The Suns have signed free agent big man Johnathan Motley to a one-year contract, per RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions. It’ll be a non-guaranteed camp contract, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports.
Motley, 25, has been on two-way contracts for the last three seasons, first with Dallas and then with the Clippers. Over the course of those three NBA seasons, he has averaged 4.9 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 46 appearances (8.1 MPG).
Motley has made a greater impact at the G League level, where he has been named to the All-NBAGL Second Team for three consecutive years. In 2019/20, he averaged 24.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 2.8 APG on .518/.356/.753 shooting in 26 games (33.0 MPG) for the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario.
The Suns still project to have three open roster spots after the signing of Motley, so they could extend more camp invites if they so choose.
NOVEMBER 28, 3:37pm: Crowder has officially signed, per team press release.
NOVEMBER 21, 1:03pm: The Suns have reached an agreement to sign Jae Crowder to a three-year contract, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). The deal will be worth just shy of $30MM, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Phoenix will use its full mid-level exception to complete the signing.
Crowder, who finished the season in Miami, reportedly explored a new deal with the Heat, but was seeking a guaranteed multiyear commitment that the Heat weren’t comfortable with, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).
League sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link) that Crowder also drew interest from the Mavericks, Timberwolves, Clippers, and Hornets, but that Phoenix’s offer was ultimately too good to pass up.
Crowder, 30, provides value as a three-and-D player who has the size to guard bigger wings. He also played some of his best basketball at exactly the right time in his contract year.
After being traded from the Grizzlies to the Heat at last season’s deadline, the veteran forward made 44.5% of his threes for Miami in 20 games to finish the season, then started all 21 postseason contests as the Heat came within two wins of a title.
Having secured a commitment from Crowder and having traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul earlier in the week, the Suns are looking like an intriguing playoff contender in the Western Conference this season. The team finished five games below .500 in 2019/20, but had an impressive 8-0 run in the Walt Disney World bubble, increasing expectations for ’20/21.
Paul and Crowder will join a promising group that includes star guard Devin Booker, former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, and young wings Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, among others. The Suns also still hope to re-sign restricted free agent forward Dario Saric, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $109,140,000 threshold once their room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit of $132,627,000 as well — the Warriors project to have a nine-figure tax bill this season as a result of their spending.
The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows a club like Golden State to build a significant payroll without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped, as we explain in a glossary entry.
When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5,718,000) of the mid-level exception, that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.
When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron was set $6MM above the luxury tax line in 2017/18 (the first year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement) and creeps up a little higher each time the cap increases. For the 2020/21 league year, the tax apron – and hard cap for certain clubs – is set at $138,928,000.
More than half the teams in the NBA have been willing to hard-cap themselves this offseason, and in some cases, it will significantly impact a team’s ability to add further reinforcements later in the league year. The Bucks and Lakers are among the teams right up against the hard cap, which may prevent them from being players in free agency during the season unless they can shed salary.
For other clubs, the hard cap is just a technicality that won’t affect their plans. The Hawks and Thunder are among the hard-capped clubs that will have zero practical concerns about reaching that threshold in 2020/21.
Listed below are the hard-capped teams for the 2020/21 league year, along with how they created a hard cap.
- Acquired Danilo Gallinari from the Thunder via sign-and-trade.
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Tristan Thompson.
- Acquired Gordon Hayward from the Celtics via sign-and-trade.
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on JaMychal Green and Bol Bol.
- Using bi-annual exception on Facundo Campazzo.
- Acquired Jerami Grant from the Nuggets via sign-and-trade.
- Acquired Christian Wood from the Pistons via sign-and-trade.
Los Angeles Clippers
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Serge Ibaka.
Los Angeles Lakers
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Montrezl Harrell.
- Using bi-annual exception on Wesley Matthews.
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on D.J. Augustin and Bryn Forbes.
- Using bi-annual exception on Bobby Portis.
New York Knicks
- Acquired Austin Rivers from the Rockets via sign-and-trade.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Jae Crowder.
Portland Trail Blazers
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Derrick Jones.
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Derrick Favors.
- Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Robin Lopez.
This list could continue to grow during the offseason if other teams acquire a player via sign-and-trade, use more than the taxpayer portion of their mid-level exception, or use their bi-annual exception.
NOVEMBER 30: The deal is official, according to a press release issued by the Kings.
NOVEMBER 26: The Kings have agreed to sign free agent forward/center Frank Kaminsky to a one-year contract, his agent Kevin Bradbury tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Kaminsky’s one-year deal with Sacramento is non-guaranteed, per Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Kaminsky, 27, averaged 9.7 PPG and 4.5 RPG on .450/.331/.678 shooting in 39 games (19.9 MPG) for Phoenix in 2019/20. A patella stress fracture shortened his season, however, and he played a very limited role during the Suns’ 8-0 run in the bubble at Walt Disney World. The team declined his $5MM option for 2020/21 last week.
Johnson, 24, was on a two-way contract with Magic for the 2019/20 season but did not receive a qualifying offer from Orlando. Details of Johnson’s agreement with the Suns are unknown as of this writing, but it’s unlikely to be a fully guaranteed deal.
The 6’7″ wing went undrafted out of La Salle in 2018. After a stop with the Magic’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, at the start of the 2018/19 season, he logged limited time for the Hawks and Kings before landing back in Orlando in the fall of 2019. He appeared in just 10 games for Orlando, averaging 8.3 MPG.
In 28 games (all starts) for the Lakeland Magic during the 2019/20 season, however, Johnson averaged 22.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.1 SPG. He had a shooting line of .461/.414/.784. For his efforts, Johnson was rewarded with a 2020 All-NBA G League Second Team inclusion.
Assuming Smith received the usual 120% above the rookie scale, he’ll make $4,245,720 in his first season and a total of $19,328,334 over the next four seasons.
He’ll look to get some minutes at the power forward and center spots on a team with playoff aspirations. He played two seasons at Maryland.
The 6’10” Smith averaged 15.5 PPG on 53.8% shooting from the field and 36.8% from 3-point range, plus 10.5 RPG and 2.4 BPG as a sophomore. He finished third in the nation with 21 double-doubles last season.
Abdel Nader‘s salary for the 2020/21 season is set to become fully guaranteed on Saturday, and the Suns won’t waive him before then, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link). As a result, the small forward’s $1,752,950 salary will be locked in for ’20/21.
The 58th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Nader played for the Celtics as a rookie and has spent the last two years in Oklahoma City. He averaged a career-high 15.8 minutes per game in 55 contests for the Thunder last season, recording 6.3 PPG and 1.8 RPG with a respectable .468/.375/.773 shooting line.
Traded from Oklahoma City to Phoenix last week, Nader was obviously overshadowed by that deal’s headliner, Chris Paul. However, based on Gambadoro’s report, it sounds like the 27-year-old in the Suns’ plans for the coming season.
- After being traded from Phoenix to the Warriors, Kelly Oubre appeared to take a shot at Suns owner Robert Sarver, notes Nick Friedell of ESPN. “I can play for an owner — somebody who actually cares about the organization and not just the perception of the organization on the media end of it,” Oubre said in a radio interview.
In a conversation with Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Ricky Rubio discussed his first stint with the Timberwolves, his impending second stint with the franchise, and the experience of being traded twice in the span of days. Rubio said he found out about his involvement in the Suns‘ Chris Paul trade last week when Shams Charania broke the news on Twitter.
“It’s not the way you want to know, especially my agent was talking with the team and they said my name was off the table when all the rumors and all the stuff happened,” Rubio said. “You feel like everything that they have said to you all year and buying into a new project and a young team and they need you, blah, blah, blah. It seems like nothing’s true.”
As Krawczynski writes, Rubio wasn’t upset about the move itself, since he understands why the Suns would want Paul. Still, he was stung by the way he found out. Now, after initially making his NBA debut for the Timberwolves as a 21-year-old, the point guard is looking forward to returning to the team as a veteran who can help guide a young squad.
“It started to really make more sense for me to really connect the puzzle and get to Minnesota and help a young team with a lot of talent and already have done really good things,” he told Krawczynsi. “I feel like I can fit in the puzzle.”
Here’s more on the Wolevs:
- In an in-depth story on how the Timberwolves decided to use the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft on Anthony Edwards, Krawczynski cites sources who say that the team never really got close to trading that pick. The Wolves were unwilling to accept what they considered subpar value to move down and risk missing out on the Georgia guard, per Krawczynski. “He stood head and shoulders above any player in this draft and we were excited to be at No. 1 to be able to select him,” president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said of Edwards.
- Michael Rand of The Star Tribune makes a case for why he believes veteran center Ed Davis could be the Timberwolves’ most important new player for the 2020/21 season.
- Three days after agreeing to a new $60MM deal with the Timberwolves, Malik Beasley made a court appearance today. Beasley, who faces a pair of felony charges related to a September incident, was told to have no contact with the alleged victims and a potential witness, tweets Krawczynski. His next court appearance will be on December 17.