Honorable mentions: Jordan McRae, Alex Caruso, Shake Milton, Allonzo Trier


10-Day Contract

Consistent, yet not near elite, vs. much more impactful (relatively), yet short on sample size. It was the storyline of the 2017 rookie of the year award race between Malcolm Brogdon and Joel Embiid. Neither candidate had a particularly historic campaign for the award and calling it an underwhelming race might be overselling it. Those attributes have resurfaced in the battle for our 10-Day Contract MVP.

Brewer had four 10-day deals split between Philadelphia and Sacramento and he was able to turn his pair with the Kings into a $2MM deal worth more than the minimum. He provided good energy for the Sixers amid their injury woes and roster transitioning, though he proved to be a turnover machine. He coughed up the ball 2.1 times per 36 minutes during his time in Philadelphia, which is on par with higher-usage players such as Darren Collison, Mike Conley, and Kyle Kuzma. After seven games, the team opted not to offer him a contract for the remainder of the season and he eventually landed in California.

Carter-Williams, meanwhile, joined the Magic late in the season and helped engineer a 10-2 run toward the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed. Orlando’s defense was a bright spot all season, but backup point guard was the biggest need after other options behind D.J. Augustin failed to pan out.

MCW was the Parmesan cheese to the Steve Clifford‘s spaghetti and meatballs, a perfect complement to a hard-nosed defensive team needing that last element to make them palatable to a postseason audience. Brewer has seen more action, but his season just feels like empty calories. Unlike the 2017/18 ROY, this award goes to the player with the highest impact.

Honorable mention: Corey Brewer


Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception

Randle’s tale rivals Elle Woods’ in the movie Legally Blonde. The Lakers tossed Randle aside for the idea of a more illustrious catch, an addition that better fit their starry brand. The big man made the decision look foolish.

Randle set career-highs in points, rebounds, and blocks per game while improving his free throw percentage and adding a 3-pointer to his arsenal (he was just six 3-pointers short of averaging one make per contest). He has a player’s option worth slightly under $9.1MM for next season and if he opts to hit the free agent market again, the Lakers’ brass may now realize Randle’s value.

Honorable mentions: P.J. Tucker, Justin Holiday


Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception

It’s almost unfair to give Cousins this award. It took a devastating Achilles tear for him to flirt with the idea of signing this type of deal and he had a franchise preaching patience as he made his way back from the injury.

Are 30 games of star-level basketball more valuable than nearly a whole season of solid contribution, as are the cases with the Nuggets in Monte Morris and Torrey Craig? Does Seth Curry deserve the nod for stepping up and helping Portland maintain a top record in the West? Valid arguments for any of these players exist, though Cousins takes home the award here.

Honorable mentions: Monte Morris, Torrey Craig, Seth Curry


Room Exception

  • Ed Davis (Nets): One year, $4,449,000.

No player signed via the room exception came close to making the impact that Davis did during his season in Brooklyn. To be fair, only six players ended this year under this type of contract, with players such as Ron Baker and Michael Beasley getting waived before completing their deal. Still, Davis’ season compared to his contractual peers was 2015/16 Stephen Curry-level dominant.

The big man suited up in all but one game for the Nets, providing the team with a consistent force in the frontcourt. He ranked third on the team in player efficiency rating and fourth in NBAMath’s TPA Metric. While Davis is only on a one-year deal in Brooklyn, he’s found a potential long-term home after a career of bouncing around the league and underperforming at nearly every stop.

Honorable mention: Alex Len


Bi-Annual Exception

The Lopez signing almost seems unreal. There aren’t many centers who would have fit in as well in a Giannis Antetokounmpo-led attack. With his shooting ability, Lopez is able to help the Bucks maintain floor spacing so that the Antetokounmpo can attack the paint more freely. On the other end, Lopez anchored the best defensive unit in basketball, altering shot after shot in Mike Budenholzer‘s conservative defensive.

Honorable mention: Elfrid Payton

Part II coming later this week.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Cleveland Cavaliers

After four straight NBA Finals appearances, the 2018/19 season was one of transition for the Cavaliers, who lost their best player (LeBron James), dismissed their head coach (Tyronn Lue), and shifted their focus to the future. While Cleveland may have moved on mentally from those LeBron-led squads, the team’s cap sheet is still catching up — many of the Cavs’ priciest veteran contracts run for one more year.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Cavaliers financially, as we launch our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • J.R. Smith ($11,810,000) 1
  • Total: $11,810,000

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistically, there’s no way the Cavaliers will be able to create cap room for 2019/20. Dumping salary to get under the cap would almost certainly mean attaching assets that they’ve accumulated during their rebuild, and since they were willing to take on salary to acquire those assets in the first place, it would be counter-intuitive to switch gears now.
  • In fact, with $123MM+ in guaranteed money already on their books for 2019/20 and the possibility of adding even more salary if they can find a favorable J.R. Smith trade, the Cavs will likely be more concerned with staying below the $132MM luxury tax line than with finding a way to create cap space.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $2,760,095 (expires 12/9/19)
  • Trade exception: $1,544,951 (expires 2/7/20)
  • Trade exception: $1,512,601 (expires 2/7/20)
  • Mid-level exception: $9,246,000 5
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,619,000 5

Footnotes

  1. Smith’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after June 30.
  2. The salaries for two-way players don’t count against a team’s cap, but their cap holds do during the offseason.
  3. The cap hold for this pick will depend on where it ultimately falls in the lottery.
  4. Because Chriss’ fourth-year rookie scale option was declined, the Cavaliers are ineligible to offer him a starting salary greater than his cap hold.
  5. These are projected values. Additionally, the Cavaliers will not be able to use these exception if their team salary exceeds the tax apron. In that scenario, they’d instead receive the taxpayer mid-level exception, worth a projected $5,711,000.

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.