Offseason In Review

2019 Offseason In Review: Toronto Raptors

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Toronto Raptors.

Signings:

Trades:

  • None

Draft picks:

  • 2-59: Dewan Hernandez — Signed to three-year, minimum-salary contract. First year partially guaranteed ($500K). Second and third years non-guaranteed. Signed using mid-level exception.

Contract extensions:

  • Pascal Siakam: Four years, 25% maximum salary. Projected value of $129,920,000. Starting salary can be worth between 28-30% of the cap if Siakam earns All-NBA or MVP honors in 2020 (full details). Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2023/24.
  • Kyle Lowry: One year, $30MM. Includes $500K All-Star bonus. Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2020/21.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Hard-capped.
  • Carrying approximately $125.15MM in salary.
  • $961K of mid-level exception still available (used $8.3MM on Patrick McCaw, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Matt Thomas, and Dewan Hernandez).
  • Three traded player exceptions available; largest TPE ($2.54MM) expires 2/7/20.

Story of the summer:

Generally speaking, the Raptors received high grades at the time for the 2018 blockbuster that saw them acquire Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from the Spurs without surrendering young building blocks like Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby.

However, some skeptics questioned the wisdom of giving up a perennial All-Star like DeMar DeRozan for Leonard, who was on an expiring contract and didn’t even want to be in Toronto. Kawhi had also been limited to just nine games the year before due to a quad injury, creating further uncertainty about what exactly the Raptors were getting in that deal.

The concern that Leonard would be a one-year rental was real, even if early speculation that he wouldn’t even report to Toronto was invented. But after years of disappointing playoff runs, the Raptors had determined it was time for a change. To president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, the risk of Leonard being one-and-done was worth it, since a healthy Kawhi would give the club a legit chance to make the NBA Finals.

Ujiri’s bet paid off in a big way, as Leonard didn’t just give the Raptors a chance at a title — he led the way as the franchise secured its first-ever championship. It took some good luck along the way – including a fortunate roll on Leonard’s series-ending buzzer beater against the Sixers and a Finals matchup against a Warriors team missing Kevin Durant – but Toronto was one of the NBA’s best teams all season long, and peaked at exactly the right time.

While Ujiri was ultimately right to make that move for Leonard, the skeptics who were concerned about the star forward being a rental were proven right too. Once free agency rolled around, the Los Angeles native decided to head home, joining the Clippers just three weeks after winning a Finals MVP award with the Raptors.

Leonard’s departure stung in Toronto. After all, the hangover from the championship celebration had barely worn off by the time fans found out the team’s best player wouldn’t be back. Still, having that title under their belts made it a whole lot easier for the Raptors and their fans to move on.

Unlike when the Cavaliers lost LeBron James in 2018, losing their star player won’t immediately force the Raptors into rebuilding mode. The team’s cap sheet is relatively clean going forward, and Siakam, Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet give Toronto a few intriguing pieces to build around, with accomplished veterans like Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka still poised to play major roles in the short term.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Golden State Warriors

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Golden State Warriors.

Signings:

Trades:

  • Acquired the No. 41 pick in 2019 draft (used to select Eric Paschall) from the Hawks in exchange for the Warriors’ 2024 second-round pick and cash ($1.3MM).
  • Acquired the draft rights to Alen Smailagic (No. 39 pick) from the Pelicans in exchange for the Warriors’ 2021 second-round pick, the Warriors’ 2023 second-round pick, and cash ($1MM).
  • Acquired cash ($2MM) from the Jazz in exchange for the draft rights to Miye Oni (No. 58 pick).
  • Acquired Julian Washburn (two-way) from the Grizzlies in exchange for Andre Iguodala, the Warriors’ 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected), and cash ($2MM).
    • Note: Washburn was later waived.
  • Acquired D’Angelo Russell (sign-and-trade), Treveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier from the Nets in exchange for Kevin Durant (sign-and-trade) and the Warriors’ 2020 first-round pick (top-20 protected).
    • Note: If Warriors’ 2020 first-round pick lands in top 20, Nets will instead receive Warriors’ 2025 second-round pick.
  • Acquired Omari Spellman from the Hawks in exchange for Damian Jones and the Warriors’ 2026 second-round pick.
  • Acquired the draft rights to Lior Eliyahu from the Timberwolves in exchange for Treveon Graham, Shabazz Napier, and cash ($3.6MM).

Draft picks:

  • 1-28: Jordan Poole — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 2-39: Alen Smailagic — Signed to four-year, minimum-salary contract. Third and fourth years non-guaranteed. Signed using mid-level exception.
  • 2-41: Eric Paschall — Signed to three-year, minimum-salary contract. Signed using mid-level exception.

Contract extensions:

  • Draymond Green: Four years, $99.67MM. Fourth-year player option. Includes 15% trade kicker. Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2023/24 (with 2023 opt-out).

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Moved From Oracle Arena in Oakland to Chase Center in San Francisco.
  • Klay Thompson out until at least All-Star break after undergoing ACL surgery.
  • Signed president of basketball operations Bob Myers to a contract extension; signed president and COO Rick Welts to a contract extension.
  • Hired Zaza Pachulia as consultant.
  • Named Ryan Atkinson general manager of G League affiliate (Santa Cruz Warriors).
  • Exercised 2020/21 rookie scale options on Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Hard-capped; approximately $375K below hard cap.
  • Carrying approximately $138.55MM in salary.
  • Approximately $5.93MM over the tax line.
  • $5.28MM of mid-level exception still available (used $3.97MM on Willie Cauley-Stein, Alen Smailagic, and Eric Paschall).
  • Full bi-annual exception ($3.62MM) still available.
    • Note: Due to hard cap, the Warriors would have to reduce salary elsewhere in order to use full MLE and/or BAE.
  • Five traded player exceptions available; largest TPE ($17.19MM) expires 7/7/20.

Story of the summer:

No NBA team had a wilder, more up-and-down offseason than the Warriors, whose run of five consecutive appearances in the Finals was capped by a torn Achilles for Kevin Durant and a torn ACL for Klay Thompson, both of whom were about to become unrestricted free agents.

As the Warriors prepared to move across the bay from Oakland to San Francisco, they had to figure out whether they’d be able to re-sign two stars with multiple All-NBA nods under their belts, and how they’d replace those players if they didn’t return.

Fortunately, Thompson never seriously considered signing elsewhere and was locked up quickly once free agency opened. But Durant didn’t follow suit. After being linked to New York all year long, KD made his expected cross-country move, joining the Nets rather than the Knicks.

While losing Durant would seriously compromise the Warriors’ ability to maintain their dynasty, the team had shown over the years – and as recently as this spring – that it was a force to be reckoned with even without the two-time Finals MVP in its lineup. His departure would hardly launch a full-fledged rebuild in Golden State. It was simply a matter of deciding how to reload, with two paths potentially available to the Dubs.

Path one would have involved allowing Durant to walk outright. Without having to account for a maximum-salary contract for KD, the Warriors would have had the flexibility to bring back veteran contributors like Andre Iguodala and use their mid-level exception (taxpayer or non-taxpayer) to add another rotation player or two.

Instead, the Warriors chose path two. Recognizing that Durant’s departure may be their best – and only – opportunity to add a young star to their roster anytime soon, they worked out a sign-and-trade deal with Brooklyn that allowed them to acquire D’Angelo Russell in return.

While the idea of landing a young All-Star like Russell rather than losing Durant for “nothing” seems like a no-brainer on the surface, acquiring D-Lo came at a cost. By the time the dust had settled, the Warriors had to surrender Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, two future first-round picks (one heavily protected), and all their available trade cash for the league year ($5.6MM) in order to make the acquisition of Russell work.

That move also imposed a hard cap on the Warriors that will make it virtually impossible for the team to make any in-season roster changes or to even carry a full 15-man roster for most of the year. With Thompson already expected to spend most or all of the season on the shelf, Golden State essentially had to start the season down two roster spots, leaving little margin for error.

All those drawbacks don’t mean that acquiring Russell was the wrong move. But it put a lot of pressure on him, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green to make up for the depth the Warriors sacrificed in the process.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Milwaukee Bucks

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Signings:

  • Standard contracts:
    • Khris Middleton: Five years, $177.5MM. Fifth-year player option. Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Brook Lopez: Four years, $52MM. Re-signed using cap room.
    • George Hill: Three years, $28.77MM. Third year partially guaranteed ($1.28MM). Re-signed using cap room.
    • Robin Lopez: Two years, $9.77MM. Second-year player option. Signed using room exception.
    • Wesley Matthews: Two years, minimum salary. Second-year player option. Signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Thanasis Antetokounmpo: Two years, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Dragan Bender: Two years, minimum salary. Partially guaranteed ($300K). Signed using minimum salary exception.
      • Note: Partial guarantee increased to $600K on opening night.
    • Kyle Korver: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
  • Two-way contracts:
  • Non-guaranteed camp contracts:

Trades:

  • Acquired Jon Leuer from the Pistons in exchange for Tony Snell and the draft rights to Kevin Porter Jr. (No. 30 pick).
    • Note: Leuer was later waived.
  • Acquired the Pacers’ 2020 first-round pick (top-14 protected), the Pacers’ 2021 second-round pick, and the Pacers’ 2025 second-round pick from the Pacers in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon (sign-and-trade).
    • Note: The Pacers’ traded 2021 second-round pick will convey one year after the Pacers’ 2020 second-round pick (45-60 protected through 2022; unprotected in 2023) conveys.

Draft picks:

  • None

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Used cap space; now over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $129.63MM in salary.
  • No cap exceptions available.

Story of the summer:

The Bucks were one of the NBA’s most improved teams in 2018/19, winning a league-high 60 regular season games and 10 of their first 11 playoff contests before losing four straight to the eventual champion Raptors.

While that four-game losing streak to end the season – the first time the Bucks had lost more than two in a row all year – was discouraging, it was hard not to focus on the positives as the offseason began. Kawhi Leonard‘s looming departure meant that the Bucks would probably have the upper hand in their next matchup with the Raptors. It also meant Milwaukee would have the Eastern Conference’s best player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, last season’s MVP. Now it was just a matter of bringing back his supporting cast.

That last part would be a challenge. Of the seven non-Giannis Bucks who played the most minutes in the postseason, only two were under contract beyond 2018/19, and one of those two was Eric Bledsoe, who played poorly during the club’s postseason series vs. Toronto.

While Antetokounmpo was the player most responsible for the Bucks’ 60-win season, he didn’t do it by himself. An offseason exodus of talent would hurt Milwaukee’s chances of making another deep playoff run and might negatively impact the organization’s chances of keeping the reigning MVP around beyond his current contract.

So general manager Jon Horst and the Bucks’ front office got creative as they looked to retain as much talent as possible. They dipped below the cap to offer Brook Lopez a bigger contract than his Non-Bird rights would allow, while retaining Khris Middleton‘s full Bird rights in order to eventually go back over the cap when they re-signed him. George Hill, meanwhile, was waived and then re-signed to a longer, more cap-friendly deal.

Milwaukee didn’t retain everyone though. Nikola Mirotic, who opted to return to his home country to play for Barcelona, almost certainly would’ve landed with a new team even if he had remained in the NBA. Malcolm Brogdon, on the other hand, looked like a strong candidate to be brought back by the Bucks, but they ultimately sent him to Indiana in a sign-and-trade in exchange for multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder.

At times last season – particularly after he returned in the playoffs – Brogdon looked like the Bucks’ second-best player, but a handful of factors contributed to his exit. Among the most notable factors? Bledsoe’s $70MM extension, signed in March, and an apparent reluctance by Bucks ownership to go into tax territory.

There were no real cap limitations stopping Milwaukee from re-signing Brogdon with or without Bledsoe’s deal on the books, but if the team was looking to avoid substantial tax penalties, it essentially had to keep one point guard or the other. It’ll be fascinating to see whether choosing Bledsoe in the winter before he struggled in the postseason for a second consecutive spring will come back to haunt the Bucks.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Houston Rockets

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Houston Rockets.

Signings:

Trades:

  • Acquired Russell Westbrook from the Thunder in exchange for Chris Paul, the Rockets’ 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected), the Rockets’ 2026 first-round pick (top-four protected), the right to swap 2021 first-round picks (top-four protected), the right to swap 2025 first-round picks (top-10 protected), and conditional cash ($1MM).
    • Note: The Rockets would only owe the Thunder $1MM (and a 2026 second-round pick) if the 2026 first-round pick lands in the top four.

Draft picks:

  • None

Waiver claims:

Contract extensions:

  • Eric Gordon: Four years, $75.57MM. Fourth year is non-guaranteed. Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2023/24.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $141.2MM in salary.
  • Approximately $1.3MM over the tax line after removing Nene‘s incentives.
  • $2.72MM of taxpayer mid-level exception still available ($3.54MM used on Danuel House).
  • Seven traded player exceptions available; largest TPE ($3.62MM) expires 2/7/20.

Story of the summer:

In the 2018 playoffs, an unfortunately-timed Chris Paul injury helped sink Houston in the Western Conference Finals and derailed what could have been a title run. In 2019’s rematch with the Warriors, it was Golden State dealing with a potentially devastating injury to a star, as a Kevin Durant calf strain opened the door for Houston to exact its revenge.

Even playing at home against a Durant-less Golden State team in Game 6 of the Western Semifinals though, the Rockets couldn’t pull out a victory. And after suffering yet another postseason defeat at the hands of the Warriors, Houston went soul searching.

Reports swirled early in the offseason that the relationship between James Harden and Paul was becoming increasingly untenable. Trade rumors surrounded nearly everyone Rockets player except Harden, with Clint Capela seemingly on the verge of being dealt at one point as Houston pushed to land Jimmy Butler.

However, the break-up of the Warriors at the start of the free agent period was a game changer. With Kevin Durant headed elsewhere and Klay Thompson having just undergone ACL surgery, the Western Conference suddenly looked a little more wide open.

It wouldn’t take a drastic overhaul of the Rockets’ roster to make the team a legit championship contender after all. No team besides the Warriors had defeated Houston in the postseason since 2017. With the Dubs defanged, why couldn’t the Rockets emerge as the new frontrunner in the West?

Of course, with would-be contenders in Utah, Denver, and Los Angeles loading up at the same time, simply standing pat wouldn’t necessarily put the Rockets in position to fill the power vacuum in the West. So just when it looked as if a wild week or two of player movement was winding down, general manager Daryl Morey went out and made a splash of his own, sending Paul to the Thunder in a trade for Russell Westbrook.

It’s still not clear how much the reported tension between Harden and Paul factored into the move — Morey has denied it was a factor and downplayed the notion it even existed in the first place. But at this point, the more pressing question is how the pairing of former MVPs in the Rockets’ backcourt will work. Houston faced similar questions after the acquisition of Paul in 2017 and ultimately quieted those skeptics, but Westbrook isn’t the shooter that CP3 is, and he’s one of the only players in the NBA who is as ball-dominant as Harden. It’ll make for a fascinating merger.

Of course, you could argue that the real story of the Rockets’ summer was what happened in the fall, when Morey created an international incident with a brief, quickly-deleted tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors. Houston has long been the most popular franchise in China due to Yao Ming‘s stint with the team, but Morey’s well-meaning message in support of human rights may changed that in one fell swoop.

It could be months or years before we have a real idea of how that one tweet impacted the Rockets and the NBA financially, but for now Morey and the team have gone mum on the issue, hoping to shift fans’ focus to what’s happening on the court.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Portland Trail Blazers

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Portland Trail Blazers.

Signings:

Trades:

Draft picks:

Contract extensions:

  • Damian Lillard: Four years, 35% maximum salary (super-max). Projected value of $196MM. Designated veteran extension. Starts in 2021/22; runs through 2024/25.
  • CJ McCollum: Three years, $100MM. Starts in 2021/22; runs through 2023/24.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Signed head coach Terry Stotts to a contract extension through 2021/22.
  • Signed president of basketball operations Neil Olshey to a contract extension through 2024.
  • Lost associate head coach David Vanterpool to Timberwolves; promoted Nate Tibbetts to associate head coach.
  • Exercised 2020/21 rookie scale options on Zach Collins, Anfernee Simons.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Over the tax line by approximately $12.38MM; projected tax bill of about $22.2MM.
  • Carrying approximately $145.01MM in salary.
  • Two traded player exceptions available; largest TPE ($1.79MM) expires 7/8/20.

Story of the summer:

The Trail Blazers exceeded expectations in a big way in 2018/19, winning 53 games and making the Western Conference Finals after oddsmakers gave them a preseason over/under forecast of 42.5 wins.

Still, while Portland’s two playoff series victories produced some memorable moments, including a Damian Lillard dagger that will show up in highlight packages for years, the team’s season eventually ended the same way it did in 2018, on the wrong end of a frustrating four-game sweep by a conference rival.

That run to the Western Conference Finals at least quieted chatter about whether Lillard and CJ McCollum have to be split up. The Blazers further quieted that speculation by signing both star guards to massive new contract extensions during the offseason, locking up McCollum through 2024 and Lillard through 2025.

Even though the Blazers were willing to double down on their backcourt duo, it still seemed as if this roster was missing the piece that would help get it over the top and get it into the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, the Portland entered the offseason projected to be a taxpaying team and lacking the resources necessary to bring back all the team’s key free agents, forcing president of basketball operations Neil Olshey to get creative.

Olshey and the front office managed to bring back Rodney Hood, but lost several other notable free agents, including Al-Farouq Aminu, Seth Curry, Jake Layman, and Enes Kanter. Needing a big man to replace Kanter and injured center Jusuf Nurkic in the middle, Olshey surrendered two more players from last year’s roster – Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard – in a trade for Hassan Whiteside.

After a few more low-cost free agent signings and trades, the Blazers had set their roster, but questions remain. Besides Lillard and McCollum, six of Portland’s next eight most-used players from last year’s team are gone, and one of the two that’s still around – Nurkic – probably won’t play until sometime in 2020. In addition to to all that roster turnover, the Blazers sacrificed much of their depth on their wing when they lost Aminu, Curry, Harkless, Layman, and Evan Turner.

The Blazers have a strong culture and may be evolving into one of those teams like San Antonio that becomes perennially underrated. But at this point, this year’s squad doesn’t look like an upgrade over last year’s.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Philadelphia 76ers

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Signings:

  • Standard contracts:
    • Tobias Harris: Five years, $180MM. Includes trade kicker of 5% or $5MM (whichever is lesser). Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Al Horford: Four years, $109MM. Fourth year partially guaranteed ($14.5MM). Signed using cap room.
      • Note: Horford’s fourth-year partial guarantee can increase to $19.5MM (if Sixers make Finals in 2020, 2021, or 2022) or can fully guarantee to $26.5MM (if Sixers win Finals in 2020, 2021, or 2022).
    • Mike Scott: Two years, $9.77MM. Signed using room exception.
    • Shake Milton: Four years, minimum salary. Fourth-year team option. Converted from two-way contract to standard contract using cap room.
    • James Ennis: Two years, minimum salary. Second-year player option. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Furkan Korkmaz: Two years, minimum salary. Second year non-guaranteed. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Raul Neto: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Kyle O’Quinn: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Trey Burke: One year, minimum salary. Partially guaranteed ($405K). Signed using minimum salary exception.
      • Note: Guarantee increased to $810K at start of regular season.
  • Two-way contracts:
  • Non-guaranteed camp contracts:

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Matisse Thybulle (No. 20 pick) from the Celtics in exchange for the draft rights to Ty Jerome (No. 24 pick) and Carsen Edwards (No. 33 pick).
  • Acquired cash ($2MM) from the Wizards in exchange for Jonathon Simmons and the draft rights to Admiral Schofield (No. 42 pick).
  • Acquired Josh Richardson in a four-team trade with the Heat, Clippers, and Trail Blazers in exchange for Jimmy Butler (sign-and-trade; to Heat) and the draft rights to Mathias Lessort (to Clippers).
  • Acquired the draft rights to Jordan Bone (No. 57 pick), the Hawks’ 2020 second-round pick (56-60 protected), and either the Hawks’, Hornets’, or Nets’ 2023 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable) from the Hawks in exchange for the draft rights to Bruno Fernando (No. 34 pick).
  • Acquired the Heat’s 2024 second-round pick (top-55 protected) and cash ($2MM) from the Pistons in exchange for the draft rights to Jordan Bone (No. 57 pick).

Draft picks:

  • 1-20: Matisse Thybulle — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 2-54: Marial Shayok — Signed to two-way contract.

Contract extensions:

  • Ben Simmons: Five years, 25% maximum salary. Projected value of $168,200,000. Starting salary can be worth up to 30% of the cap if Simmons earns All-NBA honors in 2020 (full details). Includes 15% trade kicker. Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2024/25.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Used cap space; now over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $128.39MM in salary.
  • No cap exceptions available.

Story of the summer:

No team had a more crushing end to its 2018/19 campaign than the Sixers, who would have forced overtime and been in position to eke out a second-round series win over the Raptors if Kawhi Leonard‘s miracle Game 7 buzzer-beater hadn’t dropped in after bouncing four times on the rim.

As heartbreaking as that finish was for Philadelphia, the team had to be encouraged by the Raptors’ subsequent wins over the Bucks in the Eastern Finals and the Warriors in the NBA Finals. Neither of those teams forced Toronto to a seventh game, meaning it was Philadelphia that actually gave the eventual champs their biggest scare.

The Sixers appeared to take that silver lining to heart. Rather than buying into theories that the Ben Simmons/Joel Embiid pairing might not work in the long run, the team doubled down on that duo, signing Simmons to a five-year, maximum-salary contract extension. And despite some disappointing postseason showings from Tobias Harris, the 76ers heavily invested in the veteran forward, re-signing him to a five-year, $180MM deal.

Philadelphia likely would’ve been willing to run it back to an even greater degree by retaining Jimmy Butler, but he decided he wanted to head to South Beach, choosing the Heat in free agency. Fortunately for the Sixers, Miami didn’t have the cap room necessary to sign Butler outright and had to cooperate on a sign-and-trade, giving the 76ers the leverage to acquire Josh Richardson in the process.

Then, rather than bringing back sharpshooter and floor-spacer J.J. Redick, the Sixers opted to use their newly-opened cap room to bring aboard Al Horford, a veteran capable of either playing alongside Embiid or stabilizing the team’s defense when the All-NBA center is off the floor.

With Richardson and Horford replacing Butler and Redick in the starting lineup, the 76ers lost a little outside shooting and play-making, but potentially made a strong defense even stronger.

Philadelphia’s size flummoxed just about every Raptors player not named Kawhi Leonard during the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and this year’s starting five – Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford, and Embiid – is even bigger. After just missing out on a deep postseason run in 2018/19, the Sixers have gone all-in on their biggest strength for 2019/20.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Clippers

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Los Angeles Clippers.

Signings:

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Mfiondu Kabengele (No. 27 pick) from the Nets in exchange for the Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick (top-14 protected) and the draft rights to Jaylen Hands (No. 56 pick).
  • Acquired Maurice Harkless, the Heat’s 2023 first-round pick (top-14 protected), and the draft rights to Mathias Lessort in a four-team trade with the Heat, Trail Blazers, and Sixers in exchange for cash ($110K; to Heat).
  • Acquired Paul George from the Thunder in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Heat’s 2021 first-round pick (unprotected), the Clippers’ 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), the Heat’s 2023 first round pick (top-14 protected), the Clippers’ 2024 first-round pick (unprotected), the Clippers’ 2026 first-round pick (unprotected), and the right to swap first-round picks with the Clippers in both 2023 and 2025.

Draft picks:

  • 1-27: Mfiondu Kabengele — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 2-48: Terance Mann — Signed to four-year, $6.2MM contract. Third year non-guaranteed. Fourth-year team option. Signed using cap room.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Signed head coach Doc Rivers to contract extension.
  • Hired Tyronn Lue as lead assistant coach.
  • Retained consultant Jerry West.
  • Added Ryan West in scouting role.
  • Lost director of pro player personnel Johnny Rogers to Wizards.
  • Guaranteed Lou Williams‘ 2020/21 salary.
  • Paul George underwent surgery on both shoulders.
  • Fined $50K for tampering on Kawhi Leonard.
  • Unveiled tentative plans for Inglewood arena.

Salary cap situation:

  • Used cap space; now over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $129.32MM in salary.
  • No cap exceptions available.

Story of the summer:

It’s easy to forget now, but during the week leading up to Kawhi Leonard‘s free agency decision, the Clippers were increasingly viewed as the most unlikely landing spot among the star forward’s top three options.

Leonard had just won a championship in Toronto and no reigning Finals MVP had ever chosen to change teams, so the Raptors were considered a strong option. And there was plenty of speculation that the opportunity to join forces with LeBron James and Anthony Davis while returning home to Los Angeles might ultimately be too appealing to pass up.

On the morning of July 5, we published a poll asking which team Kawhi would choose. Approximately 54% of respondents chose the Raptors. Nearly 37% chose the Lakers. Just over 9% picked the Clippers.

About 15 hours later, in the early-morning hours of July 6, Leonard turned the basketball world upside down when word leaked that he had chosen the Clippers — and that he was bringing Paul George with him.

The Clippers’ inability to lure a second star free agent to L.A. early in the free agent process was believed to have negatively impacted their chances of landing Leonard, since it was unclear whether he’d be willing to sign with the team on his own. As it turns out, the notion that Kawhi likely wouldn’t come by himself was accurate — we just didn’t know what he had up his sleeve.

As it turns out, while he was weighing his own decision, Leonard had sold George on the idea of an L.A. homecoming, convincing him to ask the Thunder to trade him to the Clippers. Although the cost to acquire George was exorbitant, the Clippers eventually relented, recognizing that completing that deal would be the difference between landing two stars or potentially ending up with none.

When the dust settled, Leonard’s decision had directly – and drastically – altered the direction of at least four franchises — the Raptors’ title defense would be defanged, the Thunder were suddenly a rebuilding franchise, the Lakers wouldn’t enter the season as the overwhelming title favorites, and the Clippers had put together perhaps the most talented roster in team history.

Indirectly, the rest of the NBA was impacted too. If Leonard had signed with the Lakers, it would’ve represented an extension of the league’s era of “Big Three” superstar team-ups. And we would’ve entered yet another season with a pretty good idea of which team would win the championship in the spring.

Leonard’s decision left several teams unhappy, but it might have been the best move for the NBA in general, since it created a landscape featuring six or eight legit title contenders. Atop that list? The Clippers, who were given the best title odds for professional bookmakers during the preseason.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Boston Celtics

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Boston Celtics.

Signings:

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Ty Jerome (No. 24 pick) and Carsen Edwards (No. 33 pick) from the Sixers in exchange for the draft rights to Matisse Thybulle (No. 20 pick).
  • Acquired the Bucks’ 2020 first-round pick (top-7 protected) from the Suns in exchange for Aron Baynes and the draft rights to Ty Jerome (No. 24 pick).
  • Acquired Kemba Walker (sign-and-trade) and either the Nets’ or Knicks’ 2020 second-round pick (whichever is less favorable) from the Hornets in exchange for Terry Rozier (sign-and-trade) and the Celtics’ 2020 second-round pick (top-53 protected).

Draft picks:

  • 1-14: Romeo Langford — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 1-22: Grant Williams — Signed to rookie contract.
  • 2-33: Carsen Edwards — Signed to four-year, $6.46MM contract. Fourth-year team option. Signed using cap room.
  • 2-51: Tremont Waters — Signed to two-way contract.

Contract extensions:

  • Jaylen Brown: Four years, $103MM. Includes $12MM in incentives. Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2023/24.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Used cap space; now over the cap.
  • Hard-capped.
  • Carrying approximately $119.15MM in salary.
  • No cap exceptions available.

Story of the summer:

When the offseason began, there was no doubt that changes were coming in Boston. A 49-win season and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Semifinals might have been considered a success for some franchises, but the Celtics were widely viewed as the favorites to win the East entering the 2018/19 campaign. Chemistry issues plagued the team all season, ultimately resulting in a disappointing second-round exit.

Fairly or not, Kyrie Irving bore the brunt of the criticism for the Celtics’ struggles. While he enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career on the stat sheet, his leadership was questioned and he didn’t look good in the team’s second-round series against Milwaukee. Throughout the spring, Danny Ainge and the Celtics’ front office were still paying lip service to the idea of retaining Irving in free agency, but there was little doubt the star point guard would end up elsewhere.

The more surprising development? Irving wasn’t the only All-Star to leave the Celtics this summer. Al Horford, who was considered likely to either pick up his player option or to opt out to negotiate a new deal with Boston, declined that option, then headed to the rival Sixers. Suddenly, the Celtics found themselves not just tweaking their roster but overhauling it.

Re-signing Irving and Horford and bringing back other key role players like Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, and Terry Rozier would’ve pushed the Celtics well into luxury-tax territory. Instead, the team was able to open up enough room below the cap to add a new maximum-salary player, which created some intriguing opportunities. Ainge and company took full advantage of their changing circumstances by pursuing and landing another All-NBA guard: Kemba Walker.

Even with Walker on board, this Celtics roster isn’t as talented as last season’s. But after what happened last year, the club seemed to prioritize chemistry over talent to some extent this summer. Boston filled out its roster with high-character rookies in the draft, and then saw four of the club’s most important players – Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart – get the opportunity to do some preseason bonding in China as part of Team USA in the 2019 World Cup.

Heading into the fall, this was certainly a much happier team than last year’s, even if its ceiling is lower.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Utah Jazz

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Utah Jazz.

Signings:

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Jarrell Brantley (No. 50 pick) from the Pacers in exchange for the Jazz’s 2021 second-round pick and cash ($1MM).
  • Acquired the draft rights to Miye Oni (No. 58 pick) from the Warriors in exchange for cash ($2MM).
  • Acquired Mike Conley from the Grizzlies in exchange for Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, Grayson Allen, the draft rights to Darius Bazley (No. 23 pick), and the Jazz’s 2020 first-round pick (1-7 and 15-30 protected).
  • Acquired the Warriors’ 2021 second-round pick and the Warriors’ 2023 second-round pick from the Pelicans in exchange for Derrick Favors.

Draft picks:

  • 2-50: Jarrell Brantley — Signed to two-way contract.
  • 2-53: Justin Wright-Foreman — Signed to two-way contract.
  • 2-58: Miye Oni — Signed to three-year, minimum-salary contract. Second and third years non-guaranteed. Signed using cap room.

Draft-and-stash signings:

  • Nigel Williams-Goss (2017 draft; No. 55 pick) — Signed to three-year, $4.8MM contract. Second and third years non-guaranteed. Signed using cap room.

Contract extensions:

  • Joe Ingles: One year, $12,436,364. Includes $1.2MM in incentives. Starts in 2021/22.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Used cap space; now over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $116.29MM in salary.
  • No cap exceptions available.

Story of the summer:

For a third straight season, a top-five defense helped buoy the Jazz and their middle-of-the-pack offense to one of the best records in the Western Conference. However, Utah’s 15th-ranked offense looked even more pedestrian in the postseason than it did in the regular season, as the team fell to Houston in five games in the first round.

Of the 16 teams that made the playoffs last spring, only three – the Pistons, Magic, and Pacers – had postseason offensive ratings worse than Utah’s. With Donovan Mitchell struggling to score efficiently, the Jazz had few other play-makers to turn to as they tried to keep pace with James Harden and the Rockets.

It was a pressing issue that needed to be addressed for the franchise this offseason, and the Jazz did just that, pulling off a trade for point guard Mike Conley and signing sharpshooting forward Bojan Bogdanovic in free agency.

Neither Conley nor Bogdanovic has ever made an All-Star team, and neither is the type of volume scorer who will pour in 40 points on a given night (though each player has reached that mark once in his career). But they’re reliable veterans who can be counted on to make Utah’s offense a little more versatile, taking some of the shot-creating pressure off Mitchell and giving the team a couple more players who can share ball-handling duties.

As long as two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is patrolling the paint and protecting the rim, the Jazz can reasonably expect to be above average on that end of the court. The club’s offensive limitations have stood in the way of a deep playoff run in recent years, but with a pair of intriguing new weapons at their disposal, the Jazz are hoping that will change in 2019/20.

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2019 Offseason In Review: Denver Nuggets

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2019 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2019/20 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Denver Nuggets.

Signings:

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Bol Bol (No. 44 pick) from the Heat in exchange for either the Nuggets’ or Sixers’ second-round pick (whichever is least favorable) and cash ($1.2MM).
  • Acquired Jerami Grant from the Thunder in exchange for the Nuggets’ 2020 first-round pick (top-10 protected)

Draft picks:

  • 2-44: Bol Bol — Signed to two-way contract.

Draft-and-stash signings:

  • Vlatko Cancar (2017 draft; No. 49 pick) — Signed to three-year, minimum salary contract. Third year non-guaranteed. Signed using mid-level exception.

Contract extensions:

  • Jamal Murray: Five years, 25% maximum salary. Projected value of $168,200,000. Starting salary can be worth up to 30% of the cap if Murray earns All-NBA honors in 2020 (full details). Starts in 2020/21; runs through 2024/25.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Currently about $979K below the tax line.
  • Carrying approximately $131.65MM in guaranteed salary.
  • $4.82MM of taxpayer mid-level exception still available ($898K used on Vlatko Cancar).

Story of the summer:

After improbably finishing at the bottom of the Northwest in 2017/18 despite winning 46 games, the Nuggets were the division winners in 2018/19, earning the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed with a 54-28 record. The club then followed up its regular season performance by winning its first playoff series in a decade.

Nikola Jokic was the driving force behind Denver’s success, earning a spot on the All-NBA First Team, but it was the Nuggets’ depth that helped set them apart from many of the other contenders in the conference.

Ten players averaged 19 or more minutes per game for the Nuggets in 2018/19, and all 10 of those players remained under contract for ’19/20. While many of their Western rivals drastically transformed their rosters, continuity was key for the Nuggets, who retained a dozen players in total from last year’s end-of-season squad. As we detailed earlier this week, no team in the West brought back more players than Denver.

Continuity isn’t inherently a good thing. A front office won’t be praised for keeping together an aging roster that just won 35 games. But in Denver, the approach makes a lot of sense.

Jokic is still just 24 years old. Jamal Murray, the second option on offense, is 22. Gary Harris is 25. Rotation players like Malik Beasley, Monte Morris, and Torrey Craig are coming off breakthrough seasons and still have plenty of room to grow. And 21-year-old forward Michael Porter Jr., the 2018 lottery pick who missed his entire rookie season due to injuries, is now ready to contribute.

With so many promising young players still on the rise, the Nuggets can realistically count on improvements from within to keep them near the top of the standings in the West. And if they want to go out and make a splash, all those young prospects – and available future draft picks – give them the ammo to do so.

The Nuggets may not have made many changes to their roster this offseason, but they didn’t need to.

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