New Orleans Pelicans

Bulls, Blazers, Raptors Hold Largest Trade Exceptions

When an over-the-cap NBA team sends out more salary than it receives in a given trade, that team can generally create a traded player exception. As we explain in our glossary entry, a traded player exception serves as a way for a team to acquire talent without using cap room to do so.

Traded player exceptions last for one year from the time they’re created, and can be used to absorb a player’s contract in a trade without sending out any salary in return. Trade exceptions can’t be combined with another exception or another contract, but they have $100K worth of wiggle room. So, a team with a $9.9MM TPE could trade for a player earning $10MM without any outgoing salary involved in the deal.

In recent weeks, a handful of teams – including the Hornets, Clippers, and Cavaliers – have seen trade exceptions created last July expire without being used. However, none of those TPEs was substantial. All of this year’s biggest TPEs are still available, though some are more likely to be used than others.

Here’s the current list of the top 10 traded player exceptions available around the NBA, along with each TPE’s expiration date:

  1. Chicago Bulls: $15,311,329 (6/22/18)
  2. Portland Trail Blazers: $12,969,502 (7/25/18)
  3. Toronto Raptors: $11,800,000 (7/13/18)
  4. Toronto Raptors: $7,630,000 (7/14/18)
  5. Los Angeles Clippers: $7,273,631 (6/28/18)
  6. Milwaukee Bucks: $5,000,000 (2/23/18)
  7. Oklahoma City Thunder: $4,936,529 (11/1/17)
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers: $4,837,500 (1/7/18)
  9. New Orleans Pelicans: $3,517,200 (2/20/18)
  10. Oklahoma City Thunder: $2,550,000 (7/6/18)

While some of these TPEs are quite sizable, there’s a good chance that most of them will go unused. Many of the clubs on this list are near or above the luxury tax threshold, and will be reluctant to acquire an expensive player without dumping any salary as part of the deal.

The Blazers, Raptors, Clippers, Bucks, Thunder, and Cavaliers all fit that bill, though some of those clubs may be willing to bite the tax-penalty bullet, while others could wait until next July when some contracts expire to use their respective TPEs.

As for the Bulls, no team has a more significant TPE than the one Chicago created as part of June’s Jimmy Butler trade. But that exception is somewhat hollow at the moment — the Bulls only have $73.25MM in guaranteed salaries on their 2017/18 cap, so the club could actually create an even greater chunk of cap room by renouncing its trade exception, along with its other cap holds and exceptions. Still, there’s no reason to do that now. That TPE could come in handy later if the Bulls re-sign Nikola Mirotic and much of that potential cap space disappears.

The full list of current NBA trade exceptions can be found right here.

Pelicans Waive Quinn Cook, Axel Toupane

11:55am: Bobby Marks of ESPN suggests that Toupane also had a partial guarantee on his contract that would have increased from $25K to $200K if he hadn’t been cut today. By waiving both Toupane and Cook, the Pelicans will carry a total of $50K in dead money for the duo — that figure would’ve increased to $300K after today.

11:12am: The Pelicans have reduced their offseason roster by two players, announcing today in a press release that they’ve waived guard Quinn Cook and swingman Axel Toupane. Cook and Toupane will become unrestricted free agents later this week if and when they clears waivers.

Both Cook and Toupane had been on non-guaranteed minimum salary contracts in New Orleans. According to Basketball Insiders’ data, Cook’s salary became partially guaranteed for $25K earlier this month, and would have become guaranteed for another $75K if he had remained on the roster through July 25. As for Toupane, his deal was fully non-guaranteed until January.

Cook and Toupane both signed contracts with the Pelicans during the final days of the 2016/17 season, allowing the franchise to get a look at both players down the stretch and over the summer before making a determination on their status. Apparently, New Orleans decided that neither youngster was in the team’s 2017/18 plans. The Pelicans still have one player – Jordan Crawford – on a non-guaranteed contract.

Having played well in the G League over the last couple years, Cook and Toupane should be candidates for training camp invites or two-way contracts from other NBA teams once they clear waivers.

Pelicans Expected To Sign Jalen Jones

The Pelicans are expected to sign former Texas A&M forward Jalen Jones, a source tells Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Details of Jones’ potential deal aren’t known, but it would likely be a training camp invite without a full guarantee, assuming it’s not a two-way contract.

Jones, 24, went undrafted in 2016 but signed a training camp deal with the Celtics. Although the 6’7″ small forward didn’t earn a spot on Boston’s regular season roster, he became an affiliate player for the club after being waived, joining the G League’s Maine Red Claws.

Jones enjoyed an impressive 2016/17 campaign in Maine, averaging 21.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG — he was named to the All NBA G League Third Team. Jones further impressed the Pelicans in Summer League play this month, recording 13.3 PPG and 6.2 RPG in six games for the club.

Assuming he gets a camp deal from the Pelicans, Jones would join Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo, and Darius Miller as the free agents to sign NBA contracts with the franchise so far this offseason. New Orleans also added Frank Jackson in the draft.

Pelicans Sign Darius Miller

JULY 24, 1:35pm: The Pelicans have officially signed Miller to a two-year deal with a second-year team option, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. David Pick adds (via Twitter) that – contrary to an earlier report – the deal is worth $4.3MM, which suggests New Orleans may have used a portion of its mid-level exception to complete the signing.

JULY 6, 3:19pm: Miller is expected to get a two-year deal worth more than $3MM, per Sportando (Twitter link). Of course, Miller’s minimum salary for 2017/18 is worth over $1.5MM, so this sounds like a minimum contract.

JULY 5, 5:23pm: The Pelicans have agreed to a deal with Darius Miller, according to international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s likely a minimum salary arrangement.

Miller, who won a championship at Kentucky alongside Anthony Davis, was selected in the second round of the 2012 draft by New Orleans. He spent three seasons with the team before being waived.

The small forward signed on with Brose Bamberg part way through the 2014/15 season and remained with German club through the end of last season. He thrived during his European opportunity, earning first-team honors this past season after winning the BBL Finals MVP during the 2016 postseason.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

There’s little chance that the Cavaliers will salvage their relationship with Kyrie Irving, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who says the team is “acting as if a trade is almost inevitable.” Per Lowe, the Cavs also seem confident that they’ll be able to land a significant haul for Irving, despite the fact that stars like DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler have returned underwhelming hauls so far this year.

Lowe’s latest piece on Irving explores possible trade scenarios involving the Suns, Celtics, Heat, Knicks, Hawks, Bucks, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Pelicans, and more. While many of those proposed scenarios appear to be speculation on Lowe’s part, they give the impression that the Cavs certainly won’t be limiting themselves to Irving’s reported wish list of four teams as they seek out the best possible deal.

Here’s more from Lowe, along with other updates on Irving:

  • The Cavaliers‘ highest priority in an Irving trade is to get a “blue-chip” young player in return, sources tell Lowe. Cleveland’s ideal scenario would be a deal that nets the club that blue-chip player, plus a veteran or two, plus draft picks. In other words, the Cavs are aiming for a trade package that provides the best of both worlds — players that can help the team contend for a championship in the short term, and valuable long-term assets.
  • Since Irving made his trade request, the Cavaliers‘ front office has studied every trade involving a star player over the last decade, per Lowe. One particular deal that caught the club’s eye was the one that sent Goran Dragic from Phoenix to Miami for a package that included multiple first-round picks.
  • Many teams, including the Celtics, have called the Cavaliers to let them know they want to be kept in the loop as trade talks progress, writes Lowe.
  • The Nets still have a chunk of salary cap room remaining and could be an interesting trade partner in a multi-team scenario, but there have been no rumblings yet about their potential participation, according to Lowe.
  • The Kings have no interest in moving De’Aaron Fox in a deal for Irving, reports James Ham of
  • One Western Conference team executive tells Chris Mannix of The Vertical that he thinks the Cavaliers may end up having to wait until after December 15 to make a deal, after this year’s free agent signees become trade-eligible. If that happens, it might create an awkward few months in Cleveland, with Irving still on the roster when the season begins.

Anthony Davis Eager To Play With Rajon Rondo

  • The Pelicans are excited about the addition of point guard Rajon Rondo, particularly big man Anthony Davis who will be one of the prime beneficiaries of Rondo’s playmaking abilities. “He and I will do very well in pick-and-rolls, especially the way I dive to the basket, or I can pick-and-pop,” Davis told Jim Eichenhofer of the Pels’ official website. “He’s great at finding guys at the right times with the ball. Anyone who’s been in pick-and-rolls with him has been very successful. Hopefully we can do the same thing.

Pelicans Sign Rajon Rondo

JULY 19: Rondo’s one-year deal with the Pelicans will be for $3.3MM, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The signing is now official.

JULY 15: The Pelicans have agreed to a one-year deal with veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). Charania’s report adds that the four-time All-Star met with the Pelicans twice (Thursday and Saturday) before reaching an agreement with New Orleans.<a rel=

After he was waived by the Bulls last month, Rondo drew interest from several teams including the Lakers and Knicks. A late-season surge — that was cut short by an injury in the playoffs — helped Rondo rebuild some of the value he lost in the beginning of last season.

Rondo, 31, spent last season in Chicago where he posted totals of 7.8 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 5.1 RPG in 69 games (42 starts). However, Rondo’s tumultuous stint in Chicago included losing his starting role, a social media feud with former teammates Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, and a seemingly abrupt parting of ways. Rondo originally signed a two-year, $28MM deal with the Bulls but the second year was only partially guaranteed. The Bulls saved $10MM by severing ties with Rondo.

In joining New Orleans, Rondo reunites with DeMarcus Cousins, the Pelicans’ prized acquisition from last season, with whom he teamed in Sacramento during the 2015/16 campaign. In a Christmas Day feature in 2015, James Jones of the Sacramento Bee detailed how strong the bond between the veteran Rondo and emotional-yet-talented center Cousins developed.

“He’s a misunderstood kid,” Rondo said. “I think that’s why I gravitate toward him so much. I love what he’s doing.”

Trading Tim Frazier to the Wizards for a second-round pick left a vacancy that Rondo now fills. It’s likely that Rondo will mostly reprise his role as a reserve for the Pelicans in 2017/18. The team agreed to a five-year, $126MM deal with Jrue Holiday to be the team’s long-term point guard.

Rondo, a former NBA champion with the 2008 Celtics, will give Holiday opportunities to play off the ball and form a potent triumvirate with Cousins and Anthony Davis. Rondo holds the reputation of one of the NBA’s best passers and gives New Orleans strong depth in case of an injury.

Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Pelicans still have most of their mid-level exception available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Plan To Start Both Holiday And Rondo

  • Having reached an agreement to sign Rajon Rondo after signing Jrue Holiday to a lucrative new contract earlier in the month, the Pelicans envision the two guards playing side by side. As William Guillory of The Times-Picayune details, New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry said during a radio appearance this week that his plan for now is to start Rondo at point guard with Holiday at the two. Rondo’s deal with the Pelicans is expected to be finalized soon.

Celtics Expected To Push For Davis If Pelicans' Season Goes South

  • Within the Vertical piece linked above, Chris Mannix notes that it’s “widely believed” the Celtics will make a run at Anthony Davis if the Pelicans‘ season goes south. New Orleans has been vehemently opposed to considering Davis deals, and while it’s possible that will change if the team struggles this season, DeMarcus Cousins would almost certainly land on the trading block first.

Loomis Expects To Win Now

Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Mickey Loomis says the team is “due” for success and Rajon Rondo will provide veteran leadership, as he told New Orleans Times-Picayune columnists Jeff Duncan and Larry Holder during a radio interview. Loomis affirmed that the team was at a crossroads in terms of its development after trading for DeMarcus Cousins last season, retaining free agent point guard Jrue Holiday and reaching an agreement with Rondo. “I think we’re due and it’s time to have some success,” he said in the interview. “I think we’re all expecting that.” Though Rondo has yet to officially signed with New Orleans, Loomis said Rondo’s experience made him a good fit. “We’re talking about a veteran player that has some leadership qualities that’s been on winning teams, that understands how to win in the NBA,” Loomis said.

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