- Despite having to master a new playbook in the middle of a season and pack enough items to live off of in a new city, the newly acquired Thunder players brought over in Oklahoma City’s Thursday deal are adjusting just fine. “They have a great culture here that they’ve built, starting at the top,” Doug McDermott told Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman. “It makes it really easy for guys like me and Taj Gibson to fit in.“
Here are the D-League transactions for Sunday:
- The Raptors have recalled Bruno Caboclo from their D-League affiliate, the team announced via Twitter. The forward has seen action in just seven games for Toronto this season, the last coming on January 13.
- The Cavaliers have assigned Kay Felder to their D-League affiliate, the team said in a press release on its official website. Felder has averaged over 30 points per game in three games with the Canton Charge this season.
- The Knicks assigned Ron Baker, Maurice Ndour and Marshall Plumlee to their affiliate in the D-League, the team said on Twitter.
- The Nuggets have recalled Malik Beasley from the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the team said in a press release on their website. Beasley has played in 17 games for Denver so far this season.
- The Thunder recalled Josh Huestis from their D-League affiliate, the team revealed in a press release. Huestis has only seen the court in one game for the Thunder this season.
Here are the D-League transactions for today:
- The Thunder have assigned forward Josh Huestis to their D-League affiliate, the team announced via press release. In 23 starts with the Oklahoma City Blue, Huestis has averaged 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
- The Cavaliers have recalled rookie point guard Kay Felder from their D-League affiliate, the team revealed on their official website. Felder has averaged 30.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game in his only three stints with the Canton Charge.
At this point in the season, most teams aren’t going to do much with any leftover cap room. Teams are no longer able to make trades, and most free agents still on the market won’t demand more than the minimum.
Still, there’s reason to consider which teams remain below the cap after this week’s trade activity. With useful veteran players potentially hitting the free agent market as a result of contract buyouts, a team with some extra cap room might have a leg up on teams without any spending flexibility.
For instance, if the Rockets and Warriors were to pursue the same free agent – perhaps Andrew Bogut, if he’s bought out by the Sixers – Houston could offer a deal worth up to about $3.5MM with cap room, while Golden State would be limited to offering a prorated minimum salary worth closer to $400K. That’s a significant difference.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on teams that remain below the minimum salary floor, since those clubs could enter the bidding for a bought-out player or could claim a player off waivers. The Jazz, for instance, probably don’t need a big man like Bogut, but if they wanted him and he became available, Utah has enough cap room to claim his entire $11MM+ contract. That would keep him off the open market and allow the Jazz to surpass the salary floor.
Using our Salary Cap Snapshots, let’s take a closer look at the teams below the cap, starting with teams still below the salary floor:
Teams below the salary floor:
- Utah Jazz: $13.64MM below cap ($4.23MM below floor)
- Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.66MM below cap ($3.24MM below floor)
- Denver Nuggets: $11.56MM below cap ($2.15MM below floor)
- Brooklyn Nets: $10.21MM below cap ($793K below floor)
Less than a month ago, there were six teams below the salary floor. Since then, the Nets and Nuggets have taken major steps toward the floor, while the Suns and Sixers have gotten above it entirely. That leaves the Jazz and Timberwolves as the clubs furthest below the salary floor.
As we’ve noted in the past, there’s no real penalty if a team remains below the floor — the team simply has to make up the difference by paying their current players a little more money. However, the Jazz and Wolves figure to be mulling other opportunities to reach the floor. That could mean placing a waiver claim or – in Utah’s case – renegotiating a contract.
We haven’t heard any rumors lately about the Jazz discussing a new deal with an extension-eligible veteran like George Hill or Derrick Favors, so that seems like a long shot. But the team does have until the end of February to renegotiate and extend either player’s contract, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Teams below the cap, but above the floor:
- Phoenix Suns: $9.226MM below cap
- Philadelphia 76ers: $8.62MM below cap
- Indiana Pacers: $4.14MM below cap
- Boston Celtics: $1.11MM below cap
Although the Suns and Sixers have inched above the salary floor, they’re not necessarily out of the woods quite yet. Phoenix needs the contracts of Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott to pass through waivers unclaimed, while the Sixers will require the same for Bogut if they eventually cut him. If any of those deals are claimed, they’ll move to another team’s cap, pushing Phoenix or Philadelphia back below the floor.
Teams that could clear cap room by renouncing exceptions:
- Houston Rockets: $3.54MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $3.33MM)
- Oklahoma City Thunder: $3.05MM below cap if lone TPE ($4.94MM) is renounced
- Milwaukee Bucks: $1.75MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $5MM)
- Chicago Bulls: $1.59MM below cap if lone TPE ($5.46MM) is renounced
These teams are technically over the cap, but could go under if they chose to renounce their trade exceptions. In some cases, that might not make much sense. For instance, the Bucks and Bulls would have less than $2MM in cap room if they renounced their exceptions. Both teams have trade exceptions worth at least $5MM, so it probably makes sense to stay over the cap for now and see if those exceptions come in handy around the draft.
On the other hand, the amount of cap room the Rockets would have if they renounced their trade exceptions would be greater than the amount of their largest TPE, so it makes sense for Houston to dip below the cap, expunging those TPEs from their books. That would also allow the Rockets to use cap room to sign a free agent, something they couldn’t do using a trade exception.
The rest of the NBA’s 18 teams don’t currently have cap room. That includes the Lakers, whose moves this week took them over the cap by just $316K.
There were no superstars on the move on Thursday, but NBA teams made eight trades, and there were many more signings and cuts completed once the deadline passed. In the wake of the deadline, we’ll take a look at a few roster- and cap-related notes, rounding up the new traded player exceptions that teams created on Thursday, as well as examining which teams still have space available on their rosters.
Let’s dive in…
New trade exceptions:
Several over-the-cap teams acquired new trade exceptions on Thursday. They’ll all expire on February 23, 2018, a year after they were created, or until they’re used or renounced by the teams below. If a club wants to use cap room, it must renounce its trade exceptions, but until then, these TPEs can be used in the summer or next season to acquire players.
Here’s the breakdown, in order of TPE value:
- Dallas Mavericks: $6,642,537
- Chicago Bulls: $5,462,000
- Milwaukee Bucks: $5,000,000
- Atlanta Hawks: $3,333,334
- Houston Rockets: $3,333,333
- Dallas Mavericks: $1,514,160
- Houston Rockets: $612,172
- Toronto Raptors: $328,000
- Houston Rockets: $233,880
Some notes related to these TPEs:
- Multiple teams on this list, including the Rockets and Bucks, could open up cap room by renouncing their trade exceptions. In Houston’s case, this is particularly notable, since the club would create more than $3.5MM in cap space by renouncing these TPEs. That cap room could come in handy very soon if the Rockets are trying to entice a free agent to sign with them instead of another contender that can only offer the minimum.
- As is always the case with TPEs, some of these exceptions will be more useful than others. The Mavericks could end up doing something interesting with their $6.6MM+ TPE, but the Raptors will almost certainly never use theirs for $328K.
- The Thunder also came out of Thursday’s action with a new TPE — sort of. Oklahoma City had created a trade exception worth $7.4MM on November 1 when the team sent Ersan Ilyasova to Philadelphia. The Thunder used a portion of that exception at the deadline to absorb Doug McDermott‘s salary, leaving approximately $4.94MM left on it. OKC will have until November 1 to use the rest of that TPE.
- For the complete list of trade exceptions across the NBA, click here.
Teams with open roster spots:
A day after the trade deadline, the list of teams with open roster spots is incredibly fluid. Some teams that acquired players in trades don’t have any use for those players, and will waive them. Other clubs will fill roster holes with D-League call-ups, while other teams will be a little more patient and wait out the buyout market.
All of this is to say that this list is up to date at the time of publication, but could change quickly as teams make more moves this weekend. Here are the teams that currently have at least one open spot on their 15-man roster, with their player count noted in parentheses:
- Charlotte Hornets (13): The 10-day contracts for Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey expired overnight, so Charlotte has two open spots. The team reportedly plans to use one on Johnny O’Bryant.
- Cleveland Cavaliers (14): The Cavs have 13 guaranteed contracts, plus Derrick Williams‘ 10-day deal. The team expects to sign Deron Williams as well, so if any other roster additions are coming after that, Cleveland would need to clear a roster spot.
- Dallas Mavericks (13): The Mavs have two openings after completing a two-for-one trade with the Sixers, then waiving Deron Williams.
- Houston Rockets (14): The Rockets opened up a roster spot by trading K.J. McDaniels, and may waive Marcelo Huertas as well. Houston is expected to be active on the buyout market.
- Milwaukee Bucks (14): The Bucks created a roster opening by sending Roy Hibbert to Denver, and they’re expected to fill it by signing Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (14): Unlike most of the teams on this list, the Wolves have carried an open roster spot for a while, and that didn’t change at the deadline.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (14): The Thunder traded three players to Chicago and received just two in return, creating an opening. They have their eye on free agents and buyout candidates.
- Orlando Magic (14): Like Minnesota, the Magic were carrying an open roster spot prior to the deadline and didn’t make a move on Thursday.
The Suns will join this list as soon as they officially waive Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger, as is expected. They’ll fill one of those two newly-open spots with Ronnie Price. There are also three teams that have full 15-man rosters with at least one player on a 10-day contract. The Hawks, Warriors, and Pelicans fall into this category, with Briante Weber‘s second 10-day deal in Golden State set to expire soon.
For a full breakdown of NBA roster counts, check out our list.
After completing a three-for-two trade with the Bulls on Thursday, the Thunder now have a roster spot open, and they’re expected to be active in the buyout market, reports ESPN’s Royce Young (Twitter link). Although Oklahoma City hasn’t been linked to notable released players or buyout candidates like Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, the team will certainly be looking for “impact players,” says Young (Twitter link).
As Young observes, if the Thunder don’t land a top target, Kendrick Perkins could be a Plan B for the team. The former OKC big man said last week that he’d love to return to the team, and GM Sam Presti didn’t rule out that scenario on Thursday, though he didn’t make any commitments either, per Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman.
“Perk’s been here,” Presti said. “The door is always open to our former players, and so he’s part of the family. Him being here, I understand that, but I don’t want to speculate on who might be the 15th.”
Here’s more on the Thunder:
- After trading Cameron Payne to Chicago, the Thunder feel “pretty comfortable” with Semaj Christon and Victor Oladipo as backup options behind Russell Westbrook, but Presti didn’t rule out the possibility of using the open roster spot to add another point guard, writes Dawson.
- The Bulls wanted to acquire Andre Roberson from Oklahoma City in Thursday’s trade, but the Thunder are committed to re-signing him in restricted free agency this summer, tweets Royce Young. Still, Roberson’s future remains somewhat uncertain, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman.
- In a separate piece for The Oklahoman, Horne examines what the acquisitions of Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott mean for the Thunder this season and beyond.
The Bulls don’t plan to buy out Rajon Rondo, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. GM Gar Forman confirmed that tonight, telling reporters the organization would rather hold onto the veteran point guard and use his contract as a trade chip in the offseason. Rondo signed a two-year deal with Chicago in July, but only $3MM of his $13,397,000 salary for next season is guaranteed before June 30. Rondo’s time with the Bulls has been a disappointment, as he was benched briefly, then relegated to the second unit. Although he has been effective in that role, there’s no guarantee it will continue after today’s trade for Cameron Payne.
There’s more post-deadline news out of Chicago:
- The Celtics were willing to include one of the Nets’ first-rounders in trade talks for Jimmy Butler, but sources tell Johnson that Boston wanted to place protections on it (Twitter link). The scope of those protections was not released.
- Bulls executive John Paxson says the organization wouldn’t commit to rebuilding without “certainty” and never got close to that in any of the offers for Butler (Twitter link). He acknowledges that trade discussions with the Celtics will probably start again by June, and insists Chicago’s playoff fate won’t factor into the decision on Butler (Twitter link).
- Paxson hasn’t wavered in his support for coach Fred Hoiberg, saying there has been growth in his second season behind the bench (Twitter link).
- The deal that sent Taj Gibson to Oklahoma City was made to create more playing time for Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine (Twitter link). “When you’re trying to develop a team with young players, you need them to get on the floor,” Paxson said (Twitter link).
- Gibson said he knew of eight teams that were trying to trade for him (Twitter link). “The hardest part was seeing people’s faces on the way out,” Gibson said in a radio interview. “It’s family.”
- Gibson would consider coming back to Chicago “at the right price,” tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. He will be a free agent this summer after making $8.95MM this season. Gibson also indicated that he would consider being a coach with the Bulls when his playing days are finished (Twitter link).
6:44pm: The deal is official, according to press releases issued by both teams.
1:44 PM: The two teams are nearing a deal that will send Payne to Chicago and both McDermott and Gibson to OKC, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The Bulls will receive Anthony Morrow and Lauvergne in addition to Payne, while the Thunder will receive a 2018 second-round pick. Roberson is not involved in the deal.
1:28 PM: The Thunder and Bulls continue to have trade discussions regarding Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson, Marc Stein of ESPN.com relays (Twitter links). Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (Twitter links) hears that the two teams are closing in on a deal that will send McDermott to OKC in exchange for Andre Roberson and Cameron Payne.
Oklahoma City has been trying to figure out what a new deal for Roberson would look like in the offseason, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Roberson will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and a trade could signal that OKC feels the price tag will be too high. A Roberson trade is not imminent, as Vincent Goodwill of Comcast Sportsnet (Twitter link) hears that the deal could simply be Payne for McDermott.
The Thunder are exploring a trade that would bring both McDermott and Gibson to the team, according to Stein. Earlier today, we learned that the Bulls have been seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Gibson for quite some time. Oklahoma City has already shipped out a pair of future first-round picks in previous deals, so the first selection the franchise can trade is its 2022 pick. If OKC is to acquire both players, Stein (Twitter link) hears that it would take Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and draft compensation for the Bulls to oblige.
Gibson will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Bulls lost Pau Gasol to free agency last season and the experience has “motivated” to get something for Gibson rather than going through the same scenario once again this summer, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes on Twitter.
The Cavs won’t make a decision on Larry Sanders until after the trade deadline, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com passes along (ESPN Now link). Cleveland is also keeping an eye on the Andrew Bogut situation. The Cavs would like to bring the center aboard and they’re expected to be in the mix for him.
Here’s more from around the league:
- Several teams have expressed interest in Matt Barnes, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com tweets. Sources tell Shelburne that he’s waiting until after the trade deadline to make a decision.
- Jarrett Jack will audition for the Pelicans, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. New Orleans is pursuing backcourt help after trading away several players in the DeMarcus Cousins deal.
- Point guard and pending free agent Jrue Holiday said the Pelicans “see me as a part of [the future],” the team tweets. The organization is calling Holiday, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis their version of a Big Three.
- Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis will be the co-captains of the Ghost Ballers, the fourth official team in the new 3-on-3 league, according to a press release on BIG3.com.
- Thunder center Enes Kanter returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since undergoing arm surgery, Royce Young of ESPN.com reports. It’s uncertain whether Kanter, who suffered a broken arm punching a chair on the bench on January 26th, will return to action on Friday against the Lakers.
- Former Rockets center Yao Ming, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year, has been appointed as president of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to an ESPN.com report. He gave up ownership of the league’s Shanghai Sharks in order to take over his new role.
Chris Crouse contributed to this post
While the Pistons have been open to listening to inquiries on anyone, few – if any – players on their roster have received as much interest as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Speaking to reporters, including Rod Beard of The Detroit News, Stan Van Gundy confirmed that KCP’s future has been one of the main topics discussed as of late by the Pistons, who will have to make a big long-term commitment to the shooting guard this summer if they keep him.
“That’s something you have to make decisions about and deal with. I’m not getting into specifics at this point, but that has been a significant part of what we’ve talked about,” Van Gundy said of the RFA-to-be. “He was probably the most urgent decision because of that and the money coming and what it means in terms of the cap and the (luxury) tax. We’ve talked about it internally and we’ve talked about it with (team owner) Tom (Gores). We know exactly what’s coming and we’re making informed decisions.”
Here are several more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:
- The Thunder are being aggressive as the trade deadline nears, according to Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter links), who adds Doug McDermott to the list of players on Oklahoma City’s radar. OKC was linked to another Bulls forward – Taj Gibson – earlier today.
- League executives believe the Kings will move Arron Afflalo today, says Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee adds (via Twitter) that Afflalo is more likely to be dealt than Ben McLemore, who has impressed some people within the organization lately. Afflalo has been linked to Indiana and Oklahoma City this week.
- Brandon Knight wouldn’t mind a change of scenery, but the Suns have set their asking price too high in the past in talks with the Magic, Kings, Sixers, and Bulls, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. As Amick observes, it remains to be seen whether that will change today.
- The Trail Blazers continue to try to find a taker for Festus Ezeli‘s contract, per ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link).
- Although Bucks general manager John Hammond likes to make trades, league executives say Milwaukee has been “low key” in trade talks this week, according to Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today (Twitter link).
- The Cavaliers continue to work on deals that could fortify their roster, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team ultimately rely on the buyout market instead, tweets Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.