Thunder Rumors

Deck's Arrival To Thunder TBD

  • Work visa issues may delay the arrival of new Thunder forward Gabriel Deck to Oklahoma City, head coach Mark Daigneault has indicated, as Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman tweets.

Contract Details: Deck, Stevens, Olynyk

The Thunder used the remainder of this year’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception — a little over $3.87MM — in Gabriel Deck‘s creatively constructed four-year contract, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets. The remainder of the contract includes a non-guaranteed salary of $3,676,852 next season; A non-guaranteed $3,483,334 in 2022/23, with the guarantee kicking in if he’s on the roster after 9/20/22; And a non-guaranteed $3,483,334 in the final season, including a team option. He’d be a restricted free agent in 2023 or unrestricted in 2024.

We have more contract-related news:

  • Lamar Stevens received more than triple of the prorated minimum, $652,366 rather than $203,043, from the Cavaliers for the remainder of the season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. However, the remainder of Stevens’ four-year contract offers no salary protections or guaranteed dates in any of the years.
  • Rockets big man Kelly Olynyk earned a $1MM incentive bonus after playing his 1,493rd minute this season, Marks tweets. Olynyk will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • ICYMI, we broke down all the dead money teams are carrying on their caps this season, with the Pistons leading the pack. Check out our story here.

Pistons, Grizzlies, Thunder Carrying Most 2020/21 Dead Money

All 30 of the NBA’s teams are carrying some sort of “dead money” on their respective books for the 2020/21 season. Dead money is the guaranteed salary paid or owed to a player who is no longer under contract with the team.

In some cases, teams are carrying cap hits for players whom they released several years ago. That’s the case in Indiana, for instance, where the Pacers have a $2,245,400 cap charge for Monta Ellis this season, despite cutting him way back in July of 2017.

In other situations, the dead money is a result of having waived a player more recently. The Pistons, for example, created this season’s single largest dead money cap hit when they bought out Blake Griffin, who is still counting for $32,670,565 against Detroit’s team salary in ’20/21.

Other dead money charges are far more modest. For instance, expired 10-day contracts technically count as dead money, but none of those are worth more than $110,998.

While some teams will add a little more dead money to their caps in the coming weeks when 10-day deals expire or certain players are released, it’s safe to assume that nearly all of this season’s most significant cuts have already been completed. With that in mind, we’re taking a look below at the teams carrying the most dead money for 2020/21.

Carrying a substantial amount of dead money doesn’t necessarily indicate that a club has managed its cap poorly. For instance, the Thunder and Knicks, two of the teams near the top of the list below, have the two smallest team salaries in the NBA this season.

Because they haven’t had any hard-cap or luxury-tax concerns, Oklahoma City and New York could comfortably afford to waive multiple players with guaranteed salaries in order to make room for new players, without worrying about the associated costs. The Thunder have certainly done that — their $36MM in overall dead money comes from 12 different players.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Warriors and Clippers are among the teams with the least amount of dead money on their books, which makes sense too. Golden State will have the league’s highest tax bill, while L.A. has been up against a hard cap for much of the season, so both teams have wisely avoided making any major commitments to players who won’t finish the season on the roster.

Here’s the full list of 2020/21 dead money by team, as of April 16:

  1. Detroit Pistons: $38,806,272
  2. Memphis Grizzlies: $36,052,708
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder: $35,926,004
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers: $30,396,254
  5. San Antonio Spurs: $24,804,677
  6. New York Knicks: $20,260,505
  7. Sacramento Kings: $9,655,830
  8. Charlotte Hornets: $9,043,478
  9. Los Angeles Lakers: $7,599,241
  10. Toronto Raptors: $6,818,018
  11. Houston Rockets: $6,017,104
  12. Miami Heat: $5,564,670
  13. Milwaukee Bucks: $5,034,894
  14. Portland Trail Blazers: $4,757,775
  15. Orlando Magic: $4,268,128
  16. Washington Wizards: $4,222,815
  17. Indiana Pacers: $3,862,401
  18. Denver Nuggets: $2,000,000
  19. Philadelphia 76ers: $1,642,981
  20. Brooklyn Nets: $1,635,825
    • Note: This figure doesn’t include LaMarcus Aldridge‘s $554,988 cap hit, since he remains on the roster, for now, after announcing his retirement.
  21. Dallas Mavericks: $1,620,564
  22. Boston Celtics: $1,131,937
  23. New Orleans Pelicans: $1,054,478
  24. Phoenix Suns: $785,285
  25. Utah Jazz: $770,433
  26. Atlanta Hawks: $744,684
  27. Minnesota Timberwolves: $685,340
  28. Golden State Warriors: $666,667
  29. Los Angeles Clippers: $110,998
  30. Chicago Bulls: $97,261

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

Thunder Sign Justin Robinson To Second 10-Day Deal

Second-year guard Justin Robinson, whose initial 10-day contract with the Thunder expired overnight, has inked a second 10-day deal with Oklahoma City, the team announced today in a press release.

Having initially joined Oklahoma City’s roster on April 5, Robinson appeared in all six games the team played over the next 10 days, averaging 3.5 PPG and 1.3 APG on .389/.308/.600 shooting in 12.0 minutes per contest. While those numbers are pretty modest, the Thunder apparently liked what they saw from Robinson enough to keep him around for at least 10 more days.

Before arriving in OKC, Robinson played this season for the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League bubble, recording 15.5 PPG and 5.9 APG on .389/.376/.629 shooting in 13 games (31.1 MPG). The 23-year-old was a full-time starter for a Delaware squad that made it to the NBAGL Finals.

Robinson, who will earn $99,020 on his second 10-day deal with the Thunder, will fill the lone open spot on the team’s roster. So, barring any further roster moves, Oklahoma City will have a full 17-man squad for at least the next 10 days.

Once Robinson’s second 10-day contract expires, OKC will have to either let him walk or sign him for the rest of the season.

Injury Notes: Holmes, Bagley, Butler, Augustin, Hayward, SGA

Kings center Richaun Holmes will miss at least three games with a strained right hamstring, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. After suffering the injury in Monday’s game, Holmes underwent an MRI that revealed the extent of the damage.

He will be held out of tonight’s game against the Wizards and won’t accompany the team on a two-game road trip to face the Suns and Mavericks. Holmes is averaging 14.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season.

“We’ll see how he’s doing as we get back into town,” coach Luke Walton said. “Clearly, we’ll miss him. He’s had an incredible year for us so far and he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.”

There are more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Kings got good news about Marvin Bagley III, who will rejoin the team Thursday in Phoenix, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bagley has been away from his teammates while rehabbing a fracture in his left hand, and there were plans for him to return to the club when he was close to being able to play again.
  • Heat forward Jimmy Butler had an injury scare involving his ankle in Tuesday’s game, but he will be in the starting lineup tonight in Denver, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “There’s no doubt about it, that Jimmy will always want to go,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But we evaluated him today and he passed all the tests with the trainers and that allowed him to where we all feel comfortable, him going tonight.”
  • Rockets guard D.J. Augustin had an MRI today on his sprained left ankle, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Coach Stephen Silas said Augustin is using crutches and a walking boot and has been ruled out at least through Monday. Danuel House, who hasn’t played since April 4 due to a sprained ankle, and Eric Gordon, who has been sidelined since March 11 with a groin strain, are also both expected to miss another week or so.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward still has a protective boot on his strained right foot, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). He is expected to be re-evaluated early next month.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was projected to be out through at least mid-April with plantar fasciitis, but his condition hasn’t been re-evaluated yet, coach Mark Daigneault told Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

Checking In On Traded 2021 First-Round Picks

It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.

With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:

Picks that will definitely change hands:

  • Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
  • Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).

The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.

The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.

Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).

Picks that definitely won’t change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
  • Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
  • Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).

The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.

The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.

As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.

Still up in the air:

  • Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
  • Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
  • Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).

That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.

The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.

The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.

Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).

Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:

As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
  2. Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).

As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).

On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.

No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.

While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.

Thunder Sign Gabriel Deck To Multiyear Contract

APRIL 12: The Thunder’s deal with Deck was officially completed on Saturday, per’s transactions log.

According to Schlecht (Twitter link), Deck’s new contract is actually a four-year deal worth a total of $14.5MM. However, the second and third years are non-guaranteed, and the fourth year is a team option. Only this year’s $3.87MM salary is guaranteed.

In addition to being a nice payday for Deck (he now has the third-highest ’20/21 salary among current Thunder players), that $3.87MM rest-of-season commitment helps the Thunder reach the salary floor.

As John Hollinger of The Athletic explains, it remains to be seen whether Deck will actually show enough to be a keeper beyond this season for the Thunder. But even if Oklahoma City decides to move on at season’s end, his 2021/22 salary could be partially or fully guaranteed to help accommodate a trade.

APRIL 8: Argentinian forward Gabriel Deck is expected to join the Thunder on a three-year contract, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Chema de Lucas first reported (via Twitter) that Deck was finalizing an agreement with Oklahoma City.

Deck, who went undrafted in 2017, would be departing top EuroLeague squad Real Madrid two weeks before the EuroLeague’s playoffs are scheduled to kick off. Oklahoma City would be his first NBA club.

Deck played for a string of Argentinian clubs before suiting up for Real Madrid in 2018. He was voted the Argentine League MVP and was named a two-time Argentine League Finals MVP.

He averaged 8.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.0 APG and 0.7 SPG in 30 games for the Real Madrid this season, with a shooting line of .481/.412/.846.

Deck could help shore up an injury-ravaged Oklahoma City club. Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderJosh HallLuguentz DortDarius MillerIsaiah RobyDarius Bazley, and Mike Muscala have all been listed as absent ahead of the team’s latest contest against the Hornets.

The Thunder don’t currently have an opening on their roster, but 15th man Justin Robinson is on a 10-day deal, and it’s possible one or two other players on the roster may be expendable.

Vasilije Micić Expected To Join Thunder Next Season

Draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micić is expected to join the Thunder next season, according to Chema De Lucas (hat tip to Andrew Schlecht). Micić reportedly rejected a renewal offer from Turkey’s Anadolu Efes and an offer from Real Madrid in order to play in the NBA in 2021/22.

The Serbian swingman was originally selected by the 76ers with the No. 52 pick in the 2014 draft. His rights were acquired by Oklahoma City in December as part of a multi-player deal that featured Al Horford going to the Western Conference and Danny Green joining Philadelphia.

Last season, the 6’6” Micic averaged 14.5 PPG and 5.8 APG while shooting 39.7% from distance for his Turkish club. In 32 games this season, he’s averaging 16.4 PPG and 5.0 APG in the EuroLeague.

Thunder Waive Darius Miller

APRIL 9: The move is official, according to the Thunder. Miller is on track to clear waivers on Sunday.

APRIL 8: The Thunder will release veteran wing Darius Miller to accommodate the previously-reported addition of former Real Madrid swingman Gabriel Deck on what is expected to be a three-year contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Miller, currently day-to-day with a groin injury, has appeared in just 18 games with Oklahoma City this season.

The Thunder took a chance on Miller after he missed a full season of action recovering from an Achilles tear while with the Pelicans. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets that the small forward was a well-liked locker room present for a rebuilding OKC club.

This season, Miller averaged just 10.9 MPG, but carved out a respectable slash line of .458/.405/1.000. During 2019/20, his last mostly-healthy season with the Pelicans, Miller averaged a career-best 8.2 PPG and 2.1 APG, plus 1.9 RPG, in a career-most 25.5 MPG.

Tomorrow is the last day players can be waived by their teams and remain playoff-eligible for their next club, so it’s possible someone takes a flier on Miller’s shooting ability as a deep bench option with a 10-day or rest-of-season signing.

Free Agency Notes: Cap Room, Kawhi, DeRozan, Paul

In an early look at the NBA’s 2021 free agent period, Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic write that three NBA teams – the Knicks, Thunder, and Spurs – project to have more than enough cap room for a maximum-salary contract this offseason, even if they were to win the draft lottery.

Besides those clubs, the Mavericks and Hornets should be among the clubs with the most space, according to Amick and Hollinger. The Athletic’s duo projects Dallas to be about $35MM below the cap if Josh Richardson opts out, while Charlotte will have about $26MM of room.

Other teams could create cap room, but that will hinge on one or two major roster decisions. For instance, the Raptors could get up to about $25MM in space, but not if they intend to re-sign Kyle Lowry. The Suns (Chris Paul) are in a similar position, with the Heat, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Hawks, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Pistons among the other teams whose cap space – or lack thereof – will depend on what happens with certain free agents.

Here’s more from Amick and Hollinger on 2021 free agency:

  • Although Kawhi Leonard projects to be the top free agent on the market this summer, team sources and rival executives widely expect him to re-sign with the Clippers, per The Athletic. It’s possible that could change if Los Angeles exits the postseason early, but there’s no indication at this point that Leonard’s free agency will be as dramatic as it was in 2019.
  • A source with knowledge of DeMar DeRozan‘s outlook tells The Athletic he’ll take a “wide open” approach to free agency. That doesn’t necessarily rule out a new deal with the Spurs, though a March report suggested DeRozan has interest in playing elsewhere next season and perhaps returning to the Eastern Conference.
  • Amick and Hollinger believe both DeRozan and Paul will keep Jrue Holiday‘s new four-year deal ($135MM guaranteed, $25MM in incentives) very much in mind when they negotiate their next contracts. However, it’s not a perfect comparable for either player, since Paul is five years older than Holiday and DeRozan isn’t the defender that Holiday is.