Erik Murphy

Robert Covington Tops D-League Draftees

The NBA D-League Draft was held today and the event was kicked off with Robert Covington being selected first overall by the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons D-League affiliate. Covington’s selection was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The 23-year-old forward was arguably the most talented player in the D-League draft, though he isn’t expected to spend the full season in Grand Rapids, notes Chris Reichert of SB Nation, since he is on the radar of numerous NBA teams.

Covington spent much of last season with Houston’s D-League affiliate despite being on the team’s NBA roster the entire year. He earned himself a trip to the D-League’s All-Star game by averaging 23.2 PPG and 9.2 RPG in 34.1 minutes per game in 42 D-League appearances. He spent the preseason on Houston’s roster, though he was away from the team for weeks mulling offers to play in Europe before being waived. Covington came close to inking a deal with the Sixers, but decided to take the D-League route to begin the season.

Elliot Williams, a former 2010 first round pick of the Blazers, was selected by the Warriors affiliate with the second overall pick. The 6’5″ guard was a rotation player for the Sixers last year, averaging 6.0 PPG in 17.3 MPG, but was waived by Philadelphia when the team needed to pare its preseason roster count down to 15 players.

Other players selected in the opening round who had prior NBA regular season experience were Marquis TeagueBen HansbroughErik MurphyCarrick Felix and Damien Wilkins.

One other player to keep an eye on is Milos Milisavljevic, a 21-year-old Serbian point guard who was selected by the Texas Legends, who serve as the affiliate of the Mavericks. Milisavljevic will be NBA draft-eligible in 2015, and is on the radar of NBA scouts, though he isn’t currently projected to be taken in either round by DraftExpress.

Here is the full list of first round selections:

  1. Grand Rapids Drive (via Delaware) — Robert Covington
  2. Santa Cruz Warriors (via Erie) — Elliot Williams
  3. Austin Spurs — Erik Murphy
  4. Santa Cruz Warriors (via Maine) — Carrick Felix
  5. Grand Rapids Drive — Ben Hansbrough
  6. Texas Legends — Milos Milisavljevic
  7. Idaho Stampede — Tre’ Bussey
  8. Bakersfield Jam — Robert Vaden
  9. Oklahoma City Blue — Marquis Teague
  10. Reno Bighorns (via Westchester) — Joonas Caven
  11. Reno Bighorns — Brady Heslip
  12. Canton Charge — Michael Dunigan
  13. Santa Cruz Warriors — Melvin Johnson III
  14. Rio Grande Valley Vipers — Chane Behanan
  15. Sioux Falls Skyforce — Fuquan Edwin
  16. Iowa Energy — Damien Wilkins
  17. Los Angeles D-Fenders — Eloy Vargas
  18. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (via Fort Wayne) — Justin Jackson

C’s Waive McGruder, Murphy, Frazier, Watford

MONDAY, 3:43pm: The Celtics have officially waived McGruder, Murphy, Frazier and Watford, the team announced via press release.

SUNDAY, 10:22pm: In addition to the previously mentioned trio, Frazier has now also been waived, according to the RealGM transactions log. The team has made no formal announcement yet.

10:25pm: The Celtics have waived McGruder, Murphy and Watford, according to the RealGM transactions log, though the team has yet to make a formal announcement. Frazier has not been waived yet, though all indications are that he will be tomorrow, as Marc D’Amico of tweets.

TUESDAY, 10:59am: The Celtics will waive Rodney McGruder, Erik Murphy, Tim Frazier and Christian Watford, coach Brad Stevens told reporters, including Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). All are on non-guaranteed contracts, except for Murphy, whose deal is partially guaranteed for $100K. The moves will leave the Celtics with 16 players, all of whom have fully guaranteed pacts, with one more cut to come before opening night.

Murphy is the only one of the trio with NBA regular season experience, having appeared briefly in 24 games last season with the Bulls, who drafted him 49th overall in 2013. He was nonetheless an afterthought in a series of cap-related moves that began when the Jazz claimed him off waivers from the Bulls late last season. Utah sent him to Cleveland in a three-for-one swap in July, and the Cavs shipped him to the Celtics in their Keith Bogans trade. McGruder, who went undrafted in 2013, was in an NBA training camp for the second autumn in a row after spending last October with the Thunder. Watford also went undrafted that year, though he signed a pair of deals with the C’s this year as Boston waived him to accommodate the Bogans trade, then brought him back. Frazier has had a more conventional tenure with Boston after going undrafted this past June.

The moves still leave president of basketball operations Danny Ainge with a decision to make with Monday’s opening-night roster deadline looming. Will Bynum appeared at one point this weekend to be the guaranteed contract set to go, but the Celtics have yet to commit to parting ways with him.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Grunwald, Sixers

The Keith Bogans trade enables the Celtics to create a trade exception equivalent to the value of Bogans’ $5,285,816 salary, but just how they structure the deal to come up with that exception isn’t clear. They could absorb the $1.6MM salary of John Lucas III into their $2.09MM Courtney Lee trade exception, essentially exhausting it while preserving the full amount of their $4.25MM trade exception from the Kris Humphries deal, a path that Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders suggests (Twitter link). Alternatively, they could fold Lucas into the Humphries exception, reducing its value to $2.65MM while leaving the $2.09MM Lee exception intact. In any case, the minimum salaries of Erik Murphy, Dwight Powell and Malcolm Thomas don’t figure into the equation, since Boston can absorb them into the minimum salary exception. There’s more on the aftermath of the trade amid the latest from the Atlantic Division:

  • Thomas and Lucas, on non-guaranteed contracts, are long shots to remain with the Celtics come Tuesday, when training camp begins, though Murphy, who has a partial guarantee of $100K, will be “evaluated,” tweets Jeff Goodman of Goodman indicates that Powell is likely to stick, at least for camp, with his fully guaranteed deal.
  • Former Knicks GM Glen Grunwald admits that he was caught off guard when the team decided to fire him a year ago and disputes owner James Dolan’s assertion that he wasn’t well-versed in analytics, as Grunwald tells Marc Berman of the New York Post.
  • It’s a stark reality for the stripped-down Sixers, and coach Brett Brown emphasized that he won’t measure success in terms of wins and losses this year, as he spoke to reporters, including Tom Moore of Calkins Media. Asked whether he’s on board with the drastic rebuilding process, Brown quipped, “I have to be, don’t I?”

Cavs Acquire Keith Bogans

8:25pm: The trade is official, the Celtics announced via a press release.

8:20pm: More details about the trade are rolling in, with Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) noting that the Celtics sent the Cavs the rights to the Kings’ 2015 and 2017 second-rounders, both of which are top-55 protected. Marc Stein of also adds Dwight Powell to the list of players heading to Boston.

8:00pm: The second-rounders going to the Celtics will be Cleveland’s 2016 and 2017 selections, notes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).

7:41pm: The Celtics will also get a $5.3MM trade exception as part of the deal, notes Goodman (twitter link).

7:20pm: The Cavs will waive guard Chris Crawford once the deal is official, tweets Chris Haynes of The Plain Dealer.

7:16pm: The Celtics are also receiving two second round draft picks as part of the deal, Jeff Goodman of reports (Twitter link).

6:52pm: The Cavaliers and Celtics are in discussions on a trade that would send Keith Bogans to Cleveland, Marc Stein of is reporting. The Cavs are expected to package the non-guaranteed contracts of Erik Murphy, John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas in return for Bogans, notes Stein.

The acquisition of the 34 year-old shooting guard out of Kentucky would suggest that Cleveland has either received word from free agent Ray Allen that he isn’t interested in signing with the team, or that he intends to retire, though that’s just speculation on my part. Whatever the case is, it would seem that Bogans is taking the role that the Cavs were intending Allen to fill.

Bogans has played 11 seasons in the league after being selected in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Bucks. His career numbers are 6.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.3 APG. Bogans’ career slash line is .394/.353/.716. He has two years remaining on his contract, both non-guaranteed, and he is scheduled to make $5,285,816 this coming season.

As for the Celtics, they currently have 21 players on their roster, including Evan Turner, whose signing has not been officially announced yet. So it’s highly likely that Boston will waive all three players once the deal is completed.

Windhorst’s Latest: Love, Mozgov, Thompson

The Cavs were only willing to give up two of three assets they relinquished in the Kevin Love trade until owner Dan Gilbert met with Love earlier this summer in Las Vegas, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN said in his appearance Monday with Tom Rizzo on ESPN Cleveland radio (audio link). Cleveland switched gears after that meeting and decided to give up its entire package of Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and the 2015 first-round pick it had previously acquired from Miami, as Windhorst details. The ESPN scribe speculates that Gilbert probably emerged from having spoken with Love more confident that the superstar power forward would remain in Cleveland long-term, which led him to up the Cavs’ offer. Windhorst had plenty more to say on Rizzo’s “The Really Big Show,” and we already touched on the Zydrunas Ilgauskas news earlier today. We’ll share the rest of the highlights here:

  • Cleveland’s acquisition of John Lucas III, Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas in last month’s trade with the Jazz was made with Timofey Mozgov in mind, according to Windhorst, who says the Cavs continue to try to pry the center from the Nuggets. The Cavs envisioned flipping some combination of those three for Mozgov, as Windhorst indicates. Still, the Nuggets are reluctant to give him up, Windhorst adds, even though the Cavs offered a first-round pick as part of a deal for him, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported a few weeks ago.
  • The Cavs tried to acquire Alexey Shved in the Love trade, in part because of his connection to coach David Blatt from their time together on the Russian national team, Windhorst says. Shved went to the Sixers instead.
  • Windhorst asserts that the Cavs will sign Tristan Thompson to a rookie scale extension, suggesting that it would make the power forward a trade asset. An extension would complicate any trade involving Thompson because of the Poison Pill Provision, however.

And-Ones: Parker, Brewer, Melo

The minimum salaries for Khris Middleton and Draymond Green became fully guaranteed at the end of Friday when they remained on the rosters of the Bucks and Warriors, respectively, according to the salary data that Mark Deeks of ShamSports compiles.  Justin Hamilton of the Heat earned a partial guarantee of $408,241 when Miami kept him through Friday, while Cavs power forward Erik Murphy wound up with a partial guarantee of $100K.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • This has been a whirlwind offseason with numerous players changing teams. Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders looks at five players who will benefit most from their change of scenery.
  • Brazilian big man Fab Melo is returning home to sign with Paulistano of his native country, the team announced Friday (hat tip to Sportando). The Celtics selected Melo with the 22nd pick in 2012, but the seven footer only played six games in the NBA in 2012/13 and bounced around the D-League last season after failing the make the Mavs roster in training camp.
  • Former NBA player Darius Johnson-Odom has signed with Acqua Vitasnella Cantù of the Italian League, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Johnson-Odom appeared in three games for the Sixers as well as seeing stints in China and the NBA D-League last season.
  • Spurs GM R.C. Buford indicated that the team and newly-extended point guard Tony Parker had a mutual interest in an agreement, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links here). “His play warranted the commitment of the organization,” Buford said. “He made a commitment to our organization, too, by doing this now and taking himself out of a free agency opportunity a year from now. It was important to him and us to capitalize off the momentum this year creates and not have to worry about it at a later date.”
  • The Timberwolves aren’t willing to move Corey Brewer in any deal involving Kevin Love, reports Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press (Twitter link). Brewer is staying in Minnesota, writes Krawczynski.

Chuck Myron and Alex Lee contributed to this post.

How The Cavs/Jazz Trade Worked Financially

It seemed from the moment that news of Tuesday’s trade between the Cavs and Jazz surfaced, the deal was somehow more significant than a swap involving four backups normally would be. The Cavs reportedly see some value in John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy as players rather than simply as non-guaranteed contracts, but an earlier report indicated the team had been looking for non-guaranteed deals specifically to strengthen its bid for Kevin Love. The trio doesn’t represent an overwhelming step toward Love, but the move gives the Cavs more options they can present to the Wolves, which might make the difference as Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders sorts through several competing packages.

A key part of the trade involves a separate transaction. The Cavs struck a deal that same evening with No. 33 overall pick Joe Harris worth precisely $2,710,369 for three years, including a guaranteed $884,879, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports. That it runs three years indicates that the Cavs need to use cap space to complete the transaction, since neither the minimum-salary exception nor the room exception, the two vehicles other than cap space the Cavs have for signing free agents, allows for contracts longer than two seasons.

The Cavs have yet to officially announce their deal with Harris, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t officially signed him. Sometimes teams never make official announcements when they sign draft picks, for any number of possible reasons. The Bulls never announced having signed 2008 No. 1 overall pick Derrick Rose to his rookie scale contract, as Deeks pointed out earlier this month (on Twitter). The RealGM transactions log shows the Harris signing as having taken place, and the presence of his salary figures on Deeks’ database is further indication that the Harris signing is official. That means the signing had to have taken place prior to the trade, which the Cavs did officially announce, since Cleveland wouldn’t have had the cap room necessary to sign Harris to his deal had they executed the trade first.

The Cavs entered Tuesday evening with $56,030,677 in salary and a cap hold of $4,592,200 for Andrew Wiggins, who remains unsigned. That left them with $2,442,123 worth of space beneath the $63.065MM cap. The Harris signing brought that room down to $1,557,244. The Cavs, as the NBA allows them to do, then appeared to split the Jazz trade into two parts. The first involves taking on Lucas’ $1.6MM salary and Murphy’s $816,482 salary in exchange for Felix’s $816,482 salary. Murphy and Felix essentially cancel each other out, so it amounts to an absorption of the $1.6MM Lucas salary, putting the Cavs over the cap by $42,756. The NBA lets teams complete trades that take them as much as $100K above the salary cap without conforming to salary-matching rules, so the Lucas salary just barely squeezes in under this requirement.

That move puts Cleveland over the cap, leaving the Cavs to execute the rest of the trade, a simple acquisition of Malcolm Thomas, using the salary-matching rules required of a capped-out team. The incoming $948,163 salary of Thomas is obviously greater than nothing, which is what Utah is getting in this side of the deal, but fortunately for Cleveland, players on minimum-salary contracts don’t count as incoming salary in the NBA’s matching game. Thomas makes the minimum, so the trade is kosher.

The Jazz needn’t worry about splitting the transaction or dealing with any salary-matching requirements, since they were well under the cap before the trade and are even further beneath it in the aftermath of the deal. The Cavs must continue to deal with the ripple effects of having landed over the cap. By all appearances, that bars them from aggregating Thomas in a subsequent trade for two months. While the Cavs can trade Thomas by himself, no trade limitation applies to either Lucas or Murphy, since Cleveland acquired them while under the cap. Cleveland nonetheless appears ready to sign Wiggins, triggering a 30-day waiting period before he can be traded, and since the Wolves are insistent that Wiggins be a part of any deal for Love, it doesn’t appear as though Cleveland is in any position to rush to make a Love trade official.

All of this hinges on the Harris signing truly having already taken place, as all indications suggest. If it weren’t official, it’s possible the Cavs could have structured the trade differently with the intent of later opening up the cap room necessary to formalize the Harris signing. Still, it appears as though deft management of timing gave Cleveland the opportunity to sign its second-rounder to a three-year deal, which is significantly more valuable to the team than a two-year contract would be, as I explained last year. The Cavs did so while still acquiring non-guaranteed contracts that they can flip, sooner or later. Utah receives some more cap space, as well as Felix, ostensibly the player with the most upside in this transaction, having been picked 33rd overall just a year ago. Time will tell if it was indeed a trade that helped both teams, but the deal has the makings of being just that.

Cavs Acquire Three In Swap With Jazz

7:21pm: The Cavaliers have officially announced the deal, per a team press release.

7:16pm: Out of the three players heading to Cleveland, Minnesota actually had some interest in Murphy after he was waived by the Bulls last season, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

7:03pm: The pick that Utah will receive in the deal will be a 2015 second rounder from Cleveland, tweets Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune.

6:21pm: According to one Cavs source, Cleveland likes Lucas, Thomas, and Murphy and doesn’t necessarily view them as stepping stones to a bigger deal, tweets Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.

6:00pm: The Jazz are expected to trade the non-guaranteed contracts of John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas, and Erik Murphy to the Cavaliers for Carrick Felix, a future second rounder, and $1MM, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Felix’s contract is guaranteed for $816K in 2014/15, whereas Lucas III, Thomas, and Murphy combined for roughly $3.3MM in non-guaranteed deals for the upcoming season. Wojnarowski adds that Cleveland had been looking to make this type of deal recently in order to help facilitate a trade for Timberwolves star Kevin Love (Twitter links).

Minnesota has been determined to unload Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea in a deal involving Love, says Wojnarowski, who also notes that the Cavs would have to find a third team in order to make it work. Nonetheless, whether Lucas, Thomas, and Murphy’s contracts are used to bring the former UCLA big man to Ohio or are included in a separate trade, this deal at the very least has given Cleveland some “buying power” (Twitter links).

Jazz Claim Erik Murphy, Waive Andris Biedrins

The Jazz have claimed Erik Murphy off of waivers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Murphy was waived by the Bulls on Thursday, presumably to make room for a perimeter player. We had originally heard that the Bucks might be interested in claiming Murphy, but instead it’s the Jazz who have laid claim to the rookie big man out of Florida. Since the Jazz have a league maximum 15 players on their roster, they’ve opted to waive Andris Biedrins to make room, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.

Murphy, the 49th overall pick in last year’s draft, has played only 62 minutes in 24 contests for Chicago this season. His $490K salary will be wiped from the Bulls’ books and added on to the Jazz’s cap total. By getting Murphy’s contract off their books, the Bulls are now going to be able to remain under the luxury tax, even if Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah reach their earn bonuses. Waiver claims are a rare occurrence in the NBA, but the Jazz must be intrigued enough by Murphy’s size and skillset to take on the extra cap hit. He’ll be on a non-guaranteed, minimum salary deal next season.

To make the move work, the Jazz have waived Biedrins and his $9MM salary. Biedrins was acquired when the Jazz acted as a third-party in the trade that sent Andre Iguodala to the Warriors, but the veteran big man has faced injury problems and played sparingly during his tenure with the team. Utah will continue to be on the hook for his entire salary, providing he clears waivers, which is a near-certainty.

The Bulls catch a break with Utah’s claim of Murphy, whose cap hit will now come off Chicago’s books. This should give them enough room to sign multiple players to prorated minimum-salary contracts and remain beneath the luxury tax threshold even if Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah trigger bonus clauses in their contracts.

Bucks Consider Waiver Claim Of Erik Murphy

The Bucks have interest in claiming former Bulls big man Erik Murphy off waivers, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. If they submit a claim before Murphy clears waivers Saturday afternoon, he’ll go to Milwaukee, since the Bucks are the league’s worst team and therefore would have priority over any other club that attempts to claim him. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote Thursday that he’d be surprised if Murphy cleared waivers, so other teams may be hoping the Bucks don’t prevent them from acquiring the 6’10” rookie.

Waiver claims aren’t typical, and Murphy saw just 62 total minutes with the Bulls this season, but teams around the league are apparently intrigued with the upside of the 23-year-old who was the 49th overall pick in the 2013 draft. His minimum-salary deal is non-guaranteed for next season, becoming partially guaranteed for $100K if he remains under contract through August 1st and for $200K if he makes it to November 1st. Any team can claim him, since he’s making the minimum salary, but his cap hit for this season would be more onerous than that of a free agent signee on a prorated contract for the final 11 days of the season.

Milwaukee or any other team that claims him would assume the cap hit for his $490,180 salary, and the money would be wiped from Chicago’s books. That could wind up saving the Bulls from paying the tax this year, as I explained earlier. The Bulls released Murphy on Thursday to make way for a veteran replacement, and a waiver claim would make it easier for Chicago to sign two players, which the team is reportedly considering. Ronnie Brewer and Mike James appear to be Chicago’s targets.

The Bucks wouldn’t have to make a corresponding move to acquire Murphy, since their final roster spot opened this evening when their 10-day contract with D.J. Stephens expired. The team doesn’t plan to re-sign the shooting guard.