Indiana Pacers

NBA Teams Below Salary Cap For 2016/17

At this point in the season, most teams aren’t going to do much with any leftover cap room. Teams are no longer able to make trades, and most free agents still on the market won’t demand more than the minimum.

Still, there’s reason to consider which teams remain below the cap after this week’s trade activity. With useful veteran players potentially hitting the free agent market as a result of contract buyouts, a team with some extra cap room might have a leg up on teams without any spending flexibility.

For instance, if the Rockets and Warriors were to pursue the same free agent – perhaps Andrew Bogut, if he’s bought out by the Sixers – Houston could offer a deal worth up to about $3.5MM with cap room, while Golden State would be limited to offering a prorated minimum salary worth closer to $400K. That’s a significant difference.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on teams that remain below the minimum salary floor, since those clubs could enter the bidding for a bought-out player or could claim a player off waivers. The Jazz, for instance, probably don’t need a big man like Bogut, but if they wanted him and he became available, Utah has enough cap room to claim his entire $11MM+ contract. That would keep him off the open market and allow the Jazz to surpass the salary floor.

Using our Salary Cap Snapshots, let’s take a closer look at the teams below the cap, starting with teams still below the salary floor:

Teams below the salary floor:

  1. Utah Jazz: $13.64MM below cap ($4.23MM below floor)
  2. Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.66MM below cap ($3.24MM below floor)
  3. Denver Nuggets: $11.56MM below cap ($2.15MM below floor)
  4. Brooklyn Nets: $10.21MM below cap ($793K below floor)

Less than a month ago, there were six teams below the salary floor. Since then, the Nets and Nuggets have taken major steps toward the floor, while the Suns and Sixers have gotten above it entirely. That leaves the Jazz and Timberwolves as the clubs furthest below the salary floor.

As we’ve noted in the past, there’s no real penalty if a team remains below the floor — the team simply has to make up the difference by paying their current players a little more money. However, the Jazz and Wolves figure to be mulling other opportunities to reach the floor. That could mean placing a waiver claim or – in Utah’s case – renegotiating a contract.

We haven’t heard any rumors lately about the Jazz discussing a new deal with an extension-eligible veteran like George Hill or Derrick Favors, so that seems like a long shot. But the team does have until the end of February to renegotiate and extend either player’s contract, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Teams below the cap, but above the floor:

  1. Phoenix Suns: $9.226MM below cap
  2. Philadelphia 76ers: $8.62MM below cap
  3. Indiana Pacers: $4.14MM below cap
  4. Boston Celtics: $1.11MM below cap

Although the Suns and Sixers have inched above the salary floor, they’re not necessarily out of the woods quite yet. Phoenix needs the contracts of Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott to pass through waivers unclaimed, while the Sixers will require the same for Bogut if they eventually cut him. If any of those deals are claimed, they’ll move to another team’s cap, pushing Phoenix or Philadelphia back below the floor.

Teams that could clear cap room by renouncing exceptions:

  1. Houston Rockets: $3.54MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $3.33MM)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder: $3.05MM below cap if lone TPE ($4.94MM) is renounced
  3. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.75MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $5MM)
  4. Chicago Bulls: $1.59MM below cap if lone TPE ($5.46MM) is renounced

These teams are technically over the cap, but could go under if they chose to renounce their trade exceptions. In some cases, that might not make much sense. For instance, the Bucks and Bulls would have less than $2MM in cap room if they renounced their exceptions. Both teams have trade exceptions worth at least $5MM, so it probably makes sense to stay over the cap for now and see if those exceptions come in handy around the draft.

On the other hand, the amount of cap room the Rockets would have if they renounced their trade exceptions would be greater than the amount of their largest TPE, so it makes sense for Houston to dip below the cap, expunging those TPEs from their books. That would also allow the Rockets to use cap room to sign a free agent, something they couldn’t do using a trade exception.

The rest of the NBA’s 18 teams don’t currently have cap room. That includes the Lakers, whose moves this week took them over the cap by just $316K.

Pacers Notes: George, Bird, Young, Gibson, Turner

Paul George wasn’t happy with Indiana’s trade deadline strategy. In a video interview with IndyStar.com, George said he “thought he’d be in the loop a little more” with the team’s approach. “I kind of was on the ropes just like you guys were, on what was about to happen.” George said to the press. “It’s kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part.”

George was featured prominently in rumors right up until the deadline, being connected to the Nuggets, Celtics, and Hawks. Ultimately, Larry Bird was content to “swat away all pitches,” though it appears they didn’t communicate this to George. Paul’s comments to IndyStar.com provide the latest indication that he may decline his 2018/19 player option in favor of testing the open market.

More from Indiana…

  • Bobby Marks and Adrian Wojnarowski discussed Indiana’s deadline strategy on the latest edition of The Vertical podcast (Twitter link). The Pacers had discussions regarding Taj Gibson, per Marks and Wojnarowski, but were reluctant to surrender a first-round pick for only an “incremental” improvement on an expiring contract.
  • Thaddeus Young will make his return from a wrist injury tonight against the Grizzlies, Nate Taylor of Indy Star Sports reports (Twitter link). Young’s return is a promising sign, but the 28-year-old may be playing through pain in the early stages. “It’s still a little sore,” Young told Jordan J Wilson of Indy Star Sports. “I think it’s a day-to-day thing about the pain threshold. Right now, it’s sore and stiff, but I’m continuing to go out there with my guys and trying to get myself back onto the floor.”
  • Gregg Doyel of Indy Star Sports was critical of Larry Bird’s performance throughout the trade deadline. Bird “didn’t do anything to make them [Indiana] better in the future,” and didn’t surround George with additional pieces. Doyel doesn’t blame George for having hard feelings after “being shown a lack of respect” from the team’s front office.
  • The Lakers’ new front office boss, Magic Johnson, knows “full well” of George’s interest in signing with L.A. after the season, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. Nate Taylor of Indy Star Sports elaborated on the Lakers’ connection to the Pacers’ deadline activity, describing the “mounting pressure” on the team to succeed in 2016/17; potentially George’s last in a Pacers uniform. In addition to Bird, coach Nate McMillan and Myles Turner will face pressure down the stretch. McMillan will be relied upon to better motivate his players, while Turner’s growth could determine the Pacers’ ceiling in the postseason.

Hawks Made ‘Aggressive’ Offers For George, Butler

8:40pm: Although the Hawks’ offers for George and Butler didn’t feature core players, one source tells Stein (Twitter link) that they included “more” than three first-round picks.

With extra picks on hand for 2018 and 2019, Atlanta theoretically could have offered a 2017 first-round pick, a 2018 first-rounder, and two 2019 first-rounders, and still would’ve adhered to the Ted Stepien rule.

4:43pm: The Hawks weren’t necessarily considered likely to make a big splash today and ultimately didn’t do so, but according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), it wasn’t for lack of trying. Stein reports that the Hawks made “aggressive” draft-pick-centric trade offers for both Paul George and Jimmy Butler.

Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter link) reported shortly after the trade deadline passed that the Hawks had been working on multiple “big deals” that didn’t come together, and these wouldn’t certainly qualify. GM Wes Wilcox had mentioned in the days leading up to the deadline that Atlanta wouldn’t hesitate to use its collection of draft picks to seek out roster upgrades — the Hawks have extra first-round picks in 2018 (from Minnesota) and 2019 (from Cleveland).

Reports on the talks between the Celtics and Bulls suggested that Chicago had wanted to acquire rotation-ready players in any deal for Butler, so a package heavy on draft picks may not have appealed to the club. As for the Pacers, even though team ownership was receptive to trade offers, president Larry Bird was determined to “swat away all pitches,” per Stein.

The Pacers were also said to have turned down a “monster” offer from the Nuggets, though ESPN’s Zach Lowe notes that Denver was reluctant to include Jamal Murray in that package. The Nuggets would have brought in trade assets from a third team in that scenario, per Lowe.

Meanwhile, though Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested this afternoon that the Celtics had been willing to include both Nets’ first-round picks in talks for George and Butler, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears that Boston never formally made the 2017 pick available in Butler discussions. Even if the C’s had been willing to include one or both picks for either player, it’s not clear whether the team would have sought to add protection those selections.

Paul George Remains With Pacers

3:32pm: According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), Larry Bird was “determined to swat away all pitches” for George this week, even though team ownership felt that it was necessary to hear out potential suitors.

1:49pm: The Pacers have passed on trade offers for Paul George, and the All-Star forward will remain with the team through the trade deadline, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter).

After insisting for most of the season that George was unavailable, the Pacers wavered on that stance in recent days, after PG13 met with owner Herb Simon. In that meeting, George expressed a desire to remain with Indiana for the long term, but only if the Pacers are in a position to be a legit contender.

There’s a belief that George is very interested in the possibility of signing with the Lakers when he’s eligible for free agency in 2018, so Indiana felt obligated to explore the market and consider the possibility of a rebuild around Myles Turner. For now, George remains in Indiana, though it’s possible the team will consider a trade again in the summer.

With the Pacers listening to inquiries on George this week, the Lakers and Celtics reportedly talked to Indiana, while the Nuggets are believed to have made a “monster” offer that the Pacers turned down.

Celtics, Cavs, Pacers, Others Stand Pat At Deadline

A number of teams who had been considered good bets to make trades at the deadline opted to stand pat, unable to find any deals to their liking, according to various reports. Here’s a breakdown of some of the teams that decided not to make a move:

  • The Celtics didn’t make a trade today, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). All of Boston’s assets, including the Nets’ next two first-rounders, remain under team control.
  • In essence, Kyle Korver was the big deadline acquisition for the Cavaliers, who stood pat today, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Not only did the Pacers keep Paul George, but the team didn’t make any move to fortify the roster either, according to Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star and Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports (Twitter links).
  • A source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that the Pistons didn’t make any trades today. In a tweet, Ellis expresses doubts about just how “available” some of Detroit’s players were.
  • The Kings fielded offers for Ben McLemore, Darren Collison, and Arron Afflalo, but will wait until the summer to make more trades, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.
  • The Jazz also made no deadline deals, per Andy Larsen of Salt Lake City Hoops and KSL.com (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Sixers, Bradley, Tucker, Bogut

The Sixers are seeking deals for defensive-oriented guards capable of playing alongside Ben Simmons, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Philadelphia has targeted Celtics guard Avery Bradley, but hasn’t gained any traction.

With Marcus Smart playing well lately and Jaylen Brown viewed as a potential star by the Celtics, Bradley could be somewhat expendable in Boston, but Philadelphia and Boston aren’t necessarily a great match in such a trade. Both teams are loaded with future draft picks, which is likely what the Sixers would offer for Bradley — the Celtics don’t really need any more picks, unless they think they could use them in a package for a star.

Here’s more from around the NBA with the trade deadline less than a half-hour away:

  • At least three teams – the Pelicans, Cavaliers, and Celtics – have opted against meeting the Suns‘ asking price of a first-round pick for P.J. Tucker, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
  • The Sixers don’t expect to flip Andrew Bogut in another trade before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that the two sides will immediately begin buyout discussions.
  • At this point, the Nuggets don’t expect to make any moves before the deadline, sources tell Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post (Twitter link).
  • The Pacers are still trying to fortify their roster, and remain in talks with the Kings about Arron Afflalo, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.

Pacers Declined Nuggets’ “Monster Offer” For Paul George

The Nuggets made a “monster offer” for Paul George but the talks gained no traction, Marc Stein of ESPN reports. Per Stein and Chris Haynes of ESPN, it was conveyed to Denver’s front office that George would be “highly unlikely” to commit to the Nuggets on a long-term deal (Twitter links).

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today corroborated Stein’s report, noting that the Nuggets “desperately” wanted in on the four-time All-Star (Twitter link). Haynes shed further light on George’s point of view, noting that he respects Denver’s vision, but- with the Spurs and Warriors in their way- didn’t envision the team having a path to the finals (Twitter link).

It may be a safe assumption that Nikola Jokic wasn’t a part of Denver’s offer. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (hat tip to RealGM.com), Jokic remains completely unavailable in trade talks. The Nuggets consider Jokic a franchise player who loves being in Denver.

Sam Amick of USA Today reiterated that George is “hell-bent” on becoming a Laker when he’s free agent-eligible, if no opportunity for a championship presents itself in Indiana (Twitter link).

We’d heard yesterday that the Lakers had inquired on George’s availability, but discussions- between team presidents Magic Johnson and Larry Bird- didn’t get past pleasantries. It appeared at the time that Indiana was simply feeling out the market for George, though the 26-year-old has been mentioned in several rumors today.

George has a player option worth $20,703,384 for the 2017/18 season.

Trade Rumors: C. Lee, Clippers, Pacers, Jazz, Kings

Earlier today, we heard that the Clippers recently showed interest in Courtney Lee, and according to Ian Begley and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, the Clips and Knicks continue to talk. New York has been seeking draft picks in discussions on Lee and other players, and the Clippers don’t have any immediate first-rounders to offer, as Begley notes. So if the Knicks want to send Lee to Los Angeles, they may have to settle for a player or get a third team involved.

Here are more of the latest trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers have been talking to teams about possible trades that would allow them to clear roster spots, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. As Windhorst notes, teams suspect that might be related to their talks with the Celtics regarding Paul George. Of course, Indiana may also just be doing due diligence as well in case Boston ups its offer — the Pacers wouldn’t want to be stuck having to waive useful players to make a deal work.
  • The Jazz don’t appear likely at this point to make a deal, says Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (via Twitter). TNT’s David Aldridge notes (via Twitter) that Utah could still make a move for Deron Williams, but if Williams isn’t dealt, the veteran point guard won’t ask for a buyout from the Mavericks.
  • The Kings continue to mull their options, but don’t appear to be moving forward with talks for players like Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo for now, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post (Twitter link), who adds that Sacramento’s asking prices may be too high. If those prices come down, things could change.
  • The Wizards continue to work the phones, but aren’t overly optimistic about getting another deal done by the deadline, tweets Bontemps.
  • The market for Iman Shumpert appears to be cooling as the deadline approaches, per Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter link). Amico says that teams are asking for a draft pick from the Cavaliers, and Cleveland doesn’t have many picks left.

Latest On Paul George

12:12pm: “More than a few” rival teams believe the Celtics have a real shot to land George today, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein (Twitter link). However, Wojnarowski tweets that the C’s have no significant traction yet on either George or Jimmy Butler.

10:43am: On the heels of his last George update, Wojnarowski has issued another one, tweeting that the Celtics have now introduced a Nets pick into the discussion. ESPN’s Zach Lowe notes that it’s the 2017 first-rounder (Twitter link). However, Boston has yet to meet the Pacers’ asking price.

10:35am: The Pacers and Celtics had preliminary talks regarding George, but those discussions won’t move forward unless – or until – the C’s put the Nets’ pick on the table, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). Wojnarowski doesn’t specify which of the Nets’ picks he’s referring to, but I’d imagine the 2017 first-rounder would be the Pacers’ preference.

10:00am: The Pacers have shown a willingness this week to listen to inquiries on Paul George, but Indiana’s asking price on the star forward is “off the charts,” tweets Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. A league source who spoke to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders echoed that sentiment, suggesting that George would be “massively expensive” to obtain. That source said that his own team didn’t have anywhere close to the assets to pursue such a deal.

[RELATED: Lakers inquired on Paul George]

Outside of the fact that it would take a huge package to pry George away from the Pacers, potential suitors will be apprehensive about making a deal because they know that he wants to win in Indiana, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. As Haynes explains, George’s top preference would be to ultimately re-up with the Pacers, while the Lakers would be his Plan B. The All-Star forward wouldn’t be willing to commit long-term to a team besides those two.

Meanwhile, as has been previously reported, a recent meeting between George and Pacers owner Herb Simon prompted Indiana to more seriously consider all of its options with PG13, since he indicated during that meeting that he wants to stay with the Pacers for the long term only if the team can be a serious contender. Haynes tweets that the meeting between George and Simon was “cordial,” with no ultimatum given.

Celtics Rumors: Butler, George, Bogut, Fultz

The Celtics remain hopeful of acquiring either Jimmy Butler or Paul George before the trade deadline but it’s more likely they’ll hold onto their main assets, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports.

One sticking point is that GM Danny Ainge is reluctant to part with the first-round pick the Net owe them this summer via a swap of positions, Bulpett continues. An agent with connections to the potential deal between the Bulls and Boston informed Bulpett that Ainge’s unwillingness to deal the pick scuttled preliminary discussions. The Pacers would likely want that same pick as part of any deal involving George, Bulpett speculates.

Unless a blockbuster deal is worked out that would give them a serious chance of supplanting the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics have no real incentive to move their most prized assets, the thinking goes in the Boston front office. According to another league executive, teams have offered solid veterans to Boston but Ainge only wants to a “real star” for those assets, Bulpett writes in a separate column.

Other nuggets involving the Celtics possible moves:

  • Andrew Bogut, whom the Mavs agreed to trade to the Sixers today, could be re-routed to the Celtics, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. However, ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweets that Philadelphia is expected to engage in buyout talks with the veteran center.
  • Ainge wants to remain a player in this summer’s free agent market unless he can obtain a franchise cornerstone today or via the draft, according to Bulpett. If the Celtics end up holding onto the Nets pick, Washington freshman Markelle Fultz could be the player they’re coveting.
  • A lesser trade involving a forward such as the Grizzlies’ JaMychal Green or Suns’ P.J. Tucker remains a possibility, Bulpett adds.
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