Mason Plumlee

Mason Plumlee, JaMychal Green Receive Qualifying Offers

Mason Plumlee and JaMychal Green have formally received qualifying offers from the Nuggets and Grizzlies, respectively, making them restricted free agents, according to RealGM’s official transactions log.

Plumlee, who was traded from the Trail Blazers to the Nuggets in February, averaged a career-high 10.4 PPG in 2016/17 to go along with 7.5 RPG and 3.5 APG. He was in the final year of his four-year rookie contract, making him eligible for restricted free agency. Because the former 22nd overall pick met the starter criteria, the value of his qualifying offer from Denver increased to $4,588,840.

Plumlee could sign a one-year deal worth that amount and reach the unrestricted market in 2018, but he’s more likely to sign a long-term contract this summer. He could negotiate directly with the Nuggets or sign an offer sheet with another team, giving Denver the opportunity to match it.

As for Green, he wasn’t a first-round pick and isn’t coming off his rookie contract, but only has three NBA seasons under his belt, making him eligible for restricted free agency as well. Like Plumlee, Green met the starter criteria, bumping the value of his qualifying offer to $2,820,497.

The 27-year-old entered Memphis’ starting lineup on a full-time basis last season in place of Zach Randolph, averaging 8.9 PPG and 7.1 RPG in 77 contests (75 starts). With Randolph also eligible for free agency this offseason, the Grizzlies may have to make a decision between keeping their longtime stalwart at power forward, or their younger starter.

Nuggets GM Discusses Nurkic, Gallinari, Defense

Earlier tonight, we shared Nuggets GM Tim Connelly’s announcement that rookie guard Jamal Murray will have surgery tomorrow. Here are a few other highlights of Connelly’s radio interview with Altitude Sports 950, all tweeted by Chris Dempsey:

  • Although Jusuf Nurkic blossomed into a key player in Portland, Connelly doesn’t regret the February deal that sent him to the Trail Blazers. Portland acquired Nurkic and a first-round pick this year in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-rounder. “We think Mason is going to be a huge piece of our core,” Connelly said.
  • Re-signing free agent forward Danilo Gallinari will be the top off-season priority. Gallinari has been with the Nuggets since 2011 when he was acquired in the Carmelo Anthony deal. Connelly also hopes to reach a new deal with Plumlee, who will be a restricted free agent, and work out an extension for third-year guard Gary Harris.
  • Another objective is to add a stronger defensive presence around breakout star Nikola Jokic.
  • Connelly believed 39 wins would be enough to grab the West’s final playoff spot. The Nuggets finished 40-42, but Portland was a game better. Connelly insists he would have been more active at the trade deadline if he had known the team would miss the postseason.
  • The organization is making progress in changing the league-wide perception about Denver as a place to play and live. Connelly said several lottery prospects in a recent draft were “begging” the Nuggets to select them because they wanted to be in the city.
  • The team needs a “pecking order” in the locker room, with a strong veteran presence to guide younger players. “Maybe our biggest struggle since I’ve been here,” Connelly said, “is we haven’t had a pecking order.” He adds that the organization has also encountered problems with “role acceptance” among players.

Nuggets Notes: Plumlee, Trades, Jokic

Denver plans on bringing Mason Plumlee back on a new contract, Christopher Dempsey of Altitude Sports writes.

“Mase brought a lot of what we thought he would bring – intensity, a vertical threat at the rim,” GM Tim Connelly said. “An athletic big. A very good passer. It’s not an easy transition going from a starter to the third or fourth big. … When we traded for him, we traded for him for the purpose of bringing him back. Barring something unforeseen or some dramatic shift, we’re pretty excited to talk to his representatives this summer and figure something out.”

Plumlee, who’s a restricted free agent, came to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic at this year’s deadline.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • The Nuggets are more likely to make major changes via trade since they will have only a handful of open roster spots this offseason, Dempsey adds in the same piece. Connelly believes he has a roster full of players who should be coveted on the trade market because they’ve outperformed their contracts. “I think what’s interesting about our team is we have a lot of good players,” Connelly said. “And I think relative to their contracts, most of our guys outperformed their contracts, which is a testament to our coaching and player development.”
  • Denver knows it has a rising star in Nikola Jokic, but it doesn’t want to put too much pressure on him next season, Dempsey relays in the same piece. “He’s only 22,” the GM said. “He’d be the first one to tell you it’s a team game. He’s probably the least stat-aware guy on the team. But certainly we’re playing a certain way now and having success playing that way primarily because of his unique skill set and the coaches confidence in him.”
  • Connelly explains how the team has a better sense than it has in the past on which players should be the franchise’s core members, Dempsey passes along in the same piece. “Some of these guys have cemented their place in next year’s role already,” Connelly said. “There’s a handful of guys that you know what you’re going to get, and I think coach trusts them and those are guys we are going to take a long-term approach with and feel good about growing with.”
  • Danilo Gallinari is going to take some time to decide whether or not he’ll decline his player option, USA Today relays.  “It’s not time right now to make the decision,” said Gallinari. “Right now, it’s time to digest the fact we were not able to accomplish the goal [of the playoffs] that I had, that we had, at the beginning of the season.” The franchise would also like Gallinari to stick around beyond his current deal, but it’s taking a wait-and-see approach with him.
  • The Nuggets plan to be aggressive in their attempts to lock up Gary Harris long-term, as we passed along on Wednesday.

Potential 2017 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, includes a number of changes to the free agent process, including some that apply specifically to restricted free agents. However, one aspect of restricted free agency unaffected by the new CBA is what’s referred to as the “starter criteria,” which can affect how much an RFA’s qualifying offer will be worth.

Here’s how the starter criteria works: A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2015/16 and 35 in 2016/17, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons exceeds 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player ensures that a team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet, and gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO. Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. Still, those QOs can have an impact on a team’s salary cap outlook during July’s free agent period, so it’s worth checking in to see which potential RFAs will be eligible for higher or lower qualifying offers this summer.

Listed below are the top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,187,598.

Len and Noel had the worst QO luck this season. As the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2013, they would have been in line for qualifying offers worth about $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively. Instead, their QOs will be worth less than $4.2MM. Both players were very close to meeting the starter criteria too — they’ve started 77 games apiece in the past two years, so they’ll fall just short of the 82 required.

The players listed below are non-lottery first-round picks who will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,588,840.

All four of these players were selected in the 20-26 range in the 2013 draft, and their QOs would’ve ranged from about $3.39MM to $3.22MM if they hadn’t met the starter criteria.

Here are the rest of the RFAs whose qualifying offers won’t necessarily be determined by the standard criteria:

  • Undrafted power forward JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) has met the starter criteria, putting him in line for a QO worth $2,820,497 instead of the more modest amount he would’ve received as a minimum-salary player.
  • Two players – Joe Ingles (Jazz) and Ben McLemore (Kings) – still have a chance to meet the starter criteria depending on how the season’s last four days play out. Ingles has played 1,848 minutes this season, meaning he would have to average about 38 MPG in Utah’s last four contests to reach 2,000, which is a tall order. McLemore may fall just short as well, as he currently sits at 79 starts over the last two seasons. He’ll need to start three of the Kings’ last four games in order to average 41 starts per year, but he has only been in Sacramento’s starting lineup twice since the start of March. (End-of-season update: Neither Ingles nor McLemore met the starter criteria.)

Nuggets Notes: Mudiay, Hibbert, Roberson

The Nuggets like what they see out of Emmanuel Mudiay since he’s re-entered the rotation, Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post writes. “He’s worked very hard since he’s been taken out of that rotation. He has a lot of confidence and he should. He’s played good basketball for us at times,” coach Mike Malone said. Mudiay, who was the No.7 overall pick in the 2015 draft, was rumored to be available at the trade deadline.

In a separate piece, Kosmider answers numerous questions about the Nuggets’ future. Here are the highlights from that piece:

  • Kosmider explains why the Nuggets traded for Roy Hibbert. Denver was under the salary floor and Hibbert’s $5MM deal moved the team closer to it. The scribe adds that if the franchise somehow makes the playoffs, Hibbert could be useful in certain situations.
  • The Nuggets’ biggest needs are perimeter defense and rim protection, Kosmider writes. The scribe believes Andre Roberson, who will be a restricted free agent, could be a player to watch.
  • While Portland appears to have won the Jusuf NurkicMason Plumlee swap, it doesn’t mean the Nuggets made a bad trade, Kosmider argues. Nurkic wouldn’t have started with Nikola Jokic on the team and he wouldn’t have been happy coming off the bench. Plumlee is more a facilitator and he’s better suited to run with the second unit.
  • Denver won’t move veterans for the sake of opening up playing time for its younger players, Kosmider cautions. The Nuggets will enter next season expecting to make the playoffs, though they are expected to listen to offers on their older players this summer.

Northwest Notes: Plumlee, Turner, Donovan, Faried

Jusuf Nurkic has been on a tear since his trade to Portland, but Mason Plumlee‘s teammates are happy to have him in Denver. While Plumlee and the Nuggets are still in the “getting-to-know-you phase,” as Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post puts it, Mason has grown more comfortable with each passing game.

“I was telling Mike (Miller) on the bench that this is collectively the best passing team I’ve played on,” Plumlee said. “It’s exciting. There is energy in the ball. I feel like the way guys play on this team is contagious.”

The Nuggets maintain a 2.5 game lead on the eighth seed; between his stints with the Nets and Trail Blazers, Plumlee has a combined 27 games of playoff experience. Plumlee’s style of play has already earned the respect of standout center Nikola Jokic.

“He just wants to win,” Jokic said. “He wants to do the stuff that some other players don’t want to do.”

More from around the Northwest:

  • After missing five weeks with a fracture in his right hand, Evan Turner is expected to make his return to the lineup tomorrow against the Hawks. According to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, Turner returned to practice Friday after hour-long workouts on Wednesday and Thursday. A seventh-year veteran, Turner’s “brand of playmaking and solid perimeter defense” should provide a boost to the Trail Blazers‘ postseason push. “I’m done talking about the injury and worrying about it, because it’s already over with,” Turner said. “Knock on wood.”
  • Now two years into his NBA coaching career, Billy Donovan‘s name still surfaces when a college coaching job opens up. According to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman, the Indiana Hoosiers were speculated to have interest in hiring Donovan; a rumor the OKC coach shot down. “I am totally happy here,” Donovan said. “I love it here. I love the guys I work with every day. I love our staff, the organization. As far as I’m concerned, my commitment is totally here and doing the best job I can while I’m here.”
  • Kenneth Faried is eager to return to form after suffering a debilitating back injury, Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post writes. “The Manimal” missed 14 out of 17 games due to the injury, scoring 12 points over 18 minutes in his return to the court last night. “It was some of the worst pain I ever felt,” Faried said. “I’m just happy to be able to walk and jump and do the normal things like sit down normally. I’m glad to be able to do a light sprint or a jog and not have to worry about my back flaring up. I’m happy to be able to do those little things. You never know what can happen, and you take those for granted until something like that happens.”

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Adams, Payne

Jusuf Nurkics presence on the court has opened up the Blazers‘ offense and his energy has helped the team on the defensive end, Mike Richman of the Oregonian writes. Coach Terry Stotts praised the big man after Tuesday’s win over the Thunder.

“There’s no question he’s had an impact,” Stotts said of Nurkic. “I don’t want to undersell that. But I do think everybody is playing well off of him. But I think he has infused some energy and a different look. His style of play is obviously different than [Mason Plumlee]. The way he’s been able to integrate with our team on both ends of the court has made a huge difference.”

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The addition of Nurkic has helped the Blazers get back into the playoff picture and Joe Freeman of the Oregonian (podcast link)  wonders if the big man can be the team’s center long-term. Nurkic is averaging 14.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 54.9% from the field since coming to Portland.
  • Steven Adams, who signed a $100MM extension during the offseason, admits that he’s struggled on the defensive end lately, but added that the Thunder‘s issues go beyond his poor play, as Erik Horne of the Oklahoman relays. “Even though your defensive coverages aren’t perfect or everything, the backside’s still got to be there. It’s literally a five-man thing. It ain’t really on one guy on the team. It ain’t so much scouting. It ain’t scouting at all. It’s our discipline to the defensive system we have going on.” Oklahoma City has lost four straight games.
  • Adreian Payne, who missed the last 13 games for the Wolves while being treated for thrombocytopenia, has been cleared to practice and the big man is thrilled to be back on the court, as Dane Mizutani of the Pioneer Press passes along. “I’m feeling good,” Payne said. “Healthy. I’m just trying to get back in shape. I’m happy to be with the team.”

Five Key 2017 Free Agents Impacted By Trades

Expiring contracts are a popular form of currency at the NBA trade deadline when teams are looking to get deals done and create future cap flexibility. In some cases, that means including a player like Andrew Bogut, who has an $11MM expiring contract, can be advantageous for both teams involved in a trade — by moving Bogut, the Mavericks avoided pushing up against the luxury tax, while the Sixers reached the salary floor.

Bogut was waived shortly after being traded to Philadelphia though, so his 2017 free agency wasn’t impacted in a real way by the deadline deal. However, there were several players moved in the hours, days, and weeks leading up to last month’s trade deadline who will be free agents in 2017 and whose change of scenery will significantly impact their situation this summer.

Here’s a closer look at five players eligible for free agency in 2017 who were affected by being traded in February, including one player who was involved in that Sixers/Mavs swap along with Bogut…

Nerlens Noel, Mavericks (RFA)Nerlens Noel vertical

For much of the 2016/17 season, Noel’s long-term outlook was cloudy. The Sixers certainly had no shortage of future cap room, which would have made it easy for them to match any offers Noel received in restricted free agency and retain him for several more years. It’s possible that – if they hadn’t found an acceptable trade offer at the deadline for Noel – they would have done just that this summer, rather than losing him for nothing.

But the Sixers never seemed like a logical long-term fit for Noel, with Joel Embiid in place as the team’s franchise center and Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes also in the mix. While the club may have found a way to make an Embiid/Noel pairing work if the former sixth overall pick had remained on the roster, Noel reportedly preferred to be dealt to a team where he’d have the starting center job to himself.

In Dallas, he’ll have exactly that, and the Mavericks like Noel enough that they’re expected to match any offer sheet he signs this summer. Pursuing Noel in restricted free agency might have saved Dallas a couple second-round picks and the rights to Justin Anderson, but there was no guarantee the club could have pried him away from the Sixers or another team. Now, the Mavs will be the overwhelming favorites to retain Noel for the next few seasons.

Serge Ibaka, Raptors (UFA)

Ibaka is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so where he finishes the season isn’t as significant as it would be for a restricted free agent like Noel. Still, for rival suitors hoping to land Ibaka, his move from Orlando to Toronto is a big deal.

When reports first began swirling about the Magic’s efforts to move Ibaka, several sources suggested that the odds of the big man re-signing in Orlando were slim. The Magic held Ibaka’s Bird rights at the time, giving them the opportunity to offer five years instead of four, with slightly larger raises, but with Orlando headed for the lottery, Ibaka seemed likely to seek out a team closer to contention.

Having been sent to the Raptors, Ibaka has found a team that fits that bill. GM Masai Ujiri has long coveted the former Thunder power forward, and all signs point to Toronto making a strong effort this summer to lock up Ibaka. Before (and after) the trade, the Raptors were in no position to open up a real chunk of cap room this summer, barring a major roster overhaul. So the fact that they now hold Ibaka’s Bird rights, giving them the ability to go over the cap to re-sign him, means they’ve gone from being a non-contender for his services to the new frontrunner.

Taj Gibson, Thunder (UFA)

Like Ibaka, Gibson is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s also not a candidate for a maximum salary offer or a five-year contract, so the fact that the Thunder hold his Bird rights isn’t as important as it would be for some other free agents.Taj Gibson vertical

Still, when an NBA veteran has spent the better part of eight seasons with a single franchise and that team trades him a few months before he hits free agency, the odds of him returning to that team probably aren’t great. During the last couple weeks, we’ve seen Gibson wear a different NBA uniform for the first time in his NBA career, and it’s possible that he’ll put on a third uniform later this year.

That’s not to say the Thunder should be ruled out as a candidate to sign Gibson though. Oklahoma City projects to remain over the cap this summer, so holding Gibson’s Bird rights could be important — if he proves to be a solid fit in OKC, the team would be able to go over the cap to re-sign him.

Bojan Bogdanovic, Wizards (RFA)

Despite playing in New York City, Bogdanovic was toiling in relative obscurity on the NBA-worst Nets this season. Now he’s a key contributor on the No. 3 seed in the East, and he has gotten off to a scorching start in Washington, making 3.3 three-pointers per game at a rate of 58.8% so far. He won’t stay that hot all season, but if he continues to make big shots and remains productive in the playoffs, he’ll improve his free agent stock much more than he could have in Brooklyn.

Bogdanovic’s move from Brooklyn to Washington also could create some interesting new scenarios when it comes to offer sheets. The Nets have plenty of long-term cap flexibility and could have matched any offer for Bogdanovic if they’d wanted to. The Wizards, on the other hand, have already committed major money to John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Ian Mahinmi, among others, and they’ll likely have to go up to the max – or close to it – to re-sign Otto Porter this summer. Will the team be willing to spend on Bogdanovic as well? That remains to be seen.

Mason Plumlee, Nuggets (RFA)

After re-signing three restricted free agents last offseason, the Trail Blazers apparently had no interest in going through the process again this year, and sent Plumlee to a team that has more flexibility to retain him this summer — Denver only has about $55MM in guaranteed salary on its 2017/18 books, as opposed to an incredible $132MM+ for Portland.

After starting every game he played in for the Blazers this season, Plumlee is coming off the bench in Denver, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that the Nuggets don’t like him. Having sent a first-round pick to Portland in the deal, the Nuggets presumably intend to match any offer sheet Plumlee gets as a restricted free agent, even though he’ll be a second-stringer behind Nikola Jokic. That’s discouraging news for any rival teams that had been hoping to swoop in and steal Plumlee away from the cap-strapped Blazers later this year.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Plumlee, Jazz

The deal that landed Mason Plumlee may not be the last one the Nuggets make this month, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The reporter relays that his sources believe Denver could still move names like Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and even second-year point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.

After years of stock piling assets, the Nuggets have emerged as a playoff contender in 2016/17. Leading the charge for the franchise has been sophomore center Nikola Jokic. With Jokic at the helm and the club finally focused on building around him, the the team is in a position to deal some valuable building blocks in an effort to fortify their new core.

Kyler suggests that the emergence of Juan Hernangomez, too, could expedite a formal regime change in Denver. The Nuggets currently sit eighth in the Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Newly acquired Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic spoke with the media about his new home. “I think it’s the perfect place for me,” he told the media. “They need me, and I need them.” The 22-year-old also mentioned that he didn’t mind whether head coach Terry Stotts slotted him into the starting lineup or brought him off the bench.
  • The Nuggets don’t anticipate having any issues working Mason Plumlee into their rotation, writes Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone expects to seamlessly integrate the new big man, adding that Plumlee’s playmaking abilities should help the team’s offense continue to flow well when Nikola Jokic is on the bench.
  • The Trail Blazers will send $2.85MM to the Nuggets as part of the Nurkic/Plumlee swap, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That, Pincus says, explains why Denver included a first-round pick in their outgoing package. For more details of the trade, consider Mark Deeks of Give Me Sport‘s break down of the deal.
  • A Utah-based analytics firm will sponsor Jazz jerseys in 2017/18, but rather than plug the company’s own logo, they’ll promote that of a charitable organization generating funds for cancer research. The 5 For The Fight patch will be on Jazz jerseys for at least the first year of the organization’s three-year commitment with the team, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

Trail Blazers GM Talks Plumlee, Nurkic, Trades

The Trail Blazers made a move earlier this week, acquiring Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round pick from the Nuggets in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-rounder. While many pundits praised the Blazers for the deal, Plumlee’s teammates were sad to see him go, and there are questions about whether Nurkic will have any more of an impact in Portland than he did in Denver.

General manager Neil Olshey spoke to the team’s official website on Monday about the deal, explaining why he was willing to move Plumlee, what he expects from Nurkic, and what else the team might do before February 23.

Let’s round up a few highlights from the Blazers GM…

On the decision to move Plumlee:

“Mason’s impending free agency was certainly a factor. We love Mason, we’re going to miss him around here. We wouldn’t have been in the second round of the playoffs last year without him. But there are certain realities to managing our cap. We felt like we needed to get younger at the center position. We wanted more of a low-post player, someone that can defend size, strength. We found that with Jusuf.”

On the benefits of acquiring Nurkic:

“We felt like in the long run, this will pay longer dividends, having a younger guy on a rookie-scale [contract] to manage our cap with it. He gives us a different look defensively. He’s a big-time rebounder and I think he’ll make the game easier for guys like [Damian Lillard] and [C.J. McCollum] because we’ve got more presence in the paint now defensively.”

On additional trade talks:

“We’re active. … I can’t speak to any specifics. I can tell you that the league is very active right now, but what we’re most excited about is having three picks in this draft. I think we’ve done a very nice job in the draft so far, whether it’s using draft picks to acquire players – like we did with Robin Lopez or Mason Plumlee – or drafting guys like Dame and C.J. and [Allen Crabbe]. So we’re excited about the prospect of that. It’s a big-time draft, it’s got incredible depth. We’ll be excited about it in June, but we now also have those tools for the next 10 days to put into play if a player that’ll impact our win total becomes available.”

On how the Blazers’ loaded salary cap affects their outlook going forward:

“This roster was always going to be a work in progress. We have the benefit of having Paul Allen as an owner. He let us retain all of our players. It wasn’t realistic to think we could manage that cap going forward, but it put us in position to keep as much as possible [and] give ourselves a chance to compete, knowing at some point we’re going to have to make some moves.”

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