Kyle Lowry

Kris Dunn Meets Starter Criteria, Increases Value Of QO

Bulls guard Kris Dunn has been deemed to have met the starter criteria as a result of the shortened season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). As a result, Dunn will receive a qualifying offer of $7,091,457 instead of $4,642,800 this offseason if Chicago wants to make him a restricted free agent.

We broke down Dunn’s situation in greater depth earlier this month, but the abridged version is this: A player eligible for restricted free agency receives a more lucrative qualifying offer if he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the season before he reaches free agency, or if he averages 41 starts or 2,000 minutes in the two seasons before his free agency.

Dunn, who started 32 games this season and 76 in total over the last two years, fell slightly short of the 41-game-per-season requirement, but the criteria became prorated due to the Bulls only playing 65 of their 82 games this season. As a result, the former No. 5 overall pick was considered to have met the starter criteria, increasing the value of his qualifying offer.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the $2.5MM difference could have a real impact on Dunn’s free agency. It’s possible the Bulls will be less inclined to tender a qualifying offer now that it’s worth $7.1MM instead of $4.6MM. If they do move ahead with the QO, it’s possible Dunn will be more inclined to accept it.

If Chicago doesn’t tender a qualifying offer to Dunn, he’d become an unrestricted free agent.

As Marks and ESPN have previously reported, the NBA and NBPA also agreed to prorate the criteria for bonuses and incentives available to players in 2019/20, based on the shortened season. As a result, the following players have now achieved bonuses, according to Marks (Twitter link):

  • Rudy Gobert (Jazz): $250K for a rate of one rebound per 2.52 minutes in 62 games played.
    • Original criteria: A rate of one rebound per <3.2 minutes in 67 games.
  • Solomon Hill (Heat): $532K for 992 minutes played.
    • Original criteria: 1,000 minutes.
  • Jrue Holiday (Pelicans): $255K for 1,922 minutes played; $255K for 55 games played; $255K for 4.9 RPG in 55 games.
    • Original criteria: 2,075 minutes played; 66 games played; 3.15 RPG in 67 games.
  • Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): $858K for 32 wins.
    • Original criteria: 33 wins.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors): $200K for All-Star berth and 52 games played.
    • Original criteria: All-Star berth and 65 games played.
  • Patty Mills (Spurs): $250K for 149 three-pointers made.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM.
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers): $250K for 184 three-pointers made and .375 3PT%.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM; .370 3PT%.

NBA To Prorate Bonus, Incentive Criteria Using March 11 As End Of Season

A number of players with performance incentives and bonus clauses in their contracts didn’t get the opportunity to earn those bonuses in 2019/20 due to the suspension of the NBA season and the league’s subsequent hiatus.

However, according to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA and NBPA have reached an agreement on how to handle performance incentives in ’19/20. The criteria for those bonuses will be prorated, using March 11 as the end of the regular season, so stats accumulated during the eight “seeding games” this summer won’t count toward those incentives.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Proration]

For instance, Tyus Jones‘ contract with the Grizzlies includes an $858K bonus in the event that Memphis wins 33 games. Prior to the hiatus, the Grizzlies had 32 victories. Rather than needing the Grizzlies win one more game when play resumes, Jones will already be assured of his bonus, since a 32-33 record prorated over a full 82-game season would work out to 40 wins.

Similarly, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has a series of bonuses related to his All-Star berth and his team’s postseason success that require him to play at least 65 games. When the season went on hiatus, Lowry had appeared in 52 of Toronto’s 64 games. Prorated over an 82-game season, that would work out to approximately 67 of 82 games, so Lowry will be considered to have met that 65-game threshold. He’ll receive his $200K All-Star bonus and could earn up to another $1.5MM, depending on how far the Raptors advance in the playoffs.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks broke down a number of these bonuses and incentives in an earlier Insider-only story. Another important one, noted by Shelburne and Wojnarowski, affects Sixers center Joel Embiid.

The final three years of Embiid’s maximum-salary contract, through 2022/23, had previously only been conditionally guaranteed, with the 76ers retaining the ability to gain salary relief if the veteran center suffered a career-threatening injury related to his back or feet. In order to fully guarantee those salaries, Embiid had to log 1,650 minutes this season.

When the season was suspended, Embiid was only at 1,329 minutes played. However, Philadelphia had only played 65 of 82 games. Prorated over a full season, Embiid’s average number of minutes per Sixers game (approximately 20.45) would work out to 1,677, surpassing the 1,650-minute threshold and ensuring his upcoming salaries are fully guaranteed.

Players whose bonuses and incentives rely on a percentage are unaffected by proration. For example, Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber would receive a $75K bonus for an 80% free-throw rate and another $150K for a 40% three-point average. His percentages are currently 86.3% and 37.4%, respectively, so he’ll receive the first bonus — but not the second. The same would have been true if he had finished at 80.1% and 39.9%.

NBA Players Committee Begins Parsing Comeback Plans

The National Basketball Players Association has sent a memo to agents stating that there’s a sense that both the players and the league want to finish the 2019/20 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

NBPA president Chris Paul is joined by Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, and Dwight Powell on a committee that is working with the league on potential plans.

Paul reportedly held a call with many of the NBA’s superstars on Monday — including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kawhi Leonard — discussing the coronavirus ramifications and the potential to resume the season. Those star players were unified in their desire to play out the 2019/20 campaign.

The NBPA polled players via text, asking them how they felt about completing the season. One player told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times that he believes that the percentage is “70-30” of players who want to finish out the campaign.

“But 30% is a big number,” the player said. “And what do you say to somebody who says, ‘You know what, I just don’t feel safe?’ It’s hard to argue that. But there are reasons to argue that because I know the NBA would be one of the safest places to be at. That thing would be tight, clean, protocol, all that.”

Las Vegas and Orlando continue to be tossed around as options to hold clusters of games in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading through travel. However, the league hasn’t made any firm decisions yet.

“We have been approached by multiple properties regarding potential options for hosting NBA games, including MGM,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We have not engaged in any substantive discussions.”

Hiatus Notes: NBPA, Playoffs, Warriors, Fans

The National Basketball Players Association has begun to poll its members on whether or not they want to resume the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Woj explains, the NBPA’s regional representatives are among the union officials asking players a “yes or no” question about their desire to return to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. The union has assured players that their individual responses will be kept confidential.

While it may seem like a given that players on contending teams will want to resume the season, there’s certainly no guarantee that players on all 30 clubs feel the same way. Even among players who have a chance to win a title in ’19/20, there could be differences of opinion based on potential safety and health concerns.

With Major League Baseball working on its own plan for a potential return to play, pitcher Sean Doolittle published a Twitter thread on Monday outlining concerns that he and other players would have as they consider suiting up for the season. Doolittle’s thread goes more in-depth and lays out more specific concerns than those we’ve heard publicly from basketball players, but I’d imagine there are many around the NBA who share some of his reservations.

For what it’s worth, the NBPA said in a statement to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that the union “is not engaging in and has not authorized any formal poll of its players.” As such, it sounds like the outreach being described by Wojnarowski is informal.

Here’s more on the coronavirus situation and its impact on the NBA:

  • A source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that one scenario the NBA has discussed as it explores the resumption of the 2019/20 season would see the eighth seed in each conference up for grabs, with the current eighth through 12th seeds participating in a play-in tournament. As Berman explains, it would provide an incentive for a handful of teams who are currently out of the postseason picture, while not requiring the clubs at the very bottom of the standings to return and participate. Of course, it’s just one of many ideas the league has explored.
  • The Warriors still don’t expect they’ll be one of the teams playing games if and when the NBA resumes its season, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to be involved, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. According to Slater, one Warriors coach suggested that playing a handful of regular season games in the summer could essentially function as a “replacement summer league” for Golden State.
  • The NBA and NBPA are forming a “working group” and will have a call on Tuesday to discuss potential return-to-play scenarios, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania tweets that Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, and Dwight Powell will be among the players on the call.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Bill Shea explores how the pandemic will impact the way fans attend sporting events, once they’re allowed to reenter arenas and stadiums.

Eastern Notes: Ntilikina, Bryant, Cavs, Lowry

Frank Ntilikina hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the Knicks‘ No. 8 overall pick back in 2017, but some around the league believe the 21-year-old still has a future in the NBA — even if it’s not with New York.

“If (the) Knicks move him or let him walk, teams will take a chance,” one Western Conference scout tells Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “… Maybe his role moving forward is a high-level defender off the bench that you can stick him in the corner. That could be his calling … Depends on coach and system to find the right place to play.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Thomas Bryant‘s value on the trade market could be limited, John Hollinger writes in a piece on The Athletic. The former executive believes the Wizards would have a hard time landing a first-rounder without taking back a bad contract, though multiple second-rounders may be in the cards.
  • The Cavaliers may be wise to explore moving down in the draft, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com explains. The top of the draft is loaded with guards and bigs, while Cleveland is badly in need of a long-term option at the wing.
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic wonders how long 34-year-old Kyle Lowry can remain as productive for the Raptors. LeBron James and Chris Paul are the only 33-and-older players who had more win shares this past year than Lowry.

Eastern Notes: Williams, Kyrie, Raptors

Marvin Williams is making his debut for the Bucks on Wednesday night and ESPN’s Eric Woodyard (Twitter link) passes along the team’s initial plan for the veteran’s first appearance.

“We’re going to play him a little bit and see how it goes,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I’m excited about having him be a part of our group and how he can help us.”

Williams agreed to a buyout with Charlotte last week and inked a deal with Milwaukee over the weekend. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Williams gives the Bucks another viable rotation option, making them an even deeper team, Alex Boeder of NBA.com writes. The former No. 2 overall pick’s shooting from outside should be particularly helpful for Milwaukee.
  • Coach Nick Nurse went on ESPN’s PTI today and was asked about one player behind the Raptors‘ success. Kyle Lowry,” the coach said. “I’ve never seen a guy play harder on the court.”
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link) asked Nets coach Kenny Atkinson if Kyrie Irving will return after the All-Star break and he got an interesting response. “There’s a lot of days and I don’t want to go out and say something that I’d regret later,” Atkinson said. “When we get back, those first couple practices will determine where he is.”

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Eastern Notes: Love, McConnell, Celtics, Raptors

There’s “fresh optimism” that the Cavaliers will be able to deal power forward Kevin Love before next month’s trade deadline, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Love recently expressed frustration regarding his long-term status with the franchise. Love is in the first year of a four-year, $120.4MM extension. He’s averaging 16.5 PPG and 10.6 RPG in 30.6 MPG this season.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers let point guard T.J. McConnell walk in free agency but the Pacers reserve doesn’t harbor ill will toward his previous team, Mark Monteith of the Indianapolis Star relays. McConnell signed a two-year, $7MM with Indiana, though his salary for next season isn’t guaranteed. McConnell recorded his first double-double of the season against his former club with 11 points and 10 assists on Tuesday. “Nothing but respect,” he said of Philadelphia’s organization. “I would never hold any grudges.”
  • Celtics fans should not expect a trade to upgrade the frontcourt, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. It’s unlikely they’ll find a deal for a quality big man that doesn’t involve moving one of the team’s top five players, Forsberg continues. They could add a proven role player before the trade deadline but they might be better off waiting to see which players wind up in the buyout market, Forsberg adds.
  • The Raptors’ quick start puts them in a tricky position regarding the trade market, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated notes. It was generally assumed that Toronto would be a seller with the ability to dangle the expiring contracts of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. The one-year extension handed to Kyle Lowry was done in part to make the veteran point guard more tradeable. But now there’s a window for the club to make a run at another championship, Mannix adds.

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Brown, Miller, Prince

Long-tenured Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry is averaging 20.8 PPG, 7.6 APG, and 5.0 RPG during Toronto’s excellent 22-10 start to the season. That win percentage would translate to 56 regular season victories if Toronto sustained its pace, just a two-game depreciation since losing their 2019 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, to the Clippers in the offseason. Lowry and breakout star forward Pascal Siakam have picked up the slack in Leonard’s absence.

The 33 year-old, a five-time All-Star for the Raptors, credits retired point guard Jameer Nelson with helping him navigate the NBA to reach his current position, as one of the most important leaders for one of the league’s best teams.

“Nobody knows this, but to this day, I thank Jameer for helping me get to where I am,” Lowry told The Athletic’s Michael Lee. “Whenever he text[s] me, I text him, I tell him, ‘You’re the reason I even understand how to work.'” In the summer of 2005, following his rookie season for the Magic, Nelson began mentoring Lowry, then coming off his freshman season for Villanova. Lowry has been with the Raptors since the 2012/13 season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Wing Jaylen Brown, currently enjoying a breakout year for the ascendent Celtics, has a chance to make his first All-Star squad during his fourth season, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. However, that is hardly Brown’s focus. “I’m not really paying attention to [the All-Star buzz],” Brown claimed after a post-practice workout. “It would be extremely dope to even be mentioned in the conversation. To be honest, I still think I can be a lot better. I think the best is yet to come for me this season.”
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post tracks how new Knicks head coach Mike Miller’s success with the team makes David Fizdale defenders look bad. Berman specifically cites Fizdale’s defensive planning, his unnecessarily rankling players, and not involving all his assistant coaches equally for in-game strategizing. Steve Popper of Newsday concurs that the Knicks’ play has improved under Miller. New York is 5-6 under its new coach; the team was 4-18 under Fizdale this season.
  • Nets forward Taurean Prince is currently shooting a career-worst 37.3% from the field. His shooting struggles have taken their toll on Brooklyn, according to the New York Post’s Mollie Walker. “I think he’s going through a cold spell,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson reflected in post-practice comments on Friday. “I told him today, he’s a 40 percent career 3-point shooter, he’s got to keep shooting.”

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Scott, Nets, Lowry

Ben Simmons made his second career 3-pointer last night, but Sixers coach Brett Brown is looking forward to the day that Simmons’ long-distance shooting isn’t a story anymore, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Brown challenged Simmons to make the 3-pointer a regular part of his arsenal, telling reporters he would like him to shoot at least one every game.

“This is what I want,” Brown said, ”and you can pass it along to his agent, his family and friends. I want a 3-point shot a game, minimum. The pull-up 2s … I’m fine with whatever is open. But I’m interested in the 3-point shot. The mentality that he has where he’s turning corners and taking that long step, that gather step, and bringing his shoulders to the rim and trying to dunk or finish tight, will equal higher efficiency, or getting fouled. That’s the world that interests me the most. Those two things.”

Shortly after signing a five-year extension this summer, Simmons talked about becoming more of an outside shooting threat. That hasn’t materialized so far, as he has taken just four in 21 games.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Mike Scott took advantage of his first start of the season Saturday, delivering 21 points in a win over Cleveland, relays Mike Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Scott broke out of a shooting slump with nine first-quarter points as the Sixers built a big lead. “Just to try to find something to jump-start him,” Brown said in explaining the lineup change. “He has been down. We need him to be up.”
  • When the Nets signed DeAndre Jordan this summer, they weren’t sure how he was going to fit with Jarrett Allen, but the centers have made the pairing work, observes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Jordan and Allen are the only teammates in the league who rank in the top 10 in effective field goal percentage and rebound percentage. “During the summer, there could’ve been a lot of negative thinking in my head,” Allen said. “… But I took it as a positive. They brought him in, and he’s a great person to learn from — first-team All-Defense — he had a great background and I just tried to learn from him as much as I could.”
  • Kyle Lowry was surprised to learn that he’s the longest-serving active professional athlete in Toronto, notes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star“I thought I was going to be here for a year, two years, and be long gone,” said Lowry, who has played 507 regular season games for the Raptors. “Come up here for business and that’s about it but, at the end of the day, I think the perseverance and the work I’ve put in and the belief the organization has in me means something.”