Phoenix Suns

And-Ones: Jones, Thornton, Suns, Raptors

The Pelicans waived Terrence Jones on Thursday after being unable to find a trade partner for him and the Nets waived Marcus Thornton after acquiring him in the Bojan Bogdanovic trade. Both players have cleared waivers and are free to sign with any team, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

Jones should have no problem finding a new home. He’s a productive 25-year-old big man who was averaging 11.5 points per game in New Orleans while sporting a 16.2 player efficient rating.

Thornton may have to wait slightly longer to find a new club, but he should be able to help a team fill out the back end of its rotation.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Hawks sent $500K to the Suns as part of the Mike Scott trade, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). In addition to the cash considerations, Phoenix received the draft rights to Cenk Akyol for taking on Scott’s contract, while Atlanta received a protected second-round pick.
  • As part of the P.J. Tucker deal, the Raptors sent the Suns cash considerations of $1MM, Pincus tweets. Phoenix also received Jared Sullinger and two second-round picks in the deal. The Suns waived Sullinger on Friday.
  • The Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s D-League affiliate, has traded Cameron Jones to the Canton Charge, leagues sources tell Adam Johnson of D-League Digest (Twitter link).

NBA Teams Below Salary Cap For 2016/17

At this point in the season, most teams aren’t going to do much with any leftover cap room. Teams are no longer able to make trades, and most free agents still on the market won’t demand more than the minimum.

Still, there’s reason to consider which teams remain below the cap after this week’s trade activity. With useful veteran players potentially hitting the free agent market as a result of contract buyouts, a team with some extra cap room might have a leg up on teams without any spending flexibility.

For instance, if the Rockets and Warriors were to pursue the same free agent – perhaps Andrew Bogut, if he’s bought out by the Sixers – Houston could offer a deal worth up to about $3.5MM with cap room, while Golden State would be limited to offering a prorated minimum salary worth closer to $400K. That’s a significant difference.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on teams that remain below the minimum salary floor, since those clubs could enter the bidding for a bought-out player or could claim a player off waivers. The Jazz, for instance, probably don’t need a big man like Bogut, but if they wanted him and he became available, Utah has enough cap room to claim his entire $11MM+ contract. That would keep him off the open market and allow the Jazz to surpass the salary floor.

Using our Salary Cap Snapshots, let’s take a closer look at the teams below the cap, starting with teams still below the salary floor:

Teams below the salary floor:

  1. Utah Jazz: $13.64MM below cap ($4.23MM below floor)
  2. Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.66MM below cap ($3.24MM below floor)
  3. Denver Nuggets: $11.56MM below cap ($2.15MM below floor)
  4. Brooklyn Nets: $10.21MM below cap ($793K below floor)

Less than a month ago, there were six teams below the salary floor. Since then, the Nets and Nuggets have taken major steps toward the floor, while the Suns and Sixers have gotten above it entirely. That leaves the Jazz and Timberwolves as the clubs furthest below the salary floor.

As we’ve noted in the past, there’s no real penalty if a team remains below the floor — the team simply has to make up the difference by paying their current players a little more money. However, the Jazz and Wolves figure to be mulling other opportunities to reach the floor. That could mean placing a waiver claim or – in Utah’s case – renegotiating a contract.

We haven’t heard any rumors lately about the Jazz discussing a new deal with an extension-eligible veteran like George Hill or Derrick Favors, so that seems like a long shot. But the team does have until the end of February to renegotiate and extend either player’s contract, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Teams below the cap, but above the floor:

  1. Phoenix Suns: $9.226MM below cap
  2. Philadelphia 76ers: $8.62MM below cap
  3. Indiana Pacers: $4.14MM below cap
  4. Boston Celtics: $1.11MM below cap

Although the Suns and Sixers have inched above the salary floor, they’re not necessarily out of the woods quite yet. Phoenix needs the contracts of Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott to pass through waivers unclaimed, while the Sixers will require the same for Bogut if they eventually cut him. If any of those deals are claimed, they’ll move to another team’s cap, pushing Phoenix or Philadelphia back below the floor.

Teams that could clear cap room by renouncing exceptions:

  1. Houston Rockets: $3.54MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $3.33MM)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder: $3.05MM below cap if lone TPE ($4.94MM) is renounced
  3. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.75MM below cap if TPEs are renounced (largest TPE: $5MM)
  4. Chicago Bulls: $1.59MM below cap if lone TPE ($5.46MM) is renounced

These teams are technically over the cap, but could go under if they chose to renounce their trade exceptions. In some cases, that might not make much sense. For instance, the Bucks and Bulls would have less than $2MM in cap room if they renounced their exceptions. Both teams have trade exceptions worth at least $5MM, so it probably makes sense to stay over the cap for now and see if those exceptions come in handy around the draft.

On the other hand, the amount of cap room the Rockets would have if they renounced their trade exceptions would be greater than the amount of their largest TPE, so it makes sense for Houston to dip below the cap, expunging those TPEs from their books. That would also allow the Rockets to use cap room to sign a free agent, something they couldn’t do using a trade exception.

The rest of the NBA’s 18 teams don’t currently have cap room. That includes the Lakers, whose moves this week took them over the cap by just $316K.

Suns Waive Sullinger, Scott; Sign Ronnie Price

FEBRUARY 24, 5:52pm: The Suns have waived Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger while signing Ronnie Price for the remainder of the season, the team announced through a press release.

FEBRUARY 23, 9:00pm: The Suns will waive Jared Sullinger and Mike Scott, both acquired in trades today, and plan to sign Ronnie Price for the rest of the season, tweets Doug Haller of AZ Central Sports.

Phoenix received Sullinger and two second-round draft picks from Toronto in exchange for P.J. Tucker. Sullinger missed most of the season after foot surgery in October and played in just 11 games for the Raptors.

Scott was acquired from Atlanta along with the draft rights to Cenk Akyol and cash considerations in exchange for a protected second-round pick. This was Scott’s fifth season with the Hawks, but he had fallen out of the rotation and appeared in just 18 games.

Price had signed two 10-day contracts with the Suns, with the last one expiring February 15th. The 33-year-old point guard saw action in just two games.

Post-Deadline Housekeeping: New TPEs, Open Roster Spots

There were no superstars on the move on Thursday, but NBA teams made eight trades, and there were many more signings and cuts completed once the deadline passed. In the wake of the deadline, we’ll take a look at a few roster- and cap-related notes, rounding up the new traded player exceptions that teams created on Thursday, as well as examining which teams still have space available on their rosters.

Let’s dive in…

New trade exceptions:

Several over-the-cap teams acquired new trade exceptions on Thursday. They’ll all expire on February 23, 2018, a year after they were created, or until they’re used or renounced by the teams below. If a club wants to use cap room, it must renounce its trade exceptions, but until then, these TPEs can be used in the summer or next season to acquire players.

Here’s the breakdown, in order of TPE value:

  • Dallas Mavericks: $6,642,537
  • Chicago Bulls: $5,462,000
  • Milwaukee Bucks: $5,000,000
  • Atlanta Hawks: $3,333,334
  • Houston Rockets: $3,333,333
  • Dallas Mavericks: $1,514,160
  • Houston Rockets: $612,172
  • Toronto Raptors: $328,000
  • Houston Rockets: $233,880

Some notes related to these TPEs:

  • Multiple teams on this list, including the Rockets and Bucks, could open up cap room by renouncing their trade exceptions. In Houston’s case, this is particularly notable, since the club would create more than $3.5MM in cap space by renouncing these TPEs. That cap room could come in handy very soon if the Rockets are trying to entice a free agent to sign with them instead of another contender that can only offer the minimum.
  • As is always the case with TPEs, some of these exceptions will be more useful than others. The Mavericks could end up doing something interesting with their $6.6MM+ TPE, but the Raptors will almost certainly never use theirs for $328K.
  • The Thunder also came out of Thursday’s action with a new TPE — sort of. Oklahoma City had created a trade exception worth $7.4MM on November 1 when the team sent Ersan Ilyasova to Philadelphia. The Thunder used a portion of that exception at the deadline to absorb Doug McDermott‘s salary, leaving approximately $4.94MM left on it. OKC will have until November 1 to use the rest of that TPE.
  • For the complete list of trade exceptions across the NBA, click here.

Teams with open roster spots:

A day after the trade deadline, the list of teams with open roster spots is incredibly fluid. Some teams that acquired players in trades don’t have any use for those players, and will waive them. Other clubs will fill roster holes with D-League call-ups, while other teams will be a little more patient and wait out the buyout market.

All of this is to say that this list is up to date at the time of publication, but could change quickly as teams make more moves this weekend. Here are the teams that currently have at least one open spot on their 15-man roster, with their player count noted in parentheses:

  • Charlotte Hornets (13): The 10-day contracts for Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey expired overnight, so Charlotte has two open spots. The team reportedly plans to use one on Johnny O’Bryant.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (14): The Cavs have 13 guaranteed contracts, plus Derrick Williams‘ 10-day deal. The team expects to sign Deron Williams as well, so if any other roster additions are coming after that, Cleveland would need to clear a roster spot.
  • Dallas Mavericks (13): The Mavs have two openings after completing a two-for-one trade with the Sixers, then waiving Deron Williams.
  • Houston Rockets (14): The Rockets opened up a roster spot by trading K.J. McDaniels, and may waive Marcelo Huertas as well. Houston is expected to be active on the buyout market.
  • Milwaukee Bucks (14): The Bucks created a roster opening by sending Roy Hibbert to Denver, and they’re expected to fill it by signing Axel Toupane to a 10-day contract.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (14): Unlike most of the teams on this list, the Wolves have carried an open roster spot for a while, and that didn’t change at the deadline.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (14): The Thunder traded three players to Chicago and received just two in return, creating an opening. They have their eye on free agents and buyout candidates.
  • Orlando Magic (14): Like Minnesota, the Magic were carrying an open roster spot prior to the deadline and didn’t make a move on Thursday.

The Suns will join this list as soon as they officially waive Mike Scott and Jared Sullinger, as is expected. They’ll fill one of those two newly-open spots with Ronnie Price. There are also three teams that have full 15-man rosters with at least one player on a 10-day contract. The Hawks, Warriors, and Pelicans fall into this category, with Briante Weber‘s second 10-day deal in Golden State set to expire soon.

For a full breakdown of NBA roster counts, check out our list.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 2/23/17

Here are today’s D-League assignments and recalls:

Suns Acquire Mike Scott

6:00pm: Phoenix received Scott, the draft rights to Cenk Akyol and cash considerations in exchange for a protected second-round pick, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

2:01pm: The Hawks will send Mike Scott to the Suns in exchange for cash compensation, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Although an initial report suggested that the Hawks would also receive a heavily-protected second-round draft pick, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports (via Twitter) that no pick is involved — just cash.

Phoenix has 15 players under contract, as the team’s depth chart at Roster Resource indicates, so an additional roster move will be needed. Phoenix entered the day with roughly $13.2MM in available salary cap space, though that was before the P.J. Tucker deal as well as this trade.

Scott spent his entire career in Atlanta after the team selected him with the No. 43 overall pick in the 2012 draft. The 28-year-old power forward has seen his role on the Hawks fluctuate this season. He’s seen action in just 18 contests where he’s averaged 2.5 points per game.

Raptors Acquire P.J. Tucker

5:42pm: The deal is official, according to a release from the Raptors (Twitter link).

2:21pm: The two picks heading to the Suns in the deal are the Raptors’ unprotected second-rounders in 2017 and 2018, tweets Gambadoro.

2:04pm: The Suns will trade P.J. Tucker to the Raptors, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. In return, Toronto will send Jared Sullinger and two future second-round draft picks to Phoenix (Twitter links).

Earlier today, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 reported Tucker’s asking price to be a first-round draft pick, which several teams balked at. Tucker fills an obvious defensive need for Toronto. According to Gambadoro, the team views him as an option to guard LeBron James in the postseason (Twitter link).

Phoenix’s return appears to fall short of their first-round pick expectations. Sullinger has struggled in 2016/17, making slow progress from a fractured right foot. The former Buckeye is signed through the season on a $5,628,000 deal, having received most of his playing time in the D-League. He looks like a buyout candidate.

As Bobby Marks of The Vertical notes, Tucker’s bird rights were a crucial element of this trade (Twitter link). Tucker, who is on the last season of a three-year, $16.5MM contract, presumably stands a chance of re-signing with Toronto following the season.

Trade Rumors: Sixers, Bradley, Tucker, Bogut

The Sixers are seeking deals for defensive-oriented guards capable of playing alongside Ben Simmons, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Philadelphia has targeted Celtics guard Avery Bradley, but hasn’t gained any traction.

With Marcus Smart playing well lately and Jaylen Brown viewed as a potential star by the Celtics, Bradley could be somewhat expendable in Boston, but Philadelphia and Boston aren’t necessarily a great match in such a trade. Both teams are loaded with future draft picks, which is likely what the Sixers would offer for Bradley — the Celtics don’t really need any more picks, unless they think they could use them in a package for a star.

Here’s more from around the NBA with the trade deadline less than a half-hour away:

  • At least three teams – the Pelicans, Cavaliers, and Celtics – have opted against meeting the Suns‘ asking price of a first-round pick for P.J. Tucker, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
  • The Sixers don’t expect to flip Andrew Bogut in another trade before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who reports (via Twitter) that the two sides will immediately begin buyout discussions.
  • At this point, the Nuggets don’t expect to make any moves before the deadline, sources tell Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post (Twitter link).
  • The Pacers are still trying to fortify their roster, and remain in talks with the Kings about Arron Afflalo, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.

Trade Rumors: Muhammad, Raptors, Collison, Mavs

The Timberwolves are “determined” to move Shabazz Muhammad today and hope to land a draft pick in return, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (via Twitter). One report earlier today suggested that Minnesota might attach Muhammad to Ricky Rubio, but Aldridge is unsure if Muhammad would be included in a potential Rubio/Derrick Rose swap.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) has heard that Raptors players would like to see the team acquire Suns forward P.J. Tucker, in the hopes of getting someone capable of defending LeBron James in the postseason.
  • Darren Collison, who is on an expiring contract, is drawing interest from many teams, but the Kings are holding firm on their asking price of a first-round pick, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. An earlier report identified the Bucks as a potential Collison suitor, but Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) says Milwaukee hasn’t engaged in talks with the Kings.
  • Now that they’ve found a taker for Andrew Bogut, the Mavericks have shifted their focus to a possible Deron Williams deal, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Wizards are exploring the market for a possible deal for a point guard, sources tell Kyler (Twitter link).
  • The Warriors aren’t active today, and figure to focus on the buyout market if they want to bolster their bench, according to Kyler (Twitter link).

Suns Seek Expiring Deal, Second-Rounder For Knight

The Suns are seeking an expiring contract and a high second-round pick for combo guard Brandon Knight, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets.

As we pointed out in our Trade Candidate series last month, Phoenix has been actively shopping Knight since the offseason, with the emergence of Devin Booker making him expendable. The Suns have talked to the Magic, Kings, Sixers and Bulls about Knight, who still has three years and nearly $44MM remaining on his contract after this season.

Knight, 25, has seen his playing time diminish this season and he briefly dropped out of the rotation. He’s averaging 11.0 PPG and 2.4 APG in 21.1 MPG this season, after posting a career-high 19.4 PPG and 5.1 APG in 36.0 MPG last season.

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