Offseason In Review

2021 NBA Offseason In Review: Charlotte Hornets

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2021 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 offseason moves, examine what still needs to be done before opening night, and look ahead to what the 2021/22 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Charlotte Hornets.


Free agent signings:

Note: Exhibit 10 deals aren’t included here.

  • Kelly Oubre: Two years, $24.6MM. Second year partially guaranteed ($5MM). Signed using cap room.
  • Ish Smith: Two years, $9.225MM. Second year non-guaranteed. Signed using room exception.

Trades:

  • Acquired the draft rights to Kai Jones (No. 19 pick) from the Knicks in exchange for the Hornets’ 2022 first-round pick (top-18 protected).
  • Acquired Mason Plumlee and the draft rights to JT Thor (No. 37 pick) from the Pistons in exchange for the draft rights to Balsa Koprivica (No. 57 pick).
  • Acquired Wesley Iwundu (from Pelicans), the Pelicans’ 2022 first-round pick (top-14 protected), the draft rights to Tyler Harvey (from Grizzlies), and cash ($2MM; from Pelicans) in a three-team trade in exchange for Devonte’ Graham (sign-and-trade; to Pelicans).

Draft picks:

  • 1-11: James Bouknight
    • Signed to rookie scale contract (four years, $19,151,216).
  • 1-19: Kai Jones
    • Signed to rookie scale contract (four years, $13,421,215).
  • 2-37: JT Thor
    • Signed to four-year, $6.64MM contract. Third year non-guaranteed. Fourth-year team option. Signed using cap room.
  • 2-56: Scottie Lewis
    • Signed to two-way contract.

Draft-and-stash signings:

Contract extensions:

  • Terry Rozier: Four years, $96,258,694. Includes partial guarantee in fourth year. Starts in 2022/23.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Exercised head coach James Borrego‘s option for the 2021/22 season.
  • Hired Norm Richardson as assistant coach.

Salary cap situation:

  • Went under the cap, used their cap room, then used the room exception.
  • Carrying approximately $116.9MM in salary.
  • $410,000 of room exception still available ($4.5MM used on Ish Smith).

Lingering preseason issues:

  • The Hornets have 16 players on guaranteed contracts and will have to trade or release one to get down to 15 for the regular season.
  • Miles Bridges is eligible for a rookie scale contract extension until October 18.
  • Jalen McDaniels is eligible for a veteran contract extension until October 18.
  • Cody Martin will be eligible for a veteran contract extension all season.

The Hornets’ offseason:

A year ago, the Hornets made perhaps the most stunning splash of the NBA offseason when they signed free agent forward Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract. Hayward had an up-and-down first season in Charlotte — he played well, but injuries (which also marred his time in Boston) limited him to 44 games and sidelined him for the Hornets’ play-in game in May.

While the jury’s still out on the Hayward signing, the Hornets struck gold on their other major move of the 2020 offseason, nabbing LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Like Hayward, Ball missed some time due to an injury, but he displayed star potential when he was healthy, showing off incredible play-making skills and a more reliable jump shot than anticipated.

The Hornets ultimately lost that first play-in game and didn’t earn a postseason spot in the East, but the play of Hayward and Ball showed that the team has a couple key building blocks for a playoff squad — as long as they can stay healthy.

During the 2021 offseason, the Hornets once again had the ability to open up some cap room, but opted against taking another huge swing on the free agent market. Instead, having entered the summer looking to add depth at center and on the wing, Charlotte took a more conservative approach.

Rather than pursuing a top free agent big man such as Richaun Holmes or Nerlens Noel, the Hornets accommodated a salary dump, taking on Mason Plumlee from the Pistons and moving up 20 spots in the second round of the draft in the process. It was a nice piece of business for president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak — Plumlee’s $9.25MM cap hit is hardly onerous, given his steady on-court play. And his contract won’t be a long-term burden even if his production falls off this season, since it’s only partially guaranteed for 2022/23.

In the draft, the Hornets took advantage of James Bouknight‘s slide out of the top 10, scooping him up with the No. 11 pick. Then, when Kai Jones slipped out of the lottery, the Hornets sent a heavily-protected future first-round pick to New York in order to get back into the first round to select Jones at No. 19.

Using the No. 11 pick on Jones would’ve been a bit of a reach, and drafting him to be the primary center would’ve been overly optimistic. But getting him later in the first round for a very reasonable price (the pick the Hornets traded will be top-18 protected in 2022 and top-16 protected in 2023 before becoming lottery-protected in 2024) was a nice get, and having him come off the bench behind a veteran like Plumlee makes more sense for his development as a rookie.

After acquiring Plumlee and signing second-rounder JT Thor, the Hornets still had about $14MM in cap room available and used it to complete a pair of moves — one that added value in the short term and one that was more focused on the long term.

Most of the Hornets’ remaining space went toward signing Kelly Oubre, a solid wing whose market didn’t develop the way he hoped. While Oubre may have envisioned signing a deal in the range of the ones Evan Fournier and Tim Hardaway got (four years, $73-75MM), he had to settle for a two-year, $24.6MM commitment with only one fully guaranteed season.

Oubre has been inconsistent from beyond the arc and isn’t an elite defender, so it wasn’t shocking that no teams were willing to invest big long-term money in him. Still, I expected him to get at least a couple guaranteed years in the $15MM range, like he did on his last contract. It’s a favorable price for the Hornets, especially if Oubre can hit three-pointers at the rate he did in 2019/20 (35.2%). He’ll join a pretty strong group of wings that includes youngsters Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, and should provide some insurance if Hayward misses time again.

The Hornets used their last bit of cap room to accommodate a minor salary dump, taking on Wesley Iwundu‘s contract from the Pelicans. The acquisition was part of a sign-and-trade deal sending Devonte’ Graham to New Orleans — Charlotte netted a lottery-protected first-round pick in the trade and also received enough cash from New Orleans to cover Iwundu’s modest salary.

The Hornets could’ve comfortably re-signed Graham themselves, but Ball’s emergence, Terry Rozier‘s strong play, and the Bouknight selection lessened the need to do so. Faced with the possibility of not having enough backcourt minutes to go around for all the players who deserved them, the Hornets opted to move on from Graham, signing lower-cost veteran Ish Smith to provide depth as Ball’s backup at the point. Charlotte did well to land Graham with the No. 34 pick in the 2018 draft — perhaps the team can strike gold again with the first-rounder the Pelicans surrendered to sign him.

The last significant move of the offseason for Charlotte was a four-year, $96MM+ extension for Rozier, who had the best year of his career in 2020/21. It’s possible it will end up being an overpay, but Rozier has been terrific as a scorer (19.3 PPG), shooter (.396 3PT%), and play-maker (4.2 APG) since joining the Hornets.

Given how weak the 2022 free agent market looks, Charlotte would’ve faced stiff competition for the veteran guard next offseason if he kept up his strong play for another year. With no other big long-term contracts on the books besides Hayward’s, the Hornets were in a good position to commit to Rozier now without compromising their future flexibility too much.


The Hornets’ upcoming season:

After bottoming out in 2019/20, the Hornets appeared to be moving back in the right direction in 2020/21. That bodes well for the club’s chances of being back in the play-in mix in ’21/22 and perhaps even earning its first playoff berth since 2016.

Of course, it’s worth noting that a team’s growth isn’t always linear. Ball may struggle to take another step forward following his impressive debut. Hayward may battle more injuries. Rozier’s production may dip a little. Bouknight and Jones may not be ready to contribute right away.

Unlike a few years ago though, when the Hornets’ cap was loaded with big-money deals for the likes of Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Marvin Williams, missing out on the playoffs wouldn’t be a disaster for this Charlotte team. There are enough solid building blocks in place to feel confident about the organization’s direction, even if the on-court results are still up and down for another year. And if the Hornets do break through and return to the playoffs, all the better.


Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

2021 NBA Offseason In Review: Brooklyn Nets

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2021 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 offseason moves, examine what still needs to be done before opening night, and look ahead to what the 2021/22 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Brooklyn Nets.


Free agent signings:

Note: Exhibit 10 deals aren’t included here.

  • Patty Mills: Two years, $12.075MM. Second-year player option. Signed using taxpayer mid-level exception.
  • Bruce Brown: One year, $4.736MM. Accepted qualifying offer as restricted free agent.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
  • Blake Griffin: One year, minimum salary. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
  • James Johnson: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
  • Paul Millsap: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
  • DeAndre’ Bembry: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception. Partially guaranteed for $750K.

Trades:

  • Acquired Jevon Carter and the draft rights to Day’Ron Sharpe (No. 29 pick) from the Suns in exchange for Landry Shamet.
  • Acquired either the Wizards’ or Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable; from Wizards), the right to swap the Warriors’ 2025 second-round pick for the Wizards’ 2025 second-round pick (from Wizards), and the draft rights to Nikola Milutinov (from Spurs) in a five-team trade in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie (sign-and-trade; to Wizards).
    • Note: The Nets created a $11,454,048 trade exception in the deal.
  • Acquired Sekou Doumbouya and Jahlil Okafor from the Pistons in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, the Nets’ 2022 second-round pick, either the Wizards’ or Grizzlies’ 2024 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable), either the Warriors’ or Wizards’ 2025 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable), the Nets’ 2027 second-round pick, and cash ($5.78MM).
    • Note: Okafor has since been waived.

Draft picks:

Contract extensions:

  • Kevin Durant: Four years, $192,504,908 (base value). Includes $5,152,000 in incentives and 15% trade kicker. Starts in 2022/23.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Added David Vanterpool, Brian Keefe, and Kyle Korver to coaching staff; Ime Udoka and Mike D’Antoni departed coaching staff.
  • Added Steve Clifford as coaching consultant.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap and above the tax line.
  • Carrying approximately $172.3MM in salary.
  • Used full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.89MM) to sign Patty Mills.
  • Rest of non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($3,646,000) and bi-annual exception ($3,732,000) are unavailable, since using either would create a $143MM hard cap.
  • Three traded player exceptions available, including one worth $11.5MM and another worth $6.3MM.

Lingering preseason issues:

  • The Nets have 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts, plus DeAndre’ Bembry on a partially guaranteed deal. In order to carry Bembry on the regular season roster, Brooklyn will need to trade or waive a player with a guaranteed salary.
  • The Nets have an open two-way contract slot.
  • The Nets have two unsigned second-round picks.
  • James Harden and Kyrie Irving remain eligible for veteran contract extensions, and the Nets reportedly would like to get deals done.
  • Nicolas Claxton also remains eligible for a veteran contract extension all season.

The Nets’ offseason:

Even with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving rarely healthy at the same time in 2020/21, the Nets put up some of the best offensive numbers of all time, recording a league-leading 117.3 offensive rating during the regular season. The defense was shaky at times, but tightened up in the playoffs and would’ve been good enough to support a deep postseason run.

Unfortunately for Brooklyn, the injury bug bit the Big Three again in the second round vs. Milwaukee, as both Harden and Irving missed multiple games. Their absences were enough to give the Bucks the edge in a series that went down to the wire, with Milwaukee winning Game 7 in overtime.

Given how close that series with the eventual champions was, it’s hard to argue the Nets weren’t a championship-caliber team in their own right entering the offseason. But since Brooklyn can’t necessarily count on Durant, Harden, and Irving to all be 100% healthy during next year’s postseason run, the front office couldn’t just stand pat this summer — it had to do all it could to upgrade the roster around the edges.

And many of those moves made around the edges were very good ones. With the Nets’ Big Three earning a combined $121MM+ in 2021/22, the club had limited resources to fill out its bench, but did so admirably. Patty Mills, Bruce Brown, and Blake Griffin will count against Brooklyn’s cap for a combined $12.3MM this season, while Paul Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge, and James Johnson were among the other reliable veterans who signed minimum-salary contracts with the team.

Of course, it’s easier to sign players to team-friendly contracts when you’re a title contender based in New York than when you’re a lottery team based in, say, Cleveland. But general manager Sean Marks still deserves high grades for the work he did on the roster this offseason, including adding a pair of low-cost first-round draftees (Cameron Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe) to the mix.

Mills should be a clear upgrade over Mike James and Tyler Johnson in the backcourt, while Aldridge and Millsap are more suited to the Nets’ small-ball lineups than a traditional center like DeAndre Jordan, who was jettisoned in a salary-dump deal.

Losing Spencer Dinwiddie is a blow to the Nets on paper, but shouldn’t have a major impact on the court — after all, Dinwiddie only appeared in three games in 2020/21 before tearing his ACL, so the club did just fine without him last season.

The one spot the team’s depth will be tested is on the wing, where Jeff Green, Landry Shamet, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are no longer in the picture. Bruce Brown and DeAndre’ Bembry (if he makes the roster) are solid defenders, but aren’t major offensive threats. Thomas was one of the NCAA’s leading scorers last season, but it’s unclear if he’s ready to immediately jump into a regular rotation role on a veteran playoff team. If Brooklyn seeks midseason reinforcements, I’d expect the club to target wing depth.

Of course, as important as those supporting players are, the Nets’ ceiling will ultimately dictated by Durant, Harden, and Irving. All three stars became extension-eligible this offseason and the franchise didn’t waste any time locking up Durant to a new maximum-salary deal.

It will be interesting to see if Harden and Irving also get extensions done before the season begins. They’re essentially the Nets’ second and third options, but they’ll be among the NBA’s very highest-paid players if they receive new max deals. Harden turned 32 this summer; Irving will turn 30 this season. Brooklyn wants to keep them, of course, but it may not just be a matter of simply handing over a blank check, like in the negotiations with Durant.


The Nets’ upcoming season:

The Nets’ 2021/22 regular season may look similar to some of LeBron James‘ later seasons with the Cavaliers. LeBron’s veteran-heavy Cavs teams never pushed all that hard for the top seed in the East, since they knew preserving their legs for a lengthy playoff run was more important than getting an extra home game or two in the postseason.

This Nets team will likely take a similar long view — winning a couple extra games in November and December isn’t all that important if Durant, Harden, and Irving — or even role players like Griffin, Aldridge, and Millsap — are being overextended. Keeping the stars healthy will be Brooklyn’s top priority for most of the year, and if the club still manages to earn the top seed in the East, that’ll be a bonus.

If the three stars are healthy in the postseason, this team looks to me like the favorite to win the 2022 title. That’s a big “if,” but there aren’t many teams around the league that wouldn’t trade positions with the Nets if given the opportunity.


Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

2021 NBA Offseason In Review: Boston Celtics

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2021 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 offseason moves, examine what still needs to be done before opening night, and look ahead to what the 2021/22 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Boston Celtics.


Free Agent Signings:

Note: Exhibit 10 deals aren’t included here.

Trades:

  • Acquired Al Horford, Moses Brown, and either the Thunder’s, Wizards’, Mavericks’, or Heat’s 2023 second-round pick (whichever is least favorable) from the Thunder in exchange for Kemba Walker, the No. 16 pick in the 2021 draft, and either the Celtics’ or Grizzlies’ 2025 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable).
    • Note: If the Mavericks’ and Heat’s 2023 second-round picks are the two least favorable of the four 2023 second-rounders, the Celtics would acquire the most favorable of those two picks.
  • Acquired Josh Richardson from the Mavericks in exchange for Moses Brown.
  • Acquired Kris Dunn, Bruno Fernando, and the Trail Blazers’ 2023 second-round pick from the Hawks in a three-team trade in exchange for Tristan Thompson (sent to Kings).
  • Acquired cash ($110K) from the Knicks in exchange for Evan Fournier (sign-and-trade), the Hornets’ 2022 second-round pick (top-55 protected), and either the Thunder’s, Wizards’, Heat’s, or Mavericks’ 2023 second-round pick (whichever is least favorable).
    • Note: If the Mavericks’ and Heat’s 2023 second-round picks are the two least favorable of the four 2023 second-rounders, the Knicks would acquire the most favorable of those two picks.
    • Note: The Celtics created a $17,142,857 trade exception in the deal.
  • Acquiring Juan Hernangomez from the Grizzlies in exchange for Kris Dunn, Carsen Edwards, and the right to swap either the Pacers’ or Heat’s 2026 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable) for the Celtics’ 2026 second-round pick.
    • Note: This deal is not yet official.

Draft picks:

Contract extensions:

  • Marcus Smart: Four years, $77,087,995. Includes trade kicker ($1MM or 15%; whichever is lesser). Starts in 2022/23.
  • Robert Williams: Four years, $48,000,000 (base value). Includes $6MM in incentives. Starts in 2022/23.
  • Josh Richardson: One year, $12,196,084. Starts in 2022/23.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Danny Ainge stepped down as president of basketball operations.
  • Moved head coach Brad Stevens to the front office, naming him president of basketball operations.
  • Hired Ime Udoka as new head coach.
  • Added Will Hardy, Aaron Miles, Damon Stoudamire, Ben Sullivan, and Garrett Jackson to coaching staff; Jamie Young, Jerome Allen, Scott Morrison, and Jay Larranaga departed coaching staff.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap and above the tax line.
  • Carrying approximately $143.2MM in salary.
  • Used full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.89MM) to sign Dennis Schröder.
  • Would need to shed salary to use rest of non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($3,646,000) or bi-annual exception ($3,732,000), since using either would create a $143MM hard cap.
  • Five traded player exceptions available, including one worth $17.1MM and another worth $9.7MM.

Lingering preseason issues:

  • The trade for Juan Hernangomez can be finalized on September 15, when Kris Dunn‘s aggregation restriction lifts.
  • The Celtics will have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, plus Jabari Parker on a small ($100K) partial guarantee. They’ll have to decide whether to carry a 15th man and – if so – whether Parker will be that player. Parker’s salary would become 50% guaranteed if he makes the opening night roster.
  • The Celtics have one open two-way contract slot.
  • Al Horford is eligible for a veteran contract extension until October 18 (extend-and-trade limitations are in place).

The Celtics’ offseason:

Even after an underwhelming showing in 2020/21, it wouldn’t have been a huge surprise if the Celtics favored continuity this summer, attributing last season’s struggles to bad luck with COVID-19 and injuries and betting on a bounce-back year in 2021/22.

Instead, Boston made major changes at nearly every level of the organization. The Celtics will head into the fall with a new president of basketball operations and a new head coach, and without their highest-paid player from the last two seasons.

Entering the 2021 offseason, Brad Stevens was the fifth longest-tenured head coach in the NBA and Danny Ainge was the third longest-tenured head of basketball operations. Coaches and executives who have been around that long often make their own decisions on their futures rather than being forced out the door, and it appears that was the case with Ainge — he stepped down from his role rather than being fired. Stevens wasn’t fired either, as his move from the sidelines to the front office actually represented a promotion, putting him in position to hire his replacement.

That replacement will be Ime Udoka, an established NBA assistant who had been viewed as a future head coach for years due in large part to the time he spent under Gregg Popovich, both in San Antonio and with Team USA. While it’s difficult to predict how a first-time head coach will adapt to his new position, Udoka will be supported from the get-go by many of the Celtics’ top players. He was reportedly endorsed by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart after working closely with them during the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Kemba Walker was also a member of that 2019 U.S. team, but by the time Udoka was hired by the Celtics, Walker had already been sent to Oklahoma City, as Stevens wasted no time making the first trade of his executive career.

The deal, which essentially saw the C’s swap Walker and the 16th overall pick for Al Horford, created financial flexibility for the team this year and next, but the jury’s still out on how it will affect the team on the court. Walker battled knee injuries during his time in Boston and Horford was great during his last stint with the franchise, but Horford may not be able to recapture his old form at age 35, and a healthy Walker remains a very dangerous offensive player. Throw in the fact that the No. 16 pick was eventually used on Alperen Sengun, one of the standouts of Summer League, and it’s possible Stevens’ first trade will eventually come back to haunt him.

For now though, the deal makes some sense for the Celtics. With the help of the money saved by swapping Walker for Horford, Boston was able to trade for Josh Richardson to replace departed free agent wing Evan Fournier, and sign Dennis Schröder, who will be handed many of Walker’s minutes at the point.

Richardson and Schröder had up-and-down seasons in 2020/21, but they have the ability to be better going forward. Richardson is an athletic, versatile defender who is comfortable with switching and guarding multiple positions, while Schröder should emerge as Boston’s third-most reliable scorer behind Tatum and Brown.

Floor spacing could be an issue for the Celtics, but there’s intriguing upside if Udoka can figure out how to get Richardson, Schröder, and Juan Hernangomez open, comfortable looks. None of the three connected on more than 33.5% of their three-point attempts in 2020/21, but Richardson’s and Hernangomez’s career rates are much higher, and Schröder made 38.5% of his threes in ’19/20.

Stevens was most active on the trade market this offseason, agreeing to five deals so far, but the work he did with contract extensions shouldn’t be overlooked. Rather than attempting to clear long-term money in the hopes of eventually opening enough cap space to make a run at a third star alongside Tatum and Brown, Stevens doubled down on the current core, signing Smart, Robert Williams, and Richardson to extensions.

Those deals don’t necessarily mean that all three players are part of the Celtics’ long-term future — they might actually be easier to trade on their new contracts. In recent years, the C’s have faced challenges on the trade market due to their lack of mid-level salaries — two years ago, for instance, Smart was the only player besides Tatum and Brown who was earning between $5MM and $32MM. That made it difficult to acquire starter- or rotation-caliber players on the trade market.

Boston’s big Gordon Hayward trade exception helped matters last year, making it possible to acquire Fournier, but taking on significant salary via a trade exception is no longer as practical due to the team’s luxury tax situation. Having movable contracts in the $10-20MM range like Smart’s, Williams’, and Richardson’s will give the Celtics more options in the trade market going forward, even if they end up deciding to keep those players.


The Celtics’ upcoming season:

The Celtics were considered one of the best bets to come out of the Eastern Conference entering the 2020/21 season. They finished with a .500 record and won just a single game in the postseason.

This year’s version of the Celtics seems likely to fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Boston is clearly a tier below the conference’s best teams (Brooklyn and Milwaukee), but there’s no reason to think the team can’t contend for a top-four spot in the East.

Udoka’s ability to get the hang of the head coaching job quickly will be a key factor in determining the Celtics’ upside, as will the ability of Schröder and Smart to handle the point guard job. However, the club’s ceiling could ultimately be decided by whether the young players can take a step forward.

Can Williams stay healthy and take on a bigger role at center? Can Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith establish themselves as reliable rotation regulars? Do Tatum and Brown have another level to reach? If the answer to all of those questions is “yes,” the Celtics will be in line for a nice bounce-back year.


Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

2021 NBA Offseason In Review: Atlanta Hawks

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2021 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 offseason moves, examine what still needs to be done before opening night, and look ahead to what the 2021/22 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Atlanta Hawks.


Free agent signings:

Note: Exhibit 10 deals aren’t included here.

  • John Collins: Five years, $125MM. Fifth-year player option. Re-signed as restricted free agent using Bird rights.
  • Lou Williams: One year, $5MM. Re-signed using Bird rights.
  • Gorgui Dieng: One year, $4MM. Signed using mid-level exception.
  • Solomon Hill: One year, minimum salary. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
  • Skylar Mays: Two-way contract. Accepted two-way qualifying offer as restricted free agent.

Trades:

Draft picks:

Contract extensions:

  • Trae Young: Five years, maximum salary. Projected value of $172,500,000. Projected value can increase to $207,060,000 if Young earns All-NBA honors in 2022. Includes fifth-year player option and 15% trade kicker. Starts in 2022/23.
  • Clint Capela: Two years, $42,881,280 (base value). Includes $4MM in incentives. Starts in 2023/24.

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Retained Nate McMillan as their permanent head coach.
  • Onyeka Okongwu underwent shoulder surgery and will miss the start of the 2021/22 season.
  • Added Joe Prunty, Jamelle McMillan, and Nick Van Exel to coaching staff; Melvin Hunt and Marlon Garnett departed coaching staff.

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap and below the tax line.
  • Carrying approximately $133.1MM in salary.
  • $5,536,000 of non-taxpayer mid-level exception still available ($4MM used on Gorgui Dieng).
  • Full bi-annual exception ($3,732,000) still available.
  • One traded player exception ($1,782,621) available.

Lingering preseason issues:

  • The Hawks have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, so they could still add a 15th man.
  • Kevin Huerter is eligible for a rookie scale contract extension until October 18.
  • Delon Wright is eligible for a veteran contract extension all season (extend-and-trade limitations are in place until December).

The Hawks’ offseason:

A year ago, the Hawks’ offseason priority was using their significant cap room to add veteran players capable of complementing the team’s young core. Not all of those signings were successful (Kris Dunn and Rajon Rondo didn’t last long in Atlanta), but the approach paid off as a whole, as the team made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

This time around, the Hawks’ offseason focus wasn’t on continuing to add outside talent to the roster, but rather on retaining the franchise’s most important pieces for the long term.

First and foremost, this meant locking up leading scorer Trae Young to a rookie scale extension. The Hawks offered Young a five-year, maximum-salary deal as soon as they were allowed to do so, and now have the former No. 5 overall pick under team control through at least 2026.

Shortly after reaching a deal with Young, Atlanta agreed to terms with John Collins on a five-year deal. That negotiation was trickier — Young was still a year away from free agency, but Collins became a restricted free agent this summer, meaning he could’ve sought an offer sheet from a rival suitor. And while the negotiations with Young essentially amounted to handing over a blank check, the Collins talks revolved around finding a number below the maximum that satisfied both sides.

That number ended up being $25MM per year, which looks like a fair price for a versatile frontcourt player who is a force on offense and still has room to grow on defense. The Hawks left those negotiations happy that they locked in Collins for less than the max, while the fifth-year player option in his new contract will allow the big man to hit the open market again at age 27, when he could be in line for an even bigger payday.

Having secured Young and Collins to long-term deals near the start of free agency, the Hawks waited a few weeks before working out an extension with big man Clint Capela as well. Teams around the NBA aren’t investing in the center position like they used to, but some players are still worthy of big-money commitments, and Capela showed in 2020/21 that he fits that bill — he anchored Atlanta’s defense and finished sixth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.

Tacking on two more years to the two left on Capela’s current contract was a good bit of business for the Hawks, who now have the center on the books for about $83.7MM over the next four years (various incentives could slightly shift that total in one direction or the other).

The Hawks’ final key retention wasn’t a player at all — it was head coach Nate McMillan. The team’s trajectory changed significantly midway through the 2020/21 season when McMillan replaced Lloyd Pierce on the sidelines. The veteran coach led Atlanta to a 27-11 record the rest of the way and won two playoff series, showing that his lack of postseason success in four years in Indiana didn’t mean he couldn’t win in the playoffs.

There was never any doubt that the Hawks would offer McMillan the permanent job at season’s end — luckily for the franchise, he accepted that offer rather than exploring the open market, where he surely would’ve received plenty of interest from a few of the seven teams seeking new coaches.

While re-signing and extending their in-house talent was the primary focus of the Hawks’ offseason, their work around the edges of the roster shouldn’t be overlooked. Atlanta is hoping Delon Wright can give the team the kind of backcourt production that Rondo and Dunn didn’t — Wright is a versatile defender who is capable of getting to the basket and taking some ball-handling pressure off of Young.

The free agent addition of Gorgui Dieng was another solid move by president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk and his front office. Dieng wasn’t a great value on his previous contract (four years, $63MM), but at one year and $4MM, he should provide a solid return on investment — especially with Onyeka Okongwu expected to miss the start of the season while he recovers from shoulder surgery.


The Hawks’ upcoming season:

Expecting the Hawks to return to the Eastern Conference Finals may be overly optimistic. Milwaukee and Brooklyn are probably the two best teams in the East, while Miami, Boston, Indiana, New York, and others will be looking to claim places in the upper tier.

Still, even if the Hawks don’t make another deep playoff run in 2022, we shouldn’t necessarily count on a significant amount of regression. Atlanta was successful in 2020/21 despite missing key players like De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish for virtually all of the second half of the season, and Bogdan Bogdanovic for a big chunk of the first half. Young and Collins have room to continue improving, and this will be the team’s first full season under McMillan.

I think the Hawks are still one move away from legitimate title contention, but this is a deep, talented team capable of competing for a top-four seed in the East and making some noise in the postseason again.


Salary information from Basketball Insiders was used in the creation of this post.

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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