Thunder Rumors

Wizards Meeting With Nuggets’ Tim Connelly

9:32am: Connelly will meet today with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and advisor Mike Forde, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. As Buckner explains, there has been a belief that Connelly didn’t want to interview for the job like a traditional applicant would, which is a signal that this meeting is serious.

Buckner adds (via Twitter) that Washington would likely have to offer Connelly $4MM+ annually over five years to get him to leave Denver.

7:32am: The Wizards have requested and received permission to meet with Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to discuss their own head of basketball operations vacancy, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. League sources tell Wojnarowski that the two sides could meet as soon as Friday.

NBA teams have the right to deny their executives permission to interview for a job with a rival club, particularly if it would be perceived as a lateral move. However, as Wojnarowski explains, Connelly has “deep ties to the Mid-Atlantic region and some extenuating family considerations,” so the Nuggets won’t stop him from exploring the opportunity. The Baltimore native likely wouldn’t have considered overtures from any team besides the Wizards, Woj notes.

The Nuggets are confident in the ability of general manager Arturas Karnisovas to assume control of their basketball operations if Connelly does decide to leave Denver, sources tell Wojnarowski. Connelly was initially elevated to his position after Masai Ujiri left for Toronto under similar circumstances, so the Nuggets have been in this position before.

It’s possible that draft-pick compensation could be involved if the Wizards hire Connelly away from the Nuggets, as Fred Katz of The Athletic points out.

The Wizards, who have been in the market for a new head of basketball operations since dismissing Ernie Grunfeld before the end of the regular season, will likely have to offer a substantial raise to lure Connelly away from Denver, as Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) and Katz observe. He’s believed to be earning a salary in the range of $2MM per year with the Nuggets.

While the Wizards have been conducting their search for Grunfeld’s replacement, Tommy Sheppard has been running the front office on an interim basis. Sheppard is under consideration for the permanent job, as are Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver and veteran executive Danny Ferry. Both Weaver and Ferry met with the Wizards for second interviews, according to reports from Katz and Shams Charania at The Athletic and Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

2019 NBA Draft Picks By Team

While the Sixers and Celtics suffered disappointing losses in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and face uncertain futures, both teams can at least fall back on the fact that they’re still loaded with draft assets. Philadelphia and Boston are two of only three NBA teams – the Hawks are the other – that possess at least four picks in the 2019 NBA draft.

As our full 2019 draft order shows, there are five other teams that more than two selections in this year’s draft. On the other end of the spectrum, nine teams own just one pick in 2018, while two teams – the Nuggets and Rockets – don’t have any selections.

To present a clearer picture of which teams are most – and least – stocked with picks for the 2019 NBA draft, we’ve rounded up all 60 picks by team in the space below. Let’s dive in…

Teams with more than two picks:

  • Atlanta Hawks (5): 8, 10, 35, 41, 44
  • Philadelphia 76ers (5): 24, 33, 34, 42, 54
  • Boston Celtics (4): 14, 20, 22, 51
  • New Orleans Pelicans (3): 1, 39, 57
  • Charlotte Hornets (3): 12, 36, 52
  • Brooklyn Nets (3): 17, 27, 31
  • San Antonio Spurs (3): 19, 29, 49
  • Sacramento Kings (3): 40, 47, 60

Teams with two picks:

  • New York Knicks: 3, 55
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 5, 26
  • Phoenix Suns: 6, 32
  • Chicago Bulls: 7, 38
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 11, 43
  • Detroit Pistons: 15, 45
  • Orlando Magic: 16, 46
  • Indiana Pacers: 18, 50
  • Utah Jazz: 23, 53
  • Golden State Warriors: 28, 58
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 48, 56

Teams with one pick:

  • Memphis Grizzlies: 2
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 4
  • Washington Wizards: 9
  • Miami Heat: 13
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 21
  • Portland Trail Blazers: 25
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 30
  • Dallas Mavericks: 37
  • Toronto Raptors: 59

Teams with no picks:

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Houston Rockets

Myles Powell Worked Out For Thunder

  • Myles Powell (Seton Hall) has auditioned for the Thunder and has additional workouts on his schedule, sources tell Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link).

Patrick Patterson Opts In For Next Season

Thunder power forward Patrick Patterson has decided to exercise his $5,711,200 player option for next season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Patterson’s decision comes as no surprise, since he was highly unlikely to get a better offer on the open market. The 30-year-old Patterson averaged 3.6 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 13.7 MPG over 63 games, including five starts. He appeared in all 82 regular-season games the previous season with Oklahoma City, posting averages of 3.9 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 15.5 MPG.

Patterson lost his rotation spot in mid-February and did not appear in the opening-round series against Portland.

His decision will cost the Thunder far more than his salary. Oklahoma City is already over the luxury-tax threshold and Patterson’s salary will give it approximately $143.5MM in guaranteed commitments to just nine players, unless the Thunder are able to move some salaries in trades.

Westbrook Dealt With Hand Issue For Six Weeks

Russell Westbrook dealt with significant pain in his left hand for approximately six weeks before the Thunder were eliminated from the postseason, Brett Dawson of The Athletic reports.

Westbrook, who shot 36% from the field during the opening round, and fellow Thunder All-Star Paul George underwent surgical procedures this week. Westbrook had a ligament repaired in his left hand as well as arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. George had a tendon repaired in his right shoulder and will soon undergo surgery to address a small labrum tear in his left shoulder.

It’s difficult to know how the injuries might impact the Thunder next season, though Westbrook should be ready in plenty of time for training camp, Dawson continues. Expected roster changes over the next four months will have a bigger impact, Dawson adds.

2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder‘s 2017 trade for Paul George paid off in a big way during the 2018 offseason when they convinced the All-Star forward to sign a long-term deal with the franchise. However, despite a terrific season from George, Oklahoma City was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for a third consecutive year, raising questions about the long-term ceiling of the current core.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Thunder financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistic cap room projection: $0
  • After paying the highest luxury tax bill in the NBA in 2018/19, the Thunder appear poised to blow past the tax threshold again in 2019/20. It’s possible they’ll find a way to sneak below that line, but there’s no chance they’ll have cap room and little chance they’ll gain access to the full mid-level exception and bi-annual exception.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $10,883,189 (expires 7/25/19)
  • Trade exception: $1,544,951 (expires 2/3/20)
  • Taxpayer mid-level exception: $5,711,000 4

Footnotes

  1. Nader’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 5.
  2. The salaries for two-way players don’t count against a team’s cap, but their cap holds do during the offseason.
  3. Cole’s and Collison’s cap holds remain on the Thunder’s books because they haven’t been renounced after going unsigned in previous offseasons. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  4. This is a projected value. If the Thunder were to reduce salary and stay out of tax territory, they could instead have access to the full mid-level exception ($9,246,000) and the bi-annual exception ($3,619,000).

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Paul George, Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook and Paul George have begun the offseason by taking steps to recover from their respective injuries, as the Thunder pass along in a team press release.

Westbrook underwent surgery to repair ligament damage in his left hand. The 2016/17 MVP played the final six weeks of the season with the non-shooting hand injury. Westbrook also had a procedure on his right knee today and is expected to be sidelined for approximately three weeks.

George had elective surgery on his right shoulder to repair a partial tendon tear, per the team. The veteran forward will have another procedure on his left shoulder in the following weeks. He’s expected to miss at least the start of Oklahoma City’s training camp, Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young of ESPN.com relay.

George also played with his ailment as the season winded down. According to the ESPN duo, the Thunder went 11-12 after George suffered the injury.

Thunder Have Faith In Head Coach Billy Donovan

Despite the fact that he’s already spent five seasons at the helm of the Thunder and that his All-Star dynamic duo was just dispatched in five games by the Trail Blazers, head coach Billy Donovan is expected to return to his post in 2019/20.

Shooters, Backup Center Needed

  • The Thunder should make everyone but Russell Westbrook and Paul George available in trade talks, Brett Dawson of The Athletic argues in his offseason outlook. Oklahoma City needs to acquire more shooters to complement their All-Star duo and find a backup center, Dawson continues. Westbrook must also adjust his game in order for the Thunder to end their cycle of first-round playoff exits, Dawson adds.

And-Ones: Wizards, Thompson, Parsons, Grizzlies

The Wizards are conducting several interviews for their head of basketball operations opening this week. Former Hawks GM Danny Ferry met with the team on Tuesday and current Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas is also in town for his meeting, as we relayed earlier today.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link) reports that Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver was in D.C. as well to interview for the position. Interim GM Tommy Sheppard is also under consideration.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Marc Stein of the New York Times believes Klay Thompson is “100 percent staying put with the Warriors and will not consider external suitors,” as he writes in his latest newsletter. Thompson will be a free agent at the end of the season.
  • Chandler Parsons had some encouraging stretches for the Grizzlies and he hopes to build on that progress, as David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal passes along. “I’m going to continue to do all the right things this summer and put myself in the best situation to play a lot of games next year,” Parsons said. “Where that will be, I don’t know. You’ve got to ask the guys upstairs. But I’m fully committed to the team and coming back, if that’s what it’s going to be.”
  • Parsons has one year left on his four-year, $94MM deal and Cobb (same piece) wonders if the team will be able to trade the forward. The scribe believes the Grizzlies would have to attach an asset to Parsons in order to extract any value from a trade despite Parsons showing progress this season.