- Though 2014 second-overall pick Jabari Parker will miss the remainder of this season and part of next season recovering from a torn ACL, his second drastic injury in the past three seasons, the Bucks didn’t consider dealing him at the deadline, tweets Stephen Watson of WISN 12 News. “Absolutely not,” general manager John Hammond told Watson, when asked explicitly.
At this point in the season, most teams aren’t going to do much with any leftover cap room. Teams are no longer able to make trades, and most free agents still on the market won’t demand more than the minimum.
Still, there’s reason to consider which teams remain below the cap after this week’s trade activity. With useful veteran players potentially hitting the free agent market as a result of contract buyouts, a team with some extra cap room might have a leg up on teams without any spending flexibility.
For instance, if the Rockets and Warriors were to pursue the same free agent – perhaps Andrew Bogut, if he’s bought out by the Sixers – Houston could offer a deal worth up to about $3.5MM with cap room, while Golden State would be limited to offering a prorated minimum salary worth closer to $400K. That’s a significant difference.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on teams that remain below the minimum salary floor, since those clubs could enter the bidding for a bought-out player or could claim a player off waivers. The Jazz, for instance, probably don’t need a big man like Bogut, but if they wanted him and he became available, Utah has enough cap room to claim his entire $11MM+ contract. That would keep him off the open market and allow the Jazz to surpass the salary floor.
Using our Salary Cap Snapshots, let’s take a closer look at the teams below the cap, starting with teams still below the salary floor:
Teams below the salary floor:
- Utah Jazz: $13.64MM below cap ($4.23MM below floor)
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.66MM below cap ($3.24MM below floor)
- Denver Nuggets: $11.56MM below cap ($2.15MM below floor)
- Brooklyn Nets: $10.21MM below cap ($793K below floor)
Less than a month ago, there were six teams below the salary floor. Since then, the Nets and Nuggets have taken major steps toward the floor, while the Suns and Sixers have gotten above it entirely. That leaves the Jazz and Timberwolves as the clubs furthest below the salary floor.
As we’ve noted in the past, there’s no real penalty if a team remains below the floor — the team simply has to make up the difference by paying their current players a little more money. However, the Jazz and Wolves figure to be mulling other opportunities to reach the floor. That could mean placing a waiver claim or – in Utah’s case – renegotiating a contract.
We haven’t heard any rumors lately about the Jazz discussing a new deal with an extension-eligible veteran like George Hill or Derrick Favors, so that seems like a long shot. But the team does have until the end of February to renegotiate and extend either player’s contract, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Teams below the cap, but above the floor:
- Phoenix Suns: $9.226MM below cap
- Philadelphia 76ers: $8.62MM below cap
- Indiana Pacers: $4.14MM below cap
- Boston Celtics: $1.11MM below cap
Although the Suns and Sixers have inched above the salary floor, they’re not necessarily out of the woods quite yet. Phoenix needs the contracts of Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott to pass through waivers unclaimed, while the Sixers will require the same for Bogut if they eventually cut him. If any of those deals are claimed, they’ll move to another team’s cap, pushing Phoenix or Philadelphia back below the floor.
Teams that could clear cap room by renouncing exceptions:
- Houston Rockets: $3.54MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $3.33MM)
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $3.05MM below cap if lone TPE ($4.94MM) is renounced
- Milwaukee Bucks: $1.75MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $5MM)
- Chicago Bulls: $1.59MM below cap if lone TPE ($5.46MM) is renounced
These teams are technically over the cap, but could go under if they chose to renounce their trade exceptions. In some cases, that might not make much sense. For instance, the Bucks and Bulls would have less than $2MM in cap room if they renounced their exceptions. Both teams have trade exceptions worth at least $5MM, so it probably makes sense to stay over the cap for now and see if those exceptions come in handy around the draft.
On the other hand, the amount of cap room the Rockets would have if they renounced their trade exceptions would be greater than the amount of their largest TPE, so it makes sense for Houston to dip below the cap, expunging those TPEs from their books. That would also allow the Rockets to use cap room to sign a free agent, something they couldn’t do using a trade exception.
The rest of the NBA’s 18 teams don’t currently have cap room. That includes the Lakers, whose moves this week took them over the cap by just $316K.
February 25: The Bucks formally signed Toupane this afternoon, the team announced via a press release on their official website. Their roster is now full at 15.
Toupane has been playing for Toronto’s affiliate in the D-League, where he is averaging 16.1 points and 3.9 rebounds through 27 games. His only NBA experience came in 21 games for the Nuggets last season.
There were no superstars on the move on Thursday, but NBA teams made eight trades, and there were many more signings and cuts completed once the deadline passed. In the wake of the deadline, we’ll take a look at a few roster- and cap-related notes, rounding up the new traded player exceptions that teams created on Thursday, as well as examining which teams still have space available on their rosters.
Let’s dive in…
New trade exceptions:
Several over-the-cap teams acquired new trade exceptions on Thursday. They’ll all expire on February 23, 2018, a year after they were created, or until they’re used or renounced by the teams below. If a club wants to use cap room, it must renounce its trade exceptions, but until then, these TPEs can be used in the summer or next season to acquire players.
Here’s the breakdown, in order of TPE value:
- Dallas Mavericks: $6,642,537
- Chicago Bulls: $5,462,000
- Milwaukee Bucks: $5,000,000
- Atlanta Hawks: $3,333,334
- Houston Rockets: $3,333,333
- Dallas Mavericks: $1,514,160
- Houston Rockets: $612,172
- Toronto Raptors: $328,000
- Houston Rockets: $233,880
Some notes related to these TPEs:
- Multiple teams on this list, including the Rockets and Bucks, could open up cap room by renouncing their trade exceptions. In Houston’s case, this is particularly notable, since the club would create more than $3.5MM in cap space by renouncing these TPEs. That cap room could come in handy very soon if the Rockets are trying to entice a free agent to sign with them instead of another contender that can only offer the minimum.
- As is always the case with TPEs, some of these exceptions will be more useful than others. The Mavericks could end up doing something interesting with their $6.6MM+ TPE, but the Raptors will almost certainly never use theirs for $328K.
- The Thunder also came out of Thursday’s action with a new TPE — sort of. Oklahoma City had created a trade exception worth $7.4MM on November 1 when the team sent Ersan Ilyasova to Philadelphia. The Thunder used a portion of that exception at the deadline to absorb Doug McDermott‘s salary, leaving approximately $4.94MM left on it. OKC will have until November 1 to use the rest of that TPE.
- For the complete list of trade exceptions across the NBA, click here.
Teams with open roster spots:
A day after the trade deadline, the list of teams with open roster spots is incredibly fluid. Some teams that acquired players in trades don’t have any use for those players, and will waive them. Other clubs will fill roster holes with D-League call-ups, while other teams will be a little more patient and wait out the buyout market.
All of this is to say that this list is up to date at the time of publication, but could change quickly as teams make more moves this weekend. Here are the teams that currently have at least one open spot on their 15-man roster, with their player count noted in parentheses:
- Charlotte Hornets (13): The 10-day contracts for Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey expired overnight, so Charlotte has two open spots. The team reportedly plans to use one on Johnny O’Bryant.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (14): The Cavs have 13 guaranteed contracts, plus Derrick Williams‘ 10-day deal. The team expects to sign Deron Williams as well, so if any other roster additions are coming after that, Cleveland would need to clear a roster spot.
- Dallas Mavericks (13): The Mavs have two openings after completing a two-for-one trade with the Sixers, then waiving Deron Williams.
- Houston Rockets (14): The Rockets opened up a roster spot by trading K.J. McDaniels, and may waive Marcelo Huertas as well. Houston is expected to be active on the buyout market.
- Milwaukee Bucks (14): The Bucks created a roster opening by sending Roy Hibbert to Denver, and they’re expected to fill it by signing Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (14): Unlike most of the teams on this list, the Wolves have carried an open roster spot for a while, and that didn’t change at the deadline.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (14): The Thunder traded three players to Chicago and received just two in return, creating an opening. They have their eye on free agents and buyout candidates.
- Orlando Magic (14): Like Minnesota, the Magic were carrying an open roster spot prior to the deadline and didn’t make a move on Thursday.
The Suns will join this list as soon as they officially waive Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger, as is expected. They’ll fill one of those two newly-open spots with Ronnie Price. There are also three teams that have full 15-man rosters with at least one player on a 10-day contract. The Hawks, Warriors, and Pelicans fall into this category, with Briante Weber‘s second 10-day deal in Golden State set to expire soon.
For a full breakdown of NBA roster counts, check out our list.
4:09pm: The Nuggets have officially acquired Hibbert in exchange for a protected 2019 second-round pick, the team announced in a press release.
1:49pm: The Nuggets will acquire Roy Hibbert from the Bucks, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Denver will be sending a heavily protected second round pick to Milwaukee in exchange for Hibbert, Brian Windhorst of ESPN adds (Twitter link). According to Charles Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link), it’s a 2019 second-rounder.
The Nuggets have the cap space to accommodate Hibbert. Denver entered the day $7,147,064 below the salary floor, and Hibbert’s one-year, $5MM contract will help them reach that mark. Hibbert was acquired by Milwaukee on February 2, but never appeared in a game for the Bucks.
The Timberwolves are “determined” to move Shabazz Muhammad today and hope to land a draft pick in return, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (via Twitter). One report earlier today suggested that Minnesota might attach Muhammad to Ricky Rubio, but Aldridge is unsure if Muhammad would be included in a potential Rubio/Derrick Rose swap.
Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:
- John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) has heard that Raptors players would like to see the team acquire Suns forward P.J. Tucker, in the hopes of getting someone capable of defending LeBron James in the postseason.
- Darren Collison, who is on an expiring contract, is drawing interest from many teams, but the Kings are holding firm on their asking price of a first-round pick, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. An earlier report identified the Bucks as a potential Collison suitor, but Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) says Milwaukee hasn’t engaged in talks with the Kings.
- Now that they’ve found a taker for Andrew Bogut, the Mavericks have shifted their focus to a possible Deron Williams deal, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
- The Wizards are exploring the market for a possible deal for a point guard, sources tell Kyler (Twitter link).
- The Warriors aren’t active today, and figure to focus on the buyout market if they want to bolster their bench, according to Kyler (Twitter link).
While the Pistons have been open to listening to inquiries on anyone, few – if any – players on their roster have received as much interest as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Speaking to reporters, including Rod Beard of The Detroit News, Stan Van Gundy confirmed that KCP’s future has been one of the main topics discussed as of late by the Pistons, who will have to make a big long-term commitment to the shooting guard this summer if they keep him.
“That’s something you have to make decisions about and deal with. I’m not getting into specifics at this point, but that has been a significant part of what we’ve talked about,” Van Gundy said of the RFA-to-be. “He was probably the most urgent decision because of that and the money coming and what it means in terms of the cap and the (luxury) tax. We’ve talked about it internally and we’ve talked about it with (team owner) Tom (Gores). We know exactly what’s coming and we’re making informed decisions.”
Here are several more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:
- The Thunder are being aggressive as the trade deadline nears, according to Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter links), who adds Doug McDermott to the list of players on Oklahoma City’s radar. OKC was linked to another Bulls forward – Taj Gibson – earlier today.
- League executives believe the Kings will move Arron Afflalo today, says Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee adds (via Twitter) that Afflalo is more likely to be dealt than Ben McLemore, who has impressed some people within the organization lately. Afflalo has been linked to Indiana and Oklahoma City this week.
- Brandon Knight wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, but the Suns have set their asking price too high in the past in talks with the Magic, Kings, Sixers, and Bulls, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. As Amick observes, it remains to be seen whether that will change today.
- The Trail Blazers continue to try to find a taker for Festus Ezeli‘s contract, per ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link).
- Although Bucks general manager John Hammond likes to make trades, league executives say Milwaukee has been “low key” in trade talks this week, according to Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today (Twitter link).
- The Cavaliers continue to work on deals that could fortify their roster, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team ultimately rely on the buyout market instead, tweets Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
The Clippers are trying to acquire a small forward without giving up one of their four core players and ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports that Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford aren’t drawing much interest from opposing teams. The franchise called the Wizards trying to bring Otto Porter to Los Angeles, but Washington was disinterested in engaging in trade talks.
A package of Rivers, Crawford, and a “distant” first-rounder won’t be enough to pry Wilson Chandler from the Nuggets, Lowe reports. Denver is seeking a lottery-protected first-round pick and swap rights on another pick for Chandler or Danilo Gallinari. The Nuggets intend to compete for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and they believe they can do it without one of their veteran small forwards.
Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:
- The Raptors would like to add another rotation player, sources tell Lowe. The Raptors currently have 15 players under contract, but they could waive Jared Sullinger should they need an open roster spot. Lowe adds that any deal that sends out a high-priced veteran is not likely to occur until the offseason.
- The Wizards are also eager to add a rotation player. The team has been linked to Lou Williams and it has explored trading a protected first-rounder in exchange for him. Lowe believes that’s too much value for Washington to give up and opines that two second-round picks may be able to get a deal completed.
- The Suns are listening to offers on most of their veterans and Lowe writes that P.J. Tucker is the player who is most likely to be traded. The scribe names the Clippers and Raptors as teams to watch.
- The Bucks are willing to listen to offers for anyone besides Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and Khris Middleton. Lowe adds that the Wolves have expressed interest in Tony Snell.
- Jahlil Okafor was close to being acquired by the Blazers before the team traded for Jusuf Nurkic. Lowe adds that the Sixers did not hold Okafor out of two contests to simply drive up his price.
- The two-way contracts for players who play in the NBA as well as the D-League could increase the value of second-round picks going forward, Lowe speculates. The scribe adds that front offices are still examining the new CBA and it could cause some teams to wait until after the season to make major deals.
In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic, Northwest, Southeast, and Pacific. Today, we’re examining the Central.
The Cavaliers (39-16) started buying last month when they sent a first-round pick to Atlanta in a deal for Kyle Korver. Since then, however, Cleveland’s on-court performance has been up and down, and LeBron James has called for the team to add a “playmaker.” Derrick Williams‘ play has been encouraging so far, but the Cavs could still use a ball-handler and a big man, particularly with J.R. Smith and Kevin Love on the shelf. The club’s luxury tax bill will continue to rise exponentially if team salary goes up though, so GM David Griffin likely won’t be taking on any big contracts.
No other team in the Central division is within 10 games of the Cavs, but the Pacers (29-28) are in playoff position and are interested in adding to their roster. Although there is reportedly some reluctance within the organization to part with the team’s 2017 first-round pick, that selection appears to be available in the right deal as Indiana seeks an established wing or big man. Paul George will have the opportunity to opt out of his contract in 2018, so the Pacers are running out of time to prove to him that their roster is capable of seriously contending — adding an impact player this week could help.
In a video interview, Wojnarowski says the teams have discussed a deal involving Butler, but talks haven’t progressed very far. He adds that Chicago officials have to to fully commit to the rebuilding process before they would be willing to give up Butler.
Wojnarowski says the trade would involve one of the Nets’ first-rounders — but probably not both — that Boston owns in the next two drafts. If the Bulls get this year’s pick, Wojnarowski states they can find a replacement for Derrick Rose, who was traded to the Knicks last summer. Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball are point guards mentioned as likely choices at the top of the draft.
Teaming Butler with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford would give the Celtics enough firepower to challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the East, Wojnarowski states, not just this season but for years to come.
Other highlights from the interview:
- The Clippers and Thunder are both potential landing spots for Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. However, both teams are low on draft picks and may not have the assets that Denver would want in return.
- The Thunder were trying to acquire Kings forward Rudy Gay before a season-ending Achilles injury.
- The Wizards would like to add another wing player to their bench, with the Lakers‘ Lou Williams and the Nets‘ Bojan Bogdanovic as possibilities. Wojnarowski says Washington is willing to part with a draft pick to get veteran help.
- The Suns have been shopping P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, hoping to get picks or young players in return.
- Chandler is one of several centers on the market, along with the Sixers‘ Jahlil Okafor, the Mavericks‘ Andrew Bogut, the Bucks‘ Greg Monroe and the Nets‘ Brook Lopez. However, there is limited interest in back-to-the basket centers. Wojnarowski speculates that one or two of them may be traded this week, but cautions that there aren’t enough buyers for all of them to be moved.
- Unless something changes, Carmelo Anthony will remain with the Knicks. New York management hasn’t presented him with any deals that would tempt him to waive his no-trade clause. Most of the teams that were interested in dealing for Anthony are now “looking in other directions,” but Wojnarowski thinks the Clippers might revisit their attempt to land Anthony this summer.