- Undrafted rookie guard Luguentz Dort has earned playing time with the Thunder for his defense while showing more of an offensive game, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. Over the last five games, Dort is averaging 7.2 PPG and 1.8 APG while shooting 5-for-12 on 3-pointers and making seven steals. “You can’t tell me he’s a rookie,” guard Chris Paul said of the two-way player.
- Thunder backup center Nerlens Noel will miss tonight’s tilt against the Timberwolves due to a surgical procedure for a left cheek fracture, according to an ESPN report. The timeline on Noel’s absence will be updated next week. Noel, the No. 6 pick in 2013, has been productive in limited minutes for Oklahoma City, averaging 8.2 PPG and 5.2 RPG.
7:08pm: The trade is official, according to a Thunder press release. The Mavericks have also issued a press release confirmed the trade.
4:03pm: The Thunder and Mavericks have agreed to a trade that will send rookie forward Isaiah Roby to Oklahoma City in exchange for center Justin Patton and cash considerations, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Though the Mavericks could use some depth in the middle in the wake of Dwight Powell‘s season-ending Achilles injury, Patton will not stick around. The Mavs made the move to clear a roster spot and intend to waive him, The Athletic’s Tim Cato tweets.
It also creates some cap flexibility going forward, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News notes (Twitter link). Patton has a $1.62MM contract this season but the remaining two years on his deal are not guaranteed.
Roby, a second-round pick out of Nebraska, is making $1.5MM this season as well as next season and all that money is guaranteed. The last two seasons of his four-year contract — at $1.8MM and $1.9MM — are not guaranteed, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.
With the deal, Oklahoma City’s projected tax bill drops from $2.3MM to $2MM and the Thunder are now just $801K over the threshold, according to Marks. The team is in position to potentially sneak under the tax line at the trade deadline by moving a minimum-salary player.
Patton has appeared in nine NBA games since being drafted in the first round in 2017, including five with OKC. He has spent most of his time this season in the G League. Roby, who was acquired in a draft-night trade, has yet to make his NBA debut.
Multiple playoff teams have expressed interest in Danilo Gallinari, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who hears from league sources that the Mavericks and Sixers are two clubs who have made inquiries on the Thunder forward.
Gallinari entered the season looking like one of the NBA’s most obvious trade candidates, but the Thunder’s strong play has complicated the equation. It’s unclear how eager Oklahoma City will be to move one of its key contributors now that the team appears headed for a spot in the postseason.
As O’Connor points out, a lack of projected league-wide cap room this summer means the team with Gallinari on its roster to finish the season will likely have a significant leg up to sign him, thanks to his Bird rights. It remains to be seen if a team like Dallas or Philadelphia has the assets necessary to pry Gallinari out of OKC, but if a club makes a deal for him, the plan would presumably be to re-sign him in the offseason.
O’Connor’s article is ostensibly focused on the Mavericks’ need to add a third impact player to complement Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but it includes a handful of noteworthy tidbits, not all of which are Mavs-related. Let’s round up a few other highlights…
- As a report last week confirmed, the Hawks and Pistons had been discussing a trade that would have sent Andre Drummond to Atlanta for a package headlined by Chandler Parsons‘ expiring contract and the Nets’ lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick. Multiple league sources tell O’Connor that the Hawks ended up being unwilling to include that first-rounder due to concerns about how high Drummond’s contract demands are.
- The Mavericks have made offers to the Timberwolves for Robert Covington, but have been turned down, according to O’Connor. While O’Connor doesn’t have the specific details on Dallas’ offers, I imagine they’d start with Courtney Lee‘s expiring contract and the Warriors’ 2020 second-round pick. The Mavs’ first-rounders are tied up for trade purposes until at at least 2025.
- Despite denials that they plan to pursue him, league sources continue to view the Mavericks as a potential landing spot for Grizzlies forward Andre Iguodala, writes O’Connor. Dallas is one of the few contending teams that is well-positioned to make a trade offer for Iguodala rather than waiting for a possible buyout.
Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Suns have assigned Jalen Lecque to the Northern Arizona Suns, per the team’s Twitter feed. Lecque recently made his NBA debut, playing two minutes for Phoenix last week.
- The Wizards have assigned Admiral Schofield to the G League, per the team’s Twitter feed. Schofield was available for the Capital City Go-Go’s contest earlier tonight.
- The Thunder have recalled center Justin Patton from the G League, the team announced today in a press release.
Following their cost-cutting trade with the Kings, the Trail Blazers no longer project to have the NBA’s highest tax bill for the 2019/20 season. That honor instead belongs to the Warriors, one of a small handful of teams that will be subject to the league’s more punitive repeater penalties if they’re in the tax at season’s end.
These numbers are fluid and will almost certainly change in the coming months, but here are the current projected luxury tax bills for teams this season, via ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link):
- Golden State Warriors: $14.99MM
- Portland Trail Blazers: $9.65MM
- Miami Heat: $6.65MM
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $2.3MM
- Houston Rockets: $372K
As Marks point out, the projected payouts for non-taxpaying teams are lower than usual — based on the current figures, non-taxpayers would receive approximately $680K apiece (50% of the total tax payments, split among 25 teams). By contrast, non-taxpayers received about $3.1MM each in 2018/19.
This season looks like it could end up looking more like the 2016/17 campaign, which featured the lowest tax payouts of the decade due to the infamous ’16 cap spike. That cap spike left the Cavaliers and Clippers as the NBA’s only clubs in the tax for that year, resulting in payouts of about $507K apiece for the 28 non-taxpayers.
[RELATED: Recent History of NBA Taxpaying Teams]
The end-of-season payouts for non-taxpayers this season will actually probably end up being even lower than $680K. None of the five projected taxpayers listed above are more than about $6.2MM above the luxury tax threshold, so many of them have a path to potentially getting out of tax territory altogether.
The Thunder and Rockets, in particular, look like candidates to sneak below the tax threshold by moving low-cost trade chips like Justin Patton and Nene. The Blazers could theoretically get there too with a bigger deal involving a player like Hassan Whiteside. It’ll be more of a challenge for the hard-capped Warriors and Heat, but not impossible.
For every team that gets out of the tax, the amount of the league-wide tax payments at season’s end will decrease and the number of non-taxpaying clubs will increase, resulting in a smaller pot to be split among a greater number of franchises. In other words, no non-taxpaying NBA team should be counting on a major windfall from taxpayers at the end of the ’19/20 campaign.
- When Chris Paul was first traded to the Thunder, there was an expectation that he wouldn’t be satisfied to stay in Oklahoma City. However, Paul has found happiness in OKC as the team has exceeded expectations this season, writes Rohan Nadkarni of SI.com. Within Nadkarni’s feature, CP3 also made it clear he has no interest in waiving his 2021/22 player option to accommodate a trade: “No chance. That’s not happening. Nope.” Paul’s player option is worth $44.2MM for his age-36 season, so the idea that he’d give it up to be traded was never a realistic one.
Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:
- The Celtics recalled rookie guard Carsen Edwards prior to their game against the Lakers, the team’s PR department tweets. Edwards has come off the bench in 27 games with Boston this season, averaging 3.2 PPG in 9.9 MPG.
- The Knicks recalled rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis from their Westchester affiliate, the team’s PR department tweets. Brazdeikis has appeared in nine games with the NBA club, averaging 1.9 PPG in 5.9 MPG.
- The Pacers assigned guard Victor Oladipo to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for a practice, the team tweets. Oladipo is expected to make his long-awaited season debut next week.
- The Wizards recalled rookie guard Admiral Schofield, the team tweets. Schofield has appeared in 24 games with the Wizards this season but did not play in the team’s win over Detroit on Monday.
- The Clippers recalled guard Terance Mann from their Agua Caliente affiliate, the team announced today. Mann has played 27 games for the Clippers this season, averaging 1.9 PPG in 8.1 MPG.
- The Thunder assigned center Justin Patton to the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. Patton is averaging 12.1 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 23 games with the Blue. He has appeared in five games for the Thunder this season, averaging 1.8 PPG in 4.8 MPG.
As NBA teams consider their trade options before the February 6 deadline, it’s worth keeping in mind that a number of clubs hold traded player exceptions. These traded player exceptions allow over-the-cap clubs to acquire a player – or multiple players – whose salary fits within the TPE without having to send out any salary in return.
Traded player exceptions can’t be combined with another salary or exception and often aren’t worth much, so most of them ultimately go unused. Still, they can come in handy every now and then, particularly for under-the-tax clubs that don’t mind adding a little more money to their books.
Last season, a total of 23 trades were completed between January 22 and February 7, resulting in 23 trade exceptions that haven’t yet been used or renounced and will expire if they’re not used by this year’s trade deadline.
Here are those traded player exceptions, listed in order of value, with the expiration date noted in parentheses for each TPE:
- Dallas Mavericks: $11,825,694 (2/7)
- Miami Heat: $6,270,000 (2/7)
- Houston Rockets: $3,620,016 (2/7)
- Houston Rockets: $3,206,160 (2/7)
- Toronto Raptors: $2,536,898 (2/7)
- Detroit Pistons: $2,500,000 (2/6)
- Portland Trail Blazers: $1,740,000 (2/7)
- Houston Rockets: $1,621,415 (2/7)
- Toronto Raptors: $1,569,360 (2/6)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $1,544,951 (2/7)
- Houston Rockets: $1,544,951 (2/7)
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $1,544,951 (2/3)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $1,512,601 (2/7)
- Houston Rockets: $1,512,601 (1/22)
- Houston Rockets: $1,512,601 (2/7)
- Memphis Grizzlies: $1,512,601 (2/7)
- Toronto Raptors: $1,512,601 (2/7)
- Dallas Mavericks: $1,233,152 (1/31)
- Detroit Pistons: $1,140,682 (2/7)
- Washington Wizards: $311,913 (2/6)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $266,728 (2/4)
- Memphis Grizzlies: $184,467 (2/7)
- Washington Wizards: $183,148 (2/7)
For the full list of traded player exceptions currently available, including a Warriors TPE worth $17MM that probably can’t be used until July, click here.
The Hawks traded for one veteran today but are no longer pursuing another, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who reports that Atlanta has ended its negotiations with the Pistons for center Andre Drummond.
While both sides were initially hopeful that they could work out a deal, Atlanta has decided to stay patient, recognizing that there will be chances to improve this summer in the draft and during the free agency period, sources tell Haynes.
According to Haynes, the Hawks and Pistons discussed a swap that would have sent a first-round pick, Damian Jones, and an expiring contract (either Chandler Parsons‘ or Allen Crabbe‘s) to Detroit in exchange for Drummond.
Crabbe was included in the deal the Hawks completed today with the Timberwolves for Jeff Teague, but Atlanta could’ve acquired Drummond without him, so it doesn’t appear that wasn’t a factor in the club’s decision to end trade talks with Detroit.
While the Hawks are no longer pursuing a trade for Drummond, that doesn’t mean their interest in him has disappeared. The Pistons’ big man will be one of Atlanta’s top targets in free agency if the team is still seeking a long-term answer at center at that point, sources tell Haynes. Thunder center Steven Adams, who has previously been linked to the Hawks, is still on the team’s radar and may be a target at the trade deadline or in free agency, Haynes adds.
According to Basketball Insiders’ data, the Hawks only have about $27MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season. That figure doesn’t include Jabari Parker‘s $6.5MM player option or cap holds for free agents, including potential RFAs DeAndre’ Bembry and Jones. But even after accounting for those costs, Atlanta will have more than enough cap space to aggressively pursue Drummond, Adams, or any other players they like.
The Pistons, meanwhile, continue to actively field inquiries on Drummond, according to Haynes. The Celtics, Mavericks, and Raptors were among the other teams said earlier this month to have interest in the NBA’s leading rebounder, though based on their assets and movable contracts, none of those clubs seemed to be as ideal a trade partner as Atlanta.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.