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Foreign-Born NBA Player Salaries By Country

The globalization of the NBA continues to increase with each passing season. A foreign-born player used to be a rarity in the league, but no longer is that the case. There are currently 99 players on NBA rosters who weren’t born in the continental United States, which is roughly 22% of the league. This is a trend that shows no sign of letting up anytime soon, as teams will continue to comb the Earth to find players who can help them compete for championships.

Foreign-born players will rake in upward of $448,767,759 in cap hits for this season, which is good for an average take of $4,533,007. The highest-paid player born overseas is Marc Gasol of Spain, who is raking in an impressive $15,829,688 this season, a number that will almost certainly increase when he hits the free agent market this summer.

The top five non-U.S. countries for total player earnings are:

  1. Brazil $36,090,828
  2. Spain $36,085,358
  3. Canada $30,511,748
  4. Australia $29,332,962
  5. Italy $29,182,969

Canada holds the distinction of being the foreign country with the most players currently in the NBA, with 10, followed by Australia and France, which both have seven. The highest average salary goes to the Republic of the Congo, thanks to Serge Ibaka‘s $12.35MM salary for the 2014/15 campaign, and the fact that he’s the nation’s lone NBA export. The highest mean cap hit for a country with multiple players in the league is owned by Spain, as Spanish-native hoopsters cost their teams an average $7,217,072.

Below is a complete list, arranged alphabetically by country, of every foreign-born player currently in the NBA and their respective cap hits. Please note that the list reflects each player’s country of birth, and not necessarily his current citizenship.

Argentina

Total Salary=$14,531,460 /Average Salary=$4,843,820

Australia

Total Salary=$29,332,962 /Average Salary=$4,190,423

Belgium

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Total Salary=$9,525,262 /Average Salary=$2,381,316

Brazil

Total Salary=$36,090,828 /Average Salary=$6,010,138

Cameroon

Total Salary=$8,810,215 /Average Salary=$4,405,108

Canada

Total Salary=$30,511,748 /Average Salary=$3,051,175

Croatia

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Dominican Republic

England

Total Salary=$7,513,512 /Average Salary=$3,756,756

France

Total Salary=$28,177,904 /Average Salary=$4,025,415

French Guiana

Georgia

Germany

Total Salary=$12,916,162 /Average Salary=$4,305,387

Greece

Total Salary=$6,670,864 /Average Salary=$3,335,432

Israel

Italy

Total Salary=$29,182,969 /Average Salary=$5,836,594

Jamaica

Lithuania

Total Salary=$5,162,280 /Average Salary=$2,581,140

Republic of Macedonia

Mexico

Montenegro

Total Salary=$17,405,000 /Average Salary=$8,702,500

New Zealand

Total Salary=$4,261,960 /Average Salary=$2,130,980

Nigeria

Poland

Puerto Rico

Republic of the Congo

Russia

Total Salary=$12,792,132 /Average Salary=$3,198,033

Senegal

Slovenia

Total Salary=$11,283,250 /Average Salary=$3,761,083

South Africa

Spain

Total Salary=$36,085,358 /Average Salary=$7,217,072

South Sudan

Sweden

Total Salary=$5,415,243 /Average Salary=$2,707,622

Switzerland

Total Salary=$13,815,134 /Average Salary=$3,453,784

Turkey

Total Salary=$20,153,121 /Average Salary=$5,038,280

Ukraine

Venezuela

Virgin Islands

The Basketball Insiders Salary Pages were used in the creation of this post.

Offseason Outlook: Portland Trail Blazers

Guaranteed Contracts

Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Options

Restricted Free Agents/Cap Holds

Unrestricted Free Agents/Cap Holds

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (23rd overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $23,073,077
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary: $5,808,345
  • Options: $9,920,465
  • Cap Holds: $48,548,397
  • Total: $87,350,284

Portland’s offseason hinges on one name: LaMarcus Aldridge. It’ll be up to him to decide whether he continues to wear a Trail Blazers uniform or not, and there will surely be a maximum-salary offer from the Blazers waiting there for the Arn Tellem client, with his choice of contract length and option clauses. Aldridge appears, by many accounts, to be reconsidering the pledge he made last summer to re-sign with the team in the offseason ahead, one that he reiterated this past fall as the season began.

Jan 30, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus  Aldridge (12) controls the ball against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not the first time that the 29-year-old, who turns 30 in July, has wavered on a decision. It seemed as recently as two years ago that his exit from Portland was inevitable as he appeared eager to leave a rebuilding situation behind, but Portland’s quick turnaround in 2013/14 had him talking extension midway through the season. Aldridge put an end to extension talk when he said last summer that he would re-sign when his contract was up in 2015, though that was merely a prudent financial move on his part, as collective bargaining rules greatly disincentivize veteran extensions.

It’s unclear what’s triggered Aldridge’s renewed interest in leaving the Blazers. Portland stumbled down the stretch and fell quietly in the first round of the playoffs, but injuries played an outsized role in that, and Aldridge’s subpar 33.0% shooting in the Grizzlies series contributed to the team’s demise, too. Of course, Aldridge was battling an injury of his own, a torn ligament in his left thumb that was supposed to knock him out for six to eight weeks this season. Instead, he put off surgery and played through it, a decision that seemed only to further cement his status as a Blazers legend before doubts about his future with the team crept in.

Regardless, the Blazers would clearly prefer to keep Aldridge if they can, but if that proves impossible, they won’t be left without a way to contend next season, as was the case when LeBron James and Dwight Howard left their respective teams in recent years. The departure of Aldridge would leave Portland with a chance to open some $40MM in room against a projected $67.1MM cap, about enough to sign two 30% max free agents. More importantly, Damian Lillard‘s presence looms as reason for max-level players to entertain the idea of playing in Portland, as does GM Neil Olshey‘s track record of building winners with the Clippers and Blazers. Portland, in a vacuum, wouldn’t necessarily be an attractive destination to marquee free agents, but with a budding superstar and a canny executive at the helm, the Blazers can put forth a convincing case to stars that they can win.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com raised an intriguing possibility last week when he suggested that the Cavs could enter the picture for Aldridge as a sign-and-trade destination if Kevin Love were to pull a reversal of his own and change his plan to opt in. Love is a California native and went to UCLA, but he first burst onto the national basketball scene while attending high school in suburban Portland. The Blazers would offer him the chance to return to a familiar place and a more expansive role next to Lillard than he’s had with both James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland. A sign-and-trade would be tricky, since teams over the tax apron can’t take on players via sign-and-trade and Cleveland is in line to zoom well into tax territory, but on the off chance Love does opt out, the Blazers could just sign him outright.

Greg Monroe, to whom the Blazers were linked last summer, looms as a much more obtainable possibility, and so would Roy Hibbert, if he opts out, as Hibbert was reportedly ready to sign an offer sheet with the Blazers in 2012 before the Pacers made it clear they’d match. Of course, Hibbert hasn’t performed like a star lately and probably wouldn’t merit the max, and there are plenty of soon-to-be free agent big men whom Portland might find more valuable, like DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap, Brook Lopez and Tristan Thompson. None aside from Love and Marc Gasol are Aldridge’s equal among interior players in this year’s free agent class, but Gasol seems committed to Memphis.

Of course, Aldridge isn’t the only significant soon-to-be free agent in Portland. The value of Wesley Matthews has never been more apparent than over the last two months since the theretofore remarkably durable shooting guard tore his left Achilles tendon. The fortunes of just about every Blazers free agent seem intrinsically linked to Aldridge, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Portland pushes hard to bring back Matthews regardless of what happens with the power forward. It’s uncertain if the Knicks have abandoned their reported interest in the wake of the injury, which threatens to keep him from starting next season on time, and surely other teams will be wary of his recovery. Matthews turns 29 in October, but the injury is far from a death knell for his long-term productivity. If the Blazers are willing to stomach a market value deal given the possibility of a lengthy recovery and a slow adjustment to playing again, they can probably bring back one of their anchors, as he’s expressed a preference to remain in Portland.

The Blazers acquired Arron Afflalo at the deadline to serve as a sixth man behind Matthews, but the former Nuggets shooting guard wound up starting before missing time with an injury of his own to his shoulder. That injury cost Afflalo time in the postseason and was conceivably at the root of his woeful performance, but he nonetheless reportedly plans to opt out. He stands as an in-house alternative to Matthews, but the emergence of C.J. McCollum, who’s on a rookie deal much cheaper than what Afflalo will surely command, casts doubt on Portland’s need to hang on to the Sam Goldfeder client. Still, if all of the team’s other key free agents come back at salaries commensurate to what they’re making now, it would be difficult for the Blazers to afford a replacement who can produce the way Afflalo does.

Robin Lopez appeared to be the missing piece last season, when the Blazers shot from 33-49 to 54-28 and a first-round playoff series victory. The 27-year-old’s production slipped this season, though part of that had to do with a dip in playing time as the Blazers sought to make use of an upgraded bench. His game might not be quite as complementary to a big man who isn’t Aldridge, so if Aldridge leaves this summer, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Blazers look elsewhere for a starting center. Lopez would be a natural draw for brother Brook Lopez, but Brook appears likely to opt out and re-sign with the Nets, and the twins probably wouldn’t be as effective an on-court pairing as they were at Stanford.

Complicating the frontcourt for the Blazers is Meyers Leonard‘s candidacy for a rookie scale extension this summer. The former 11th overall pick rebuilt his game and added a three-point shot after falling out of the rotation last season, and he was strong on the boards in the playoffs, averaging 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. He switched agents, hiring the Creative Artists Agency and Aaron Mintz, a hint that he intends to push for a deal this summer.

Of course, Leonard isn’t the most prominent Blazer up for a rookie scale extension. That distinction belongs to Lillard, who’s already made it clear that he has no plans to settle for less than a full five-year max deal. Portland probably won’t hesitate to give it to him and jump at the chance to secure the two-time All-Star for the long term. Regardless of whether the extension would prompt Aldridge to chafe against the notion that he’s not the team’s top priority, a feeling he sensed earlier in his career, the Blazers can’t afford to dally with Lillard. Quickly securing the elite point guard in the first few days of July would allow marquee free agents to bank on the chance that they’d have a star running mate for years to come if they were to sign with Portland. Aldridge might not want to be a team’s No. 2 priority, but surely other talented free agents would.

There’s little doubt that Aldridge holds all the cards this summer in Portland, but unlike some other teams, the Blazers don’t have all their chips in front of a single superstar. The preferable outcome involves the power forward returning, but the Blazers have the wherewithal to quickly jump back into contention this coming season or in 2015/16 if he bolts.

Cap Footnotes

1 — Kaman’s salary is partially guaranteed for $1,000,000.
2 — The cap hold for Afflalo if he opts out would be $11,625,000
3 — The cap hold for Blake if he opts out would be $2,492,400
4 — The cap hold for Aldridge will be the lesser of $24,384,000 and the NBA’s maximum salary for a veteran of nine seasons. It will likely be the latter, so an estimate is used above.
5 — This presumes the estimated average salary for 2015/16 won’t be equal to or greater than Lopez’s $6,124,729 salary from this season. If it is, Lopez’s cap hold would instead be $11,636,985.
6 — See our glossary entry on cap holds for an explanation why Watson technically remains on the books.

The Basketball Insiders Salary Pages were used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Offseason Outlook: New Orleans Pelicans

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead to offseason moves for all 30 teams. We’ll examine free agency, the draft, trades and other key storylines for each franchise as the summer approaches.

State Of The Franchise

The Pelicans were decimated by injuries this past season. Eric Gordon was sidelined for 37 games. Anthony Davis missed 21 games, while Tyreke Evans sat out 57. Jrue Holiday missed 17 and was limited in more than half of the contests he did play. The result was a 30-win campaign that exposed the team’s lack of depth.

Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports

Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports

The team was in that position due to the moves it made in previous offseasons. New Orleans doubled down on the center position last summer, handing out a four-year, $20MM deal to Alexis Ajinca and five-year, slightly less than $53MM deal to Omar Asik. Asik’s contract is one of the worst in the league, though the rising cap should help mitigate having it on the books. Even so, for a team that employs Davis and has plenty of other needs, spending so heavily on the center position was a foolish decision.

Ever since the Pelicans drafted Davis, they’ve been determined to speed up the timeline of putting together a winning team around their No.1 overall pick. They traded two first-round picks for Holiday and dealt another for Asik during Dell Demps’ time as GM. The franchise would have been in better position had it had kept those selections. Nerlens Noel, Elfrid Payton and Sam Dekker were the players selected with those picks. The Pelicans likely would not have made the playoffs last season with those youngsters, and there’s no guarantee that they would have picked all three of those players had they kept the selections. In fact, they likely would been in worse position in the standings over the past several years had they not made the trades, which would have led them to receiving better picks in each of the 2014 and 2015 drafts. Having three developing players on rookie contracts in place of Holiday and Asik would have improved their cap situation going forward as well as given them a chance of injecting themselves into trade talks for potentially available All-Stars such as Jimmy Butler or Jeff Teague.

As it stands, the Pelicans have a core with a limited ceiling. Davis may very well win the MVP award one day and carry his team deep into the playoffs. Beyond him, there arguably isn’t an All-Star caliber player on the roster. Thursday’s draft likely represents the team’s best shot at acquiring a long-term running mate for Davis.

Draft Outlook

  • First-round picks: 6th
  • Second-round picks: 39th, 4oth

Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray could be targets at No. 6. Either player would fit nicely next to Holiday in the backcourt, though Murray could potentially replace Holiday as the starting point guard down the road, as I outlined in his Prospect Profile. The draft is unpredictable after the No.2 pick, so both players could gone by the time New Orleans is on the clock. The team could also go with Jaylen Brown, and he would be a tremendous addition via the No.6 pick. It’s possible that Hield, Murray and Brown come off the board right before the Pelicans are on the clock, but it’s likely at least one of those players fall to them.

This is a deep draft in terms of the amount of prospects who are projected to become at least rotation-level players. The Pelicans may be able to pick up a couple role players with their two second-round picks, which would benefit the team greatly.

Free Agents

Gordon is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, and he may have played his last game as a Pelican. In 2012, Gordon signed an offer sheet presented by the Suns and claimed his heart was in Phoenix. New Orleans matched anyway and Gordon became a subject of trade rumors for the ensuing four years. Gordon has since backed off those comments and acknowledged that he should have handled the situation differently. From a basketball standpoint, he hasn’t meshed well with Evans and Holiday. That, coupled with his inability to stay on the court, should have the franchise looking for a new shooting guard.

The Pelicans would like to keep Ryan Anderson, but his price tag may keep them from doing so. New Orleans isn’t in position to give Anderson max or near max contract, and if he receives one on the open market, which is a good possibility, he’ll likely be suiting up for a new team next season. Anderson will be eligible for the middle-tier max, which is projected to be approximately $25.4MM. The team simply can’t afford to bring Anderson back on that kind of contract.

Davis’ Extension

Davis signed a max extension last offseason that will go into effect this upcoming year. He had an opportunity this season to trigger the Fifth-Year 30% Max Criteria, which is also known as the Derrick Rose Rule. He wasn’t named to an All-NBA team this past season nor was he voted as a starter in the All-Star game. Davis also didn’t win the MVP award, so he failed to meet any of the criteria and as a result, he will make roughly 25% of the salary cap in the first year of his five-year deal rather than nearly 30%. While I’m sure the team wanted to reward its franchise player with as much salary as possible, it’s now in better position to improve the talent around him because of the cap space it saved.

Free Agent Targets

Adding a top-tier free agent, such as DeMar DeRozan or Mike Conley, probably isn’t going to happen. Nicolas Batum would be a great fit with this team, but he’ll have no shortage of suitors, which will probably lead him to receiving a deal near the max elsewhere. More likely, the team will have to look at the next tier of free agents in order to add talent.

Danny Ferry, whom the team hired as a special advisor earlier this month, was reportedly a big fan of Kent Bazemore during his time in Atlanta. Signing Bazemore is a gamble, as I discussed in the Grizzlies’ Offseason Outlook, but he could grow into the type of player who outperforms his next deal. If the Pelicans can snag the small forward at an annual salary of $12MM-14MM, they could still add a few other pieces via free agency.

Evan Fournier is another option who would fit in with the franchise both on the court and on the cap sheet. I speculate that the shooting guard will command a deal with annual salaries in that $12MM-14MM range. That’s a reasonable price given the league’s current climate, but he’s a restricted free agent, so the Magic could match any offer.

New Orleans should be looking to add a few pieces to its existing core provided it doesn’t trade away Evans or Holiday. Adding a potential starter, such as Bazemore or Fournier, in addition to a couple of role players would make for a successful offseason. Courtney LeeGerald Henderson and Mario Chalmers are among the players whom the Pelicans could look at when filling out their bench.

Final Take

Davis is progressing toward becoming one of the best players in the league, and if he reaches that pinnacle, it will overshadow some of the team’s deficiencies. Outside shooting and perimeter defense are areas that the team should address. This offseason needs to be about surrounding Davis with players who can help him elevate this team, but unless the Pelicans can pull off a deal that brings them a second perennial All-Star, the team can only go so far.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents (Qualifying Offers/Cap Holds)

Unrestricted Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Other Cap Holds

  • No. 6 pick ($2,931,000)

Projected Salary Cap: $94,000,000

Footnotes:

  1. Davis’ exact salary on his max contract won’t be determined until July. This figure represents an estimation.
  2. Babbitt’s full $1,227,286 salary would become guaranteed on July 12th.
  3. Dejean-Jones died in May, but his contract will remain on the Pelicans’ books until the team makes a roster move.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

 

Offseason Outlook: Indiana Pacers

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead to offseason moves for all 30 teams. We’ll examine free agency, the draft, trades and other key storylines for each franchise as the summer approaches.

Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports Images

Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY Sports Images

Coaching Search

It’ll be interesting to see whether president of basketball operations Larry Bird holds himself accountable in the same fashion by which he held Frank Vogel to a dauntingly high standard. If so, he’ll have to nail the search for Vogel’s replacement. Among the legitimate candidates, Nate McMillan and Brian Shaw have Pacers ties, but their track records don’t favor the go-go style Bird seems to want. Count Mike Woodson squarely in the stagnant-offense group, too. Jim Boylen was to help speed up the Bulls offense as an assistant this year, but that experiment flopped. Mike D’Antoni helped forge the NBA’s small-ball revolution, but it’s fair to question whether Bird wants to deal with a strong personality like his. The same goes for Mark Jackson, though he and Bird had a successful working relationship as player and coach.

Jeff Hornacek is much more understated and did masterful work with a two-headed point guard look his first year in Phoenix. Randy Wittman ratcheted up the Wizards offense to the fifth-highest pace in the league this season, according to NBA.com, and the Indiana native would help win over a fanbase skeptical of the Vogel firing. Hornacek and Wittman are the best fits in the running thus far.

What Happened To Ty Lawson?

Transitioning to a quicker attack is about more than finding the right coach. The Pacers lost two starting-caliber big men from their 2014/15 team but replaced Roy Hibbert and David West with only one proven starting option on the perimeter in Monta Ellis, so Bird needs to use the ample cap flexibility at his disposal to make at least one major addition. An outside chance exists that the upgrade is one the team already made when it signed Lawson in March. A foot injury he suffered five minutes into his first game with the Pacers knocked him out for two weeks, and he never became a major contributor, essentially falling out of the rotation late in Indiana’s first-round series against Toronto.

Perhaps Lawson failed to deliver because Vogel didn’t give him enough of a chance, or maybe the blame rests with Lawson, who didn’t succeed with the Rockets, either. Regardless, the speedy point guard is only 28 and just a year removed from averaging 15.2 points and 9.6 assists per game for the Nuggets. He may well prove one of the few value plays on the free agent market this summer if he takes the right approach and has the right voices in his ear. If so, and the Pacers re-sign him, he’d be the missing piece in the starting lineup, with everyone else sliding down a position. Of course, that assumes Paul George would be more receptive to guarding power forwards than he was at the beginning of this past season, but maybe the right coach can either convince him or devise lineup combinations that would limit his time at the four.

Free Agent Targets

The Pacers are set to open plenty of cap room, and just how much flexibility they’ll have will come down to whether they’re willing to keep Ian Mahinmi and give him the significant raise it would take for them to do so. Bird is duly impressed with Myles Turner, and a decent chance exists that the rookie’s strong performance this season was enough to convince the Pacers to let Mahinmi walk and turn the starting center position over to the 20-year-old from Texas. Such a move would free money for the Pacers to go hard after the perimeter player of their choice.

Indianapolis native Mike Conley would be an obvious candidate, though one for whom the Pacers would have fervent competition. Harrison Barnes would appear to be a strong fit, no stranger to a modern, souped-up offense, and he’s just the sort of perimeter player who could guard power forwards and let George play the three. Still, his free agency is restricted, and it may well take the max, or close to it, to convince the Warriors not to match. Nicolas Batum‘s free agency will be unrestricted, but it seems like he’ll be tough to pry from Charlotte. Plugging Luol Deng into the same small-ball power forward role in which he’s thrived with Miami would represent a cheaper and more feasible alternative, and the Pacers could always attempt to crack the riddle that is Jeff Green.

Potential Trades

Another way to use cap space is to absorb players into it via trade, and the Pacers could revisit their reported discussion with the Hawks about Jeff Teague. Still, plenty of teams figure to call Atlanta about either Teague or Dennis Schröder, driving up the price. Bird and company could see what it would take to trade for Derrick Rose if they’re willing to overpay him for a season before his contract runs out. Ricky Rubio‘s name comes up frequently in trade rumors, though newly minted Wolves executive Tom Thibodeau is a wild card. The Pacers have all their future draft picks to offer up, but they’d probably have a tough time finding a taker for anyone on the roster who isn’t part of their core.

Draft Outlook

  • First-round picks: 20th
  • Second-round picks: 50th

The Pacers have four players taken in the last two drafts plus undrafted developmental player Shayne Whittington, but only Turner sees meaningful minutes. The Pacers probably trade this pick if Bird doesn’t identify someone at No. 20 who’d motivate him to move on from Whittington, Joe Young or Glenn Robinson III. Perhaps Baylor small forward Taurean Prince, who played four years of college ball, would contribute immediately for Indiana if he were the pick here. Indiana’s second-rounder is in a prime spot for the always cost-conscious Pacers to trade it for cash.

Other Decisions

Bird said he wouldn’t rule out re-signing Solomon Hill, but the ill-fated decision to decline his team option for next season sharply limits what the Pacers can offer him and almost certainly closes off the possibility of him remaining with Indiana. Fellow soon-to-be free agent Jordan Hill was an efficient rebounder, as usual, but Vogel went away from him during the stretch run and the playoffs, and he doesn’t seem a fit for a new coach’s faster style, either. The non-guaranteed salaries of Robinson and Whittington become fully guaranteed on August 1st, so the moves Indiana makes in the draft and free agency, rather than their training camp performances, will decide their fate.

Final Take

Bird seems impatient for the team to return to the Eastern Conference elite, and it’s tough to blame him for wanting a more unified focus than the team had this past season. Still, Vogel did a splendid job with a roster in the midst of transition. The team’s cap flexibility means it’ll probably have better players next season, but they risk offsetting the upgrade to their lineup with an inferior coach.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Unrestricted Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Other Cap Holds

  • No. 20 pick ($1,301,900)

Projected Salary Cap: $92,000,000

Footnotes:

  1. The Pacers can’t re-sign Hill to a contract with a starting salary worth more than the amount listed here because they declined their team option on his rookie scale contract.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Offseason Outlook: Boston Celtics

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead to offseason moves for all 30 teams. We’ll examine free agency, the draft, trades and other key storylines for each franchise as the summer approaches.

State Of The Franchise

For a second straight season, the Celtics were dispatched fairly quickly from the postseason, but the early playoff exit shouldn’t diminish enthusiasm for the long-term future in Boston. Since the Celtics parted ways with their veterans and replaced Doc Rivers with Brad Stevens in 2013, the franchise has accelerated its rebuilding process, bottoming out at 25 wins in Stevens’ first year before winning 40 in 2014/15 and 48 this past season.Brad Stevens vertical

The drastic improvements on the court have come even before the Celtics have reaped most of the rewards of their blockbuster 2013 trade with the Nets, which gives Boston the third overall pick this year, the rights to swap first-rounders with Brooklyn in 2017, and the Nets’ first-rounder in 2018. Boston’s success within the last two years is as a testament to Stevens’ impact and to Danny Ainge‘s other moves, including the acquisition of All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas.

Stevens and Ainge were rewarded for their excellent work with new contract extensions earlier this month, and will continue to lead the franchise for years to come. As effective as they’ve been so far though, there’s plenty of work to be done. The Celtics are just 2-8 in the postseason under Stevens, and if they want to start making deeper playoff runs, they’ll have to start turning all the assets they’ve collected into more impact on-court talent.

The Search For A Star

Having gathered so many young players and draft picks, the Celtics could make an effort to emulate the Knicks’ and Rockets’ approach to acquiring a star — those teams turned a surplus of assets into Carmelo Anthony and James Harden, respectively, taking advantage of situations where All-Star caliber players became expendable for one reason or another.

For the Celtics, that could mean targeting a player like Jahlil Okafor, who is part of an increasingly crowded frontcourt in Philadelphia; or Kevin Love, who has never quite fit in with the Cavaliers; or Jimmy Butler, who could become available if the Bulls decide to fully enter rebuilding mode. Ainge will likely make calls inquiring on several more players around the league who teams will be reluctant to move, such as DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George.

Trading for an impact veteran, particularly one who can create his own shot and help Thomas carry the scoring load, would help the Celtics become a more dangerous team in the short term, but the club should be wary about giving up too many of its assets for a non-superstar. The Knicks and Rockets, after acquiring Anthony and Harden respectively, have each made it past the first round of the playoffs just once since making those blockbuster deals. Shoving your chips into the table sometimes makes sense, but if Ainge and the Celtics take that approach, it will have to be for the right player(s).

Fortunately for Boston, the team is so loaded with draft picks – this year and in future seasons – that Ainge could move a handful of them and still have several more to work with. That gives the franchise some room for error, and could encourage a big splash this offseason — even if the C’s don’t immediately become a title contender by making a major trade, they’ll still have some bullets in the chamber to fire down the road.

Draft Outlook

  • First-round picks: 3rd, 16th, 23rd
  • Second-round picks: 31st, 35th, 45th, 51st, 58th

A large chunk of those aforementioned assets the Celtics have stockpiled come in the form of 2016 draft picks. With eight of the 60 total selections in their possession, the C’s control more than 13% of this year’s draft, creating a ton of flexibility to add young talent or accommodate trades.

Of course, with two consensus prospects – Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram – at the top of most draft boards, the Celtics would have been in an even better spot if they’d been able to move up the lottery, but controlling that No. 3 pick still puts the team in a strong position. If the C’s keep the pick, they’ll be able to choose their favorite player out of a group of prospects that includes Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown, Marquese Chriss, Kris Dunn, and Dragan Bender.

If another team covets one of those players though, the Celtics sound more than willing to move the third overall pick, with one report indicating that the team has been “really shopping” the selection around in search of an impact player. While rebuilding clubs make the most sense as trade partners for Boston, contenders shouldn’t necessarily be ruled out either. For a contending team with a ton of salary on its books, replacing a high-priced veteran with a younger player capable of contributing immediately at a fraction of the price could make real sense.

The No. 3 draft pick is the Celtics’ most valuable draft asset, but the team has seven more picks at its disposal. The odds of Boston using even half of those selections seem slim, unless the team decides to load up on draft-and-stash players. Still, there are several different directions Ainge and the front office could go with those picks. Do they keep the third overall pick and use some of the other selections to add a lesser talent? Do they package that No. 3 pick in a deal for a star? Or do they simply push their draft assets to future years, trading some of their second-round picks for future second-rounders?

The sheer number of options available to Ainge this offseason is a good thing for the Celtics, but it will make for some difficult decisions. If Boston can go in 10 different directions with its picks, choosing the optimal path will be tricky.

To Guarantee Or Not To Guarantee?

Further complicating the Celtics’ offseason plans is the fact that the team is carrying nearly $18MM in non-guaranteed salary, the majority of which belongs to Amir Johnson ($12MM) and Jonas Jerebko ($5MM). Both players appeared in nearly every game for Boston last season, and Johnson in particular was a solid role player. Considering the team only has about $34MM in guaranteed contracts on its books for 2016/17, bringing back both players is feasible, but not necessarily a lock.

Both Johnson’s and Jerebko’s contracts are set to become guaranteed on July 3rd, so the Celtics will have to make a decision on the duo before the July moratorium ends. That could mean quickly getting a sense of which free agents are willing to come to Boston and which aren’t interested — if the team has to clear out cap space for a major signing, releasing Jerebko and perhaps Johnson as well would quickly open up another $17MM.

Free Agent Targets

While trading for talent makes sense for the Celtics, the team won’t be hindered by cap issues in its pursuit of top-tier free agents. Even after taking into account cap holds for restricted free agents Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, unrestricted free agent Evan Turner, and the club’s three first-round picks, Boston still only has about $57MM on its books for next season, not counting its non-guaranteed salaries. That’s more than enough space to make a maximum contract offer to a free agent.

While the cap flexibility is there, Boston historically hasn’t been a marquee destination for free agents, and it seems unlikely that a player such as Kevin Durant would sign with the Celtics, even if the club gets an opportunity to make a pitch in July. Obviously, if the C’s can land a player like Durant, they should go all out to do so, but the club should be wary of using its cap space on a lesser player simply to use it — a max contract for a second-tier free agent like Harrison Barnes could prevent Boston from making other moves down the line, limiting the team’s ceiling.

Although Durant will likely end up elsewhere, and Barnes may not be worth the investment required (or the complications, given his RFA status), the Celtics should be targeting players with their kind of skill-sets. In Thomas, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley, the club has a respectable backcourt, and Jae Crowder is a solid three-and-D player, but the C’s need to add scoring and outside shooting. A playmaking forward who can help shoulder the scoring load would be an ideal addition for Boston. Chandler Parsons, Nicolas Batum, Ryan Anderson, and Pau Gasol are among the free agents who the team could consider.

As for Sullinger, Zeller, and Turner, they’re all candidates to return. Given Sullinger’s and Turner’s prominent spots in the rotation last season, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Celtics try to keep them around, perhaps jettisoning Zeller, whose role was reduced. Boston could also use a rim-protecting big man, though I’d be a little surprised if the team is willing to pay big money for a free agent like Bismack Biyombo.

Final Take

The Celtics have some solid building blocks in place, and Stevens has done an excellent job at getting the most out of those players. If Ainge can figure out the best way to maximize all the assets the franchise has gathered during its rebuild, Boston could take another big step forward in 2016/17. Still, it’s not as if the C’s have to make a move before their window of contention closing. With so many roster-building options available to him, Ainge will ultimately have to decide what the best course of action is, and that could mean exercising patience and waiting for a better opportunity to cash in some of those assets.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents (Qualifying Offers/Cap Holds)

Unrestricted Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Other Cap Holds

  • No. 3 pick ($3,952,500)
  • Luigi Datome ($2,275,000)
  • No. 16 pick ($1,573,500)
  • No. 23 pick ($1,151,900)
  • Total: $8,952,900

Projected Salary Cap: $92,000,000

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Valuable Player

While the NBA won’t announce this year’s award winners until June, we’re making our picks for 2019’s major awards now.

The Hoops Rumors writing team has weighed in with our choices below, but we also want to know which players, coaches, and executives you think are most deserving of the hardware this season, so jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts.

We’re wrapping things up today with the award for Most Valuable Player. Here are our selections:

Chris Crouse: James Harden (Rockets)
This year’s tight MVP race features two players whose teams built an entire offense around them. The scheme in Milwaukee is designed around Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s play-making ability and lack of shooting. Harden’s masterful game is what powers Houston.

Giannis blossomed into a superstar during the 2018/19 season, blending his athleticism with a smart, fundamentally sound game. He led the league in win shares per 48 minutes and in player efficiency rating. Eight of the past 10 regular season leaders in PER have taken home the MVP award.

Harden, the reigning MVP, maintained his level of play this season, capping off a three-year stretch in which he realstically could have earned three Maurice Podoloff Trophies. In 2018/19, he led the league in win shares (15.2), points per game (36.1), and VORP (9.89, which ranks 12th all-time).

As I mentioned in part two of our “Contract MVPs,” Giannis played under 2,400 minutes this season, ranking 47th in the league (sandwiched between CJ McCollum and Nicolas Batum). The Bucks were able to regularly handle competition and let Antetokounmpo sit early. Harden finished second in the league in time accrued, behind only Bradley Beal.

Should we penalize Antetokounmpo for the Bucks being a much better regular season team than the Rockets? No, but we also shouldn’t discount what Harden was able to do, carrying a team plagued with instability because of injuries and a new cast of rotation players.

Both players are deserving, but Harden gets my vote.

Dana Gauruder: James Harden (Rockets)
I can’t fault anyone who votes for Antetokounmpo, but here’s the stat that tips the scale for me — Harden’s 36.1 PPG is the highest since Michael Jordan averaged a career-high 37.1 in 1986/87. Harden was a one-man band on quite a few occasions, as Chris Paul missed 24 games and Clint Capela sat out 15 due to injuries. Despite facing defenses completely geared to stop him, Harden rarely had an off night. When the situation called for him to be more of a play-maker, he notched double digits in assists 24 times.

Arthur Hill: James Harden (Rockets)
The MVP narrative favors Antetokounmpo, who was the best player on the team with the best record, but Harden deserves the honor for a second consecutive year thanks to a historically great season. Harden posted the 10th 2,800-point season in league history and won the scoring race by a margin of 8.1 PPG. He also became the first player ever to average 36 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the same season.

Harden rallied the Rockets to the No. 4 seed after a painfully slow start, putting up scoring numbers we haven’t seen in years while lifting his injury-riddled team up the standings. Antetokounmpo may have led the Bucks to 60 wins, but many of those came in an Eastern Conference that only had three other good teams once the Pacers lost Victor Oladipo. The Rockets were 53-29, so seven extra wins against weaker competition shouldn’t be enough for anyone to take away Harden’s trophy.

JD Shaw: James Harden (Rockets)
I was Team Giannis heading into the season and for roughly the first half of the campaign, but what Harden has been able to accomplish in 2019 is historically great — especially on the offensive end. He ended with 36.1 points per game on the year, the NBA’s highest mark in over three decades. He led his team to a 53-29 record despite dealing with injuries across the roster. You can’t go wrong with choosing either him or Antetokounmpo, really, but I’m sticking with Harden.

Luke Adams: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
There’s no doubt that Harden has posted historic numbers this season, but the same can be said of Antetokounmpo. The last – and only – player to match his 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 5.9 APG was Oscar Robertson in his infamous triple-double season back in 1961/62, per Basketball-Reference.

Antetokounmpo put up those numbers while also helping to anchor the league’s best defense by net rating. Harden isn’t as bad defensively as certain YouTube compilations may suggest, but his impact on that end of the floor pales in comparison to Giannis’ — The Greek Freak ranked in the top 10 in the NBA in blocks per game (1.5) and in the top 15 in three-point shots contested per game (4.1), showing off a defensive versatility that allowed him to hound offensive players both on the perimeter and at the rim. He’s a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Antetokounmpo’s on/off court stats also reflect his value. The Bucks (+2.7) and Rockets (+2.4) had fairly similar net ratings with their respective stars on the bench, but Milwaukee was absolutely dominant when Giannis played (+12.8 net rating), while Houston’s numbers when Harden played were simply very good (+6.4).

The quality of competition argument in Harden’s favor isn’t a particularly compelling one to me, given that the Bucks had a better winning percentage than the Rockets against both Eastern Conference opponents (.769 to .700) and Western foes (.667 to .615). I’m not overly swayed by Harden’s role in the Rockets’ midseason resurgence either, impressive as it was, since it’s not as if he didn’t also have a hand in the team’s 11-14 start. That was the sort of slump the Bucks never experienced, thanks in large part to Giannis’ dominance over 82 games.

Clark Crum: James Harden (Rockets)
This is a tough decision for me between The Beard and The Greek Freak, but I think Harden is closing the gap between himself and LeBron James as the greatest player in the world (sorry, Kevin Durant). That opinion, combined with Harden’s ridiculous ability to put the ball into the hoop this season (his 2,818 total points scored are the most since Kobe Bryant in 2005/06, when The Black Mamba scored 2,832 points in two more games played) has me giving the slight edge to Harden.

Yes, I know Antetokounmpo had an all-time great stat line as well, and that his team had a better record. But the Western Conference is still better than the Eastern Conference and Harden had to carry the Rockets on his back for a large portion of the season due to injuries to key teammates. If Giannis wins, it would be well-deserved, but if I had to pick one of the two, I’d pick Harden.

Austin Kent: James Harden (Rockets)
It’s physically painful for any sane basketball fan to say that Antetokounmpo shouldn’t be named the 2018/19 MVP, but year-end awards are imperfect traditions.

To put it simply, Antetokounmpo is a 24-year-old marvel who just recorded one of the most mind-blowing seasons in NBA history. Unfortunately, there’s only one name permitted on the ballot and while Antetokounmpo’s 2018/19 campaign may very well have been worthy of the award in countless previous seasons, it just missed the cut in, well, 2018/19.

Here’s why I’ve given Harden the nod: While both Harden and Antetokounmpo have reached unprecedented levels of dominance, Harden is the one that has reinvented and refined his game to single-handedly drag a ho-hum roster to title contention. Harden’s ability to adjust his game to execute Mike D’Antoni‘s offense deserves more recognition than it gets.

Antetokounmpo’s method is a relatively simple one: be gigantic, mythically athletic, and one of the hardest working players in the NBA. Harden, in contrast, has taken a relatively pedestrian NBA body, choreographed his footwork to the rhythm of a geometry text book and somehow established himself as one of the most potent point catalysts in NBA history.

In an era of padded stats and data-driven efficiency, Harden has Moneyballed the actual physics of the sport. He’s not Shaquille O’Neal dunking with an opposing team’s frontcourt hanging off his back; he’s not LeBron James running like a train in transition; he’s a portly combo guard who exploits weaknesses and studies angles like a teenager who makes $100K per year destroying people in Counter-Strike.

Harden has always been an All-Star caliber guard but now he’s an All-Star caliber guard who draws fouls better than any player in the league – to the chagrin of everyone – and has perfected a step-back that renders anybody with less than a seven-foot wingspan helpless.

I eagerly await what comes next from Antetokounmpo – there’s no question that he’s the NBA’s Best Asset – but if limited to one pick for MVP, I’m going with the mortal who figured out a new way to play a 100-year-old sport. I think in the tome of NBA history, that’s a more valuable chapter.

Who is your pick for Most Valuable Player? Share your choices and your thoughts in the comment section below!

Previously:

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

2014/15 Expanded Roster Counts

With training camps set to begin shortly, teams are still shuffling their rosters and players are still being added to fill any remaining spots. It can be difficult to keep track as there tends to be a flurry of activity this time of year as many players will be brought in for a look on non-guaranteed camp deals.

In the offseason it’s OK for teams to carry as many as 20 players, but clubs must trim their rosters down to a maximum of 15 by opening night. In the meantime, some teams will hang around that 15-man line, while others will max out their counts. Some clubs may actually have more than 15 contracts that are at least partially guaranteed on the books. That means they’ll end up paying a player who won’t be on the regular season roster, unless they can find trade partners.

With plenty more movement still to come, here’s the latest look at each team’s roster size and the contract guarantee status of each player.

(Last Updated 4-11-15, 3:57pm)Read more

Five Key Offseason Questions: Cleveland Cavaliers

No team has had a more dramatic 2017/18 league year than the Cavaliers, who dealt with Kyrie Irving‘s trade request last offseason, underwent multiple roster overhauls, improbably made it back to the NBA Finals, and are now facing the prospect of losing LeBron James — again.

The Cavaliers’ comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals to erase a 3-1 deficit and knock off the 73-win Warriors earned James the right to leave on better terms this time around than he did in 2010, but the club would still prefer to have him stick around a little longer. His decision will ultimately be the catalyst that determines which direction the Cavs will go for the next several years.

Here are five key questions facing the franchise this summer:

1. So… what’s LeBron going to do?

The two best players in the NBA are eligible for free agency this summer, but Kevin Durant is a lock to re-sign with the Warriors, making LeBron’s decision the offseason’s most important subplot. At this point, his options have been discussed ad nauseam. The Lakers, Sixers, Celtics, Rockets, Clippers, Spurs, Heat, and even the Warriors look like potential threats to the Cavs, and that’s not taking into account any potential wild-card suitors that arise during his decision-making process.

I’ve already written at length about the various factors that will play a role in James’ decision, but even after endless speculation, it doesn’t feel like we’re any closer to figuring out where he’ll end up. Every potential landing spot has its pros and cons, which could work in Cleveland’s favor, forcing the future Hall-of-Famer to seriously consider the possibility of simply sticking with the Cavs rather than leaving for any number of imperfect options.

Still, it would be somewhat surprising if James re-upped with the Cavs. He accomplished what he set out to to do when he returned to the franchise in 2014, winning a title for his hometown team. From an on-court perspective, there are better opportunities out there for him. From a marketing and lifestyle perspective, moving to a bigger market like Los Angeles would make sense. It just seems like there’s too much working against the Cavs.

That doesn’t mean that a return to Cleveland is out of the question, but if I had to bet on James starting the 2018/19 season with either the Cavs or one of the NBA’s other 29 teams, I’d take the field.

2. What should the Cavaliers do with the No. 8 pick?

While it’s possible that James will no longer be a Cavalier at this time next month, the team can’t approach the offseason as if he’s already gone. By all accounts, LeBron has yet to make a final decision, so the Cavs’ moves in the next week or two could push him in one direction or the other.

That puts the Cavs in an incredibly tough spot with their lottery pick. If the club knew James would leave, it would make sense for the front office to target the player with the highest long-term ceiling at No. 8, in the hopes of identifying a franchise player for the post-LeBron era. With no assurances one way or the other, Cleveland will have to straddle the fence, finding a player who could play alongside James or who could develop and thrive on a new-look Cavs roster.

Of course, if the Cavs really want to make a strong pitch to James, packaging the No. 8 pick in a deal for another star would represent the all-in approach. Even if the club could find a workable trade for someone like Kemba Walker or Kawhi Leonard though, it would provide no guarantees on the LeBron front. Both Walker and Leonard are eligible for free agency in 2019 and aren’t well positioned to sign extensions before then, so it’s unlikely that acquiring one of them would prompt James to commit to more than one extra year in Cleveland.

Ultimately, the Cavs probably need to take the best player available at No. 8, regardless of that player’s fit, his ability to make an immediate impact, or his appeal to trade partners. If need be, the front office could always shop that player in July after finding out what James plans to do.

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Top 50 NBA Free Agents Of 2021

The NBA’s free agent period will tip off on Monday evening at 5:00 pm central time, with deals permitted to be officially consummated as of Friday at 11:01 am CT.

Listed below are our top 50 free agents for the 2021/22 NBA season. The players on this list are on track to become free agents tonight.

Our rankings take into account both a player’s short-term and long-term value. If we were to consider solely a player’s worth for the 2021/22 season, veterans like Danny Green and P.J. Tucker would likely place higher, while younger free agents with upside, such as Talen Horton-Tucker or Josh Hart, might be ranked a little lower.

In addition to the players listed below, there are plenty of other notable free agents available this summer. You can check out our breakdowns of free agents by position/type and by team for the full picture.

Here are our top 50 free agents of 2021:


1. Kawhi Leonard, F, Clippers
Leonard’s free agency is reminiscent of Kevin Durant hitting the market in 2019 after suffering a torn Achilles. An injured Durant earned a four-year, maximum-salary deal two years ago, and Leonard could do the same this offseason, despite an expectation that he’ll miss much of next season while he recovers from ACL surgery. A reunion with the Clippers appears likely for Kawhi, who chose Los Angeles in 2019 despite having just won a title in Toronto.

2. John Collins, F, Hawks (RFA)
Collins bet on himself when he turned down Atlanta’s reported extension offer of $90MM+ over four years last offseason. He should do better than that as a restricted free agent, and he might not even have to go shopping for an offer sheet — recent reports have indicated rival suitors aren’t optimistic about their odds of prying him away from the Hawks.

3. Chris Paul, G, Suns
Two years ago, suggesting that Paul might turn down the $44MM+ option on his contract for 2021/22 would’ve gotten you laughed out of the room. But after earning All-NBA Second Team honors and leading Phoenix to its first NBA Finals in nearly three decades, Paul is poised for one last big payday after opting out of his previous deal. Rumors are circulating that he and the Suns will work out a new three-year contract worth at least $90MM.

4. Kyle Lowry, G, Raptors
Lowry isn’t in the conversation alongside Paul as one of the all-time best point guards, but there are plenty of similarities between the two veterans, who both have a major impact on winning that goes beyond the box score. Count the Heat, Mavericks, and Pelicans among the many teams that recognize Lowry’s value — they all reportedly made him their top free agent target, with Miami currently considered the frontrunner to land him.

5. Mike Conley, G, Jazz
There’s no shortage of All-Star veteran point guards on this year’s free agent market, and you could make a case that Conley is a safer long-term bet than Paul or Lowry, given their respective ages. It sounds like the Jazz are prepared to make that bet on Conley to the tune of a three-year offer worth upwards of $25MM annually.

6. Jarrett Allen, C, Cavaliers (RFA)
The Cavaliers surrendered a first-round pick for Allen earlier this year and are unlikely to let him get away, even after using the No. 3 overall pick to draft Evan Mobley, whose best long-term fit may be at center. Allen appears to be in line for a long-term deal in the range of at least $15-20MM per year, and that number could creep even higher if a suitor with cap space emerges to put some pressure on the Cavs.

7. Lonzo Ball, G, Pelicans (RFA)
Although Ball has taken positive steps forward – shooting a career-best 37.8% on three-pointers in 2020/21 – and has earned praise from star teammates Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans seem lukewarm on the idea of bringing him back, having been linked to a handful of other free agent point guards in recent weeks. If New Orleans misses out on its top targets, perhaps its relationship with Ball will continue. Otherwise, the Bulls look like the top suitor to watch.

8. DeMar DeRozan, G/F, Spurs
DeRozan’s lack of a three-point shot (he has made 35 in the last three seasons) is an oddity for a wing in the modern NBA, but his mid-range game is deadly and he has become a legitimately dangerous play-maker, averaging a career-best 6.9 assists per game in 2020/21. DeRozan probably won’t make $27.5MM per year on his next deal like he did on his last one, but he’s one of the most talented offensive players available this summer and shouldn’t be overlooked.

9. Norman Powell, G, Trail Blazers
Powell picked a good time to have a career year, racking up 18.6 PPG on .477/.411/.871 shooting in 69 games for Toronto and Portland. He’s a versatile contributor on both offense – where he can comfortably score at the rim or knock down a corner three – and on defense, where he’s capable of guarding multiple positions. He’s a lock to get a raise on last year’s $10.9MM salary.

10. Dennis Schröder, G, Lakers
Schröder reportedly turned down a four-year extension offer worth more than $80MM during the season, perhaps believing that he could squeeze the Lakers for a more lucrative deal in the offseason. Now that Los Angeles has agreed to trade for Russell Westbrook though, a reunion with Schröder seems like a long shot, meaning he may have to seek out a team with cap space or try to figure out a sign-and-trade deal that gets him in the ballpark of his asking price.

11. Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Nets
Dinwiddie missed nearly the entire 2020/21 season due to a partial ACL tear, but has apparently been generating plenty of interest leading up to free agency, having been linked to the Wizards, Pelicans, Heat, and Knicks, among several other teams. I initially projected Dinwiddie’s contract to be a step down from the ones signed by Ball and Schröder, but now I’m not so sure.

12. Duncan Robinson, F, Heat (RFA)
A career 42.3% shooter from three-point range, Robinson will hit the market a year after sharpshooters Joe Harris and Davis Bertans got long-term deals worth $16-18MM per year. There’s no reason for Robinson not to pursue a similar payday with the Heat, who should make a strong effort to keep him.

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Hoops Rumors 2015 NBA Mock Draft 4.0

The 2015 NBA Draft is today, and to hardcore hoops fans, it is one of the most exciting days of the year. It is a time of optimism, with each team hoping that the player it selects will become the next great superstar. Of course, most of the players taken on Thursday won’t live up to that distinction, but the draft is one of the most important building blocks that teams have in constructing their rosters. It looks like it will be a busy night, with a number of teams reportedly looking to either move up or down in the selection order. These trades can make predicting who will end up where a difficult task. But the speculation is a large part of the fun involved with this annual event. It’s with that in mind that I present the final version of my 2015 NBA Mock Draft:

#1 TimberwolvesKarl-Anthony Towns F/C (Kentucky)

  • Height/Weight: 7’0″/250 pounds
  • Stats: 10.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. .566/.250/.813.

Earlier reports indicated that Minnesota was leaning toward selecting Jahlil Okafor with the top pick. But I firmly believed that the Wolves would become increasingly enamored with Towns’ superior defense, athleticism, and upside as the predraft process wore on. That is now apparently the case, with the revelation that Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders is now firmly in Towns’ camp after watching him work out. Towns denied a report that the Wolves already told him he’ll be their pick, but it would be a surprise if he doesn’t end up hearing his name called first. Towns would also be a better fit than Okafor alongside Nikola Pekovic, provided that Pekovic recovers from his Achilles surgery. With Towns running the floor alongside Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and the rest of the young athletic talent on Minnesota’s roster, the team may not make the playoffs next season, but it should become a regular fixture on SportsCenter’s top plays.


#2 LakersJahlil Okafor C (Duke)

  • Height/Weight: 6’11”/272 pounds
  • Stats: 17.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. .664/.000/.510.

Okafor becomes the prize for the franchise moving up in the draft order on lottery night. Los Angeles could still throw a wrench in my mock draft by selecting a guard, but I think the idea of adding a potential franchise cornerstone like Okafor at the pivot will be too tempting to pass up. The Lakers can solidify the middle with this pick for years to come, and pairing Okafor alongside Julius Randle should make for a formidable frontcourt offensively.


#3 SixersD’Angelo Russell G (Ohio State)

  • Height/Weight: 6’5″/176 pounds
  • Stats: 19.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 5.0 APG. .449/.411/.756.

Not landing the No. 1 overall pick this season is actually a blessing in disguise for the franchise. As long as the top two teams go big, Philadelphia will have no choice but to address its glaring hole in the backcourt, rather than stockpiling another big man to go alongside Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. Philadelphia could opt for Emmanuel Mudiay here, as well as Kristaps Porzingis, whom the team is reportedly high on. But Russell’s playmaking ability and versatility should get him the nod at pick No. 3.


#4 KnicksKristaps Porzingis F (Latvia)

  • Height/Weight: 7’0″/220 pounds
  • Stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. .560/.328/.750.

This is one of the most difficult picks in the entire draft to try to predict. New York is very likely to try to trade this pick if Towns, Okafor, and Russell are off the board before the Knicks are on the clock. While Emmanuel Mudiay could very well be the choice here, he’s not an ideal fit for the triangle and isn’t as strong an outside shooter as the team would prefer from the one spot. While I’m not sold on Porzingis as a top five talent, scouts and front office types reportedly are. There’s no denying Porzingis’ athleticism and potential, but far too many international lottery picks have turned out to be busts for my comfort level. I think Phil Jackson rolls the dice on Porzingis’ upside.


#5 MagicJustise Winslow F (Duke)

  • Height/Weight: 6’6″/221 pounds
  • Stats: 12.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.1 APG. .486/.418/.641.

Orlando needs help in the frontcourt, and could lose Tobias Harris to free agency this offseason. Winslow’s game has flaws, but he could end up becoming one of the top players in the entire draft. His defensive tenacity should please new Magic coach Scott Skiles. The concern is that his outside shot won’t travel to the pros, but Winslow is a hard worker who should develop quickly. If the Magic decide to go big, then Willie Cauley-Stein is a likely target here.


#6 KingsEmmanuel Mudiay G (China)

  • Height/Weight: 6’5″/200 pounds
  • Stats: 18.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 6.3 APG. .493/.321/.586.

The Kings need a point guard in the worst way, and Mudiay falling to them at No. 6 is a gift. Cauley-Stein is also very much in play with this pick, but I can’t see Sacramento passing on the chance to add a talent like Mudiay here.


#7 NuggetsMario Hezonja G/F (Croatia)

  • Height/Weight: 6’7″/200 pounds
  • Stats: 8.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .475/.406/.739.

The Nuggets need help across the board, but a player who can light it up from the outside like Hezonja is too good to pass on. I will offer one caveat here. If Ty Lawson is dealt prior to the draft, Cameron Payne is a very real possibility here. Payne would be an excellent replacement, though he’ll likely not be ready to be a full-time starter next season.


#8 PistonsStanley Johnson F (Arizona)

  • Height/Weight: 6’7″/237 pounds
  • Stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 1.5 SPG. .446/.371/.742.

The Pistons found their replacement for Greg Monroe with the trade for Ersan Ilyasova, so a small forward becomes the priority. Sam Dekker is an option here, but I don’t see Stan Van Gundy passing on a gritty two-way player like Johnson, though his outside game will need some work for him to be an effective pro.


#9 HornetsFrank Kaminsky F/C (Wisconsin)

  • Height/Weight: 7’0″/242 pounds
  • Stats: 18.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. .547/.416/.780.

The deal for Nicolas Batum gives Charlotte the wing player it has been seeking, and it has made Kaminsky, the sweet-shooting center from Wisconsin, a likely target, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported. The Hornets also recently acquired Spencer Hawes, and together with Kaminsky, the team hopes it can replace the outside shooting that was lost when Josh McRoberts signed with the Heat last offseason.


#10 HeatDevin Booker G (Kentucky)

  • Height/Weight: 6’6″/195 pounds
  • Stats: 10.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .470/.411/.828.

The Heat land the outside shooter they have been seeking, as well as add a potential replacement for Dwyane Wade. Booker isn’t a complete player yet, and will likely require significant D-League time during his rookie season, but he’s the best pure shooter in this year’s draft.


#11 PacersWillie Cauley-Stein C (Kentucky)

  • Height/Weight: 7’0″/244 pounds
  • Stats: 8.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.7 BPG. .572/.000/.617.

President of basketball operations Larry Bird referred to Cauley-Stein as a $100MM player, and he may end up regretting those words when negotiating the player’s second contract. Indiana needs a replacement for Roy Hibbert, whose days seem numbered in Indiana. Cauley-Stein is as NBA-ready as any player in the draft and would be an excellent addition. The team also needs a point guard, and Cameron Payne may prove too tempting to pass up here.


#12 JazzMyles Turner C (Texas)

  • Height/Weight: 6’11”/242 pounds
  • Stats: 10.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.6 BPG. .455/.274/.839.

The Jazz are quietly building a competitive roster, and they could use a stretch-four to help open up their offense. Turner has an extremely high upside and would be a nice addition to the team’s rotation. Trey Lyles and Kelly Oubre are also possibilities at this slot, but Turner would fill an obvious need.


#13 Suns — Trey Lyles F (Kentucky)

  • Height/Weight: 6’10″/235 pounds
  • Stats: 8.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .487/.138.735.

What Lyles’ NBA position will be is still up for debate. He has the size and ability to guard power forwards, but his best fit may be as a small forward for the long term. Phoenix could use a boost at either spot, and Lyles could end up being one of the best players in the entire draft. Kentucky coach John Calipari didn’t give him the opportunity to display his full range of skills this season because of the squad’s ridiculous depth. Those who haven’t seen him play will be in for a pleasant surprise.


#14 ThunderCameron Payne PG (Murray State)

  • Height/Weight: 6’2″/180 pounds
  • Stats: 20.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 6.0 APG. .456/.377/.787.

The Thunder need a reliable backup for Russell Westbrook, as well as some more firepower off the bench. Payne can certainly fill both of those needs, though he’s a player who could creep into the top 10. If that ends up happening, OKC could switch gears and nab Oubre here instead.


#15 Hawks (via Nets) — Kelly Oubre G/F (Kansas)

  • Height/Weight: 6’6″/204 pounds
  • Stats: 9.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 0.8 APG. .444/.358/.718.

The Hawks are coming off a successful regular season, but injuries and lack of depth helped derail the team during the playoffs. Oubre would provide a nice building block for the future, as well as some immediate depth. Plus, if DeMarre Carroll departs, the team will have a big hole to fill. Bobby Portis is also a big possibility here, especially if Atlanta gets the sense that Paul Millsap doesn’t intend to re-sign.


#16 CelticsBobby Portis F (Arkansas)

  • Height/Weight: 6’11″/242 pounds
  • Stats: 17.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. .536/.467/.737.

Speaking of Portis … Boston could use some depth and athleticism from the four spot, and Portis can certainly provide both. The forward isn’t a stellar defender, so pairing him alongside center Kelly Olynyk could be a disaster for the team’s defensive ranking. But at pick No. 16, the former Arkansas player would provide excellent value and be a solid addition to the Celtics’ rotation.


#17 BucksSam Dekker F (Wisconsin)

  • Height/Weight: 6’9″/230 pounds
  • Stats: 13.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.2 APG. .525/.331/.708.

The Bucks need frontcourt depth as well as a player who can stretch the floor with his shooting, and Dekker can provide both. He’s a tweener, and will need to bulk up to defend at the four. He’s also a player whose hype has outstripped his ability somewhat, but Dekker is solid and more athletic than many realize. He should be a strong fit alongside Milwaukee’s other talented young players. R.J. Hunter is a tempting possibility here if the Bucks decide to add backcourt depth.


#18 Rockets (via Pelicans) — Tyus Jones PG (Duke)

  • Height/Weight: 6’1″/184 pounds
  • Stats: 11.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 5.6 APG. .417/.379/.889.

The Rockets need to improve at the point guard spot, and Jones is a pass-first playmaker who will pair nicely alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard. Jones is still a bit raw, and his athleticism leaves something to be desired. But his upside is higher than Delon Wright‘s or Jerian Grant‘s, so he gets the nod here.


#19 WizardsJerian Grant PG (Notre Dame)

  • Height/Weight: 6’5″/185 pounds
  • Stats: 16.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 6.7 APG. .478/.316/.780.

The Wizards’ talented backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal have had their injury woes, and the team could use some insurance. Washington is a talented squad that has a very real shot to contend in the East in 2015/16. The team learned the hard way in the playoffs that it needs to have solid depth at point guard. While Grant’s age, 22, has some scouts concerned that he’s already close to his ceiling, he’s a solid two-way player who fills an obvious need for the Wizards. He would be an excellent pickup for the franchise here.


#20 RaptorsRondae Hollis-Jefferson F (Arizona)

  • Height/Weight: 6’7″/215 pounds
  • Stats: 11.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG. .502/.207/.707.

Toronto desperately needs to improve on the defensive end, and snagging Hollis-Jefferson, who is perhaps the best wing defender in the entire draft, would be a great start to correcting that deficiency. His outside game, or lack thereof, is what is preventing him from being a lottery pick. But he is exciting to watch in the open court, and with some hard work and serious gym time he could develop into a steal at this spot. If Toronto decides to add a more offensive-minded player, UCLA’s Kevon Looney could be their man here.


#21 MavsDelon Wright G (Utah)

  • Height/Weight: 6’5″/178 pounds
  • Stats: 14.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 5.1 APG. .509/.356/.836.

The Mavs need backcourt help in the worst way, with the likely departure of Rajon Rondo and the uncertainty regarding Monta Ellis. Wright is a versatile guard and the best playmaker still available. He won’t be ready to start next season but will be a solid addition to the Dallas roster.


#22 BullsR.J. Hunter G (Georgia State)

  • Height/Weight: 6’5″/190 pounds
  • Stats: 19.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3.6 APG. .396/.307/.878.

Chicago needs backcourt depth, and since the top point guards are already off the board, the Bulls select the best outside shooter still available. The Georgia State product is a long-range bomber without a conscience, and I believe he’ll be a better pro than collegiate player. He’ll be a nice addition to coach Fred Hoiberg‘s squad in the Windy City.


#23 Trail BlazersJustin Anderson G/F (Virginia)

  • Height/Weight: 6’6″/227 pounds.
  • Stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.7 APG. .466/.452/.780.

The Blazers may have two significant holes to fill, depending on whether or not the franchise retains LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews. Anderson would be a nice insurance policy in the event that Matthews doesn’t return or is slow in recovering from his Achilles surgery. Looney is another possibility here.


#24 CavaliersMontrezl Harrell F (Louisville)

  • Height/Weight: 6’8″/243 pounds
  • Stats: 15.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.4 APG. .566/.243/.597.

The Cavs need to add frontcourt depth, and possibly a replacement for Kevin Love. Harrell’s game has a number of offensive similarities to Love’s, and he can also chase down his fair share of rebounds. He’d be a strong fit in Cleveland and a value pickup this late in the first round.


#25 GrizzliesJarell Martin F (LSU)

  • Height/Weight: 6’10″/236 pounds
  • Stats: 16.9 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.8 APG. .509/.269/.690.

The Grizzlies could stand to add some frontcourt depth regardless of whether or not Marc Gasol re-signs. Martin reportedly has a first-round draft promise, and though there are conflicting reports about whether Memphis is the team that gave it to him, we’ll wager that the Grizzlies did. Looney is also a possibility here if the team wants to add offense and upside instead.


#26 SpursRashad Vaughn G (UNLV)

  • Height/Weight: 6’6″/215 pounds
  • Stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG. .439/.383/.694.

The Spurs’ backcourt isn’t getting any younger, and Manu Ginobili still hasn’t announced his intentions about playing next season. So, it would be wise for San Antonio to add some depth and look toward the future. Vaughn is young and raw, but there is no denying his ability. It will likely take a few seasons for him to flourish, but he has the potential to become a top 10 scorer in the league. A big man, such as Christian Wood or Jordan Mickey, is a possibility here as well.


#27 Lakers (via Rockets) — Joseph Young G (Oregon)

  • Height/Weight: 6’2″/185 pounds.
  • Stats: 20.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 3.8 APG. .448/.357/.925.

Young has reportedly secured a first-round promise, and while a conflicting report dispels that notion, I’ll bet he ends up with the Lakers at this pick. He’s a bit undersized, but his speed and excellent outside shooting will be assets to a rebuilding Los Angeles squad.


#28 Celtics (via Clippers) — Kevon Looney F (UCLA)

  • Height/Weight: 6’9″/220 pounds
  • Stats: 11.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. .470/.415/.626.

If the Celtics don’t trade this pick, and I think they will, adding another frontcourt player would likely be the play here. I was conflicted about placing Looney near the bottom of the first round, but he drops more because of the needs of the teams picking in the early 20s than due to any lack of talent and potential. I like Looney’s upside, though he bears the dreaded tweener tag, and he may not have a defined position in the NBA. The Celtics could certainly use more versatility on offense, and Looney has the potential to provide it.


#29 Nets (via Hawks) — Terry Rozier G (Louisville)

  • Height/Weight: 6’1″/190 pounds
  • Stats: 17.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 3.0 APG. .411/.306/.790.

With the health and production level of Deron Williams a concern, Brooklyn could certainly use an insurance policy at the point guard spot. Rozier has been impressing teams during his pre-draft workouts, and he’s likely earned himself a first-round selection. The Nets land a solid backup and insurance policy.


#30 WarriorsChristian Wood F (UNLV)

  • Height/Weight: 6’11″/220 pounds
  • Stats: 15.7 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 2.7 BPG. .497/.284/.736.

The Warriors don’t have many needs, but frontcourt depth is certainly one of them. Andrew Bogut is always an injury risk, and the franchise is reportedly looking to move David Lee to avoid a hefty luxury tax payment. Wood is a young player who won’t be ready to step in and play major minutes his rookie season, but he has a high upside and would be a solid addition to the franchise. Robert Upshaw and Guillermo Hernangomez are also possibilities with this pick.

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