Hoops Rumors Originals

2017 NBA Offseason Previews By Team

The NBA offseason is officially in full swing, and over the last several weeks, Hoops Rumors has been previewing this summer’s roster moves and decisions for each of the league’s 30 teams, asking – and attempting to answer – five key questions for every club.

Our offseason previews of this year’s NBA Finals combatants, the Warriors and Cavaliers, will be published sometime after the draft — while it’s possible both teams will be involved tonight, neither club currently has a draft pick, so their major moves are more likely to come in July.

Our previews for the NBA’s other 28 teams are below:


Atlantic Division

Central Division

Southeast Division


Northwest Division

Pacific Division

Southwest Division

Five Key Offseason Questions: Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets continued to yo-yo back and forth under Steve Clifford‘s watch in 2016/17. Since Clifford took the reins as the team’s head coach four years ago, Charlotte has posted a pair of strong seasons, winning 43 games in Clifford’s first year and 48 in 2015/16. The Hornets have followed those impressive showings with disappointing ones, however, winning just 33 games in 2014/15 and 36 last season.

The franchise likely expects to rebound once again in 2017/18, having kicked off the offseason by acquiring eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard. While a bounce-back season is possible, there are several questions the Hornets will need to address this offseason in order to return to playoff contention. Let’s dive in…

1. Was Dwight Howard a worthwhile investment?NBA: Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks

In the wake of this week’s trade for Howard, Clifford expressed optimism about the veteran center’s ability to regain his All-Star form. Clifford was an assistant in Orlando and then in Los Angeles when Howard was in his prime with the Magic and Lakers, so he knows him as well as anyone.

Expecting Howard to become an All-Star again may be aiming a little too high, but it’s not as if the 31-year-old was ineffective for Atlanta last season. He comfortably averaged a double-double – as he has every year since entering the league – with 13.5 PPG and 12.7 RPG, and his .633 FG% was a career best.

The Hornets also didn’t give up much to acquire Howard and to move up 10 spots in the second round of the draft, parting with Miles Plumlee and his pricey contract, plus Marco Belinelli. Belinelli is a solid, affordable rotation piece for any team, but he only has one year left on his contract, so moving him isn’t a long-term blow for Charlotte.

While it remains to be seen whether Howard can move the needle at all for the Hornets, the price to land him wasn’t exorbitant by any means, so a roll of the dice makes sense.

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Updated Maximum Salary Projections For 2017/18

Last month, we published maximum salary projections based on a $101MM salary cap. However, on Wednesday, the NBA informed teams that the salary cap projection for 2017/18 is now $99MM. The difference is fairly modest, but it’s enough to affect what maximum salary contracts would look like. For instance, a player like Chris Paul could earn more than $205MM on a five-year max with the Clippers with a $101MM cap. With a $99MM cap, his maximum earnings slip a little to below $201MM.

While maximum salary contracts start at the same amount no matter where a player signs, players re-signing with their own teams can get larger raises and more years than if they sign elsewhere.

Additionally, players with less than seven years of NBA experience can only get a maximum salary worth 25% of the cap, while veterans with more experience can sign deals that start at 30% or 35% of the cap. So, the figures below reflect the various salaries that players like Otto Porter (less than six years), Gordon Hayward (7-9 years), and Paul (10+ years) could get on max contracts.

You can check out our story from March for more details on maximum salary contracts. For now, here’s what new max deals will tentatively look like this summer based on a $99MM cap:

A player re-signing with his own team (8% annual raises, up to five years):

Year 6 years or less 7-9 years 10+ years
2017/18 $24,750,000 $29,700,000 $34,650,000
2018/19 $26,730,000 $32,076,000 $37,422,000
2019/20 $28,710,000 $34,452,000 $40,194,000
2020/21 $30,690,000 $36,828,000 $42,966,000
2021/22 $32,670,000 $39,204,000 $45,738,000
Total $143,550,000 $172,260,000 $200,970,000

A player signing with a new team (5% annual raises, up to four years):

Year 6 years or less 7-9 years 10+ years
2017/18 $24,750,000 $29,700,000 $34,650,000
2018/19 $25,987,500 $31,185,000 $36,382,500
2019/20 $27,225,000 $32,670,000 $38,115,000
2021/22 $28,462,500 $34,155,000 $39,847,500
Total $106,425,000 $127,710,000 $148,995,000

Five Key Offseason Questions: Boston Celtics

Not every Celtic fan is in love with Danny Ainge‘s patient, meticulous approach to stockpiling assets and building the team’s roster, but that strategy began to pay major dividends in 2017. The Celtics made a strong second-half push to nab the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, then took advantage of their pick swap with the Nets and some lottery luck to grab the No. 1 pick in the draft as well.

Of course, each of those accomplishments comes with a caveat. Despite their spot atop the Eastern Conference, the Celtics didn’t come anywhere close to knocking off the Cavaliers in the Conference Finals, and will need to add another impact player to their roster to help close that gap. As for the No. 1 overall pick, Boston became the first team in recent NBA history to trade that top selection in advance of the draft, sending it to Philadelphia for this year’s No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder.

Even after a 53-win season and a pair of playoff series victories, Ainge continues to turn current present-day assets into future pieces. Will that approach change at all this summer?

Here are five key questions facing the Celtics as the offseason begins:

1. What will the Celtics do with the third overall pick?"<strong

When the Celtics first completed their trade with the Sixers earlier in the week, there seemed to be two schools of thought for what Boston had in mind for its next move — the team would either select Kansas forward Josh Jackson, or use its newly-acquired picks in a trade for a star.

Several days later, it’s not clear that the Celtics will take either route. If the club keeps its pick, there’s no guarantee that Jackson will be the selection — many experts believe Boston may be leaning toward Jayson Tatum instead, and Jonathan Isaac has even been mentioned as a possibility. There have also been reports suggesting that the Celtics could trade down again, perhaps with an eye on a player like Dennis Smith Jr.

The Celtics are sitting in a great spot, and at this point there’s no real wrong answer for the club — whatever happens, Boston should come out of draft night with either a young potential star or a player who is already a star.

2. Is this the right time for the Celtics to cash in some trade chips?

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Hoops Links Vol. 10: The Process, The Godfather, More

Tired of mock drafts yet? I didn’t think so. Still, it’s important to pace one’s self on a fine day such as this. Before the day is done there will be 60 new NBA players and half that many Woj bombs (we hope), so take a fleeting moment to read about the NBA landscape in general before zeroing in on obscure international sleeper picks and combine results.

To be featured in next week’s Hoops Links (where we prance about telling everybody on the internet why we love the NBA blogosphere so much), submit your favorite articles for nomination. Connect with Austin Kent on Twitter (@AustinKent) as our Thursday publication date approaches and tell us why you think your content deserves a shout out in this most heralded of link dumps.

Kyle Lowry verticalThe offseason is a trying time for sports fans as the balance between passion and rationality can be difficult to strike. For South of the 6ix, Adam Corsair used recent confusion surrounding Kyle Lowry and the Raptors as a telltale example of why fans should be leery of unsubstantiated rumors. Until a decision is made and deal is done, there are too many variables at play for fans to take things at face value all the time.

Author: Adam Corsair – @ACorsair21
Rating: 8 out of 10 Grains of Salt
Link: Kyle Lowry free agent rumors.

A pair of news reports that came out this week suggest that the Spurs could be considering a home run swing in free agency this summer, and Jesus Gomez of Pounding the Rock has broken down exactly what that might look like. The combination of Pau Gasol opting out and the club supposedly shopping Danny Green frees up cap space, and a few other moves could get the Spurs into a scenario where they could offer max money.

Author: Jesus Gomez – @JejeGomez_PtR
Rating: 8 out of 10 Pennies Pinched
Link: Spurs could make big free agent pitch.

Around this time five years ago, the Sixers swung a deal for Andrew Bynum. This, Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers writes, was the true start of “The Process.” In the years since, Sam Hinkie has come and gone, assets have come and gone, and now the franchise approaches the NBA Draft with more optimism than they’ve had since the Allen Iverson Era. Here’s a a celebratory reminder of all that Philly fans have been through and why it was worth it.

Author: Michael Levin – @Michael_Levin
Rating: 8 out of 10 Bowling Injuries
Link: The Process, in summary.

The Suns were wise to turn down an offer for DeAndre Jordan this week, but only because the price was too high. Given more reasonable terms, an acquisition of the three-time All-NBA big man could be wise. For Valley of the Suns, Lucas McLean breaks down scenarios in which Phoenix could make a play for the center and what that could mean.

Author: Lucas McLean – @LucasMcLean
Rating: 7 out of 10 Airplane Emojis
Link: DeAndre Jordan could fit with Suns.

Hockey fans saw an expansion draft unfold in Las Vegas last night, prompting Shameek Mohile of Piston Powered to think about what the Pistons might do in a similar situation. Notably unprotected throughout the hypothetical exercise were Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer, while the prioritization of those protected was telling in and of itself.

Author: Shameek Mohile – @ShamShammgod
Rating: 8 out of 10 Marc-Andre Fleury Knights Jerseys
Link: The Pistons in an expansion draft.

Nikola Pekovic verticalWhen the Timberwolves waived Nikola Pekovic this week it brought an official end to an era. In honor of the hulking big man, John Meyer of Canis Hoopus published a streamable video-filled recap of the Godfather’s NBA tenure. It wasn’t always graceful, but that doesn’t mean Pek’s stint in Minnesota didn’t have its fair share of highlights and laughs.

Author: John Meyer – @TheDailyWolf
Rating: 9 out of 10 Brandon Knight Body Slams
Link: Celebrating Nikola Pekovic’s career.

The Nets were wise to capitalize on their valuable cap space and land D’Angelo Russell, who has the sort of potential star power that Brooklyn’s roster lacked. Ti Windisch of The Step Back writes that the 2015 second overall pick will be given every opportunity to succeed with the new club, and that the organization finally appears to have a plan.

Author: Ti Windisch – @TiWindisch
Rating: 8 out of 10 Inappropriate Ravens
Link: D’Angelo Russell could thrive with Nets.

The staff at Mavs Moneyball is well aware that LeBron James could hit the open market next offseason and isn’t wasting any time brainstorming potential ways to lure the biggest of fish to the Mavs. Consider the plethora of “Dear LeBron James” letters penned by the blog and let us know which you think would be the most effective.

Author: Rebecca Lawson – @BeccaAfterSix
Rating: 8 out of 10 Elevator Pitches
Link: Mavericks writers recruit LeBron James.

I’ll admit, it’s easy to pile on the Warriors these days, but that doesn’t mean there’s any logic behind it. Count Ron Moskovitz of Golden State of Mind the latest to be offended by the lack of respect Stephen Curry gets from a significant portion of the basketball community. The scribe puts a Dave McMenamin tweet on blast while reminding us all that the back-to-back Warriors MVP is a genuine “bet-the-house franchise changing solo talent.” Y’know, he’s not wrong.

Author: Ron Moskovitz – @Hotspurrrr
Rating: 9 out of 10 Supervillains
Link: Steph Curry disrespected, again.

Until Paul George is formally traded away from the Pacers or he officially signs with the Lakers next summer, there will be a whirlwind of speculation about possible trade suitors. Minh Dao of Rip City Project has capitalized on the growing notion that the All-Star will be on the move sooner rather than later, making the case for the Trail Blazers as a viable option.

Author: Minh Dao – @BeyondTheArcBTA
Rating: 8 out of 10 ESPN Trade Machines
Link: Blazers should trade for Paul George

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors’ 2017 NBA Mock Draft

With the 2017 NBA draft just two days away, it’s time to reveal Hoops Rumors’ own mock draft. Arthur Hill and Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors have tackled the 2017 first round, alternating picks and providing their thoughts and rationale for each selection.

Our mock draft doesn’t feature trades, outside of the ones that have already been finalized, such as the Sixers‘ acquisition of the No. 1 overall pick. It could be an active draft night, so Thursday’s night board may end up looking much different than what we’ve predicted here. After checking out our picks, be sure to head to the comments section to weigh in with your own thoughts, opinions, and predictions.

Let’s dive in…

1. Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz, PG (Washington)Markelle Fultz vertical

AH: This is the only sure thing on what is shaping up to be an unpredictable night. The Sixers gave up a valuable asset to acquire Fultz in hopes of forming a new young Big Three with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. It’s hard to find a scout that isn’t impressed by Fultz, who can score, defend, rebound and run the offense.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Lonzo Ball, PG (UCLA)

LA: The Lakers landing the No. 2 pick in last month’s draft lottery looked like a dream scenario for Ball and his father LaVar, who wanted Lonzo to land in Los Angeles all along. The Lakers have made Ball sweat it out since then, with Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox both reportedly receiving serious consideration. But I think Ball’s playmaking ability and potential star power will be too much for the team to pass up.

3. Boston Celtics: Josh Jackson, SF (Kansas)

AH: The Celtics will be getting plenty of phone calls from teams that would like a shot at Jackson, Fox, or Jayson Tatum. Assuming Boston keeps the pick, the safest bet is probably Jackson, a super-athletic defender who is versatile enough to handle either forward position.

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Five Key Offseason Questions: New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans had the appearance of a budding powerhouse two seasons ago. Carried by superstar big man Anthony Davis, they made the playoffs in 2015 with a young core of players. Later that spring, they fired Monty Williams and replaced him with Warriors assistant and offensive guru Alvin Gentry with the expectation of making deep playoff runs.

Heading into the summer of 2017, the Pelicans are at a crossroads. A combination of injuries, questionable roster decisions, and underperforming players have led to two consecutive losing seasons.

The surprising and bold move to acquire DeMarcus Cousins at the trade deadline didn’t pay immediate dividends. But the combination of Cousins and Davis makes the Pelicans one of the most intriguing teams in the league.

Here’s a look at the major questions confronting the club this offseason:

NBA: Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans1. Can the Pelicans sign unrestricted free agent Jrue Holiday?

The Pelicans have made it clear they want to re-sign Holiday, who has been highly productive when he’s been able to stay out of the trainer’s room. Holiday hasn’t played more than 67 games in the past four seasons, but averaged 15.4 PPG and 7.3 APG in 2016/17.

All indications suggest the Pelicans believe Holiday is the point guard who can keep both Davis and Cousins happy in the Twin Towers attack.

The Pelicans hold Holiday’s Bird rights, allowing them to offer more money and years than any other club. They’ll still have stiff competition for his services. It has been reported that the Mavericks covet Holiday and will make him a substantial offer, and other suitors figure to be in the mix as well.

There are several other starter-level floor leaders on the market if Holiday decides to go elsewhere. Losing Holiday wouldn’t necessarily be disastrous, but the Pelicans would prefer to have continuity at that all-important spot.

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Five Key Offseason Questions: Phoenix Suns

The Suns showed only modest improvement in their first full season under coach Earl Watson, going from 23 wins to 24. There are reasons to hope for a brighter future, but the Phoenix front office has a lot of work to do on a roster stocked with a combination of very young and very old players, with little in between.

Here are five key questions facing the Suns as that project begins:

"<strong1. Anybody need an extra guard?

Devin Booker‘s path to stardom was shorter than anyone expected, and he punctuated his rise to the NBA elite with a 70-point barrage at Boston in March. The second-year guard has been a starter since early in his rookie season and led the Suns in scoring this year at 22.1 points per game. However, his performance has made Brandon Knight expandable, and Knight hasn’t handled it well. He didn’t appear in a single game after the All-Star break and told the team when asked to play in March that back spasms were preventing him from taking the court.

Knight still has three seasons and nearly $43.9MM on a contract he signed in 2015 before the Suns realized what they had in Booker. It won’t be easy to unload a deal of that size, especially given Knight’s reduced production last year. On the other hand, he’s only 25 and has a history of being an explosive scorer, so there may be takers if the Suns don’t expect much in return. A strong first season from Tyler Ulis makes Knight even more expendable.

Another option is dealing Eric Bledsoe, a productive but injury-prone talent. Bledsoe, 27, will be the Suns’ highest-paid player next season ($14.5MM) and in 2018/19 ($15MM) and would probably fetch a nice collection of assets to help with the team’s youth movement.

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Five Key Offseason Questions: Dallas Mavericks

Few NBA franchises have been more successful in the 21st century than the Mavericks, who finished at .500 or better for 16 consecutive seasons, earning 15 playoff berths, 13 postseason series wins, and a championship during that stretch.

However, the 2016/17 campaign was a disappointment, as the Mavs missed the playoffs by a wide margin, finishing with a 33-49 record. It looks like it’s time for a rebuild in Dallas, but that decision is complicated by the fact that longtime star Dirk Nowitzki likely only has another year or two left in him. After years of building contending rosters and pursuing win-now upgrades, will the Mavs be willing to patiently retool their roster as Nowitzki’s career winds down?

Here are five key questions facing the Mavs as the offseason begins:

1. Will the Mavs ask Dirk Nowitzki to take a pay cut?Dirk Nowitzki vertical

A year ago, the Mavericks voluntarily gave Nowitzki more money that the two sides had initially agreed upon, bumping the total value of his two-year contract from $40MM up to $50MM, since it didn’t hamper the team’s ability to make other moves. A year later, Dallas may ask Nowitzki to return that favor.

The German big man, who celebrates his 39th birthday on Monday, is coming off his least productive season since his rookie year, having seen his averages slip to 14.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and a .437 FG%. He also missed 28 games due to injuries. Now, the Mavs have to decide whether or not to exercise a team option worth $25MM for 2017/18.

Exercising that team option would leave the Mavs without any cap room, and based on the players they’ve been linked to in various reports and rumors, it doesn’t sound as if they’re necessarily planning on operating as an over-the-cap team. That suggests Dallas may decline Nowitzki’s option and re-sign him at a lesser rate. The amount of the pay cut that Dirk is willing to take could dictate how much spending flexibility the Mavs have this summer.

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Five Key Offseason Questions: New York Knicks

The Knicks aggressively pursued win-now roster upgrades in the summer of 2016, acquiring Derrick Rose in a trade with the Bulls and signing Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee a couple weeks later in free agency. Rose was so bullish on the new-look Knicks that he optimistically referred to them as a “super-team” alongside the Warriors last offseason, an assertion that looks even more misguided now than it did at the time.

Not only did the Knicks miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season, but the team actually won fewer games (31) than it did in 2015/16 (32). The 2016/17 campaign was filled with indignities for the storied franchise, ranging from Charles Oakley being ejected and banned from Madison Square Garden to Phil Jackson publicly criticizing his highest-paid player and top scorer, Carmelo Anthony.

With the offseason underway in New York, the Knicks will be looking to repair their image off the court in addition to finding ways to improve the product on the court. Here are five key questions facing the club:

1. What will happen with Carmelo Anthony?Carmelo Anthony vertical

Having tired of subtlety, Phil Jackson suggested outright at season’s end that Anthony, the face of the franchise for the last several years, might be better off with another team. He’s not necessarily wrong — the relationship between Anthony and the Knicks seems to have run its course, and if the club is prepared to acknowledge that a rebuild is necessary, it makes sense for Carmelo to pursue a championship elsewhere. Still, it’s the sort of comment rarely made publicly by a team executive, particularly since it could negatively impact his player’s trade value.

Despite the fact that he’s still a reliable scorer, Anthony’s value wasn’t overly high even before Jackson torpedoed it, since his contract is an onerous one, and his 15% trade kicker only makes his salary more difficult to move around. Carmelo also holds a no-trade clause, meaning that his future is ultimately in his own hands, but he appears to be increasingly open to a move, perhaps to a team like the Clippers or Cavaliers.

The Knicks are unlikely to receive too appealing a package in any Anthony deal, and trading with an over-the-cap team like L.A. and Cleveland would mean taking back a sizable chunk of salary to meet the CBA’s trade rules. But at this point, both sides could use a fresh start, and it would be somewhat surprising to see Carmelo still wearing a Knicks uniform next fall.

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