Jae'Sean Tate

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Murray, Rockets, Tate, Zion

Spurs general manager Brian Wright said it was tough to see Dejounte Murray go after the team helped him develop over the past six years, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs drafted Murray with the 29th pick of the 2016 draft.

We’ve watched him grow from his rookie year to being an All-Star last year,” Wright said in a news conference to announce the finalization of the trade that sent Murray to Atlanta. “You wish this job was full of easy decisions. The reality is, there’s a lot of hard decisions.”

Murray enjoyed a breakout season in 2021/22, averaging 21.1 PPG, 9.2 APG, 8.3 RPG, and a league-leading 2.0 SPG with a shooting line of .462/.327/.794 in 68 games (34.8 MPG). The 25-year-old was the runner-up for the Most Improved Player award.

San Antonio received three first-round picks and a pick swap in the deal, and while Wright certainly wasn’t in a celebratory mood, he said the offer from the Hawks was too good to pass up.

We just got to the place where the deal was the right thing to do,” Wright said.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Jae’Sean Tate‘s new three-year contract with the Rockets contains a team option in the final year, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tate will earn $7MM in 2022/23 and $6.5MM in ’23/24, and the deal also includes a bonus tied to how many games the team wins, Iko reports. The 26-year-old Tate averaged 11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.8 APG on .498/.312/.707 shooting in 78 games (26.4 MPG) this season.
  • Rafael Stone, the general manager of the Rockets, chose to acquire multiple unprotected first-round picks and pick swaps when he sent James Harden to the Nets. That decision looks like a wise one now that Kevin Durant has requested a trade out of Brooklyn, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who details why he thinks the move might pay off for Houston — depending on what the Nets get in return for the superstar forward.
  • The news that the Pelicans are nearing an agreement on a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension with Zion Williamson brings welcome stability to New Orleans, per William Guillory of The Athletic. As Guillory writes, the Pelicans have dealt with all kinds of turmoil over the years, the most recent being the rampant speculation that Williamson would request a trade or decide against signing a rookie contract extension, which obviously isn’t the case. Once the deal is officially inked, the franchise will have all of its core players signed for the next few years, and the terrific rookie class from ’21/22 to grow alongside them.

Rockets To Re-Sign Jae’Sean Tate To Three-Year Deal

The Rockets have reached an agreement to re-sign forward Jae’Sean Tate to a three-year contract, agents E.J. Kusnyer and Jordan Cornish tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tate’s new deal will be worth $22.1MM.

Houston made the unusual decision to turn down Tate’s minimum-salary team option for 2022/23 this week, despite the fact that he still would have been a restricted free agent a year from now if that option had been exercised.

The move signaled that the Rockets were confident in their ability to lock up Tate to a new multiyear deal — tonight’s news confirms it.

The former Ohio State standout began his professional career overseas in Antwerp in 2018 after going undrafted, then joined the Sydney Kings in 2019 before eventually making his way to Houston in 2020.

While Tate’s three-point shot (31.0%) could use some work, he has showed an impressive ability to score (11.6 PPG on 50.1% shooting), rebound (5.4 RPG), set up teammates (2.8 APG), and defend during his two years with the Rockets and appears to have a place in the club’s plans going forward.

Rockets Decline Jae’Sean Tate’s Option, Issue QO

JUNE 29: The Rockets have declined their option on Tate and issued him a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

It’s an unexpected move, given that Tate would have been extension-eligible if Houston had picked up his option and would still have been on track for restricted free agency in 2023 if the two sides hadn’t agreed to a new deal.

Presumably, the decision signals the Rockets are confident they’ll be able to lock up Tate to a new multiyear contract on terms they like. Charania says the two sides have “mutual interest” in reaching an agreement.

JUNE 25: As anticipated, the Rockets are picking up the option on Jae’Sean Tate‘s contract for next season, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Tate will earn $1,782,621 next season, according to Spotrac.

It was a mere formality that Houston would exercise that option on a rotation player. Tate started 77 of 78 games in which he appeared last season, averaging 11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.8 APG.

Tate will now be a restricted free agent next summer.


Potential 2022 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works in a typical year:

  • A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.
  • A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games one year and 32 the next, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

The thresholds for the starter criteria this year are a little different due to the truncated nature of the 2020/21 season. We outlined those tweaks at the start of the season.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Last offseason, for instance, Bruce Brown met the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, increasing the value of his qualifying offer to $4,736,102. The Nets decided to issue that qualifying offer and he accepted it. Had he fallen short of the starter criteria, Brown only would have been eligible for a qualifying offer worth around $2MM and his free agency could have played out very differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With all that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who did not meet the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $7,228,448.

Seven of the 14 players selected with lottery picks in the 2018 draft signed rookie scale extensions in 2021, meaning they won’t have to worry about the value of their qualifying offers this offseason.

Of the other seven, the three players listed above failed to meet the criteria. Bagley is the biggest loser in the trio — his qualifying offer would’ve been worth approximately $14.76MM if he had met the starter criteria. Sexton’s would’ve been about $8.56MM, while Knox’s would’ve been $7.92MM.

Even with the amount of his qualifying offer lowered a little, Knox likely won’t receive a QO at all, making him an unrestricted free agent. Bagley and Sexton are much safer bets for QOs.

Top-14 picks Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Mohamed Bamba (Magic), each met the starter criteria, locking in their QO amounts at $16.42MM and $10.1MM, respectively. Miles Bridges (Hornets) also met the starter criteria, as detailed in the next section.

Jerome Robinson was the only top-14 pick from ’18 who was waived before completing his rookie contract — he’s no longer on an NBA roster and won’t be eligible for a qualifying offer this summer.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

A player who fell into this category would see the amount of his qualifying offer increase to $7,921,300. Bridges, the No. 12 overall pick, was the only player to qualify.

As a result of meeting the starter criteria, Bridges’ qualifying offer will increase from about $7.46MM to $7.92MM, a modest bump. It shouldn’t change the outlook of his free agency, since he’ll almost certainly receive a lucrative long-term offer.

Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons looked like one of the best candidates to join Bridges in this group. He needed to make 41 starts this season for Portland, but only got to 30 before he was shut down for the season with a left knee injury. His qualifying offer will remain at $5.76MM, but that shouldn’t have a major impact on his free agency, since he’ll likely work out a multiyear deal with the Blazers.

Meanwhile, because Kings wing Donte DiVincenzo was a full-time starter for the Bucks in 2020/21, he only needed to make seven starts this season to meet the starter criteria. However, he ultimately started just once for Milwaukee and Sacramento, even when he was playing heavy minutes down the stretch for the Kings.

DiVincenzo’s qualifying offer will remain at $6.6MM, which actually could have a tangible effect on his free agency — if he doesn’t get a multiyear offer with a starting salary much higher than his qualifying offer, accepting the QO and reaching unrestricted free agency in 2023 may be DiVincenzo’s best option. Presumably, that’s why his camp reportedly wasn’t thrilled that he was still coming off the bench at the end of the season.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,869,012.

Of course, it’s very possible neither Dort nor Tate will even become a free agent this summer, since their contracts both include team options for 2022/23.

The Thunder could decide to turn down Dort’s minimum-salary option for next season in order to make him a restricted free agent this year instead of an unrestricted free agent next year, but there’s no guarantee they’ll go that route. If they do, his QO would be worth $4.87MM instead of $2.22MM.

Meanwhile, there’s no incentive for the Rockets to decline Tate’s option, since he’ll still be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023, so the amount of his potential qualifying offer this summer will be rendered moot.

Among other second-round picks and undrafted free agents, Hornets wing Cody Martin (1,866 minutes), Clippers swingman Amir Coffey (30 starts), and Trail Blazers forward CJ Elleby (28 starts) are a few who were in the ballpark of the starter criteria, but none got there. Martin, Coffey, Elleby, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Rockets Rumors: Wall, Wood, Tate, Porter, Green

While there was never any real doubt, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype confirms that Rockets guard John Wall is going to exercise his player option for the 2022/23 season. That option is worth approximately $47.4MM, which is far more than Wall could realistically expect to earn next season if he were to opt out of his deal to become a free agent.

The Rockets were unable to work out a trade involving Wall last offseason or during the 2021/22 season, but will try again this summer, according to Scotto, who says Wall’s reps at Klutch Sports would likely engage in buyout talks with Houston if the club still can’t find a viable trade. Wall’s preference would be to have a role on a winning team, Scotto adds.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast with Scotto, Ben DuBose of Rockets Wire said he gets the sense from conversations with people around the league that there are still some off-court concerns with Christian Wood. The big man might be a better fit in a contender’s locker room with a clear veteran star and leader in place, per DuBose.
  • Also on the HoopsHype podcast, Scotto noted that the Rockets are prioritizing cap room for 2023, which means that they may prefer to wait to lock up players like Jae’Sean Tate and Kevin Porter, who will be extension-eligible this offseason and could be long-term pieces.
  • Jalen Green got off to a slow start this season, but his strong second-half play – including an ongoing streak of five straight games with 30+ points – bodes well for the Rockets’ rebuild, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who says there should be “no denying his status or stature” going forward.
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks previewed the Rockets’ offseason, touching on Porter’s case for an extension, Wall’s status, and what the team will do with Wood and Eric Gordon, among other topics.
  • Within his own look ahead to the Rockets’ offseason at The Athletic, Iko says he’d be surprised if Wood is still with the team after next season’s trade deadline and suggests a team-friendly extension for Porter could be in the range of $10-14MM per year.
  • In case you missed it, Rockets two-way player Trevelin Queen was named the G League MVP for 2021/22.

Texas Notes: Green, Rockets, Schröder, Luka, Dragic

After a relatively lackluster showing in a relatively lackluster AT&T Slam Dunk Contest this weekend, Rockets rookie shooting guard Jalen Green is hoping to get another crack at the competition in the years to come, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“I for sure need a run-back,” Green said. “I messed up.”

In one of the stranger moments of the evening, Green handed Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas, a judge for the contest, a necklace holding a cell phone displaying an NFT, then went on to botch his first eight dunk attempts before finally converting his ninth look, a slick windmill whose impact had been diluted, given that he failed to convert it earlier. Green was quickly eliminated.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • The rebuilding Rockets boast several solid prospects, to the point that the NBA has taken notice, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Rookies Green, Alperen Sengun and Jae’Sean Tate all were honored with selections to the Rising Stars Game on Friday at All-Star Weekend, and Green made an aforementioned (ill-fated) appearance in the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday. “We are having a difficult season,” Sengun said. “We lost a bunch of games. I’ve learned how to stay focused during those lost games. I got a lot of experience.” At 15-43, the Rockets aren’t on track to qualify for the playoffs this season.
  • New Rockets reserve point guard Dennis Schröder is bringing his veteran experience and playoff pedigree to bear for a developing young Houston club, opines Kelly Iko of The Athletic. With John Wall inactive, Schröder has helped the Rockets with his speed and his defensive assertiveness, according to Houston head coach Stephen Silas. “(Schröder) adds to our depth, our guard rotation,” the head coach said. “There was actually a point [during the Rockets’ 124-121 loss to the Suns on Thursday that] I tried to take him out of the game, and he was like, ‘Just leave me in, let me see if we can get back into it.’ I like that competitiveness about him.”
  • Mavericks All-Star point guard Luka Doncic confirmed that he would enjoy playing with his countryman Goran Dragic, currently a free agent garnering plenty of buzz on the buyout market, but said he’s not pressing the Dallas front office to make a deal with the veteran point guard, writes Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News.

Southeast Notes: Bridges, Wizards, Beal, Lowry, Chalmers

Hornets forward Miles Bridges met the “starter criteria” on Friday when he appeared in Charlotte’s starting lineup for the 41st time this season. The starter criteria applies to players who are eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end, and dictates the amount of their qualifying offer. By meeting the criteria, Bridges ensured his qualifying offer will increase to $7,921,300.

The amount of Bridges’ qualifying offer probably won’t have much of an impact on his free agency. He’s having a breakout season and is a good bet to be paid in excess of $20MM per year on his next contract, so accepting his one-year QO likely won’t be an option he seriously considers, even now that it’s worth a little more.

Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate also met the starter criteria on Friday by making his 41st start of the season, but Houston holds a minimum-salary team option on Tate for the 2022/23 season, so he won’t reach restricted free agency until ’23, assuming he’s not extended before then.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Wizards announced today that Pat Delany, who was serving as the team’s acting head coach while Wes Unseld Jr. is in the COVID-19 protocols, has entered the protocols himself. Assistant Joseph Blair, Washington’s new acting head coach, told reporters that star guard Bradley Beal has exited the protocols and will be a game-time decision on Monday (Twitter link via Josh Robbins of The Athletic).
  • In an article for The Athletic, Robbins and David Aldridge discussed the Wizards‘ needs and identified some possible trade targets for the team, including Jerami Grant, Harrison Barnes, and Thaddeus Young.
  • Heat guard Kyle Lowry won’t face his old team for the first time on Monday after all, having been ruled out of Miami’s game vs. Toronto for personal reasons, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.
  • Veteran guard Mario Chalmers admitted he was disappointed not to play at all during his recent 10-day stint with the Heat, but said he didn’t want to be a “disruption” for the team and is looking forward to proving with Miami’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, that he deserves another shot at the NBA level. “Hopefully another 10-day comes out of it and I get signed for the rest of the year,” Chalmers said, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

Kyle Lowry, Jae’Sean Tate Exit Protocols

The Heat, who have signed six replacement players in the last two days, will have some additional reinforcements for Friday’s game in Houston. Point guard Kyle Lowry has exited the health and safety protocols and is listed as available to play vs. the Rockets, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).

Lowry only entered the COVID-19 protocols on Christmas Day, so he may have benefited from the NBA’s new shortened minimum quarantine period. It’s also possible he tested out of the protocols by returning two consecutive negative results at least 24 hours apart.

The Heat still have seven players in the protocols for the time being, including Duncan Robinson and P.J. Tucker.

Miami’s opponent on Friday also got some good news today, as Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate has cleared the protocols, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Like Lowry, he’ll be available for tonight’s contest.

Tate’s stay in the protocols was even shorter than Lowry’s — he just entered them on Wednesday, so he likely got the two negative tests he needed. His teammates D.J. Augustin, Garrison Mathews, and DeJon Jarreau remain in the protocols.

Deandre Ayton Enters Protocols; Trae Young Cleared

Suns center Deandre Ayton has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Assuming Ayton has been vaccinated, he will out at least six days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. He joins teammates Jae Crowder and Elfrid Payton in protocols as well as head coach Monty Williams. Ayton is averaging 17.0 PPG and 11.1 RPG.

On the flip side, Hawks star guard Trae Young has cleared the protocols and will play against Chicago on Monday, Wojnarowski reports in a separate tweet. Atlanta has a 1-2 record since Young entered protocols. He produced a second negative test to exit the protocols, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets.

Young won’t have many of his usual teammates in uniform with him. Atlanta still has 10 other players in the protocols.

In Houston, Rockets players Jae’Sean Tate and Kenyon Martin Jr. have entered protocols, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. That increases the number of Rockets players in protocols to four.

The Wizards, who already had a handful of players in protocols, added Aaron Holiday to the list, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets.

Rockets Notes: Porter, Silas, Theis, Wood, Tate, Gordon

Third-year guard Kevin Porter Jr., who dealt with off-court issues early in his NBA career, said earlier this week that the Rockets “saved my life” and “picked me up when I was down.” Head coach Stephen Silas isn’t taking those words lightly, telling reporters on Tuesday that it means a lot to him to develop such important relationships with players, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“It means everything,” Silas said. “That’s why you coach. For the stories, for the guys who maybe aren’t given a shot or feel like they are not able to have the opportunity they deserve. Hopefully, I can put … him in a position where he can be as successful as he can possibly be, whatever it is.”

Silas only has one year of experience as a head coach under his belt, but showed during his years as an assistant coach that he was capable of making those connections with his players, according to Rockets guard D.J. Augustin.

“Steve’s always been like that,” Augustin said, per Feigen. “I was with Steve in Charlotte when he was an assistant. He’s always been a great people person. Some coaches, they’re not good with communicating with players off the court. Steve is that guy who has the ability to kind of connect with players, especially with younger guys.”

Here’s more on the Rockets: