Trail Blazers Rumors

Blazers To Sign Brandon Rush To 10-Day Contract

The Trail Blazers will fill one of their two open roster spots by signing veteran swingman Brandon Rush to a 10-day contract this week, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Rush, a lottery pick back in 2008, has spent time with the Pacers, Warriors, Jazz, and Timberwolves over the course of nine NBA seasons. Known for his outside shooting ability, the 32-year-old has a career .402 3PT%. While he didn’t play a major role for Minnesota last season, averaging a modest 4.2 PPG, he continued to knock down outside shots when he took them, with a .386 3PT%.

This past offseason, Rush caught on with the Bucks for training camp, but failed to earn a spot on Milwaukee’s regular season roster, having been cut just before opening night. In Portland, he’ll get an opportunity to establish himself as a player worth keeping on the roster down the stretch.

As we outlined on Monday, the Blazers are one of four NBA teams that needs to sign a player this week in order to get back up to 14 players on standard contracts. Portland, Washington, Cleveland, and Atlanta all dipped to 13 players around the trade deadline, which is only permitted for two weeks.

The Blazers are well positioned to remain under the luxury tax following Rush’s signing, since his contract will feature a modest cap hit of $83,129, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (via Twitter). Portland will still be about $573K below the tax line after signing Rush.

That cushion would allow the Blazers to re-sign Rush to another 10-day contract and – eventually – a rest-of-season deal and stay out of the tax, though the equation would become more complicated if the club wants to add a 15th player to its roster at some point.

Roster Moves Required This Week For Four Teams

As we noted last week when we identified the clubs with open roster spots, NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads (not counting two-way players). However, teams are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks.

At this month’s trade deadline, four teams ended up with multiple open roster spots and are currently carrying 13 players on their NBA rosters. The Cavaliers have 13 players after their plethora of deadline deals; the Wizards went down to 13 after sending Sheldon Mac to Atlanta; and the Trail Blazers are carrying 13 after trading Noah Vonleh to Chicago. The Hawks, meanwhile, waived Mac and Marco Belinelli after the trade deadline passed to get to 13.

As a result of those roster moves, Cleveland, Washington, and Portland have until this Thursday – two weeks after the trade deadline – to get back up to 14 players by signing a player to a 10-day contract or a rest-of-season deal. Atlanta has until Friday to do the same.

While we don’t know with certainty which players will be signed by these four teams later this week, there have been some clues. Veteran big man Kendrick Perkins published a tweet on February 8 suggesting that he was joining the Cavs, but quickly deleted it — Cleveland may be ready to finalize an agreement with Perkins later this week.

The Wizards, meanwhile, have been linked to several free agent point guards with John Wall sidelined and Tim Frazier banged up too. Ty Lawson, Derrick Rose, and Ramon Sessions are among the players said to have drawn some interest from Washington, so perhaps the club will pull the trigger on a deal with one of those vets this week.

Temporarily carrying 13 players has had a noticeable financial impact for the Cavs, Wizards, and Blazers, as cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter). Cleveland has saved $35K per day since the trade deadline in potential luxury-tax payments for that 14th roster spot, while Washington has saved $12K per day in taxes. As for the Blazers, the savings they’ve created by carrying 13 players will allow them to sign a 14th player, then eventually sign a 15th player – if they so choose – without going over the tax line.

And-Ones: Garnett, Buyout Market, McCollum

Kevin Garnett has stayed busy in post-NBA days, working with several teams as a consultant and holding down a television role on TNT. Garnett spoke to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports to discuss his retirement and addressed the possibility of one day becoming a coach.

Garnett said to Zillgitt that he worked with players such as Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Thon Maker. However, in his own words, Garnett views himself less of a coach and more of a teacher. He also noted that he doesn’t want to tie himself down to working for one team, preferring his services to be more accessible.

“I wish it was a freer market than that, but I totally understand. But I like being free,” he said. “I like being able to work with multiple teams. That’s not the case. The league changed their rules a little bit. But from a mentoring aspect, you can mentor as many players as you want. As far as team, you have to stick with one team. I would never say never to anything, but I don’t have an appetite to coach. I’m more of a teacher than a coach. A coach has a lot more responsibility. I just want to teach the players, and that’s it. I don’t want to organize who gets what playing time. I definitely don’t want that.”

Check out other news around the basketball world:

  • ESPN Insider’s Bobby Marks (subscription required and recommended) breaks down the remaining options on the buyout market. Marks provides a full list of teams with open roster spots, logical landing spots for the current free agents and likely buyout candidates, and assesses the cap hits for each of them.
  • Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum has been named the vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, the NBPA announced on Twitter.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.

With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.

Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.

Teams with one open spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.

Teams with two open spots:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.

Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.

Harkless Creates Rotation Dilemma

  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey has been a longtime fan of Jae Crowder, who was acquired Thursday in a three-team deal, says Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. Crowder made an immediate impact in his Utah debut with 15 points and four rebounds in tonight’s win over the Trail Blazers“He’s really versatile defensively and can play really two through four with switches and physicality,” Lindsey said. “His build is quite obvious and the systems that he’s played in with Dallas, Boston and Cleveland, we’ve seen enough to think that he can mesh very well in how we play. We’re really anxious to get him here.” Lindsay also said as many as 20 teams asked about Rodney Hood before he decided to send him to Cleveland in that deal.
  • The recent re-emergence of Maurice Harkless has created a dilemma for Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, according to Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. The team’s former starting forward got expanded playing time this week because of injuries to other players and has convinced Stotts to expand his rotation, at least temporarily. “I think it’s just being back in the rotation,’’ Harkless said in explaining his recent success. “It’s hard to not know if you are going to play, how much you are going to play, then get thrown out there for six minutes. It’s tough to play like that and be consistent.’’

Traded Player Exceptions Created In Deadline Deals

Before NBA teams started reaching trade agreements on Thursday, we published the latest entry in our Hoops Rumors Glossary, focusing on the traded player exception. As we explain in our breakdown, the traded player exception can allow over-the-cap teams to receive more salary than they send out in “simultaneous” trades.

The more common form of traded player exception is the one generated in a “non-simultaneous” trade, when a team send out a single player and takes back less salary – or none at all – in return. The team then has one calendar year to use that newly-created exception to acquire one or more players whose salaries fit into that exception.

For instance, the Raptors created a $11,800,000 trade exception in last July’s DeMarre Carroll trade with the Nets, meaning that on Thursday they could have acquired a player earning, say, $11MM without sending out any salary in return.

Not many teams took advantage of their outstanding trade exceptions on Thursday, but at least a couple teams appear to have completed trades with previously existing trade exceptions, or with disabled player exceptions. Nearly every trade completed on Thursday also generated at least one new trade exception, so we’ll round up those newly-created TPEs below.

With the help of tweets from cap experts Albert Nahmad and Bobby Marks, along with information from RealGM’s official transactions log, here’s a breakdown of the new TPEs, sorted by value. Not all of these exceptions have been confirmed with 100% certainty, but this is what we believe they’ll look like. These TPEs will expire if they’re not used by February 8, 2019:

Our list of outstanding traded player exceptions has been updated, and will be adjusted if necessary once we’re able to confirm all the TPEs listed above.

If you have any corrections or questions, please let us know in the comment section.

Trail Blazers Trade Noah Vonleh To Bulls

5:13pm: The trade is now official, the Blazers announced in a press release.

1:26pm: The Trail Blazers have agreed to trade Noah Vonleh and cash to the Bulls in exchange for the draft rights to Milovan Rakovic, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). While the deal will hardly be the biggest blockbuster of the day, it’s an important one for Portland — the team will get under the luxury tax as a result of the move.

Vonleh, 22, was the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, but hasn’t developed into the sort of impact player that the Hornets – and then the Blazers – hoped for. In 2017/18, he has appeared in 33 games for Portland, starting 12. In 14.4 minutes per contest, Vonleh averaged 3.6 PPG and 5.1 RPG.

While the Blazers sneak below the tax line as a result of dumping Vonleh’s $3.5MM salary, the Bulls will move closer to the salary floor by taking on the rest of that contract. If Chicago likes what it sees from Vonleh down the stretch, the club will have the option of making him a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer this offseason.

Portland also created a trade exception worth $3,505,233 (Vonleh’s salary) in the transaction.

Trade Deadline Notes: Evans, Faried, Jordan, Muhammad

The Grizzlies haven’t been able to get a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans and may decide to hang onto him, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. If that happens, Memphis will try to re-sign him this summer with its mid-level exception. The Grizzlies could still get at least one second-rounder if they decide to move him today, adds Zach Lowe of ESPN. (Twitter link)

A few more last minute-notes before the deadline arrives:

  • Representatives for Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried are still hoping for a deal, Woj adds (Twitter link). Denver has discussed Faried with several teams, including the Pacers, but nothing has happened yet.
  • The Cavaliers talked to the Clippers this morning about DeAndre Jordan, but opted for for a series of deals that gave them more athleticism, youth and depth, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
  • The Timberwolves may buy out Shabazz Muhammad if they can’t work out a last-minute deal, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). A source tells Spears he will be a coveted free agent if that happens.
  • The trade of Noah Vonleh to the Bulls is the last one the Trail Blazers plan to make today, relays Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest (Twitter link). That deal was enough to get Portland under the luxury tax.

Trail Blazers Won’t Trade C.J. McCollum

Although his name has appeared in a few trade rumors, the Trail Blazers have no plans to make a deal involving C.J. McCollum, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

A source tells Freeman that McCollum will be staying put, even though he was linked to a possible deal with the Cavaliers involving Kevin Love. Portland GM Neil Olshey has said before that he won’t trade away the fifth-year shooting guard.

“It’s a tough situation to be in,” McCollum said when asked about the trade deadline. “I always tell people … imagine you show up to work every day and there’s rumors about you being traded from your job to another job in another city. Every day. And imagine that it actually happens. But you find out the same time everybody else finds out. And you’ve got kids or you’ve got a wife, whatever the case may be. Maybe you bought a house. And now you’re traded and you have to move to another city. And it’s out of your control. Literally out of your control. So it’s a tough situation to be in, but a part of the business.”

McCollum is averaging 21.8 points per game and shooting a career best .425 from 3-point range, but the Blazers are facing a financial crunch, operating roughly $3MM above the tax line. Freeman suggests Noah Vonleh, who has fallen out of the rotation and is making a little more than $3.5MM in the final year of his rookie deal, may the most likely to be dealt.

Forbes Releases 2018 NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks are still reeling from Tuesday’s news that Kristaps Porzingis has suffered a torn ACL and will be sidelined for the rest of the season. While Porzingis’ injury essentially eliminates the Knicks from the playoff race in the East, team ownership can at least find some solace in the fact that the organization remains the highest-valued franchise in the NBA, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes.

For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. In 2017, 18 teams had a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which was up from 13 teams in 2016 and just three teams in 2015.

The league-wide average of $1.65 billion per team is also a record, with franchise valuations up 22% in total over last year’s figures. NBA franchise values have tripled over the last five years, according to Badenhausen.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3.3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $3.1 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.6 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.5 billion
  6. Brooklyn Nets: $2.3 billion
  7. Houston Rockets: $2.2 billion
  8. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.15 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.9 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.7 billion
  11. San Antonio Spurs: $1.55 billion
  12. Toronto Raptors: $1.4 billion
  13. Sacramento Kings: $1.375 billion
  14. Washington Wizards: $1.35 billion
  15. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.325 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.3 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.28 billion
  18. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.25 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $1.225 billion
  20. Utah Jazz: $1.2 billion
  21. Philadelphia 76ers: $1.18 billion
  22. Indiana Pacers: $1.175 billion
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $1.15 billion
  24. Denver Nuggets: $1.125 billion
  25. Detroit Pistons: $1.1 billion
  26. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.075 billion
  27. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.06 billion
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $1.05 billion
  29. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.025 billion
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $1 billion

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2017 valuations can be found right here.

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