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Glen Davis Signs With Clippers

The Clippers have officially announced their signing of Glen DavisThe team was considered the frontrunner for Davis thanks to his ties to coach Doc Rivers, for whom Davis played with the Celtics, plus the power forward’s desire to play for a contender. Davis, whose contract covers the rest of the season, is the only player on the Clippers roster to have won an NBA title. A number of other teams, including the Nets, Bulls, Heat, Spurs, and Warriors, were alsNBA: Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magico interested in signing Davis.

After deciding not to extend Sasha Vujacic another 10-day contract and trading Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens, the Clippers roster stood at 12 before the addition of Davis. The roster flexibility was created in part to give the Clippers the opportunity to sign players on the buyout market, like Davis, who’s a client of John Hamilton of Performance Sports Management.

Orlando was trying to trade Davis at the deadline but was unable to find a taker.  Davis is due the remainder of his $6.4MM salary this season and $6.6MM in 2014/15.  The 28-year-old is coming off of a year in which he averaged 15.1 PPG and 7.2 RPG with a 15.0 PER in an injury-shortened 2012/13.  So far in 2013/14, Davis has been hampered by injuries. He’s averaged 12.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG in 30.1 minutes per contest this season.

According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter Link), the Magic didn’t use the stretch provision on Davis, and are taking the full hit on his $6.6MM salary during the 2014/2015 season. Kyler also tweeted that the team had told Davis last weekend of its intention to negotiate a buyout of his contract and waive him. It hasn’t been announced how much, if any, of his salary he relinquished in the buyout.

Zach Links contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports first reported that Davis had a deal, and that it covered the rest of the season. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times noted that Davis was set to take a physical and sign with the team today (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Suns

Clippers coach Doc Rivers will actively recruit bought out players that L.A. wants to sign in the coming days, he tells reporters including Arash Markazi of ESPN LA. “You always do. I’m not going to say any names, but there’s more than one team that wants all these guys, at least a lot of the guys. You have to talk to them, for sure.” Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Rivers also discussed Glen Davis per Markazi, who was recently bought out and is expected to pick between the Clippers and Nets for the rest of the year. In Davis’s case, Nets veteran Kevin Garnett is reportedly in a recruitment competition with Rivers. This doesn’t surprise Rivers, who coached both players to a championship with the Celtics: “I think they always liked him. It doesn’t surprise me at all. That group won a title together and came one game away from winning another one. You’d think there’s a kinship.”
  • In the same piece, Markazi suspects the Clippers need to add multiple players to bolster their title hopes, even if Davis is the most noteworthy name on the market. Injuries to J.J. Redick and the team’s parting with Byron Mullens leaves the team thin in both the backcourt and frontcourt.
  • The Suns went through Thursday’s trade deadline without making any changes, and players, coaches, and management all echo their comfort level with the team as constructed to Matt Peterson of Suns.com.  Head Coach Jeff Hornacek is happy the team that has surprised with success will remain intact, saying, “It’s great that the team stays the way it is and we just keep going.” GM Ryan McDonough adds, “Unless there was a superstar or a blockbuster deal, we didn’t want to affect our group because they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do and they’ve played well. We’re 11 games over .500 as we get into late February. We didn’t want to make a move in-season just for the sake of doing something. We’re fine doing nothing because we’re happy with the guys we have.”
  • In the same piece, McDonough tells Peterson that the Suns timed their trades for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, and two first round picks over last summer because they didn’t think picks would be as easy to come by closer to the draft. He appears to be right, considering no first round selections swapped hands in the month of February.

2014/15 NBA Team And Player Options

Our list of 2014 free agents includes players that have options or non-guaranteed contracts for next season. However, since they’re mixed in with all the rest of the free agents, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of which players may continue playing on their current contracts. So we’ll use this space to round up all the players who have a player option, an early termination option, or a team option for the 2014/15 season.

The decision to exercise a team option can only be made by the club, while a player option can only be exercised by the player. An early termination option is a type of player option that can only be included in contracts of five years or more. If an option is picked up, the player will remain under contract for at least the 2014/15 season, while turning down an option means the player is eligible to become a free agent next July. Decisions are due by the end of June.

Listed below are the player, early termination, and team options for the 2014/15 season, along with each player’s team and the amount of the option.

Player

Team

Early Termination

Lowe’s Latest: Clippers, Gay, Pekovic, Heat

In his latest lengthy piece for Grantland.com, Zach Lowe evaluates the offseason so far for all 30 NBA teams, writing that the Rockets stand alone as the only club to significantly improve without sacrificing future assets or flexibility. It's worth reading Lowe's entire piece, especially if you're curious to find out what he had to say about your favorite team. But here are a few notable tidbits from the story:

  • The Clippers recognize that even after adding free agents Ryan Hollins and Byron Mullens, the team needs another big man, and will likely sign one soon.
  • Lowe notes that the Raptors could be in position to clear a chunk of cap space next summer, when Rudy Gay's and Kyle Lowry's contracts could expire. According to Lowe, the Raps privately expressed a belief when they traded for Gay last season that he'd likely opt out next summer in search of a longer-term deal, rather than exercising his 2014/15 player option.
  • While the Jazz have taken some criticism for letting Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk rather than trying to flip them at the trade deadline for something of value, Lowe says Utah would have been willing to move either player last February if the club could have landed a first-round pick and avoided taking on long-term money.
  • There's some confusion among rival executives about why the Lakers are bothering with players like Chris Kaman and Nick Young, rather than going into full-blown tank mode, says Lowe.
  • Among the executives Lowe spoke to in Las Vegas, a couple of the most common questions involved what the Mavericks' and Bucks' plans are, since neither team seems to have a clear-cut direction.
  • The Timberwolves are a "99.9999% bet" to re-sign Nikola Pekovic at a fair number, according to Lowe.
  • Don't expect the Heat to be passive about LeBron James' potential 2014 free agency, says Lowe, adding that Pat Riley and the front office "won't promise him the same aging and top-heavy roster."
  • The Spurs are likely one of the teams unhappy about Andrei Kirilenko's new deal with the Nets, since San Antonio tried to acquire the Russian via sign-and-trade after being told he wouldn't sign for mid-level money.

Week In Review: 7/15/13 – 7/21/13

This summer didn't bring Dwight Howard to Dallas, but Mark Cuban wasn't going to just sit on his wallet.  The Mavs went out and formed a backcourt of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis while bolstering the frontcourt with Samuel Dalembert, who was signed to a two-year, $7.5MM deal this week.  Here's the rest of our look back at the week that was on Hoops Rumors..

Bobcats ‘Aggressively’ Pursuing Rudy Gay

The Bobcats have shown committment to a slow rebuild after bottoming out with last year's 7-59 debacle, but according to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, they're willing to depart from that strategy for the right player. Apparently, basketball president Rod Higgins and GM Rich Cho are convinced Rudy Gay is the sort of guy for whom they'd be willing to change course, as Kyler reports the Bobcats are one of multiple teams "aggressively" pursuing the Grizzlies small forward (Twitter links).

Kyler notes the 'Cats may not have enough to offer Memphis, which makes sense, since Charlotte has only won two games since November. Still, the Grizzlies would primarily be seeking salary cap relief in any deal involving Gay, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors examined earlier this week. The Bobcats would probably have to come up with some combination of draft picks and young players, and with their own likely lottery selection as well as protected first-rounders from the Pistons and Blazers, Charlotte could offer Memphis plenty of draft help. If they're willing to part with either Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, along with perhaps Ramon Sessions or Byron Mullens and a few throw-ins to make the salaries match, that might be enough for a reasonable proposal. Gay has $53.67MM remaining on his deal, including this season, so the Bobcats and just about anyone else would have to give up at least a few key components to bring him on board, as Kyler suggests via Twitter.

Of course, the Grizzlies have no shortage of suitors for Gay. Chad Ford of ESPN.com, in an Insider-only piece, today mentioned the Wizards, Clippers, Magic and Mavs as teams with interest, and other teams have been linked to him as well over the past few weeks. Ford surmises that offers for Gay will be better as the deadline approaches, but ultimately the Grizzlies are in control. It's up to CEO Jason Levien, GM Chris Wallace and the rest of the Grizzlies retooled front office to decide whether it wants to deal with Gay's luxury tax implications now or after the season, and Gay's teammates would prefer that he stays put. The Grizzlies aren't active in talks at the moment, and unless the Bobcats or another team comes up with a truly enticing offer, the Grizzlies players may get their wish of having one more shot at the title together.

Southeast Notes: Hennigan, Heat, Wizards, Bobcats

The Magic formally introduced new GM Rob Hennigan today, and the former Thunder assistant GM received a thorough vetting from the central Florida media. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel writes about Hennigan's analytical, "Moneyball" approach and wonders whom he'll hire to coach the team. Fellow Orlando Sentinel writer Mike Bianchi says the 30-year-old Hennigan could age quickly, given the drama surrounding Dwight Howard. John Denton of Magic.com looks at the path Hennigan took to get to his new position, and the tasks that lay ahead. Clearly, Hennigan will be judged first on what he does with Howard, whether that means keeping him or turning him into assets or cap space that can help the team in the future. There's plenty of news concerning Hennigan's opponents in the Southeast Division as well.

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Odds & Ends: Powell, Lakers, Azubuike, Curry

Here are a few Wednesday afternoon odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • Josh Powell, who was thought to be drawing interest from a handful of NBA teams, has decided to play in Puerto Rico, as he announced on his Twitter account. According to Sportando, Powell will play for Brujos de Guayama.
  • Lakers legend Magic Johnson will become the face of Los Angeles Dodgers ownership, after his bidding group reached an agreement to buy the MLB franchise for a staggering $2.15 billion. Check out MLB Trade Rumors' story for more details.
  • Current Laker Andrew Bynum stirred up some drama when he was benched following a misguided three-point attempt, says Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Bynum, who will have his 2012/13 option exercised by the team, didn't seem to have any regrets: "I guess 'don't take threes' is the message, but I'm going to take another one and I'm going to take some more, so I just hope it's not the same result."
  • Kelenna Azubuike won't play a significant role on the Mavericks' 2011/12 squad, but Dallas intends to exercise its team option for next season, barring a setback, as Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes.
  • Jonathan Abrams of Grantland.com takes an interesting look at the next step for an NBA player when he finds out he's been traded.
  • Byron Mullens is becoming a larger part of the Bobcats' future plans, according to an Associated Press report (via NBA.com).
  • The Warriors will re-evaluate Stephen Curry in two weeks to determine if he's ready to ready to return to action, the team announced today. There's been speculation that Golden State would prefer Curry not play this season, in part because the team would like to retain its top-seven-protected pick that's ticketed for Utah. Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group hears that Warriors management wouldn't mind Curry sitting out the season, though they'd be happy to have him return to the lineup if he's healthy.

Players Who Have Met Starter Criteria

We're a little more than three-quarters of the way through the NBA season, and it's exactly three weeks after the trade deadline, so for the most part, player roles are clearly defined. For soon-to-be free agents, their coach's decision to either start them or bring them off the bench has a significant, if indirect, effect on their next contracts. For restricted free agents, that decision can have a direct effect.

The NBA's collective barganing agreement defines a "starter criteria" that determines the amount of the qualifying offer teams must extend to retain the ability to match offers for their restricted free agents. Any player set to hit restricted free agency who starts at least 41 games or plays 2,000 or more minutes in the final season of his contract meets the criteria. Players may also meet the criteria by averaging those figures over the final two seasons of their contract. Since there were only 66 games in last year's lockout-shortened season, the starter criteria figures were prorated accordingly — so, 33 games started or 1,610 minutes played.

For players drafted in the first round, the size of the QO is determined by the player's draft position. Second-rounders get a QO worth 125% of the their previous salary, or their minimum salary plus $200K, whichever is greater.

But, if a player meets the starter criteria, those figures can go up. Players drafted No. 10 through No. 30 can get a QO equivalent to that of the No. 9 pick in their draft class by meeting the starter criteria. Second-rounders and undrafted players can get a QO equal to the No. 21 pick in their draft class by doing so.

Lottery picks can actually lose money on their qualifying offers if they fail to meet the starter criteria. Anyone drafted No. 1 through No. 14 will see his QO reduced to the level of the No. 15 pick in his draft class if he falls short of the starter criteria.

Usually, restricted free agents don't sign their QOs; they're merely placeholders or starting points for negotiations. But, there's been a rise in the number of players taking their QOs of late, and Brandon Jennings has threatened to do just that to get to unrestricted free agency sooner. Jennings, picked No. 10 in the 2009 draft, has met the starter criteria, but will only get a slight bump in his QO, to $4.531MM from $4.33MM, for doing so. 

Most of the soon-to-be restricted free agents have either achieved the starter criteria or appear unlikely to do so. The only one on the fence is Byron Mullens. He's unlikely to get to 2,000 minutes this season, but he needs just one more start to qualify. Unfortunately for Mullens, Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap removed him from the starting lineup this past weekend, a decision that could prove costly for Mullens, the 24th overall pick in 2009, if he remains a reserve. He's due a $3.294MM QO as of now, but he could get the $4.531MM that Jennings is in line for with just one more start.

Here are the players up for restricted free agency in the offseason who've already met the starter criteria:

All players set to hit restricted free agency are denoted with an "(R)" on our list of 2013/14 NBA free agents.

Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.

Week In Review: 7/28/14 – 8/3/14

Pacers swingman Paul George is likely to miss all of next season after suffering a horrific injury to his right leg early in Friday’s Team USA intra-squad scrimmage in Las Vegas.  The injury occurred when George attempted to block a transition layup by James Harden, and George’s leg came down awkwardly and buckled as he knocked into the basket stanchion.  The injury certainly hurts the Pacers’ chances of contending in 2014/15 and is nothing short of heartbreaking for the 24-year-old.  More from the week that was..

Odds & Ends: Gordon, Cavaliers, Vazquez

Eric Gordon may have to win back some of the fans in New Orleans this year after comments he made about his "heart" already being in Phoenix and not wanting the Hornets to match after the Suns signed him to an offer sheet. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo elaborates on Gordon's thoughts throughout the free agency process and says that the Gordon is now committed to leading a young New Orleans team moving forward. Spears also says that the 6'3 guard has the ability to opt out after the third season and become an unrestricted free agent. Here's more of the miscellaneous tidbits what we've heard this evening..

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Where Are They Now?: Ex-Sixers From Hinkie Era

Sixers GM Sam Hinkie likes to point to Robert Covington, whom the team signed in mid-November last year, as symbolic of the value in trolling the fringes of the NBA’s talent pool for overlooked talent. The team has had other successes, notably with camp invitee T.J. McConnell, but it’s taken a lot of work to sort through the chaff. A whopping 45 players are no longer with the Sixers after having appeared on their regular season roster at some point since the team hired Hinkie in May 2013, and only 16 of them, barely more than a third, are still in the NBA. Eleven of the 45 are playing overseas, 10 are in the D-League, six are free agents and two have announced their retirements.

Hinkie inherited Lavoy Allen, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, so if you discount them, he’s cycled a dozen current NBA players through his regular season roster. A few, like former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams and Ish Smith, have played prominent roles for other NBA teams this season, but none is approaching stardom.

This list of ex-Sixers who’ve appeared on the team’s regular season roster during Hinkie’s tenure includes players who never actually suited up for the team, like Andrei Kirilenko, but it doesn’t include camp invitees or players who passed through the team’s hands during the offseason. Still, it demonstrates the volume of moves the team has made and the lack of eye-popping names involved. Their current whereabouts are noted, with bold text marking those still in the NBA:

Several Trade Exceptions Set To Expire

Thursday’s 2pm Central trade deadline is the final chance teams will have to make trades this season, and for some clubs, the opportunity cost is even larger. The Pacers have been sitting on a trade exception worth nearly $4.282MM since last year’s Danny Granger trade, but unless they use it before Thursday’s trade deadline, the exception vanishes. It’s unlikely they’ll use the majority of it, since they’re relatively close to the tax threshold, a line the team has long vowed not to cross, but they’ll lose the chance to expend even a portion of it unless they act this week. Indiana is one of seven teams with trade exceptions that expire with the trade deadline.

Four of those seven have trade exceptions worth in excess of $1MM, including the Nuggets, who have two exceptions valued at about $1.659MM and $1.169MM, respectively. Neither is the sort of powerful weapon that the Celtics have in their $12.9MM-plus Rajon Rondo exception, but they’re assets nonetheless. A trade exception allows a team to take in one or more players who make up to the value of the exception plus $100K. That means that two more of the seven teams with expiring trade exceptions can take back players with salaries of more than $1MM, since the Clippers and Kings have exceptions worth more than $900K. That leaves only the Wizards, who only have $16K left on the Eric Maynor trade exception they created last year, meaning their exception is effectively useless.

The trade deadline also compromises the value of disabled player exceptions, which five teams around the NBA possess. Those clubs will only be able to use those exceptions for a signing or to claim a player off waivers once Thursday passes. They won’t even be able to do that after March 10th, when disabled player exceptions fully expire.

Borrowing from our complete list of outstanding trade exceptions, here are the exceptions that will lapse at this week’s trade deadline:

Denver Nuggets

Amount: $1,659,080
Obtained: Andre Miller (Wizards)

Amount: $1,169,880
Obtained: Jordan Hamilton (Rockets)

Golden State Warriors

Amount: $1,210,080
Obtained: MarShon Brooks (Lakers)

Amount: $788,872
Obtained: Kent Bazemore (Lakers)

Indiana Pacers

Amount: $4,281,921
Obtained: Danny Granger (Sixers)

Los Angeles Clippers

Amount: $947,907
Obtained: Byron Mullens (Sixers)

Amount: $884,293
Obtained: Antawn Jamison (Hawks)

Sacramento Kings

Amount: $973,809
Obtained: Marcus Thornton (Nets)
Initial amount: $2,424,687
Used: Scotty Hopson ($1,450,878)

San Antonio Spurs

Amount: $1,463,000
Obtained: Nando De Colo (Raptors)

Washington Wizards

Amount: $16,000
Obtained: Eric Maynor (Sixers)
Initial amount: $2,016,000
Used: DeJuan Blair ($2,000,000)

Top Three-Point Shooters Still On The Market

Three-point shooting is a commodity now more than ever in the NBA, and teams quickly snapped up most of the best shooters in a free agent market that made few of them available. Mike Miller went to the Cavs, the Thunder signed Anthony Morrow, and an injury to Patty Mills helped short-circuit his free agency and lead him back to the Spurs.

Still, there are several proficient long-range shooters who are still available. Ray Allen, the league’s all-time leader in three-pointers made, might be the most notorious among them, but he had a down season last year, and at 39 years old, his continued effectiveness is questionable. Three-point shooting is among the many skills that made Suns restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe the No. 4 player on the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings, but Phoenix will make the final decision over where he’ll play this coming season.

There’s one name that appears on the list below as well as the compilations of the top scorers and top rebounders on the market that I’ve put together in the past week: Michael Beasley. The former No. 2 overall pick carries some baggage from his flameouts earlier in his career, but when he saw playing time for the Eastern Conference champion Heat last season, he was effective.

Here’s the list of the top remaining free agents in descending order of three-point percentage. I’ve limited this to 10 players instead of the 15 available scorers and rebounders I listed, given the paucity of effective veteran long-range shooters who don’t already have NBA deals. Players must have attempted at least 50 three pointers last season to qualify, and that’s precisely the number taken by Hedo Turkoglu, who sits at the top.

  1. Hedo Turkoglu (44.0%)
  2. Rasual Butler (41.9%)
  3. Doron Lamb (40.0%)
  4. Michael Beasley (38.9%)
  5. Chris Douglas-Roberts (38.6%)
  6. Ray Allen (37.5%)
  7. Francisco Garcia (35.8%)
  8. Eric Bledsoe (35.7%)
  9. E’Twaun Moore (35.4%)*
  10. Rashard Lewis (34.3%)

* — Moore is reportedly expected to sign with the Bulls, but it’s not entirely clear whether the sides have an agreement.

Honorable mention:

  • Earl Clark would be next on the list, having made 33.6% of his three-pointers. No other available free agent who took at least 50 attempts from behind the arc made at least 33% of them.
  • Derek Fisher met the qualifying criteria and would have been sixth on this list at 38.4%, but he’s now the head coach of the Knicks. Shane Battier made 34.8% of the 210 three-pointers he took, which would put him 10th on the list at 34.8%, but he announced his retirement.
  • Byron Mullens (37.1%), Nando De Colo (34.0%) and Al Harrington (34.0%) have all agreed to deals overseas, but if they hadn’t, they’d appear on this list.

How They Were Signed: Minimum Salary Exception

As we continue to look at how teams have signed players on their roster, it is fitting on the last day that players unguaranteed salaries become guaranteed that we focus on the way most unguaranteed players were signed – the minimum salary exception.

Teams that are over the salary cap can sign a player for their allotted minimum salary for up to 2 years. Below is a player’s minimum salary dependent on how many years they have played in the NBA.  

Minimum Salary

Players with no NBA playing experience can be signed to a minimum salary deal. This is typical of second round draft picks because only first-round picks are guaranteed a rookie scale contract.

To incentivize teams to sign older players, the NBA has agreed to reimburse teams that sign a player with three or more years’ experience, with a few stipulations. The NBA will only reimburse the amount over what it would cost if that player had played in the NBA for two years and will only reimburse the team if the player was signed to a one year deal.

Below is a team by team list of players who were signed using the minimum salary exception. You can read more details on the exception here.

Because this article is posted past the 4pm deadline, all players listed below are now fully guaranteed for this season. Additionally, keep in mind the players listed below were signed under the exception. Other players may have been signed to a minimum salary contract but their team had cap space and thus didn’t need the exception to sign that player.

StorytellersContractsShamSports, and Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ’s were used in the creation of this post.

NBA Signees With D-League Experience

The D-League is certainly not a basketball destination of riches, with the highest salaries in the league last season topping out at $26K, according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (Twitter link). Of course, some NBA players spend time on assignment in the D-League, and when they do, they receive their full NBA salaries. In most cases, a player on D-League assignment is making a rookie or minimum salary, and a D-League stint is usually a sign that the player isn’t performing well enough to earn NBA minutes. With NBA minutes comes NBA money, and spending time in the D-League doesn’t portend well for a player’s bank account.

Martell Webster is the exception. He appeared in eight games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in 2005/06, on assignment from the Trail Blazers, who’d drafted him directly out of high school the previous summer. That D-League experience was a distant memory when he signed a four-year, $21.991MM deal with the Wizards for the full amount of the mid-level exception this past offseason. Matt Barnes is the only other player with D-League experience to have signed a seven-figure NBA contract this year.

Teams around the NBA have just recently begun to realize the potential of the D-League, and many are taking advantage of new rules that allow them to more liberally assign their players. Nearly half the teams in the NBA have a one-to-one affiliation with a D-League team, furthering the player development relationship. More lucrative contracts could find their way into the hands of D-League alums in the years ahead, but this year’s free agent crop shows no sign of that happening yet. Here’s every player with D-League experience to sign a free agent contract with an NBA team this offseason. Non-guaranteed contracts that cover just one season at the minimum salary — mere invitations to training camp — are not included.

The Hoops Rumors Free Agent Tracker was used in the creation of this post.

Renounced Players: Wednesday

As teams clear cap space to finalize signings and trades, it may mean renouncing Early Bird or Bird rights to their own free agents, in order to remove cap holds from the books. Once a player is renounced, his previous team has no more claim to him that any other team — he could still be re-signed, but it would have to be done using cap space or an exception. Some of those decisions are more notable than others, but for completion's sake, we'll track the latest of these cap-clearing moves right here:

Earlier updates:

 

Qualifying Offers And The Starter Criteria

As we explained a year ago when the 2011/12 regular season ended, new details of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement have slightly modified the usual process for restricted free agency. The qualifying offers teams extend to potential restricted free agents are now based, in some instances, on a newly-defined "starter criteria."

The CBA describes a "starter" as either starting 41 games or playing 2,000 minutes in a season, and rewards players for meeting those criteria. If a player achieved one of those benchmarks in the season prior to his free agency, or averaged one of those benchmarks in the two seasons leading up to his free agency, his qualifying offer will be affected as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter critera will receive a same qualifying offer equal to 120% of the amount applicable to the 15th overall pick.
  • A played picked between 10th and 30th who meets the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to 120% of the amount applicable to the ninth overall pick.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to 100% of the amount applicable to the 21st overall pick.

Because the 2009 class of first-round picks will be hitting restricted free agency this season, the 2009/10 rookie scale will dictate the qualifying offers received. Using RealGM's rookie scale chart for 2009, we can calculate the qualifying offers as follows:

  • 120% of the amount applicable to the ninth overall pick is $4,531,459.
  • 120% of the amount applicable to the 15th overall pick is $4,135,391.
  • 100% of the amount applicable to the 21st overall pick is $2,785,146.

So which players will be affected by this new rule this summer? Using our list of free agents (restricted FAs are marked with R), the above calculations, and the starter criteria, this offseason's modified qualifying offers are listed below. Teams will have to offer these free agents a one-year contract worth the listed amount to make them restricted — otherwise they'll become unrestricted and can freely sign with any club.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet the starter criteria and will now be eligible for a QO of $4,135,391 (previously anticipated QO in parentheses):

Players picked between 10th and 30th who met the starter criteria and will now be eligible for a QO of $4,531,459 (previously anticipated QO in parentheses):

Other free agents with three years or less in the NBA who met the starter criteria and will be eligible for a QO of $2,785,146:

  • None. Although restricted free agents like Nikola Pekovic (Timberwolves) and Tiago Splitter (Spurs) also met the starter criteria, both players are already in line for higher QOs because they were signed to larger deals using cap space (Pekovic) or the mid-level exception (Splitter).

Returnees By Team: Eastern Conference

There's been plenty of roster turnover this offseason, and some teams have been significantly more active than others, as usual. Though the Heat added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, most of the players from their championship team last year were under contract for at least one more season, so they bring back a dozen members of last year's squad, more returnees than any other Eastern Conference team. 

Success is not necessarily a harbinger of stability, though, with only other Eastern Conference playoff team bringing back more than seven guys. Six lottery teams have eight or more returnees, including the woeful Bobcats, who have eight of the same players from the team that set a record for the lowest winning percentage in NBA history last year. 

This list includes players who were under contract with their teams at the end of last season, so Jeff Green, whose deal with the Celtics was voided last year, and Mickell Gladness, who played for the Warriors after the Heat cut him loose, are seen here. We'll follow up soon with the Western Conference list.

Offseason Outlook: Charlotte Bobcats

Guaranteed Contracts

Options

Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents / Cap Holds

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (4th overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $26,961,207
  • Options: $13,200,000
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary: $916,099
  • Cap Holds: $35,130,223
  • Total: $76,207,529 

Perhaps the two most compelling news items for Bobcats fans may have happened within the past month, as the team announced it will change its name to the Hornets in 2014/15 and hired Patrick Ewing as the lead assistant to new head coach Steve Clifford. Certainly there's been little on the court for Charlotte to get excited about, since the team is a combined 28-120 over the last two seasons. At least the Bobcats couldn't be accused of tanking this year, since they won their final three games of the season to move past the Magic in the standings. Of course, that meant the team was 5.1% less likely to win the No. 1 draft choice and 8.5% less likely to wind up with a top-three pick, and that manifested in the 'Cats slipping to fourth in the draft order.

Charlotte probably won't be missing out on a superstar as a result, given the weakness at the top of this year's field of prospects, but it's clear the draft plays a significant role for the team as it tries to climb out of the dregs of the league. Three of the players with the team's five highest guaranteed salaries for next season are on rookie-scale contracts. Still, Michael Kidd-GilchristKemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo haven't developed into stars, and neither has Gerald Henderson, the team's lottery pick from 2009 who's up for restricted free agency this summer. As part of a meeting with season ticketholders in March, GM Rich Cho was asked about the weakness of this year's draft and pointed instead to next year's class, which looks much stronger. The Bobcats could have as many as three first-round picks next year, but unless the Bobcats unearth a gem from this year's crop, there will be little reason for optimism based on the team's track record in the draft.

Owner Michael Jordan told that same group of season ticketholders to expect plenty of change this summer, and the team has already hired Clifford to replace Mike Dunlap, who lasted just one season as coach. The Bobcats have the cap flexibility to make the changes Jordan promised, even if Ben Gordon opts into his $13.2MM salary for next season, which seems inevitable. The team could amnesty Tyrus Thomas, who has two years and $18,082,645 left on his contract, to create more cap room. Given the seven-year veteran's career-worst 4.8 points per game and .353 field goal percentage this year, I wouldn't expect Thomas back with Charlotte next season.

Amnestying Thomas would give the team enough cap room to pursue a marquee free agent like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, but neither of them will likely spend a minute thinking about the Bobcats this summer, even though Paul is a North Carolina native. Last year's offseason, in which Ramon Sessions was the team's most noteworthy free agent signing, signaled how difficult it will be for the Bobcats to attract even the most pedestrian of players. The Bobcats used a less conventional means of acquiring talent last summer when they claimed Brendan Haywood off amnesty waivers from the Mavericks, and if another worthy target gets amnestied this summer, I wouldn't be surprised to see Charlotte make another claim. Picking players off the scrapheap isn't exactly the most effective method of rebuilding, however.

I expect Cho and president of basketball operations Rod Higgins to pursue trades this summer. The 'Cats don't have many attractive assets on the playing roster, but they have a wealth of draft picks, and they could use their cap space to absorb an overpaid player from another team. That doesn't make them unique, though, as other clubs could put together packages that are just as attractive, if not more so. There's been speculation that the Bobcats could pursue a Chris Bosh trade, but I don't think the Heat will be ready to unload a core piece of their championship team for cap space and draft picks until it's proven that their title-winning opportunities are behind them. Bosh can opt out of his deal after next season anyway, so I sincerely doubt the Bobcats would mortgage the future to bring on a player who might be gone after just one season. 

The Bobcats would be better served by setting their sights on someone signed to a long-term deal, though that may once more necessitate taking on less-than-marquee talent. It's difficult to build a team from the bottom up in a small market, but Michael Jordan's ownership is an ace in the hole. If the club becomes a consistent playoff team that's a player or two away from title contention, the specter of playing for Jordan might just be enough to lure a superstar who dreams of lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy with His Airness. Still, that's a strategy based on assumptions and what-ifs, and the fact that Jordan oversaw the rapid dismantling of the franchise's only playoff team suggests the owner isn't banking on merely appearing in the postseason.

The Bobcats are reportedly talking to the Bucks about the 15th overall pick, though it's unclear whether that means Charlotte is willing to give up the No. 4 pick or simply wants to acquire an additional first-round selection. In any case, the draft will continue to figure in the team's plans, and the Bobcats will have to start making more hits than misses. Higgins and Cho could try to be patient, eschew drastic moves, and hope for better lottery luck leading up to next year's highly touted draft class. I don't think that would be in keeping with Jordan's promise of change to the team's season ticketholders, but there doesn't appear to be a quick fix available.

Additional notes:

  • Henderson was the team's second-leading scorer this past season, and though he's not a breakout star, the Bobcats may be inclined to match any reasonable offer he sees in restricted free agency. I don't expect him to warrant an annual salary for much more than his approximately $4.5MM qualifying offer, but I could see him winding up with a three- or four-year offer equivalent to the value of the full mid-level exception, with a starting salary of $5.15MM. If so, the Bobcats would probably match.
  • Players accepting their qualifying offers used to be a rare occurence, but it's happened with more frequency the last couple of years, and that may be the route Byron Mullens takes. Unlike Henderson, I don't think Mullens could do any better than $4.5MM. He was a rotation regular despite his paltry 31.7% three-point shooting on 3.9 attempts per game this season, and the Bobcats may be willing to slightly overpay the 24-year-old big man to see if he can show more progress next season. That could lead both sides into the low-risk one-year agreement.
  • Josh McRoberts, who saw more playing time in his partial season with Charlotte than at any other point in his six-year NBA career, could be another player the Bobcats bring back at an above-market price. He just finished a two-year, $6.135MM deal, and a similar arrangement might be enough to bring him back, perhaps with a team option for 2014/15. Re-signing Mullens and McRoberts to deals the team can get out of after just one year would allow Charlotte to maintain flexibility for next summer's more fertile free agent class.

Cap footnotes:

  1. The qualifying offer for Henderson is $4,531,459, which is less than 250% of his salary in 2012/13. The cap hold for a former first-rounder who made less than the league average salary in the fourth season of his rookie-scale contract is always the greater of those two amounts in the summer after his rookie deal expires. Thus, Henderson's cap hold is greater than his qualifying offer, even though his qualifying offer received a slight bump because he met the starter criteria this season.
  2. The same is true for Mullens, the 24th pick in the 2009 draft. Mullens, who was originally in line for a qualifying offer of $3,293,976, nearly failed to meet the starter criteria. He was removed from the starting lineup late in the season after having made 40 starts, one shy of the minimum, but wound up making one more start, on March 24th against the Heat. Thus, his QO is $4,531,459, identical to Henderson's.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.

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