Josh McRoberts

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are in a curious position as an NBA franchise, suspended in a unique limbo between rebuilding and (sorta) contending. Thank Dirk Nowitzki for most of it, as team owner Mark Cuban seems to have insisted that the Mavs field a semi-competent roster in the future Hall of Famer’s final years.

While the club has seemingly acknowledged the writing on the wall and started to amass long-term building blocks – most recently, ninth overall pick Dennis Smith Jr. – it’s unlikely that the Mavs will fully give into an outright rebuild so long as Nowitzki is on board for 2018/19 (which, for reasons discussed below, we’re going to assume to be the case).

Seth Curry verticalSeth Curry, PG, 27 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $6MM deal in 2016
Curry has yet to see the court this season on account of a leg injury that may now require surgery. Even at full health, however, it’s not likely that Curry would have siphoned minutes away from either lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. or several other niche players in Dallas’ backcourt rotation, a reality that casts doubt on his future with the franchise.

Devin Harris, SG, 35 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $17MM deal in 2014
While Harris has produced admirably off the bench for the Mavs, it doesn’t make sense for a team attempting to usher in a new era to retain a 35-year-old reserve in an already crowded backcourt. Harris could be a sneaky value add for a contender late in the free agency process next summer.

Yogi Ferrell, PG, 25 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Ferrell carved out a role for himself as a rotation piece on the Mavs last season but he probably won’t garner much interest as a restricted free agent next summer given that his ceiling seems somewhat capped. Still, he could provide solid long-term value in Dallas if the team does decide to part ways with Curry and/or Harris.

Wesley Matthews, SF, 31 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $70MM deal in 2015
The Mavs poached Matthews from an elite Trail Blazers squad hopeful that the swingman’s two-way game would help keep their aging core relevant in the West. Through three seasons, Matthews has posted a relatively uninspiring 12.9 points per game but will almost certainly return to Dallas considering how unlikely it would be for him to exceed his $19MM 2018/19 player option on the open market.

Josh McRoberts, PF, 31 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $23MM deal in 2014
The Mavs absorbed the final year of McRoberts’ contract over the summer, yielding a future second-round pick from the Heat in the process. Considering that the 30-year-old has been sidelined with a knee injury since joining the organization, he’ll be hard-pressed to earn a significant contract after this season. McRoberts may be able to fill a rotation spot somewhere – maybe even in Dallas – but he’ll presumably have to do so on a minimum salary.

Salah Mejri, C, 32 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3MM deal in 2015
While Mejri has played a modest role for the Mavs in each of the past three seasons, he won’t command much on the open market as a 32-year-old free agent with career averages south of five points per game.

Nerlens Noel, C, 24 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $4MM deal in 2017
It’s been less than a year since the Mavs plucked a disgruntled Noel away from the Sixers, but any notion that the team was eager to include the 23-year-old in their long-term plans has quickly faded. It’s hard to picture Noel commanding the big money he supposedly aspired to land last summer but even harder to picture him back in Dallas next season after how head coach Rick Carlisle has handled his minutes so far this season. Realistically the 2016 lottery pick’s value falls much higher than his $4MM qualifying offer and, once the free agency dominoes start falling next summer, he should find a team happy to throw him a more significant long-term offer.

Dirk Nowitzki, PF, 40 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2017.
Nowitzki has said that his decision (yes, his decision, even though it’s formally and contractually the team’s) will be based on how he feels over the course of this season. For what it’s worth, Cuban hopes to see him return and thinks there’s good chance that he does so in order to break the record for most seasons with one franchise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texas Notes: McRoberts, Noel, Gay, Nene

Mavericks center/power forward Josh McRoberts doesn’t know when he’ll be able to play again, but he hopes to start practicing soon, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. McRoberts, who was acquired from Miami in an offseason trade, has been diagnosed with a “lower extremity injury” that has kept him out all season. It’s the latest in a string of mishaps that limited him to 81 games over the three seasons before he came to Dallas.

“Basically, it’s just my foot having been broken three different times,” McRoberts explained. “That’s pretty much what it is. I’m trying to get my foot healthy and feeling good and get it to a place where Casey [Smith, athletic trainer] and the staff feel comfortable with where we’re at to be able to get out on the court and stay out on the court and not have any setbacks.” 

McRoberts hopes to be able to practice in the next week or so and says there’s “no doubt” he will  play at some point this season. He is making a little more than $6MM in the final year of his contract.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Mavericks center Nerlens Noel is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing thumb surgery Friday at the Cleveland Clinic, according to Joe Vardon of Noel had a torn ligament repaired and should return in four to six weeks. The 23-year-old, who will be an unrestricted free agent in July, is averaging 4.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18 games.
  • Rudy Gay was considered an odd fit when he signed with the Spurs this summer, but the move has worked out, notes Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype in a Twitter video. Gay has accepted a reduced role in San Antonio, playing just 23.5 minutes per night, and is averaging 12.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. He has also adopted the Spurs’ language, as Kennedy includes a recent quote of Gay saying, “For us to be successful, we have to find the open man and pass up a good shot for a great one.”
  • The Rockets can’t find enough minutes for veteran center Nene, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Going into the season, the team hoped to play him 19 minutes per game, but he has reached that total just once and is averaging 14.4 minutes. “I don’t know how important it is right now,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “The biggest thing is just to make sure he’s healthy going into the playoffs. That’s the biggest thing we want to do and getting his rhythm before that happens. But that’s a long time from now. I’m not worried about that right now.”

Five Candidates To Be Waived With Stretch Provision

NBA teams have about two more weeks to apply the stretch provision to the 2017/18 cap hits for players they waive. After August 31, teams will no longer be eligible to stretch salaries for the coming season, and the stretch provision will only apply to future seasons on a player’s contract.

The stretch provision is a CBA rule that allows teams to stretch a player’s remaining salary across additional seasons. For July and August, the rule dictates that a team can pay out the player’s salary over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one. So a contract with three years left on it could be stretched out over seven years. After August 31, only the future years on the contract can be stretched in that manner.

In practical terms, here’s what that means for a player who is earning $6MM in each of the next two years ($12MM total):

Year Current contract Stretched by August 31 Stretched after August 31
2017/18 $6,000,000 $2,400,000 $6,000,000
2018/19 $6,000,000 $2,400,000 $2,000,000
2019/20 $2,400,000 $2,000,000
2020/21 $2,400,000 $2,000,000
2021/22 $2,400,000

In some cases, it can be advantageous to wait until September to waive a player and use the stretch provision. If a team isn’t close to the tax line and can’t clear additional cap room by stretching a player’s current-year salary, it may make more sense to be patient, since that extra immediate cap room wouldn’t be useful.

However, there are several teams around the NBA who may be motivated to waive and stretch players prior to that August 31 deadline. Here are five stretch provision candidates to keep an eye on during the next couple weeks:

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Heat Paid $5.1MM To Mavs In McRoberts Deal

The Heat took full advantage of the increased limits for cash used in trades last week, sending $5.1MM to the Mavericks in the deal that landed Josh McRoberts to Dallas, reports Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

In each NBA league year, teams are permitted to send up to a certain amount of cash in trades, and are permitted to receive no more than that amount as well. In 2016/17, that figure was $3.5MM, but it increased to $5.1MM in 2017/18. That means that the Heat have already used their limit for the current league year, and won’t be able to send out any additional cash in trades until July 2018. Miami could still receive up to $5.1MM in trades, however.

With the cash taken into account, the Mavericks come out ahead in the trade in more ways than one. McRoberts is earning $6,021,175 this year, and A.J. Hammons – who went from the Mavs to the Heat in the swap – is making $1,312,611, so the difference in their salaries is $4,708,564. Dallas received more than enough cash to make up that difference and received a future second-round pick from their troubles. Since they’re acting as an over-the-cap team, the Mavs didn’t sacrifice any cap room by taking on McRoberts, though they now won’t be eligible to receive any more cash in trades until next July.

Meanwhile, the deal is also a win from the Heat’s perspective, since the team had to use every last dollar of cap room to squeeze in new deals for Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk. Cash paid in a trade doesn’t count toward the cap, so by dumping McRoberts’ salary and only taking back Hammons’ modest contract, the Heat were able to just barely create the space necessary for their signings. They also landed Hammons, a player Riley spoke highly of earlier today.

Heat Trade Josh McRoberts To Mavericks

The Heat and Mavericks have officially finalized a deal that sends veteran forward Josh McRoberts to Dallas, the Heat announced today in a press release. In addition to McRoberts, the Mavs will receive a 2023 second-round pick and cash considerations. Miami will acquire young center A.J. Hammons.

The move is a salary dump from the Heat’s perspective, and helps clear the way for the team to finalize its contract agreements with Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk, and James Johnson. All three players reached deals with Miami this week that will reportedly pay them between $12-15MM annually.

[RELATED: Heat’s summer contract agreements, via our free agent tracker]

McRoberts has been limited by injuries for the last two seasons, and may not have a future with the Mavericks, who could stretch the final year of his contract if they so choose. Last season, the 30-year-old averaged 4.9 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 22 games (14 starts) for the Heat.

The Heat have already traded their second-round picks in each of the next four years, meaning the earliest pick Miami could have offered would have been its 2022 selection. The club hangs onto that pick in the transaction, sending its 2023 second-rounder instead. Meanwhile, the amount of cash changing hands isn’t known, but the cap for the 2017/18 league year on cash paid or cash received is $5.1MM.

Heat, Mavs Nearing Josh McRoberts Trade

7:54pm: The Mavericks will use a trade exception to absorb McRoberts’ salary, tweets Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas has a $6.6MM+ TPE that would fit McRoberts’ $6MM+ salary. The use of that exception signals that the Mavs intend to function as an over-the-cap team for now.

Meanwhile, Charania’s full report on the proposed deal also notes that the Mavs will receive cash from the Heat.

7:12pm: The Heat are working to trade Josh McRoberts to the Mavericks as they look to clear salary, Adrian Wojnarowski of tweets. Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (Twitter links) that Dallas will send A.J. Hammons to Miami in exchange for the power forward.

The Mavericks will also receive a future second-round pick from Miami, Charania adds. The Heat have already traded their second-round picks in each of the next four seasons, meaning the earliest pick Miami could offer would be the 2022 selection.

By removing McRoberts’ salary, which is approximately $6.02MM for the 2017/18 campaign, the Heat should be able to fit in the already agreed upon deals for Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk as well as a new contract for James Johnson, something that the team is still working on. Moving the Duke product should also allow the team to keep Wayne Ellington on the roster.

The Heat also have interest in bringing back Luke Babbitt, and figure to keep his cap hold on their books so that they can retain his Bird rights.

Heat Notes: Leaf, Collins, Reed, Aldridge

The Heat will be looking for size with the 14th pick, especially if Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell are both off the board, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. T.J. Leaf, who proved to be an effective outside shooter at UCLA, is a possibility, along with Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, who can also hit from 3-point range. Miami would like to find a stretch four to team with Hassan Whiteside, a traditional low-post center.

If Collins is off the board, Jackson says the Heat will look at Jarrett Allen of Texas and Justin Patton of Creighton. Both are 6’11” and are targeted for the back of the lottery or possibly later. A minor injury prevented Allen from working out for Miami, but he held an interview Sunday and reportedly impressed team officials. Patton did participate in a workout for the Heat on Sunday.

Jackson offers more insight into Miami’s strategy for tonight and beyond:

  • Drafting a backup center would protect the Heat in case Willie Reed leaves in free agency. The front office fears that Reed will get an offer significantly higher than the team is willing to pay.
  • Leaf could be a replacement for either Luke Babbitt or James Johnson, two forwards who are both headed for free agency.
  • Another big man to consider is John Collins of Wake Forest, who impressed the Heat in a workout last week. Miami will also look at Duke’s Harry Giles, but might be scared off by his history of knee problems. Giles canceled a workout in Miami and never rescheduled.
  • If the Heat decide to trade down, they will focus on UCLA center Ike Anigbogu and Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo.
  • Miami is a possible destination if LaMarcus Aldridge wants out of San Antonio. The Spurs are seeking a top 10 draft pick and would like to cut salary to make a run at Chris Paul. Jackson says Miami could offer a competitive package of the 14th pick, Wayne Ellington, whose $6.27MM contract won’t be guaranteed until July 12th, Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts.

Southeast Notes: Howard, McRoberts, NBA Draft Workouts

Dwight Howard‘s lack of versatility on offense cost him playing time  with the Hawks last season and the eight-time All-Star wants to remedy that this offseason. Speaking on ESPN’s The Jump, Howard revealed that he is working to expand his three-point shooting in preparation for the 2017/18 season (via Andrew Joseph of USA Today’s For The Win).

“So, I have this guy in Atlanta that I’ve been working with, and I’ve been working on my threes,” Howard said. “Really trying to add some range to my game, which is gonna be weird for people to see, I guess. They’re used to seeing me in the paint, battling. But in order for me to play longer, I have to expand my game.”

Howard, 31, has never been a prolific shooter in the NBA; his main draw has been scoring in the paint and overpowering opposition in the low post. For his career, Howard has made just five of his 56 three-point attempts (8.9%). Howard’s last trey came during the 2014/15 season.

As Joseph writes, players such as Paul Millsap and Al Horford developed three-pointers in Atlanta. If Howard is looking for a blueprint, Nets center Brook Lopez is a good example; he shot 3-for-31 from long range the first eight seasons of his career before going 134-for-387 (34.6%) from deep during the 2016/17 campaign. Either way, an aging Howard — who the Hawks signed to a three-year, $70MM last season — will need to evolve to maximize his usefulness to a younger Hawks team.

Here are additional notes from the Southeast division:

  • Josh McRoberts could be a viable option as the Heat’s backup center, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest Ask Ira. McRoberts exercised his option to remain with the Heat for 2017/18, but the team could use the stretch provision to utilize the roster spot on else. Since joining the Heat during the 2014 offseason, McRoberts has appeared in 81 out of a possible 246 games.
  • Keith Langlois of reports that Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo next scheduled visit is with the Heat (via Twitter).
  • The Hornets announced their scheduled pre-draft workout attendees for tomorrow. The list includes Arizona guard Kadeem Allen, Wake Forest forward Austin Arians, Notre Dame forward V.J. Beachem, Davidson guard Jack Gibbs and big men Przemek Karnowski (Gonzaga) and Mangok Mathiang (Louisville).

Josh McRoberts Picks Up Player Option For 2017/18

Oft-injured Heat big man Josh McRoberts has picked up his player option worth $6MM for next season, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (link via Twitter).

McRoberts, 30, missed most of the 2016/17 campaign due to a stress fracture in his left foot. McRoberts was limited to just 22 games (14 starts) where the 6’10” center posted totals of 4.9 PPG, 3.4 PPG, and 2.3 APG. Injuries have plagued McRoberts for his entire stint in South Beach, as the 10-year NBA veteran appeared in just 81 out of a possible 246 games since signing a a three-year deal with the Heat during the 2014 offseason.

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel spoke to McRoberts’ agent Mike Conley to discuss the decision to exercise the player option this early.

He already knew he was opting in,” Conley said. “It’s always been a matter of him being healthy, and he’s healthy now.”

This gives Miami a potential frontcourt option for next season, given that Chris Bosh and the team reportedly agreed to an amicable split earlier today. While Bosh’s issues with blood clots — which resulted in him using blood thinners — makes him an unlikely NBA comeback, the Heat are better off with a healthy McRoberts than without.

The Heat own the 14th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft and could conceivably draft a big man and utilize the “stretch provision” to waive McRoberts and pay a $2MM annual cap hit over the next three seasons, as Winderman noted. In that case, Miami would have an additional $4MM in cap space this offseason.

Over his career, spanning six teams, McRoberts owns a career totals of 5.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG.

Southeast Notes: Morris, Heat, Draft, Batiste

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is suffering through a severe left ankle injury, but says there’s no chance it will prevent him from playing in Monday’s Game 7 against the Celtics, relays J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Morris was able to play 39 minutes in Game 6, putting up 16 points and 11 rebounds in a thrilling 92-91 victory. He has been fighting through the pain ever since landing on Al Horford‘s foot on a jump shot in Game 1 and hasn’t practiced since the injury. “I don’t shoot at all. I just go back to treatment every day,” Morris said. “It’s not swollen as much, but the pain is still there. It’s the worst injury I’ve ever had.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat should consider trading down in the draft if they don’t get lucky in Tuesday’s lottery, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. After barely missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker, Miami has the worst odds of any lottery team. The Heat have just a 0.5% chance to land the No. 1 pick and only a slightly better shot at slots two and three. While options such as Justin Jackson, Ivan Rabb, John Collins or T.J. Leaf might be tempting at No. 14, Winderman believes Miami would be better off trying to rebuild its draft future. The Heat owe their first-round picks in 2018 and 2021 to Phoenix and don’t have a second-round pick until 2022.
  • The Heat have some important contract dates in the next few weeks, Winderman notes in the same piece. Josh McRoberts, Dion Waiters and Willie Reed all have a June 29th deadline to decide whether to opt out for next season. Josh Richardson‘s $1,471,382 salary for 2017/18 becomes fully guaranteed a day later, as does Okaro White‘s $1,312,611 figure on July 1st. Winderman expects McRoberts to opt in for $6MM, Waiters and Reed to both opt out and the team to guarantee Richardson’s salary while getting White to defer his guarantee date.
  • The Hornets added Mike Batiste to their coaching staff this week, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. An opening was created when Patrick Ewing gave up his role as associate head coach to take over at Georgetown. Stephen Silas was promoted to lead assistant, and Batiste will become a regular assistant. Batiste played for the Grizzlies in 2002/03, but spent most of his career in Europe.
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