- Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones earned a $817K bonus after the team beat Milwaukee 128-115 on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Jones had an incentive in his contract for 33 wins, but the total was prorated down to 29 due to the shortened season. Memphis currently holds the eighth-best record in the Western Conference at 29-26.
All 30 of the NBA’s teams are carrying some sort of “dead money” on their respective books for the 2020/21 season. Dead money is the guaranteed salary paid or owed to a player who is no longer under contract with the team.
In some cases, teams are carrying cap hits for players whom they released several years ago. That’s the case in Indiana, for instance, where the Pacers have a $2,245,400 cap charge for Monta Ellis this season, despite cutting him way back in July of 2017.
In other situations, the dead money is a result of having waived a player more recently. The Pistons, for example, created this season’s single largest dead money cap hit when they bought out Blake Griffin, who is still counting for $32,670,565 against Detroit’s team salary in ’20/21.
Other dead money charges are far more modest. For instance, expired 10-day contracts technically count as dead money, but none of those are worth more than $110,998.
While some teams will add a little more dead money to their caps in the coming weeks when 10-day deals expire or certain players are released, it’s safe to assume that nearly all of this season’s most significant cuts have already been completed. With that in mind, we’re taking a look below at the teams carrying the most dead money for 2020/21.
Carrying a substantial amount of dead money doesn’t necessarily indicate that a club has managed its cap poorly. For instance, the Thunder and Knicks, two of the teams near the top of the list below, have the two smallest team salaries in the NBA this season.
Because they haven’t had any hard-cap or luxury-tax concerns, Oklahoma City and New York could comfortably afford to waive multiple players with guaranteed salaries in order to make room for new players, without worrying about the associated costs. The Thunder have certainly done that — their $36MM in overall dead money comes from 12 different players.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Warriors and Clippers are among the teams with the least amount of dead money on their books, which makes sense too. Golden State will have the league’s highest tax bill, while L.A. has been up against a hard cap for much of the season, so both teams have wisely avoided making any major commitments to players who won’t finish the season on the roster.
Here’s the full list of 2020/21 dead money by team, as of April 16:
- Detroit Pistons: $38,806,272
- Memphis Grizzlies: $36,052,708
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $35,926,004
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $30,396,254
- San Antonio Spurs: $24,804,677
- New York Knicks: $20,260,505
- Sacramento Kings: $9,655,830
- Charlotte Hornets: $9,043,478
- Los Angeles Lakers: $7,599,241
- Toronto Raptors: $6,818,018
- Houston Rockets: $6,017,104
- Miami Heat: $5,564,670
- Milwaukee Bucks: $5,034,894
- Portland Trail Blazers: $4,757,775
- Orlando Magic: $4,268,128
- Washington Wizards: $4,222,815
- Indiana Pacers: $3,862,401
- Denver Nuggets: $2,000,000
- Philadelphia 76ers: $1,642,981
- Brooklyn Nets: $1,635,825
- Note: This figure doesn’t include LaMarcus Aldridge‘s $554,988 cap hit, since he remains on the roster, for now, after announcing his retirement.
- Note: This figure doesn’t include LaMarcus Aldridge‘s $554,988 cap hit, since he remains on the roster, for now, after announcing his retirement.
- Dallas Mavericks: $1,620,564
- Boston Celtics: $1,131,937
- New Orleans Pelicans: $1,054,478
- Phoenix Suns: $785,285
- Utah Jazz: $770,433
- Atlanta Hawks: $744,684
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $685,340
- Golden State Warriors: $666,667
- Los Angeles Clippers: $110,998
- Chicago Bulls: $97,261
Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The tightened schedule the NBA adopted to squeeze 72 games into five months is being criticized amid an increase in injuries, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Holmes talked to several general managers and training staff officials who believe players are more at risk than ever.
“Hands down, it’s the worst schedule I’ve seen in 25 years in the league,” a veteran assistant coach said. “It’s utterly insane.”
Another called it “brutal,” while a head athletic trainer said the situation is worse than what teams experienced during the restart in Orlando last summer.
“Going into the bubble, we had all these different anxieties about the games, but without travel,” the trainer said. “This is literally exponentially more difficult. It’s such a cumulative effect.”
Data from the Elias Sports Bureau indicates that 2021 All-Stars have missed 15% of games this season, which would be the second-highest rate in league history. Several executives told Holmes that prior to the season, general managers voiced concerns over the schedule to the NBA office, including to commissioner Adam Silver, but the league was determined to complete the season in time to give players the chance to compete in the Summer Olympics, which will begin on July 23.
An NBA spokesperson contends that through 50 games, the number of injuries is actually down from last season and is within the normal range for the past five years. The league took steps this year to cut down on travel, such as having teams play a two-game series at some stops and reducing the number of one-game road trips.
Complicating the schedule was the high number of games that were postponed during the first half of the season because of COVID-19 outbreaks. Most of those games are being made up in the second half, forcing some teams to play far more often than normal.
The Grizzlies, for example, play three games in four nights 22 times over the second half, although some of those overlap. Memphis also has eight instances of five games in seven days, which is the most in the league, followed by the Spurs with seven and the Pistons, Rockets and Mavericks with five each. The Heat went 51 games without more than one day of rest between games, which is the longest stretch since the lockout season in 2011/12.
The NBA is coming off a shortened offseason as some playoff teams played into October last year, then started the new season in December. Silver has expressed optimism that next season will start on time, so players will again have limited time to recover this summer. The NBA Finals could go last late as July 22, and Summer League in Las Vegas is expected to be held in August.
“This whole two-year period will have a marked long-term effect on players many years down the line,” a general manager said. “It’s like if your power goes out. You have to burn candles if you want light. If you burn them, you won’t have them the next time your power goes out. We are burning through the players right now at an alarming rate. But again, what’s the alternative? Twenty-five-man rosters? Fewer games? It’s not just a ‘league thing.’ It all required collaboration with the NBPA. It’s a shared responsibility, driven almost exclusively by the seduction of (money).”
APRIL 14: The Grizzlies have officially signed Frazier to his 10-day deal, the team confirmed today in a press release.
Memphis previously signed Frazier to a 10-day deal in January, opting not to bring the 30-year-old back on a second contract at the time. He appeared in three games during that span and logged a total of 33 minutes.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Frazier will be allowed to sign a third 10-day contract with Memphis if the team so chooses. The first 10-day deal he signed was completed using the team’s hardship exception and didn’t count toward the usual limit, making this a rare possibility for each side.
The deal itself is pending health and safety protocols, according to Wojnarowski, who adds that it’ll likely be finalized this week. Frazier holds past experience with the Sixers, Blazers, Pelicans, Wizards, Bucks and Pistons. He went unselected in the 2014 draft.
Memphis currently holds the eighth-best record in the West at 26-24. The franchise is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and doesn’t have any other vacant roster spots.
It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.
With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:
Picks that will definitely change hands:
- Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
- Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).
The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.
The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.
Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).
Picks that definitely won’t change hands:
- Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
- Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
- Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).
The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.
The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.
As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.
Still up in the air:
- Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
- Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
- Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).
That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.
The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.
The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.
Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).
Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:
As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:
- The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
- Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).
As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).
On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.
While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.
When the Heat make the anticipated Dewayne Dedmon signing official, his contract will cover the rest of the season rather than just 10 days, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami opted for a longer deal, according to Jackson, because it doesn’t expect anyone better to become available on the buyout market. Players who have appeared in at least one NBA game this season must be waived by Friday to be eligible for the postseason with their new team.
The Heat were looking for a big man who would accept not playing every game, which ruled out DeMarcus Cousins, who has since joined the Clippers on a 10-day deal. Jackson lists Ian Mahinmi, Thon Maker, Dewan Hernandez, Skal Labissiere, Tyler Zeller, Kyle Alexander, Trey Mourning, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Patton and Anthony Tolliver as some of the names Miami considered before reaching an agreement with Dedmon.
In 2019, Dedmon signed a three-year, $40MM contract with the Kings, but he quickly lost his job as starting center. Poor three-point shooting is a major reason that Sacramento soured on him, Jackson adds, and he was eventually traded to the Hawks and then the Pistons, who released him in November.
The Heat face a deadline to add a 14th player to their roster by Thursday. If Dedmon signs then, his contract will carry a cap hit in the neighborhood of $433K. Miami would be about $314K below the tax line and could add a 15th player later this season without going into luxury tax territory.
There’s more on the Heat, all from Jackson:
- As Miami considered roster additions, the organization was made aware that Lance Stephenson and Greg Monroe are both hoping to return to the NBA. The Heat got good reports on Stephenson, but they don’t need another wing player and they were looking for more immediate help than Monroe was likely to provide.
- Some Grizzlies players are still upset about Andre Iguodala‘s decision to remain inactive until Memphis found somewhere to trade him last season. Jackson notes that several Grizzlies felt they had something to prove when they faced Iguodala Monday night.
- Jackson proposes Bucks forward Bobby Portis as a potential free agent target for Miami this summer. Portis has a $3.8MM player option for next season that he’s expected to decline, and Jackson suggests he could get a $10MM mid-level exception offer as the start of a multiyear deal.
In an early look at the NBA’s 2021 free agent period, Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic write that three NBA teams – the Knicks, Thunder, and Spurs – project to have more than enough cap room for a maximum-salary contract this offseason, even if they were to win the draft lottery.
Besides those clubs, the Mavericks and Hornets should be among the clubs with the most space, according to Amick and Hollinger. The Athletic’s duo projects Dallas to be about $35MM below the cap if Josh Richardson opts out, while Charlotte will have about $26MM of room.
Other teams could create cap room, but that will hinge on one or two major roster decisions. For instance, the Raptors could get up to about $25MM in space, but not if they intend to re-sign Kyle Lowry. The Suns (Chris Paul) are in a similar position, with the Heat, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Hawks, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Pistons among the other teams whose cap space – or lack thereof – will depend on what happens with certain free agents.
Here’s more from Amick and Hollinger on 2021 free agency:
- Although Kawhi Leonard projects to be the top free agent on the market this summer, team sources and rival executives widely expect him to re-sign with the Clippers, per The Athletic. It’s possible that could change if Los Angeles exits the postseason early, but there’s no indication at this point that Leonard’s free agency will be as dramatic as it was in 2019.
- A source with knowledge of DeMar DeRozan‘s outlook tells The Athletic he’ll take a “wide open” approach to free agency. That doesn’t necessarily rule out a new deal with the Spurs, though a March report suggested DeRozan has interest in playing elsewhere next season and perhaps returning to the Eastern Conference.
- Amick and Hollinger believe both DeRozan and Paul will keep Jrue Holiday‘s new four-year deal ($135MM guaranteed, $25MM in incentives) very much in mind when they negotiate their next contracts. However, it’s not a perfect comparable for either player, since Paul is five years older than Holiday and DeRozan isn’t the defender that Holiday is.
Redick claims Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin promised the team would move him to a situation he liked after he requested a trade last fall. As previously reported, the 36-year-old asked to play for a team in the Northeast with hopes of being closer to his family. New Orleans struggled to find a suitable package and traded him to Dallas instead.
“[J.J.] had some things that he wanted to happen. But I think Griff cared very much about what J.J. wanted, but he has a responsibility to Gayle Benson and to the organization that supersedes all of that,” Van Gundy said as part of a larger quote, as relayed by ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.
Van Gundy and Redick have a history dating back to Orlando from 2007-12. Regardless of what was communicated between Redick and the Pelicans, the sharpshooter’s focus has surely shifted to helping the Mavericks secure a postseason berth for the second straight season. Dallas currently holds the seventh-best record in the Western Conference at 25-21.
There’s more from the Southwest Division today:
- Speaking of Redick, the 15-year veteran has yet to play for the Mavericks due to a right heel injury, as relayed by The Associated Press. No timetable has been set for his return. “My understanding is that things are going in a very good direction,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “We obviously hope he can be back 100% sooner than later.” Redick underwent a non-surgical procedure over three weeks ago to relieve inflammation and soreness.
- Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. expects to return from a torn meniscus this month, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian tweets. Jackson suffered the injury last August and was ruled out for the remainder of the 2019/20 season. The 22-year-old averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 28.5 minutes per game during the campaign, appearing in 57 contests.
- Various players and staff from the Rockets recently received COVID-19 vaccines, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle notes. As we previously relayed, the NBA has relaxed its league-wide protocols and restrictions for those who receive the vaccine.
A total of 46 players were traded on deadline day last Thursday, and more have been waived and signed since then, resulting in major roster upheaval around the NBA.
With the dust settling a little, it’s worth checking in on which teams across the league now have open roster spots, and which clubs will need to fill at least one of those openings soon in order to meet the minimum roster requirements.
Let’s dive in…
Teams with two open spots on their 15-man rosters:
- Golden State Warriors
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Miami Heat
- New Orleans Pelicans
- New York Knicks
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Toronto Raptors
The NBA allows team to carry fewer than 14 players on standard (or 10-day) contracts for up to two weeks at a time. So these clubs are allowed to have just 13 for now, but will soon need to add a 14th, either with a 10-day signing or a rest-of-season addition.
The Warriors, Heat, Trail Blazers, and Raptors all dipped below 14 players on deadline day (March 25), so they’ll all have until next Thursday (April 8) to get back up to the required roster minimum. The Knicks will have even longer, since they just waived Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirier on Sunday — they’ll have to add a 14th man by April 11.
The Pelicans and Clippers, meanwhile, reduced their roster counts to 13 players on March 20 and March 22, respectively, so they’ll need to make their moves sooner. New Orleans will have to add a player by this weekend at the latest, while the Clippers will do so by next Monday.
The Pels are right up against the luxury tax line, so they’ll likely sign someone to a 10-day contract. The Clippers have enough breathing room below their hard cap to complete a rest-of-season signing if they so choose.
Teams with one open spot on their 15-man rosters:
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Indiana Pacers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Orlando Magic
A report last Thursday indicated that the Pacers were signing Oshae Brissett, but they still have completed that 10-day deal, so they have an open roster spot for now. The Bucks technically have two open roster spots as of this writing, but are expected to sign Jeff Teague to fill one of them as soon as today.
The Lakers, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, and Magic all have 14 players on standard, rest-of-season contracts, with no obligation to fill their 15th spots anytime soon. The Cavaliers currently have 14th man Quinn Cook on a 10-day contract. When his deal expires on Wednesday night, the team will dip to 13 players and will have two weeks to re-add a 14th.
Teams with open two-way contract slots:
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trail Blazers
The Thunder opened up one of their two-way slots when they promoted Moses Brown to the standard roster over the weekend. I’d expect them and the Timberwolves to be more interested in filling their open two-way spots than the Suns and Trail Blazers. Oklahoma City and Minnesota are lottery teams and could benefit from a look at one more young player, while Phoenix and Portland are playoff clubs that have shown no desire to add a second two-way player all season long.
Also worth mentioning:
- Brooklyn Nets
- Detroit Pistons
- San Antonio Spurs
The Nets, Spurs, and Pistons currently have full 15-man rosters, but won’t for much longer, as all three teams have players on 10-day contracts. Alize Johnson‘s deal with Brooklyn runs through Wednesday, while Cameron Reynolds‘ with San Antonio runs through Sunday and Tyler Cook‘s with Detroit expires after next Tuesday.
Note: Our full roster count breakdown can be found right here.
When the Warriors traded Marquese Chriss to the Spurs and Brad Wanamaker to the Hornets at the trade deadline, they included cash in both deals. By moving Chriss’ $1.82MM cap hit and Wanamaker’s $2.25MM salary off their books, Golden State will generate substantial tax savings, which will outweigh the cash they gave up in the two trades.
As a result, the Warriors didn’t mind sending $1.85MM to the Spurs along with Chriss, per Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link), and $2.2MM to the Hornets with Wanamaker, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.
Teams are limited to sending out no more than $5.62MM in cash in 2020/21 trades, so the Warriors will be limited to about $1.57MM at the draft. Their yearly limit will reset once the new league year begins, so if Golden State reaches a draft-day trade that involves more than $1.57MM in outgoing cash, it’s a safe bet the team will wait until the 2021/22 league year starts to officially finalize it.
Here are a few more leftover cap-related notes from Marks and Hollinger on trades and buyouts:
- Andre Drummond will earn the prorated veteran’s minimum of $794,536 on his new deal with the Lakers, which is – not coincidentally – the exact amount he gave up in his buyout with the Cavaliers, says ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Marks notes that the Lakers still have enough room under the hard cap to sign a 15th player.
- The Clippers sent $2.75MM to the Kings in the Mfiondu Kabengele salary dump and $1.25MM to the Hawks in the Rajon Rondo trade, reports Hollinger.
- The Rockets took in Avery Bradley‘s $5.64MM salary using part of the traded player exception created in the James Harden trade, allowing them to generate a larger TPE for Victor Oladipo, says Hollinger. That means, instead of having a $10.65MM TPE that expires early next season and a $2.77MM that expires at next season’s deadline, Houston has TPEs worth $5.02MM and $8.18MM. You can see more details here.
- Gorgui Dieng gave up $699,952 in a buyout with the Grizzlies, according to Hollinger. That’s the exact amount the big man would have earned on a minimum-salary deal if he officially signed with the Spurs on Wednesday, but he completed his deal with San Antonio today, so it’ll be worth $729,737.
- That leaves LaMarcus Aldridge as the only player to give up significantly more than his prorated minimum in a post-deadline buyout. As Hollinger explains, the discrepancy between the reported amounts of Aldridge’s buyout was due to escrow. Aldridge gave up $7.25MM in his agreement with the Spurs, which will work out to $5.8MM after factoring in the league’s escrow cut.