Nik Stauskas

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:

Raul Neto, Jazz, 26, PG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4.4MM deal in 2018
Neto’s $2.15MM salary for next season becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster after July 6. Even though it’s not much money, Neto has given the Jazz little reason to keep him around. He’s not in the rotation with Dante Exum backing up Ricky Rubio. Except for a blowout win over the Knicks in which he played 20 minutes, Neto has either been benched or seen fewer than four minutes over the past 10 games. With Rubio headed to unrestricted free agency, it’s conceivable Utah could exercise that option as insurance. The Brazilian native is more likely to continue his career elsewhere, probably overseas.

Trey Lyles, Nuggets, 23, PF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $10.4MM deal in 2015
Lyles has received rotation minutes but his offensive numbers have declined. He’s shooting just 41.1% from the field and 24.1% beyond the arc, compared to a 49.1/38.1 slash line last season. He was mired in a terrible slump last month, making just 32.3% (18.6% from distance) of his field goal attempts. Lyles will be a restricted free agent if the Nuggets extend a $4.63MM qualifying option. That may depend on some other factors. They hold a $30MM team option on Paul Millsap‘s contract. It’s also predicated on whether they believe Michael Porter Jr. will contribute significantly next season.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Thunder, 23, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.26MM deal in 2016
Luwawu-Cabarrot, a 2016 first-round pick by the Sixers in 2016, got some opportunities in his first two seasons with Philadelphia. His court time has diminished considerably in Oklahoma City. After playing in 69 games (19 starts) in his rookie year and 52 last season, Luwawu-Cabarrot has languished at the end of OKC’s bench despite Andre Roberson‘s injury issues. He’s played just 12 minutes since November 28. The Thunder didn’t pick up Luwawu-Cabarrot’s option during the offseason, so he’ll be unrestricted in July. It will be interesting to see if any team believes he has untapped potential or whether he’ll have to seek overseas opportunities.

Taj Gibson, Timberwolves, 33, PF (Up) — Signed to a two-year, $28MM deal in 2017
Gibson has become a more efficient offensive player in recent years while providing his usual toughness in the paint as well as rebounding. Gibson remains one of the top offensive rebounders in the league (2.7 per game) and has kept a positive attitude despite the addition of Dario Saric, which has cut into his minutes. If Tom Thibodeau remains in charge, the Timberwolves will likely try to re-sign him. Otherwise, Gibson will find work as a 25-30 minute option at power forward for a suitor looking for an upgrade at that position.

Nik Stauskas, Trail Blazers, 25, SG (Down)– Signed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal in 2018
Stauskas is playing for his fourth organization in five seasons. He will be on the move again if his shooting doesn’t perk up. After a strong start, Stauskas has gone into an offensive funk. He made just 24.3% of his 3-point attempts in December and went scoreless in a nine-minute stint against Sacramento in his first 2019 appearance. Stauskas reached double figures in five of his first eight games with the franchise but has hit that mark just twice since that point. With first-rounder Anfernee Simons showing no signs of taking Stauskas’ rotation spot, the Blazers may try to acquire a wing player before the trade deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trail Blazers Sign Nik Stauskas

July 5: The Blazers announced in a press release that they’ve officially signed Stauskas.

July 1: The Trail Blazers have reached an agreement to sign former eighth overall pick Nik Stauskas, reports ESPN’s Chris Haynes (via Twitter). Stauskas will sign a one-year, minimum-salary contract with the club, Haynes adds (via Twitter).

Stauskas, who began his NBA career with the Kings, has been traded twice since then, first to Philadelphia and then to Brooklyn. The 6’6″ shooting guard posted decent numbers for the Sixers in 2016/17, putting up 9.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG with a .496/.368/.813 shooting line. However, he fell out of the team’s rotation early in the 2017/18 campaign and was sent to the Nets along with Jahlil Okafor.

In 35 games for Brooklyn, Stauskas averaged 5.1 PPG in 13.7 minutes per contest, with a .404 3PT%. The Nets opted not to issue him a qualifying offer this week, which allowed him to reach the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

Stauskas will earn $1,621,415 on his new deal, though Portland will only be on the hook for a $1,512,601 cap hit.

Nets Won’t Issue Qualifying Offer To Nik Stauskas

Former eighth overall pick Nik Stauskas is on track to become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the Nets won’t extend a qualifying offer to the 24-year-old guard.

Stauskas, who began his NBA career with the Kings, has been traded twice since then, first to Philadelphia and then to Brooklyn. Stauskas posted decent numbers for the Sixers in 2016/17, putting up 9.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG with a .496/.368/.813 shooting line. However, he fell out of the team’s rotation early in the 2017/18 campaign and was sent to the Nets along with Jahlil Okafor.

In 35 games for Brooklyn, Stauskas averaged 5.1 PPG in 13.7 minutes per contest, with a .404 3PT%. His qualifying offer would have been worth $4,333,932 after he failed to meet the starter criteria.

The Nets did issue a qualifying offer to two-way player Milton Doyle, per Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link). That QO is a one-year, two-way contract offer with $50K guaranteed, and gives Brooklyn the right of first refusal if Doyle signs an offer sheet with another club.

Canada Basketball Unveils 18 Training Camp Invites

Canada Basketball has announced its preliminary 18-man roster of players who have been invited to participate in training camp and exhibition play ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers next month, reports Josh Lewenberg of The Sports Network.

Among the 18 named individuals, eight played in the NBA last season – Khem Birch (Magic), Chris Boucher (Warriors), Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies), Cory Joseph (Pacers), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Dwight Powell (Mavericks), and Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers).

The preliminary roster also includes former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, as well as three other G League players – Aaron BestOlivier Hanlan, and Kaza Kajami-Keane.

The remaining six players are former first-round pick of the Magic, Andrew Nicholsonformer college standouts’ Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, Baylor’s Brady Heslip, and Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos, as well as brothers Phil Scrubb and Tommy Scrubb.

As also highlighted by Lewenberg, notable absences include Trey Lyles (Nuggets), Nik Stauskas (Nets), and most glaringly, Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves). Per Lewenberg, multiple sources indicated that one factor in Wiggins’ decision to decline Canada Basketball’s invitation is his strained relationship with national team head coach Jay Triano, who left Wiggins on the bench during the final moments of a qualifying game for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Nets Notes: Harris, Lin, Marks, Cap Room

The Nets are committed to re-signing free agent Joe Harris this summer, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. The fourth-year swingman is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 10.8 points per game while shooting .419 from 3-point range. He emerged as a rotation player in Brooklyn last season after two years of trying to earn a role in Cleveland, and said “I don’t really envision myself being anywhere else” during a media session last week.

Scotto talked to eight NBA executives who estimate Harris will get offers between $4MM and $7MM per season. That shouldn’t be an issue for the Nets, who will have up to $20MM in available cap space. Harris just wrapped up a two-year veterans’ minimum deal he signed with Brooklyn in 2016.

“I think Joe made it pretty clear in some of the statements he made that he’d love to be back here,” GM Sean Marks said. “That’s how the organization feels about him, too. As [coach] Kenny [Atkinson] alluded to before, we’ve got some decisions to make on several, but definitely, Joe is a guy we see in a Nets uniform.”

There’s more news out of Brooklyn:

  • Jeremy Lin‘s season was wiped out by a ruptured patella tendon on opening night, but the front office believes he will be an impact player next season, Scotto relays in the same story. Injuries limited Lin to 36 games during 2016/17 in his first season with Brooklyn, so he feels like he has something to prove heading into the final year of his contract. “I would say I wouldn’t bet against Jeremy,” Marks cautioned. “The way he’s attacked his rehab over the course of the last six to eight months is really impressive. He’s come back with a little bit of a new lease on life, which is great.”
  • The Nets plan to remain patient in the rebuilding process, Scotto adds. The team raised its victory total from 20 to 28 this season and is aiming for modest improvements over the summer. Brooklyn’s cap room will be reduced by about $8.5MM if it makes a qualifying offer to Nik Stauskas and picks up non-guaranteed salaries for Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Whitehead. Lin’s contract expires next summer and Allen Crabbe can opt out, giving the Nets much more flexibility in the 2019 free agent market.
  • Atkinson is happy with the progress that Crabbe, D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen all made during their first year with the franchise, but he wants them to improve on defense, especially with forcing turnovers, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Potential 2018 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which dictates how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

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 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 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 eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also 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. There are exceptions though. Last offseason, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former 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 $4,333,931.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Parker, whose torn ACL made him fall short. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 2 overall pick likely would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth about $8.851MM. Instead, his QO will be worth less than half of that.

Major injuries also prevented Exum and LaVine from meeting the starter criteria, while Celtics guard Marcus Smart stayed just healthy enough to meet the necessary benchmarks — he totaled 4,013 minutes played over the last two seasons, barely averaging more than 2,000 per year.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

The players listed below were picked between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2014 draft and will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,749,591.

Anderson is the biggest winner here, with his projected qualifying offer of $3.23MM set to increase by more than $1.5MM. However, Anderson, Capela, and Nurkic shouldn’t have any issue landing long-term deals, making the value of their QOs somewhat irrelevant. I wonder about Payton though — he didn’t exactly finish this season strong in Phoenix and could be a candidate to accept his increased QO.

Rodney Hood, the 23rd overall pick in 2014, can blame injury luck and lineup decisions for missing out on the starter criteria. He started 78 of 119 total games for Utah and Cleveland over the last two seasons, averaging 27.0 minutes per contest during that span. Without health issues, he almost certainly would’ve logged 82+ starts or 4,000+ minutes during those two years.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this year.

Initially signed to a 10-day contract in 2017, Ferrell parlayed that audition into a multiyear deal and has become an integral part of the Mavericks‘ rotation this season. He has appeared in all 81 games for Dallas, averaging 28.1 minutes per contest — that’s good for 2,274 total minutes, boosting his qualifying offer from $1,699,698 to $2,919,204.

The rest of this year’s restricted free agents won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Brooklyn Nets

With little other options available, Nets general manager Sean Marks has made the most out of his biggest asset: cap space. For that reason, the Nets will likely be diligent as to how they handle free agency in 2018.

While Brooklyn will have its first-round pick in 2019 and doesn’t necessarily have to use its payroll as a landfill for unwanted player contracts just to add assets, the club may continue to leverage its cap space during what continues to be the early stages of a rebuild.

With no set core in place, the Nets won’t feel much pressure to make deals this summer, which is actually kind of a luxury. Don’t expect the franchise to stretch itself thin to bring back any of its free agents if doing so will put them in a bad position.

Jahlil Okafor, C, 22 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $14MM deal in 2015Jahlil Okafor of the Brooklyn Nets vertical
Is there another player in NBA history who, despite a solid first-year campaign and reasonable health throughout, saw his value plummet more over the course of a rookie contract? It’s hard to imagine that Okafor’s decline is solely a product of his old-school game — he’s also had the misfortune of being employed by two franchises that couldn’t seem to care less about legitimately developing him as an asset. There will be at least one team willing to give Okafor another shot. It could even be the Nets, considering they’d get for an entire offseason and training camp this time. In any case, Okafor will probably have to sign a short-term, prove-it deal before he gets another significant NBA contract.

Quincy Acy, PF, 27 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $4MM deal in 2017
Acy is an affordable role player who has served well in two stints with the Nets. Since he comes with a cheap price tag, appears to be content with a minor role, and is a serviceable veteran who contributes when called upon, it’s hard to imagine Brooklyn wouldn’t welcome him back. Acy may get a longer-term commitment from the Nets this time around, but he isn’t likely to draw much more than a modest raise above the league minimum from Brooklyn or anybody else.

Dante Cunningham, SF, 31 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Nets absorbed Cunningham’s contract in a midseason deal, so there’s no guarantee that either party would be interested in a commitment beyond 2017/18. Cunningham is a utility forward seemingly intent on contributing to a reasonably competitive team so maybe their timelines just don’t match. In any event, the eight-year veteran isn’t likely to top the $2MM-$3MM threshold he’s flirted with for the majority of his career.

Joe Harris, SG, 26 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3MM deal in 2016
The return on investment for Harris has been great, but the Nets may want to pump the brakes when it comes to re-signing him in the offseason. While Harris has been an excellent example of how the Nets franchise has developed youngsters, overpaying for a niche player without a set core in place isn’t the wisest course of action. If it looks like Harris might get poached by a more competitive team looking to add a solid depth piece, the Nets shouldn’t reach to retain him — not with so many other holes to fill first.

Nik Stauskas, SG, 24 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $12MM deal in 2014
The Nets have given Stauskas something of a tryout to prove that he could possibly live up to his eighth overall selection back in 2014, but he hasn’t done enough to warrant a raise from his rookie deal. While Stauskas may get another chance to prove himself next season, it’ll have to come cheap and potentially non-guaranteed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Celtics, Stauskas, LeVert

For all the talk about “The Process,” the Sixers are lagging behind several other organizations that started rebuilding around the same time, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The first year of former GM Sam Hinkie’s plan to collect high draft picks was 2013/14, when the team posted the league’s second-worst record at 19-63, trailing only the Bucks. The Magic were next, followed by the Celtics, Jazz, Lakers, Kings, Pistons and Cavaliers. Cleveland has won a title since then, aided by the return of LeBron James, while Milwaukee, Boston, Utah and Detroit have all turned into perennial playoff contenders.

The Sixers, on the other hand, continue to flounder. They lost their fifth straight game Saturday and have dropped nine of their last 10. Center Joel Embiid remains a health risk, with back tightness and knee problems forcing him to miss eight of the team’s first 32 games. While other teams were able to improve through trades and free agent signings, Pompey notes that Philadelphia didn’t receive much in return for lottery picks Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, while the team’s first significant opportunity in free agency is coming next summer.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics are hoping to host their first All-Star Game in more than a half century, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The game hasn’t been in Boston since 1964, partly because of concerns that season-ticket holders wouldn’t have access to their regular seats, but Washburn writes that management is proceeding with plans to apply for hosting privileges. “We are going to ask for an application package and we’ll see what happens,” said majority owner Wyc Grousbeck. The next available opening is 2022.
  • The trade that brought Okafor to the Nets reunited former college teammates Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert, writes Tom Dowd of NBA.com. They were part of a talented freshman class that helped Michigan reach the NCAA title game in 2012/13. The former college roommates now have adjoining lockers at Barclays Center. “First class organization,” Stauskas said. “I love it here. I think the thing that I enjoy most is how seriously they take skill development. They’re huge on getting better every day, especially taking care of your body.”
  • The Raptors have the second best record in the East and are winning without excess wear and tear on their star players, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Because of an improved bench, Kyle Lowry is playing 32.9 minutes per night, his lowest total in five seasons, and DeMar DeRozan is at 34.3 minutes, the lowest since he was a rookie.

Nets Notes: Okafor, Stauskas, Crabbe, Harris

Even after suffering a season worst 33 point loss to Toronto on Friday night, Nets center Jahlil Okafor and guard Nik Stauskas both appeared to be in high spirits after finally being able to get back on the court ten days removed from a trade that brought them to Brooklyn from Philadelphia in exchange for Trevor Booker, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

After playing only 25 minutes for Philadelphia all season, Okafor logged 23 minutes in his Nets debut, scoring ten points and grabbing four rebounds. Stauskas, meanwhile, scored a team high 22 points of 5-of-7 shooting from long range. “It just felt great to be back on the basketball court,” Stauskas said. “I hadn’t played that much in Philly, so it felt good to run up and down again.” Being from the Toronto area, Stauskas added, “maybe [being home helped] a little bit. But for me, it was more excitement to be back out there.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets have their own “process” for Okafor’s acclimation to the Nets’ style of play, Lewis reveals in a separate story. “With Jahlil, it’s going to be a process,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s shown a lot of potential and strength in the post. That’d be cool if we could throw it in there a little more, [have] a little more balance.” Notwithstanding Okafor’s post play acumen, he knows that the game has changed and he’s ready for the challenge. “I have to get comfortable shooting threes in the game. That’s the way coach wants the team to play. If you’re open for three in the corner, he wants guys to shoot it. I’m going to be in the gym constantly so I can knock that down.”
  • In yet another story for the New York Post, Lewis relays how the Nets believe that sharpshooter Allen Crabbe, who has been battling left knee soreness, will shoot his way out of a recent slump sooner rather than later. Crabbe, who has shot 4 for his last 21 from long distance, is expected back for tonight’s game against Indiana after missing Friday’s loss to Toronto. Said Atkinson, “right now he’s struggling a little. It’s just like a batter that has a two-game little slump. He’ll come back and he’ll make shots. I’m not worried about that.”
  • In an interesting piece for NBA.com, Tom Dowd chronicles how Joe Harris found his way onto the Nets’ roster. After being waived by Orlando in January, 2016, and unable to hook on with another team for the remainder of the season, Harris spent the summer of 2016 looking for another opportunity in the NBA. Upon meeting with Harris following a team workout, Atkinson was hooked. “What I loved, he took ownership,” said Atkinson. “That convinced me that this is a guy we want. Just his character to say that. (And) since he’s been with us, it’s amazing his commitment to what we’re doing.”

Atlantic Notes: Wright, Okafor, Whitehead

Nearly a month after dislocating his shoulder injury, Delon Wright will make his return to the Raptors lineup, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweets. Wright last saw action on November 16.

Prior to the injury, Wright had been enjoying a solid season serving as a vital part of a Raptors second-unit that has yielded plenty of credit this season. While his absence was noticeable, third-string guard Fred VanVleet filled in admirably as the primary backup.

Wright, who had averaged 7.6 points and 2.6 assists in just over 20 minutes per game this season, is expected to be on somewhat of a minute restriction, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Tonight is the night that recent Nets acquisitions Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas make their debut, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets. The pair, he adds, are expected to get a “healthy dose of playing time” in their first Brooklyn appearance.
  • The Celtics will be without Marcus Morris for at least a week. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets that the forward who has missed four of the past five games with a lingering knee injury isn’t expected to be back until, perhaps, December 23 or Christmas Day.
  • Second-year Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead has changed his representation, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The point guard and former Andy Miller client will now be represented by Sam Permut of Roc Nation.
  • The Knicks have thrived without Carmelo Anthony on board but veteran guard Courtney Lee doesn’t think that his absence is why the team is winning. “If Melo was here, we would’ve made that adjustment with him,” he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “So you can’t just pinpoint it at him and say, ‘Well he left and we made these adjustments.’ The style of play was going to be different from last year regardless.