Clippers Rumors

NBA Teams With Most, Fewest Guaranteed Salaries

At this point in the NBA offseason, most teams are carrying 14 and 15 players on guaranteed salaries. The clubs with 14 guaranteed contracts on their books will likely either enter the season with an open roster spot or allow camp invitees to compete for that 15th-man role. Teams with 15 players already on guaranteed deals have their regular-season rosters all but set already.

Still, several teams around the NBA have more than 15 or fewer than 14 fully guaranteed salaries on their cap for now. Using our roster counts tool, here’s a look at those teams, with details on what they might be thinking as the 2018/19 season nears:

Fewer than 14 guaranteed contracts:

  • Houston Rockets (11 guaranteed contracts): In addition to their 11 fully guaranteed contracts, the Rockets also figure to hang onto Michael Carter-Williams, who has a significant partial guarantee. Second-round pick De’Anthony Melton is a good bet to sign a guaranteed contract at some point too. That would increase the Rockets’ roster count to 13, with Zhou Qi the most likely candidate for the 14th spot.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (12): While they only have 12 guaranteed salaries on their books for now, the Cavaliers figure to increase that count by two once they officially sign David Nwaba and bring back Rodney Hood.
  • Miami Heat (12): The Heat continue to wait on Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to make decisions on whether or not they’ll continue their respective careers. They’ll be penciled in to the 13th and 14th spots if they elect to return.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (12): Although he only has a partial guarantee, James Nunnally is a safe bet to make the Timberwolves’ roster as the 13th man. It’s not clear what the team intends to do with its last opening or two.
  • New Orleans Pelicans (12): Only 12 Pelicans have fully guaranteed salaries, but there are several legit NBA players – Emeka Okafor, DeAndre Liggins, Jahlil Okafor, and Troy Williams – vying for roster spots on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts. At least two of them figure to make the team.
  • Atlanta Hawks (13): The Hawks will increase their roster count to 15 guaranteed salaries once Vince Carter and Daniel Hamilton make their deals with Atlanta official.
  • Golden State Warriors (13): The Warriors plan to enter the season with 14 players under contract, leaving a spot open for flexibility. Their 14th man will likely be Patrick McCaw, who is still a restricted free agent for now.
  • Toronto Raptors (13): The Raptors may enter the season with a 14-man roster. Lorenzo Brown is currently the top candidate for that 14th spot, though Chris Boucher and others could provide competition.

More than 15 guaranteed contracts:

  • Sacramento Kings (16): When the Kings took advantage of their leftover cap room to sign Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell, it created a roster crunch. If the club doesn’t trade a player before the season begins, Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, Ben McLemore, and Deyonta Davis are among the release candidates on the roster — all four are on expiring contracts.
  • Los Angeles Clippers (15 + Patrick Beverley): The Clippers technically only have 15 players on guaranteed salaries, but Beverley, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, will probably make the team. Assuming he does, that will mean trading or releasing another player, perhaps Wesley Johnson or Jawun Evans.
  • Memphis Grizzlies (15 + Andrew Harrison): Like Beverley in L.A., Harrison is on a non-guaranteed salary, but may not be expendable. If he remains on Memphis’ roster, the Grizzlies may end up releasing Dakari Johnson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steve Ballmer Talks Team Strategy, Moving The Clippers

The past year for the Clippers has been about reconstruction, with the team having traded both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin since the end of the 2016/17 season, and letting DeAndre Jordan walk in free agency. The team’s brass finally has salary-cap flexibility and the franchise is eager to take that flexibility into the summer of 2019, when many stars – such as Kawhi Leonard – are expected to be available.

“You’ve got to take the payroll down to take it up. We’re going to recruit our asses off, whatever it takes to give you the best team that we can give you year in and year out,” owner Steve Ballmer said (via Helene Elliot of The Los Angeles Times).

While this season is expected to be a down year for the club, don’t expect Ballmer and company to tank.

“That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” Ballmer told Clippers’ season ticket holders and fans. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years. I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in. How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”

Ballmer also spoke about his plans to take the Clippers out of the Staples Center.

“We’re moving to Inglewood come hell or high water,” he said of a proposed arena near the site of the stadium being constructed for the NFL’s Rams and Chargers. “We gotta have a house. So we’re working on a plan to get our own house. We want to get our own house. It turns out the way this works in L.A., which is much beloved to me, that if you start now you might be done in six years.”

Ballmer’s wife, Connie, has remained in the Pacific Northwest, an area where Ballmer served as the CEO of Microsoft for 14 years. That has resulted in speculation that the Clippers could potentially be relocated to Seattle. However, the former CEO shot down those rumors.

“I love L.A. I also love my wife, by the way, but I love L.A. and I don’t want there to be any mistake about it. We want to be part of the fabric of this community,” Ballmer exclaimed.

Lawsuit Filed Regarding Proposed New Arena

  • A new lawsuit targeting the proposed Clippers arena in Inglewood alleges that two city-linked boards violated state laws governing open meetings, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reports. The suit also claims those boards also violated the environmental impact of construction projects in June when they approved the disposal of land to clear space for the arena, Fenno continues. The Clippers signed an exclusive negotiating agreement with Inglewood last year for a new arena but the team’s lease at Staples Center runs through 2024, Fenno adds.

Clippers Not Retaining Bruce Bowen As TV Analyst Following Kawhi Criticism

Clippers television analyst Bruce Bowen won’t be returning for the 2018/19 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the decision is believed to be related to Bowen’s comments criticizing Kawhi Leonard during Leonard’s standoff with the Spurs earlier in the offseason.

As Wojnarowski explains, even though Bowen was under contract with Fox Sports West and not the Clippers, the club has “significant input” in the hiring of its TV broadcast team, and “withheld approval” on a contract extension for Bowen. The two sides had been expected to move forward on a new deal before Bowen made those critical comments about Leonard, per Wojnarowski.

During an appearance on Sirius XM Radio in June (link via ESPN.com), Bowen suggested there was “nothing but excuses” coming from Leonard’s camp, adding that he felt Kawhi was getting “bad advice.”

“First, it was, ‘Well I was misdiagnosed,'” Bowen said of Leonard at the time. “Look here: You got $18MM this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You didn’t play for the most part a full season this year. And you’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?”

While personnel decisions related to television broadcasts typically don’t fall within Hoops Rumors’ purview, the Clippers’ apparent motivations here are of particular interest. As Wojnarowski observes, eliminating Bowen from their broadcast seems to be a “clear message” from the Clips about how they plan to “protect star players” within the organization.

The Clippers are poised to have a ton of cap room available during the summer of 2019, and will likely pursue Leonard – who reportedly wants to play in Los Angeles – along with other star free agents. Bowen’s dismissal from the club’s broadcast “speaks to the high-stakes repercussions” surrounding next year’s free agent class, Wojnarowski notes.

Central Notes: Arcidiacono, Dekker, Walton, Clarkson

The way that Ryan Arcidiacono‘s contract with the Bulls is structured to keep him eligible for the G League, Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus tweets. Arcidiacano has a $50K guarantee, which will allow him to play with the Windy City Bulls. He signed a minimum one-year deal worth $1,349,383. The 6’3” guard out of Villanova appeared in 24 NBA games last season as a two-way player, averaging 2.0 points in nearly 13 minutes of action. He posted a 13.8/4.5/8.6 line in 37 G League games.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Clippers will send $1,247,494 to the Cavaliers as part of the Sam Dekker trade, which was made official on Tuesday, Pincus reveals in another tweet. That amount isn’t random — it’s the exact difference between Dekker’s salary and a veteran’s minimum salary, essentially allowing the Cavs to take a flier on the forward at the minimum.
  • Derrick Walton Jr. gives the Bulls another alternative, along with Arcidiacono, to Cameron Payne as Kris Dunn‘s backup, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Walton is expected to sign with Chicago, according to his agent, after the Heat cut ties with the former University of Michigan floor leader last month. Walton is a better perimeter shooter than Payne, who is more comfortable having the ball in his hands and running pick-and-rolls, Michael Walton continues. The Bulls have a number of players who can create for themselves, so Walton might be a better fit behind Dunn, Michael Walton adds.
  • Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson is unlikely to play for Philippines in this month’s Asian Games, according to a Sportando report. Clarkson was a late addition to their national team but won’t be able to join them in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Clippers Invest In Development With Coaching Moves

  • A batch of coaching changes demonstrate the Clippers‘ franchise-wise commitment toward player development, Tomer Azarly of the team’s official site writes. The club will have Casey Hill join Doc Rivers’ staff after serving last year as the head coach of the team’s G League squad. Brian Adams will take his place with the Ontario affiliate and Natalie Nakase will move from the G League to big league squad’s development staff.
  • Clippers‘ forward Danilo Gallinari will ask the team to let him play for the Italian national club in September, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando writes. Gallinari was limited to just 21 games last season due to a fractured hand but appears to be healthy this summer.

NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2018/19

The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $101.869MM threshold once that room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit as well, with clubs like the Warriors, Thunder, Rockets, Trail Blazers, Raptors, and Wizards going well beyond that tax line this year.

The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows those clubs to build significant payrolls without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped.

When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5.337MM) of the mid-level exception, that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.

When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron is set at a point approximately $6MM above the luxury tax line. For the 2018/19 league year, the tax apron – and hard cap for certain clubs – is set at $129.817MM.

So far this year, eight teams have imposed a hard cap on themselves by using the bi-annual exception, using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, or acquiring a player via sign-and-trade. Listed below are those eight teams, along with how they created a hard cap.

Charlotte Hornets

Detroit Pistons

Los Angeles Clippers

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Used full mid-level exception ($8.641MM) to sign Kyle Anderson.

Milwaukee Bucks

New Orleans Pelicans

New York Knicks

San Antonio Spurs

Currently, none of the hard-capped teams listed above have team salaries within $5MM of the tax apron, so that hard cap shouldn’t be a real issue for most of these clubs during the 2018/19 league year. However, that could change if any of these teams – particularly the Hornets or Pistons – makes additional free agent signings or takes on extra money in a trade at some point.

Cavaliers Notes: Schedule, James, Sexton, Dekker

As expected when LeBron James announced he was leaving for Los Angeles, the Cavaliers have fallen out of the mix for the NBA’s spotlight games. In the partial schedule announced earlier today, Cleveland isn’t included in any of the nationally televised games for the opening week, Christmas Day or Martin Luther King Day, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. It’s quite a change for the Cavs, who hosted last season’s opener and whose matchup with the Warriors had become a yuletide tradition.

Cleveland will have at least once marquee game on November 21 when James returns with the Lakers for his only appearance in the city this season, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

There’s more Cavaliers news to pass along:

  • First-round pick Collin Sexton tells Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops that he’s excited about the opportunity awaiting him in Cleveland. The eighth selection in this year’s draft, Sexton will be counted on to eventually become the primary creator in the Cavaliers’ offense. “My role will just be able to come in and learn and have an impact on the team,” he said. “No matter what it is, being a distributor, being a scorer. Just going out there playing my game and being the best me I can be.”
  • The Cavs get a B grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for their acquisition of Sam Dekker. Cleveland needed to find someone who could fill both forward spots after losing James and Jeff Green to free agency, and Dekker, who was picked up from the Clippers at minimal cost, has shown an ability to handle both roles. Pelton states that Dekker is better than anyone the team could have signed in free agency.
  • Standing pat until the season starts may be the Cavaliers’ best strategy at this point, according to Evan Dammarell of Forbes. He says the Cavs wouldn’t have benefited from a rumored Kyle Korver for Jerryd Bayless swap with the Sixers and doubts that the Rockets, who have reportedly expressed interest in J.R. Smith have much to offer that Cleveland would want.

Clippers Trade Sam Dekker To Cavaliers

AUGUST 7: The Cavaliers have officially acquired Dekker from the Clippers, the club announced today in a press release. The Clippers will receive the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko in exchange for Dekker, the draft rights to Renaldas Seibutis, and cash.

Veremeenko and Seibutis were drafted in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and aren’t expected to ever play in the NBA.

AUGUST 5: The Cavaliers are finalizing a trade with the Clippers that would see forward Sam Dekker dealt from Los Angeles to Cleveland, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the two teams are still working out the specifics, but the trade will essentially allow the Clips to start clearing their roster logjam.

Dekker, 24, spent his first two NBA seasons in Houston after being selected 18th overall in the 2015 draft by the Rockets. He was included in last June’s Chris Paul blockbuster between the Rockets and Clippers, part of a package that also included Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Montrezl Harrell, among others.

Dekker saw his minutes cut back on his new team in 2017/18, averaging just 12.1 MPG in 73 contests for the Clippers. The former Wisconsin standout recorded 4.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG with a .494 FG% for L.A.

Having re-signed several key players and added a few new ones this offseason, the Clippers were carrying 16 players on fully guaranteed contracts, a total that didn’t include Beverley and his non-guaranteed deal. As such, the club had been expected to trade or release a couple veterans before the start of the regular season in October. The Clips will get a head start on that cutdown process by moving Dekker and his guaranteed $2,760,095 salary. The move will also give the team a little extra breathing room below the tax line.

The Cavaliers won’t have to send out any salary in exchange for Dekker, since they have a traded player exception large enough to accommodate his salary. Cleveland created a $5.8MM trade exception last August in their Kyrie Irving trade with the Celtics — it’s the biggest of four TPEs currently held by the club, and is the only one sizable enough to fit Dekker’s salary. The Clips figure to create a new TPE of their own worth Dekker’s salary.

The move to Cleveland will give Dekker a chance at a fresh start, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), who hears from one source that “a lack of maturity and focus regarding basketball” have been issues for the young forward early in his career.

It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers plan to use Dekker — he has served primarily as a four, but has spent a little time at the three as well. There may be a clearer path to playing time for Dekker at small forward, where Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman currently sit atop the Cavs’ depth chart, with David Nwaba perhaps entering the mix as well. But Dekker could potentially play at power forward alongside bigs like Kevin Love or Larry Nance in smaller lineups.

While the Cavs’ team salary will inch a little closer to the tax threshold with the acquisition of Dekker, it shouldn’t be a major concern for the team unless Nwaba is getting a lucrative deal and/or Rodney Hood receives a substantial raise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rookies Showed Flaws In Las Vegas

  • Clippers lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson showed flashes of potential in summer league games but they were far from perfect, according to Keith Smith of RealGM. Gilgeous-Alexander has a solid all-around game but needs lot of work with his shot. Robinson has to focus more on the defensive end, Smith continues, while undrafted big man Angel Delgado struggled on the perimeter. However, Delgado displayed strong rebounding instincts and toughness on the interior, Smith adds.