JaVale McGee

Warriors Rumors: Free Agents, Iguodala, Livingston

It has been less than four full days since the Warriors won Game 5 of the NBA Finals and captured their second title in three years, but fans and observers are already looking ahead to see how Golden State intends to keep its championship roster together. Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News takes a deep dive into that subject today, breaking down the Warriors’ salary cap options and providing a handful of insider tidbits as well. Let’s round up the highlights…

  • Multiple NBA sources have told Kawakami that it’s all about the Warriors’ Big Four and Andre Iguodala, suggesting that the team won’t break the bank for anyone else on the roster. That includes free-agents-to-be like Zaza Pachulia, David West, Ian Clark, and JaVale McGee.
  • Out of that group of the Warriors’ top five players, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Iguodala are all eligible to become free agents. Kawakami expects Curry to receive a five-year, super-max deal worth upwards of $205MM, while Durant appears willing to accept a 20% raise rather than the full max, allowing the club to stay over the cap to re-sign Iguodala and possibly others.
  • Assuming Durant settles for a 20% raise, look for Iguodala to sign a multiyear deal worth between $8MM and $12MM annually, says Kawakami. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has suggested he expects to re-sign with Golden State and that negotiations are almost done. If another team swoops in with a massive offer, it’s possible Iguodala reconsiders his options, but at that this point, the main question appears to be how many years will be on his new Warriors contract.
  • Shaun Livingston‘s situation is “much more open-ended,” with Kawakami pegging the odds of the point guard’s return as a coin flip. Kawakami speculates that a one- or two-year deal worth $6-7MM per year would be feasible for the Warriors, but Livingston will likely do better than that on the open market.
  • As Kawakami points out, it’s worth keeping an eye on the tax apron, which is projected to be around $127MM for 2017/18. If a team wants to use its full mid-level exception and/or bi-annual exception, it can’t exceed the apron at any point during the league year. If the Warriors go over that number, they’ll be limited to the taxpayer MLE – worth about $5.2MM – and minimum salary contracts for any additional signings.

NBA Finals Notes: Warriors Centers, Williams, Kerr

After being forced to unload Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli to create enough cap room to sign Kevin Durant, the Warriors were able to put together a competent center rotation for $4.9MM, writes Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated. Golden State devoted seven roster spots to the center position after adding Durant, with Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee earning most of the playing time. All three signed one-year deals last offseason and will be free agents again this summer, as will James Michael McAdoo, who also saw playing time in Game 1.

There’s more this morning from the NBA Finals:

  • After six seasons of bouncing around the league on bad teams, Derrick Williams is enjoying his chance to play for a championship, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft, Williams spent a little more than two seasons with the Timberwolves before being traded to the Kings. He played for the Knicks in 2015/16, then signed with the Heat last summer. He joined the Cavaliers after being waived in February. “That’s the thing, you’re learning from other greats, All-Stars on this team,” said Williams, who turned 26 last week. “The difference between this organization and others I’ve played in is we know which direction we’re going in. We know what the goal is each and every year, coming back individually better, playing together as a team, getting better as a team.”
  • Even with their convincing win in the opener, the Warriors miss having Steve Kerr on their bench, writes Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. Kerr, who is dealing with chronic pain from back surgery in 2015, is considering a return for tonight’s Game 2. “We miss his voice, obviously,” Klay Thompson said. “His knowledge of the game is incredible. Just his demeanour — he has such a calming demeanour. No moment is too big for him. And he just knows how to keep us in line, keep us focused. So does [interim coach] Mike Brown. Mike is doing a great job. But we definitely miss Steve.”
  • Adam Silver talked about the need for parity when he took over as commissioner, but he is presiding over his third straight Cavaliers-Warriors Finals matchup, notes Paul Flannery of SB Nation. It’s also the seventh straight year that LeBron James has been in the Finals, which raises questions about the NBA’s long-term popularity if it remains dominated by a few teams. “From a league standpoint, you always want to see great competition,” Silver said. “It’s what our fans want to see. It’s what we provide in this league. But having said that, this is real life. It’s not scripted, and it happens. So, sure, the fan in me would love to see more competition at times, but on the other hand, I’ve said it before, I think we should also celebrate excellence.”

Pacific Notes: McGee, Lakers, Clippers, Kings

JaVale McGee has been an enigma — more often a punchline for on-court gaffes than receiving praise for his athletic ability — during his nine-year NBA career, which has included stints with five different organizations. However, the 7’0″ center has put his skill set together to be a productive part of the Warriors‘ early run the playoffs, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated writes.

In his first postseason with the Warriors, McGee is averaging 8.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and shooting the basketball at an efficient .760 clip. As McGee explains to Spears, the perception of him being a distraction has fueled him to work harder to disprove detractors: “I haven’t done [anything]. Nothing at all. I have the same perception of guys doing bad stuff, getting DUIs and things like that. I have nothing like that. It’s frustrating knowing how hard you work,” McGee said. “That is just the misconception of what people see. It’s just a testimony to keep working hard, stay positive and eventually things will work out for you.”

The Warriors swept the Trail Blazers in the opening round and currently hold a 1-0 lead over the Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals. McGee’s energy and production have been a huge reason for the team’s postseason success.

Here are additional news tidbits from the Pacific Division:

  •  The Lakers saw two key departures from the organization this week. Tim DiFrancesco, the team’s strength and conditioning coach the last six seasons, has resigned, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. In a separate update, Holmes wrote that Yuju Lee, the Lakers’ director of basketball analytics, left the team after four seasons in lieu of accepting a demotion. These departures are another change for a Lakers team that saw a significant overhaul when Magic Johnson took over as president of basketball operations in late February.
  • Several NBA.com writers discussed several potential directions the Clippers may go in now that they have been eliminated from the postseason. The collection of scribes discuss Blake Griffins potential plans in free agency, Chris Paul‘s future, and injuries decimating the team.
  • After the Kings missed their 11th consecutive postseason, Keith P. Smith of RealGM analyzes the team’s various needs ahead of the 2017/18 offseason. Sacramento’s offseason objectives will include acquiring a point guard, trying to replace the departed DeMarcus Cousins, and figuring out Rudy Gay‘s contract situation where the oft-injured forward holds a player option for next season.

And-Ones: Free Agents, D-League, Bennett, Oden

Several under-the-radar players who will be free agents this summer are improving their bargaining position with their performance in the playoffs, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. He identifies six players, starting with Golden State big man JaVale McGee, who is averaging 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks through five games despite playing just 11.8 minutes per night. McGee signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Warriors for the veteran’s minimum and could be in line for a huge pay raise in July. The others that Kennedy singles out are Serge Ibaka of the Raptors, Joe Ingles of the Jazz, Nene of the Rockets, Andre Roberson of the Thunder and Deron Williams of the Cavaliers.

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • The Texas Legends, the Mavericks‘ affiliate in the D-League, have given coach Bob MacKinnon a two-year extension, tweets D-League Digest. The D-League veteran is in his first season with the Legends.
  • Invitations have been issued for the D-League’s Elite Mini Camp, which will be held May 8-9 in Chicago, relays Chris Reichert of FanSided. Many players have used this showcase to earn spots on summer league rosters, with alumni such as Jonathon Simmons, Hollis Thompson and DeAndre Liggins. Among the best-known names at this year’s camp will be Russ Smith, JaKarr Sampson, Ray McCallum and Cliff Alexander.
  • Former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, who played 23 games for the Nets this season, has been replaced on his Fenerbahce team in Turkey, according to Bugra Uzar of Eurohoops. Taking his spot on the roster is Pero Antic, who played for the Hawks from 2013 to 2015. Bennett will remain with the club and is expected to be part of the upcoming EuroLeague Final Four.
  • Greg Oden, another former No. 1 pick, is hoping to be part of The Basketball Tournament this summer on ESPN, relays Alysha Tsuji of USA Today. Oden’s team is called Scarlet and Gray and is made up of Ohio State alumni. “We think we’re a team that can win it,” he said. “We look at the talent we’ve had here in the last 10 years or so, and we can match up with anybody. We want the state of Ohio supporting us. We’re called Scarlet and Gray, but this team is a representation of the whole state.”

Pacific Notes: McGee, Kings, Redick, Rivers

Draymond Green played a crucial role in the Warriors’ decision to sign journeyman center JaVale McGee last summer, as Sam Amick of USA Today explains. They share the same agent, B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman, and Green lobbied GM Bob Myers to give McGee a chance. McGee, who appeared in just 62 games over the previous four seasons, signed a contract for less then $1MM and has emerged as a valuable role player. “I didn’t know him that well at all, but you [could] see some of the skills that a guy has and see that, alright that could possibly fit in,” Green told Amick. “Being that he’s super athletic, he offered something that we didn’t have.” McGee will re-enter the free agent market this summer and should be in greater demand.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings have hired Luke Bornn as their VP of Analytics and Strategy, James Ham of NBC Sports California reports. Bornn, 31, was working for soccer’s A.S. Roma. “We’ll be looking at more advanced modeling tools often with the player tracking data to try and get a deeper understanding of player performance,” Bornn told Ham. Roland Beech, the team’s previous analytics guru, left the organization earlier this week.
  • Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick has gotten off just 13 shots in the first two games of the playoffs, but coach Doc Rivers appreciates his unselfish approach, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Redick has scored 11 points in the series under heavy defensive pressure but the team hopes to get him more involved in Game 3 on Friday, Turner adds. “Sometimes in certain games and series, you have to give yourself up to get the team stuff,” Rivers told the assembled media on Thursday. “J.J. has been terrific with that. He’s going to get his shot eventually.”
  • Clippers guard Austin Rivers will miss Game 3 with a strained left hamstring but remains hopeful of returning for Game 4, Turner reports in a separate story. Rivers has not played the last eight games, including the final six of the regular season.

Pacific Notes: Gay, Joerger, Griffin, Warriors

Rudy Gay will have surgery Monday to fix a torn Achilles tendon, the Kings announced on their website. The procedure will be performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and Gay will be out for the remainder of the season. The injury may affect the free agent market, as Gay had planned to opt out of his $14,263,566 deal for next season.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Garrett Temple has taken Gay’s spot in the starting lineup for now, but long-term decisions may not be made until next month, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. If the Kings continue losing and slip out of the playoff race, coach Dave Joerger may elect to give more minutes to younger players. Rookie guard Malachi Richardson was used in the first half Saturday for the first time all season. “Just be a buncha different dudes running in and out of there,” Joerger said. “Trying to find something that fits as you go through it.”
  • Blake Griffin plans to be ready for the Clippers game Tuesday at Philadelphia, relays Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Griffin has missed 17 games since undergoing minor knee surgery December 20th. “It’s as close as I can be, I think,” Griffin said Saturday. “It was good to get some contact in yesterday. So it’s good to get some like real work in besides just running and shooting. It’s kind of up to them.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr is using seven low-salaried big men in a rotation at center, writes Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury NewsZaza Pachulia, David West, JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney, James Michael McAdoo, Anderson Varejao and Damian Jones are all getting minutes at the position, depending on the matchup.

McGruder, McGee Receive Partial Guarantees

As our schedule of salary guarantee dates shows, four NBA players were originally believed to be on track to receive partial guarantees if they remained under contract through December 1. Two of those players – Briante Weber and Okaro White – were waived by the Heat earlier in the year, but the other two are still on their respective teams’ rosters.

The minimum-salary contract for Rodney McGruder, another member of the Heat, called for his partial guarantee to increase to $400K on Thursday, leaving only about $144K in non-guaranteed money on his deal. The rookie shooting guard has been a regular part of Miami’s rotation so far, averaging 22.9 minutes per game, so he looks like a safe bet to remain on the roster for the season, given his role and his contract situation.

Meanwhile, JaVale McGee‘s minimum-salary contract with the Warriors reportedly called for his partial guarantee to increase from $250K to $500K on Thursday. McGee has only played sparingly for Golden State in the early going, but he has a unique skill set on a Warriors team that lacks a traditional rim-protecting center. That could mean an increased role for him later this season, though his roster spot may not be entirely safe if the team finds a more reliable veteran center via free agency or trade.

So far, there have been no indications that either the Heat or Warriors pushed back their guarantee dates for McGruder or McGee, respectively, so we’ll assume both players received their increased partial guarantees unless we hear otherwise. Their salaries for 2016/17 will become fully guaranteed if they’re still under contract on January 10.

Western Notes: McGee, Lakers, Hill, Harden

Warriors backup center JaVale McGee will be rewarded with increased minutes, according to Monte Pool of CSNBayArea. The well-traveled veteran has impressed coach Steve Kerr with his play of late, maybe enough to form a “center by committee” with Zaza Pachulia and David West. McGee played 15 minutes Thursday in Denver, finishing with 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks. “He earned some extra playing time for sure,” Kerr said. “We’re still going through different combinations, but he earned the opportunity to play some more.” The Warriors signed McGee in September to a training camp deal that offered a minimum salary for one year with no guaranteed money.

There’s more tonight from the Western Conference:

  • Kobe Bryant‘s retirement has been one of the factors in the Lakers‘ early-season success, contends Mitch Lawrence of Forbes. With Bryant gone, the team has gotten rid of its isolation offense and replaced it with a team-oriented approach. Also, the young players who were afraid of getting on Bryant’s bad side now have more freedom to play their games. Lawrence also credits the hiring of coach Luke Walton, who has already impressed the organization with his leadership skills.
  • Anthony Davis has been spectacular for the 1-9 Pelicans, but free agent addition Solomon Hill says the rest of the team needs to step up, relays William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. Hill, who joined the team on a four-year, $48MM contract, is averaging 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. “Everything’s been going towards [Davis], but I think we need to find ways to get everybody else involved,” Hill said. “He’s going to score regardless. You can throw assistant coaches out there on the floor and as long as they get him the ball he’s going to score. We just got to find ways to do it collectively.”
  • Mike D’Antoni is doing his best coaching job with James Harden, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Dempsey says the Rockets’ star, who is averaging 30.0 points and 10.0 assists per night, is the best fit ever for D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.

Warriors Rumors: Durant, Curry, McGee, Jones

Retaining both Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant beyond this season could prove difficult for the Warriors under the next CBA agreement, Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com examines in great detail. While the provisions in the new labor deal are unclear, Durant might have to leave money on the table to re-sign with Golden State, or opt in and take the $27.7MM salary in the final year of his two-year contract, in order to keep the Super Team together. As a non-Bird free agent if he opts out, Durant would likely have to take less than the max to stay put because of cap-space constraints, Feldman continues. The amount of cap space available will depend in part on the cap hold for Curry, who will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and the hold could be significantly greater in the new CBA, Feldman explains. Max salary tiers could also rise, complicating the process even further, Feldman adds.

In other news regarding the Warriors:

  • Coach Steve Kerr wants to give reserve center JaVale McGee increased playing time, Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News reports. McGee sparked the team in his first chance to play rotation minutes against the Nuggets on Thursday, contributing 10 points, three rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes. “We’re looking at the first part of the season as somewhat experimental,” Kerr told Slater and other reporters. “We haven’t really given him a chance yet. You could see he gives us a dimension that we don’t have, throwing it up to the rim for a lob, which provides you extra spacing.” McGee was signed to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract in September. His $1.4MM salary becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster January 10th.
  • Rookie center Damian Jones is expected to join the Warriors’ D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz on November 20th and make his season debut there five days later, according to Connor Letorneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. The late first-round pick underwent surgery in June for a torn right pectoral muscle, which he suffered during a weight-lifting session. He is one of four centers on the NBA roster, along with McGee, Zaza Pachulia and Anderson Varejao, but Jones could spend much of the season in Santa Cruz. “He’s a kid, he’s a rookie, and it takes a while to get to know this league and understand how to be productive,” Kerr told Letorneau .“We’re not being overly hopeful for him to step in and play right away.”

 

Cap Details: Sixers, Heat, Pelicans, Warriors

With regular-season rosters now set, Bobby Marks of The Vertical and Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders have been working hard to update details for recent signings, cuts, guarantee dates, and other aspects of the salary cap. Listed below are a few of their latest reports, which we’ve included in our latest updates of our own 2016/17 salary cap snapshots. Let’s dive in…

  • Dionte Christmas recently signed a contract with the Sixers that allowed the team to secure his D-League rights. Although he was waived almost immediately after signing that deal, Christmas landed a $50K guarantee from Philadelphia, per Marks and Pincus.
  • Filling in the blanks on a summer trade, Pincus tweets that the Heat sent $400K to the Pelicans in the deal that saw Luke Babbitt land in Miami.
  • According to both Marks and Pincus, the following players received increased guarantees for surviving preseason roster cuts: Dorian Finney-Smith (Mavericks) now has a $150K guarantee, Rodney McGruder (Heat) has a $300K guarantee, and John Jenkins (Suns) has a fully guaranteed $1.051MM salary.
  • Meanwhile, both Marks and Pincus now list Joffrey Lauvergne‘s $1.71MM salary with the Thunder as fully guaranteed. It was previously believed to be partially guaranteed.
  • According to Marks, Matt Costello got $31.5K guaranteed from the Grizzlies, Lamar Patterson received a $100K guarantee from the Kings, and JaVale McGee has a $250K partial guarantee from the Warriors. Marks indicates that McGee’s guarantee will increase to $500K if he’s still under contract through December 1.
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