Malachi Richardson

Five Rookie Scale Options That May Not Be Exercised

Team and player options on veteran contracts must be exercised by the end of June before the new league year begins on July 1, but the same rules don’t apply to team options in rookie scale contracts. First-round picks who signed standard rookie contracts have third- and fourth-year options included in their deals, and those options must be exercised – or declined – seven months early.

The deadline for rookie scale option decisions is October 31, which means that teams have about another month to decide whether to pick up those options for the 2019/20 season.

It’s an unusual structure, one that forces teams to make decisions before seeing how their players will perform on the court that season. Last fall, for instance, the Magic turned down their fourth-year option on Mario Hezonja for 2018/19. Hezonja subsequently enjoyed his best season as a pro, and instead of entering the final year of his rookie contract with Orlando, he was able to hit the open market and secure a larger salary with the Knicks.

Cases like Hezonja’s are rare, however. For the most part, teams will exercise their rookie scale options, particularly third-year options. Third-year options are generally pretty affordable, and decisions are due after a player has been in the NBA for just one season, so clubs are reluctant to give up on their first-round picks that early.

Still, while many of this year’s rookie scale option decisions will be no-brainers, there are at least a small handful of players who aren’t locks to have their options picked up. Here’s a look at five players who fall into that category:

  1. D.J. Wilson, Bucks (third year, $2,961,120): Wilson had some good games in the G League last season, but his overall NBAGL numbers were just okay for a first-round pick, and he only played 72 minutes in 22 NBA games. As noted above, teams often don’t give up this early on first-round picks, and Wilson’s cap charge is affordable enough that it’s probably worth securing him for at least one more year. This isn’t a slam-dunk though.
  2. Malachi Richardson, Raptors (fourth year, $2,581,597): When the Raptors sent Bruno Caboclo to Sacramento in exchange for Richardson at last season’s trade deadline, it reduced their 2017/18 payroll and increased their flexibility to make a move on the buyout market. But it also meant taking on Richardson’s guarantee for 2018/19, while Caboclo’s contract expired. Richardson seems unlikely to have any sort of role this season on a deep, talented Toronto team, and with the club at risk of being in the tax again in 2019/20, I don’t expect the Raps to lock in Richardson for another year.
  3. Guerschon Yabusele (third year, $3,117,240): While the “Dancing Bear” has no shortage of fans in Boston, it’s hard to see how he’ll earn playing time in a frontcourt that features Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, and first-rounder Robert Williams — especially if Jayson Tatum and/or Gordon Hayward see significant minutes at the four. Yabusele has promise, but with the Celtics now in the tax, it might make sense to use his roster spot on a minimum-salary player starting in 2019/20.
  4. Malik Beasley, Nuggets (fourth year, $2,731,714): Denver’s lack of reliable backcourt depth bodes well for Beasley, who could parlay a solid Summer League showing into a regular backup role at shooting guard. The Nuggets don’t have serious tax concerns for 2019/20, so exercising Beasley’s modestly-priced option wouldn’t be a major risk. Still, it would be an easier decision if he’d shown more improvement in his sophomore season. Instead, he posted just 3.2 PPG on 41.0% shooting in 62 games in 2017/18.
  5. Justin Patton, Timberwolves (third year, $3,117,240): After missing nearly all of his rookie season due to foot problems, Patton has undergone another foot procedure this month, raising some doubts about his availability for the 2018/19 season. Nonetheless, I expect the Timberwolves will want to give Patton another chance to get healthy before cutting their losses on him, particularly since he may soon be the lone piece remaining from last summer’s trade with the Bulls.

For a full breakdown of this year’s decisions on 2019/20 rookie scale options, click here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Richardson, Fizdale, Morris

Injured Sixers center Joel Embiid must pass through the NBA’s concussion protocol, but he has been free of concussion symptoms since March 29, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. That was the day after Embiid suffered an orbital bone fracture in a collision with teammate Markelle Fultz.

The team is hoping Embiid can be ready sometime during the first round of the playoffs. There are steps that Embiid has to meet before he can be cleared for full activity, but Pompey reports that the Sixers are confident he’ll be able to (Twitter link). Philadelphia has gone 5-0 without Embiid, but his 22.9 and 11.0 rebounds per night and his presence on defense will be important in the postseason.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Malachi Richardson envisions a long-term role with the Raptors, but for now he’s trying to prove himself in the G League, writes David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders. Richardson is averaging 7.2 points per game while helping Raptors 905 reach the championship series, which starts tonight. He has played just one NBA game since being acquired from the Kings in a deal at the deadline. He has one year left on his contract and is counting on a strong summer league performance to convince the organization he can be a rotation player. “I just have to keep getting better,” Richardson said. “From defending, making shots, fitting into a role, just finding my niche and getting good. Fitting in with the guys and getting better.”
  • When the Heat came to New York Friday, Dwyane Wade offered a suggestion if the Knicks plan to replace coach Jeff Hornacek once the season ends, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Wade advocated for David Fizdale, a longtime assistant in Miami, who fired earlier this season in Memphis. “He’s a phenomenal coach — everyone has seen that in the job he was able to do in Memphis [last season],’’ Wade said. “I definitely think his name will be in the running for a lot of jobs. He’s going to bring to a team his work ethic, a great offensive-minded coach, but has defensive principles from Miami [president] Pat Riley has installed in every coach that’s come here.”
  • Technicals have been an issue recently for Celtics forward Marcus Morris, who has been tossed from two games in the past week, but he promises to tone down his approach in the playoffs, according to Taylor Snow of NBA.com“I promise I won’t get any techs unless we’re just getting blatantly cheated,” he said. “I want my team to win, so I won’t put my team in jeopardy or anything like that. But I’ll still be passionate about the game.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/21/18

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

9:32pm:

  • The Warriors have recalled guard Quinn Cook and center Damian Jones from their affiliate in Santa Cruz, tweets Monte Poole of NBC Bay Area.
  • The Cavaliers have assigned center Ante Zizic to their Canton affiliate, the team announced on its website.
  • The Jazz assigned center Tony Bradley to their affiliate in Salt Lake City, according to the team website.

4:05pm:

Woj’s Latest: Cavaliers, Clippers, Kings, Jazz

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
  • Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
  • The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
  • As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
  • The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
  • Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/12/18

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Timberwolves have recalled rookie center Justin Patton from the G League, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut, but looked good for the Iowa Wolves on Sunday, scoring a team-high 21 points.
  • Newly-acquired Raptors shooting guard Malachi Richardson has been assigned to the G League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Richardson doesn’t figure to get much run for a Toronto team with a deep bench, but he should have a chance to play major minutes for the Raptors 905 against Maine on Monday night.
  • The Bulls assigned a trio of players to the G League today, according to the club (Twitter link). Kris Dunn, Cristiano Felicio, and Noah Vonleh were sent to the Windy City Bulls for practice and will be recalled after that, the team announced.
  • Patrick McCaw, who has been spending time in the G League to get more minutes, was recalled by the Warriors today, the team confirmed in a press release. The Santa Cruz Warriors scored 131 points on Sunday, but McCaw had just six of them, on 2-of-11 shooting.

Kings, Raptors Swap Malachi Richardson, Bruno Caboclo

9:29pm: The Kings have officially acquired Caboclo for Richardson, the team announced in a press release.

4:51pm: The Kings have changed course and will now keep Caboclo on their roster, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC 10 Sacramento. The Kings are waiving Georgios Papagiannis to clear the roster spot necessary for their other trade.

1:04pm: The Kings plan to release Caboclo once the trade is complete, tweets Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

Sacramento will still owe him the rest of his $2.45MM salary for this season, but the Kings need to open a roster spot to complete a deal with Cleveland and Utah that brings in Iman Shumpert and Joe Johnson while sending out George Hill. Sacramento also gets rid of the nearly $1.6MM Richardson is owed next season, along with future options on his rookie contract.

12:32pm: The Raptors and Kings are finalizing a deal to swap Bruno Caboclo for Malachi Richardson, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

A first-round pick in 2016, Richardson has been somewhat of a disappointment in Sacramento after being acquired in a draft-night trade. He has played just 47 games in a season and a half and is averaging 3.5 points while shooting .365 from the field and .299 from 3-point range.

Toronto also had high hopes for Caboclo when it made him the 20th pick in the 2014 draft, but he has spent almost his entire career in the G League. He has played just 25 games at the NBA level, including two this season.

The Raptors save close $1MM in the deal, which was made to provide more flexibility in the buyout market, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

Kyler’s Latest: G. Hill, Kings, Mavs, Randle, Parker

In the wake of this week’s massive Blake Griffin trade, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders assessed the trade market in an effort to determine which teams may be the next to make moves. We covered some of Kyler’s Clippers-related items on Tuesday, and a Rodney Hood/Stanley Johnson note from his article was reported elsewhere, but there are plenty more tidbits worth rounding up. Let’s dive in…

  • The rumored deal involving George Hill between the Cavaliers and Kings isn’t dead yet, but both teams are exploring the market in search of trades they might like more, per Kyler. The two teams could revisit a Hill swap on or before February 8.
  • The Kings still appear willing to move a young player or two for a first-round pick, with Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson among those trade candidates, Kyler writes.
  • The Mavericks‘ preferred target is Julius Randle, but they may start to seriously consider Labissiere if the Lakers don’t engage in Randle talks, says Kyler. Still, Mavs sources tell Kyler that they place a lot of value on first-round picks, so it sounds like they’ll be reluctant to move one.
  • Bucks sources have “aggressively downplayed” the idea that the team will trade forward Jabari Parker, who is returning this week from an ACL injury. However, the team acknowledges that its cap situation could complicate contract talks with the former No. 2 overall pick this offseason. Bucks ownership appears willing to commit to Parker if management wants to lock him up, according to Kyler, who notes that the forward would be a prime trade chip if Milwaukee wants to make a splash for a big-name center.

Kings Make Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson Available

The Kings have made Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson available for a possible trade, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Jones cites the possibly looming George Hill trade as the driving factor behind their looking to unload a young player.

If the Kings are to take on Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye from the Cavaliers as has been reported (in addition to draft compensation), they would need to first clear up a roster spot.

Last season the Kings addressed a similar scenario by waiving Matt Barnes ahead of the DeMarcus Cousins trade in which they netted one additional player. This time around, however, the club could potentially benefit more from parlaying one of their prospects into something valuable than just outright releasing somebody.

While Richardson has been buried behind players like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield in the depth chart, Labissiere showed considerable promise following the Cousins deal that went down part-way through his rookie season.

Labissiere, still just 21 years old, is averaging 8.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in 2017/18 but posted 10.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game after the All-Star break in 2016/17 (sans Cousins).

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/14/18

Here are the G League moves from around the league today:

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/10/18

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Magic assigned center Khem Birch to their Lakeland affiliate, the team announced in a tweet. The rookie has played seven games for Orlando, averaging three minutes per night.
  • The Kings assigned Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson to their affiliate in Reno, tweets Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.