John Hollinger

FA Rumors: KCP, Pacers, Mid-Level Usage, Suns, Gillespie, Bullock

While teams with cap room have been mentioned most frequently as the top suitors for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) has continually heard the Pacers mentioned as a team to watch for the veteran swingman.

A previous report suggested that a cap-room club like the Sixers or Magic could make an oversized short-term offer (e.g. two years, $50MM) for Caldwell-Pope, but Singer says he’s heard KCP would prefer a longer-term deal.

As John Hollinger of The Athletic writes, if the Nuggets are willing to negotiate a sign-and-trade deal, a package along the lines of Aaron Nesmith and Jarace Walker might work financially, based on Caldwell-Pope’s projected salary range. However, a sign-and-trade involving Caldwell-Pope would hard-cap the Pacers at the first tax apron and the Nuggets at the second apron, so some financial creativity could be required, especially on Denver’s end.

Here are a few more free agency rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Within his latest round-up of rumors, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports says not many teams around the NBA are expected to use the full mid-level exception to sign a player, since it can now be used as a de facto trade exception, so there’s some value in retaining a portion of it. Of course, even last season, before the mid-level could be used to accommodate trades, only one team used the entire amount on a single player (Toronto on Dennis Schröder).
  • The Suns have been linked to a ton of potential minimum-salary point guards, according to Fischer, who names Kyle Lowry and Monte Morris as two of the players viewed as possible targets for Phoenix. There has even been some chatter about the possibility of a reunion with Chris Paul if he’s waived by Golden State, Fischer adds.
  • After being made an unrestricted free agent by Denver, guard Collin Gillespie is expected to receive interest from the Hawks, Hornets, Suns, and Timberwolves, sources tell Fischer. Gillespie may have to accept a two-way contract and compete for a standard roster spot, Fischer adds. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News and SKOR North (Twitter link) confirms Minnesota’s interest in Gillespie but says the team doesn’t seem likely to land him.
  • Veteran wing Reggie Bullock is unlikely to re-sign with the Rockets, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Iko, multiple teams have interest in Bullock, who figures to be a minimum-salary target.

Free Agent Rumors: KCP, George, Thompson, Bridges, More

Nuggets swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is declining his 2024/25 player option and becoming an unrestricted free agent, appears more likely than not to switch teams this offseason, Marc Stein writes at Substack, citing league sources.

Stein, who has previously mentioned the Sixers and Magic as potential suitors for Caldwell-Pope, once again names them as teams who are well-positioned to make runs at the 31-year-old if they so choose, noting that Denver has luxury tax and apron concerns to consider. The veteran wing is considered to be a “strong possibility” for Orlando, per Sam Amick and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

According to Stein, the Mavericks are another potential suitor to watch for Caldwell-Pope, with league sources saying there’s mutual interest between the two sides. However, Dallas is operating over the cap and would need to make a sign-and-trade deal to make a competitive contract offer to Caldwell-Pope. There’s a sense that the Nuggets won’t have interest in accommodating a sign-and-trade with a conference rival, Stein writes, even if it means losing their starting shooting guard for nothing.

Here are a few more free agent rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Within a look at Paul George‘s potential free agency, Amick and Slater of The Athletic confirm that the Warriors‘ interest in the Clippers star is “legitimate” if he decides to go the opt-in-and-trade route instead of declining his 2024/25 player option. The Nuggets also recently had interest in George in that scenario, but don’t appear prepared to pursue a deal that would see them give up Michael Porter Jr. and “significant” draft capital, per The Athletic’s duo. For what it’s worth, Denver only has one tradable future first-round pick.
  • Despite a report from their colleague Shams Charania indicating that the Sixers‘ interest in pursuing George has “waned,” Amick and Slater cite a source who advises not to rule out Philadelphia entirely. The 76ers could offer George a maximum-salary deal using their cap room if he reaches the open market.
  • The Sixers also have interest in Klay Thompson, who continues to have little contact with the Warriors as he nears free agency, according to Amick and Slater, who add that the Nuggets also have Thompson on their list of potential replacements if they lose Caldwell-Pope. It’s hard to see how Denver, whose team salary is right at the luxury tax line, could make Thompson a strong offer unless more cost-cutting moves are made.
  • Discussing unrestricted free agent forward Miles Bridges, Hornets head of basketball operations Jeff Peterson confirmed reporting that has suggested the team wants to re-sign Bridges. “I’ve made it very clear to Miles that we want him to remain as a Hornet,” Peterson said (story via Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer).
  • Isaiah Hartenstein and Nic Claxton top John Hollinger’s list of free agent centers at The Athletic by a wide margin over the rest of the class, with Hollinger’s BORD$ formula favoring Hartenstein. Claxton already has a four-year deal lined up to remain in Brooklyn, making Hartenstein the clear top option on the open market.

Northwest Notes: Knecht, Bjorkgren, Blazers, Jazz, Wolves

Tennessee star Dalton Knecht had a solo pre-draft workout with the Trail Blazers on Thursday, tweets Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. The 23-year-old wing is ranked No. 8 on ESPN’s big board, while Portland controls a pair of lottery picks (Nos. 7 and 14) and two second-rounders (Nos. 34 and 40).

ESPN recently reported that each team in the 6-10 range holds “strong interest” in Knecht, who averaged 21.7 points and 4.9 rebounds on .458/.397/.772 shooting in 36 games for the Volunteers in 2023/24 (30.6 minutes per contest).

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hears the Blazers will host a 3-on-3 workout next week “that’s supposed to feature” G League Ignite wing Ron Holland, French forward Tidjane Salaun, Virginia wing Ryan Dunn, Purdue center Zach Edey, Baylor center Yves Missi, and Miami guard Kyshawn George. Five of those prospects are projected first-round picks — the only exception is Dunn, who is No. 34 on ESPN’s board.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nate Bjorkgren, who went 34-38 as head coach of the Pacers in 2020/21, has been attending Portland’s recent pre-draft workouts, according to Highkin, who points out (via Twitter) that the Trail Blazers have some vacancies on their coaching staff. Bjorkgren had two stints as an assistant with Toronto, most recently in ’22/23.
  • In a press release, the Jazz announced several members of their basketball operations staff have been promoted to new positions. Shane Fenske, who previously served as VP of analytics and insights, is now an assistant GM. Assistant coach Sean Sheldon will move to the front of head coach Will Hardy‘s bench, as previously reported. Andrew Warren, who has been an assistant video coordinator the past two seasons, is now an assistant coach. Several other basketball operations employees have new positions as well.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines which players on the Timberwolves‘ roster will return in 2024/25, while John Hollinger of The Athletic wonders if “really good” can be good enough for Wolves guard Anthony Edwards.

Raptors Notes: Rajakovic, Lillard, Siakam, VanVleet

The arrival of new Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic looks like a reason for optimism in Toronto, according to Josh Lewenberg of, who says that Rajakovic is bringing a “people-first” approach to his new role and appears to be connecting quickly with his players.

Scottie Barnes said on Monday that he loves the “energy” and “joy” Rajakovic brings to the job, while Gary Trent Jr. told reporters that the coach’s communication has been “great,” noting that Rajakovic is interested in talking to his players about topics beyond basketball.

“I’ve been in the NBA six years and I’ve had more conversations with him (outside of basketball) than with any coach I’ve ever had,” Trent said, per Lewenberg. “It’s been refreshing.”

The start of Rajakovic’s first NBA head coaching job has been marred to some extent by a lawsuit filed by the Knicks which claims that a former Knick employee shared proprietary information with Rajokovic and the Raptors after being hired by the franchise. The Raptors, who issued a statement in August disputing the claims in the suit, downplayed the case again on Monday, as William Lou of writes.

“I know who I am. I know how my parents raised me. I know what I see in the mirror,” Rajakovic said in maintaining his innocence. “I cannot wait for this lawsuit to be over so everyone can see the truth.”

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • Speaking to Danielle Michaud of Sportsnet, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster confirmed that the team’s interest in Damian Lillard was real. “You’d have to ask (the Trail Blazers),” Webster said when asked how close Toronto got to landing Lillard. “We were very aggressive. I’d say probably the biggest offer we’ve ever made for a player, but it’s up to them to accept it and so I think that’s, you know, you kind of never know what tilted a deal towards you or not. But maybe time will tell, we’ll find out.”
  • Pascal Siakam pushed back against any implication that he might have been one of the Raptors who played selfishly last season, as Michael Grange of relays. “I’ll speak for me, personally, I’ve never been a selfish player in my life,” Siakam said. “I’ve always played the game the right way and that’s from the first time I started playing basketball. I’ve always been a team player. All the things that I do on the basketball court is about the team and I’ve been like that my whole career.”
  • The free agency departure of veteran point guard Fred VanVleet was one of the topics Raptors president Masai Ujiri addressed on Monday, per Josh Lewenberg of “Could we have traded Fred at the trade deadline? If that was a failure, we take responsibility for it,” Ujiri said. “Sometimes it depends on opportunity and respect (for) the player. We respected Fred. Fred decided to go somewhere, to better opportunities. It was good for him. Maybe it was good for us, too.”
  • The Raptors are one of five teams that John Hollinger of The Athletic is confident will beat their consensus over/under (36.5 wins) this season. While Hollinger acknowledges that going to VanVleet to Dennis Schröder is a downgrade at point guard, he notes that Toronto won 41 games in a down year last season, played better after acquiring Jakob Poeltl, and will have incentive to be as good as possible, since San Antonio owns the Raptors’ top-six protected 2024 first-round pick.

Warriors Rumors: Myers, Dunleavy, Kuminga, Poole, Looney

While the Warriors have some significant decisions to make on key players this offseason, their most notable free agent might be president of basketball operations Bob Myers, whose contract with the organization expires on June 30.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob has expressed a desire to sign Myers to a new contract and keep him at the top of the team’s front office hierarchy. However, if the veteran executive departs, there’s an expectation that Golden State will replace him with an internal promotion rather than launching a full-fledged search, according to Anthony Slater and Shams Charania of The Athletic, who identify vice president of basketball operations Mike Dunleavy Jr. as Myers’ “natural successor.”

Here’s more on the Warriors’ offseason following their season-ending loss to the Lakers on Friday:

  • The Warriors are expected to have a conversation with Jonathan Kuminga‘s representatives this offseason about the young forward’s future, per Slater and Charania. Kuminga showed promise in his second NBA season, but saw his minutes fluctuate and wasn’t part of the regular rotation in the playoffs. If Kuminga isn’t assured of a full-time role in Golden State going forward, he may prefer to be somewhere he can play more, sources tell The Athletic.
  • Jordan Poole‘s future with the Warriors is very much up in the air following a disappointing postseason, according to Slater and Charania, who suggest that the four-year veteran could be the odd man out if cost cutting is necessary. Poole’s four-year, $123MM extension will go into effect in 2023/24. Tim Kawakami of The Athletic explores the topic in more detail, writing that Poole isn’t necessarily part of Golden State’s core and suggesting that the team will probably explore the trade market for him this summer.
  • As a result of the Warriors’ second-round playoff exit, Kevon Looney missed out on a $1MM bonus and Poole forfeited $500K in bonus money, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Those incentives will now be considered unlikely in 2023/24, slightly reducing both players’ cap charges.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype and John Hollinger of The Athletic preview the Warriors’ offseason, both noting that the team will be hard-pressed to re-sign key role player Donte DiVincenzo, who is a near lock to decline his player option. The Warriors will only have DiVincenzo’s Non-Bird rights, limiting them to offering a 20% raise on this year’s $4.5MM salary.

And-Ones: Hustle Award, Free Agent Guards, Brooks, Hawkins

Celtics guard Marcus Smart has won the NBA’s Hustle Award for 2022/23, the league announced in a press release (story via Brian Martin of The 29-year-old also won the award last season, becoming the first back-to-back winner, and has now been the recipient three times in the past five seasons.

This is the seventh season for the Hustle Award, which was created in ’16/17, Martin notes. It is a merit-based award reflective of’s hustle stats, including charges drawn, loose balls recovered, deflections, box outs, screen assists and contested shots.

The top-five finishers for the award, in order, were Smart, Warriors forward/center Draymond Green, Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith, Knicks center Mitchell Robinson and Pelicans forward Herbert Jones.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report takes a look at the best guards available on the 2023 free agent market and their potential landing spots. Pincus thinks a team with cap room might try to pry restricted free agent Austin Reaves from the Lakers with a large offer sheet, but he thinks L.A. will ultimately match.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic, who used to work for the Grizzlies and was part of the front office that drafted Dillon Brooks, believes the small forward can still be a positive contributor for a number of teams as long as he can toe “The Line” between “competitive and crazy.” Teams over the cap but below the luxury tax line could offer the impending free agent the full mid-level exception, and Hollinger points to the Bulls, Hornets, Mavericks, Kings, Trail Blazers and Hawks as clubs that could use defensive help on the wing. As for teams with cap room, the Pistons, Rockets, Pacers and Jazz might be interested in Brooks if they miss out on pricier targets, according to Hollinger.
  • UConn guard Jordan Hawkins has been invited to the NBA draft combine, which takes place later this month, according Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link). Considered one of the best shooters in the 2023 class, Hawkins is a potential lottery pick, currently ranked No. 13 on ESPN’s big board. As Zagoria previously reported, Hawkins will be joining a couple of his teammates (Andre Jackson and Adama Sanogo) at the combine.

Lakers Notes: Davis, James, Injuries, DeRozan

The Lakers aren’t technically out of playoff contention yet, but after falling two games (and a tiebreaker) behind San Antonio in the Western Conference standings on Sunday, their odds of claiming a spot in the play-in tournament are increasingly slim — in fact, the Lakers could be officially eliminated as soon as Tuesday if they lose in Phoenix and the Spurs win in Denver.

Following Sunday’s loss, Anthony Davis sounded like someone who recognized that L.A.’s season is all but over, as he reflected on “what could have been” if the team had been healthier.

“I think the biggest thing that I think about personally is what we could have been, had we stayed healthy all year,” Davis said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “What could we have been. … Guys feel like, ‘OK, what could we have been if I was healthy all year, [LeBron James] was healthy, [Kendrick] Nunn was healthy.’ You think about those things. We put this team together and it looked good on paper, but we haven’t had a chance to reach that potential with guys in and out of the lineup.”

Davis, who has only played in half of the Lakers’ 78 games so far this season, has been bothered throughout his career by injuries, but he bristled at the perception that he’s fragile, telling Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times that he hasn’t been sidelined due to “little ticky-tack injuries.”

“This is what I’ve learned about injuries,” Davis said. “Last year when I wasn’t playing, people were saying, ‘AD’s giving up on his team. It’s the playoffs. AD has to play. He’s got to play.’ And when I went out there to play, got hurt again, they said, ‘Who was his trainer? Who let him play?’

“So, what the [expletive] do you want me to do? When I play, it’s a problem. It’s a problem when I don’t play. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and how my body feels. And we go from there. I’m not worried about who’s saying what or who thinks this about me because none of them have stepped on the floor and played. And the ones that did play, they should understand.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • A source familiar with James’ status told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that the star forward is “unlikely” to play on Tuesday vs. Phoenix. However, according to McMenamin, the source said there’s still a chance that could change if LeBron’s ankle improves more than expected by tomorrow night.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic and his colleague John Hollinger both pushed back against the idea that injuries have been the primary cause of the Lakers’ disappointing season. Buha observed that even in games when Davis and James played, the team was just 11-11, while Hollinger said the team’s offseason plan needs to be better than simply running it back and hoping its two superstars stay healthy in 2022/23.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up and First Take on Monday, former Lakers president Magic Johnson criticized the club for not acquiring DeMar DeRozan last offseason instead of Russell Westbrook (link via Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post). While that’s not an unreasonable take, given that DeRozan had interest in playing for his hometown team, Johnson’s assertion that the Lakers could’ve had DeRozan, Buddy Hield, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope instead of Westbrook is a fantasy that doesn’t pass muster. Unless DeRozan had been willing to sign for the taxpayer mid-level exception (which wasn’t viewed as a viable option at the time), L.A. would’ve become hard-capped by acquiring him and would have had no way of carrying all those contracts in addition to James’ and Davis’ maximum salaries. Acquiring both DeRozan and Hield without giving up Caldwell-Pope also likely wouldn’t have been possible due to salary-matching rules.

Cap/Contract Notes: Taxpayers, Allen, Carter, Shamet, Gafford

Now that all 30 regular season rosters have been set, 10 teams project to be taxpayers, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The Warriors, Nets, Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, Jazz, Sixers, Celtics, Trail Blazers, and Raptors are currently over the luxury tax threshold.

Some of those teams are in better shape than others. While the Warriors ($159.9MM) and Nets ($110.4MM) project to have nine-figure tax bills, the Raptors are barely into tax territory and should be able to sneak below the line, perhaps by waiving one of their two players who have partially guaranteed deals.

Besides Golden State and Brooklyn, the Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, and Jazz all have projected tax bills exceeding $33MM, according to Marks. The Sixers, Celtics, Blazers, and Raptors would owe less than $8MM each based on the current numbers.

Of course, these numbers can and will change over the course of the season as teams make roster moves, since tax bills are determined by the team’s year-end salary. For now though, the 20 non-taxpayers project to receive year-end payments of $12.7MM, Marks notes.

Here are a few more cap- and contract-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Grayson Allen‘s two-year extension with the Bucks features a base value of $17MM ($8.5MM per year) in guaranteed money, plus incentives, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The exact value of the incentives is $1.275MM annually, Hoops Rumors has learned. Currently, those are a mix of likely and unlikely bonuses, but since the deal doesn’t begin until 2022/23, those likely/unlikely designations will ultimately be based on what happens this coming season.
  • Wendell Carter Jr.‘s four-year extension with the Magic has a descending structure, Scotto tweets. It starts at $14.15MM in year one and dips to $10.85MM by year four. The deal is fully guaranteed, with no options.
  • In addition to having a team option on its fourth year, Landry Shamet‘s extension with the Suns has a non-guaranteed salary in year three, Hoops Rumors has learned. The last two years both have June 29 trigger dates, in 2024 and 2025. Only $19.75MM of Shamet’s $42.5MM deal is fully guaranteed for now.
  • Daniel Gafford‘s three-year extension with the Wizards doesn’t include any options or incentives, tweets John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Trade Rumors: Hill, Bledsoe, Redick, O. Porter, Knicks, More

George Hill‘s name has come up more frequently in conversations among team executives as the trade deadline approaches, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, adding that the Clippers, Lakers, and Sixers are among the teams with interest in the Thunder guard. Hill hasn’t played since January 24 due to a thumb injury, but is out of his cast and is working toward a return, as Brandon Rahbar of Daily Thunder tweets.

While some clubs are hoping the Thunder will buy out Hill, that seems unlikely, since he has another partially guaranteed year left on his contract, and buyouts aren’t really Sam Presti‘s “M.O.,” as one assistant general manager tells Fischer.

Plus, the Thunder are in position to take on salary in trades if it nets them greater draft compensation, Fischer writes. Oklahoma City is one of two teams – along with New York – that remains below the salary floor this season, as John Hollinger of The Athletic observes, so the club could take on about $12MM without taking any real financial hit.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • A number of Pelicans players were prominently involved in trade rumors in January and February, but some of that talk has died down as of late, according to Fischer, who says there doesn’t seem to be any real traction toward an Eric Bledsoe deal. As for J.J. Redick, a buyout seems more likely than a trade at this point, per Fischer.
  • Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. is available in trade discussions, but would probably only make sense as a salary-matching piece for a high-salary player, such as DeMar DeRozan, writes Fischer. If Porter remains in Chicago through the deadline, it’s possible he could emerge as a buyout candidate.
  • The only way the Knicks would realistically pull the trigger on a Victor Oladipo trade this week is if the team receives assurances that he’ll re-sign this summer, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who says the team isn’t interested in giving up any real assets for a rental.
  • Potential buyers are expecting – or at least hoping – that the price tags on certain big-name trade candidates, such as Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, and Harrison Barnes, will drop as the deadline nears, tweets Chris Mannix of I’m not sure that’s a safe bet, since it seems to be a sellers’ market.

And-Ones: Thompson, Mozgov, Stone, FIBA

Klay Thompson‘s max deal was, at best, a risky proposition for the Warriors even before he suffered an ACL tear, according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger. Thompson’s five-year deal has the potential to be the league’s most regrettable contract, according to Hollinger, who takes a look at the 10 worst current free agent deals. The multi-year contracts handed to Tobias Harris, D’Angelo Russell and Harrison Barnes also rank as poor values compared to the purchase price, in Hollinger’s estimation.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA center Timofey Mozgov has suffered another injury setback, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Mozgov, currently signed by Russian team Khimki, will require another knee surgery and miss another 4-6 months of action. He did not play during the 2019/20 season due to knee issues. In November, the NBA permitted the Magic to remove Mozgov’s remaining cap hits from their books after determining that his health issues were likely career-ending.
  • Former NBA guard Julyan Stone has re-signed with Italy’s Reyer Venezia, Dario Skerletic of Sportando relays. Stone averaged 4.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 3.1 APG in EuroCup action. Stone played 70 NBA games, most recently for Charlotte (23 games) during the 2017/18 season.
  • The Board of FIBA Europe has officially cancelled the seasons of the FIBA Europe Cup, EuroLeague Women and EuroCup Women, according to Carchia. Play was halted in those leagues during March. The board also decided that FIBA EuroBasket qualifiers, scheduled for November, could be postponed until February, if necessary.