Rodney McGruder

Injury Updates: Clarke, Lowry, D-Lo, Crabbe, More

Just three days after ruling out Ja Morant with a week-to-week injury, the Grizzlies have done the same with their other prized rookie. Forward Brandon Clarke aggravated a sore left oblique muscle during Sunday’s game and will be sidelined on a week-to-week basis, the team announced today in a press release.

The 6-14 Grizzlies are certainly lottery-bound, but Morant and Clarke have at least been two bright spots – and reasons to keep an eye on the young team in Memphis – so far this season. Clarke has averaged 11.8 PPG and 5.9 RPG with a .630 FG% in 18 games (21.2 MPG). In his absence, the club will presumably lean a little more heavily on bigs like Jaren Jackson Jr., Solomon Hill, and Bruno Caboclo.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Kyle Lowry, who has missed nearly a month with a left thumb injury, will return to the Raptors‘ starting lineup tonight. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets, head coach Nick Nurse said he’d like to ease Lowry back in, but the veteran point guard won’t have a specific minutes cap.
  • Another star point guard who has been out with a thumb injury appears to be nearing a return as well. Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets that D’Angelo Russell, who hasn’t played since November 15, has been upgraded to questionable for the Warriors‘ game in Charlotte on Wednesday.
  • Hawks wing Allen Crabbe underwent a non-surgical procedure on his right knee today, according to the team. The club didn’t provide a timeline for Crabbe’s recovery beyond saying he’ll miss Wednesday’s game vs. Brooklyn, but this is the same knee that gave him trouble earlier in the year.
  • A Thunder spokesman said on Tuesday that Andre Roberson will continue his injury rehab process in Los Angeles, away from the team, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Billy Donovan said the decision wasn’t related to a setback or another operation, but the head coach’s comments didn’t sound overly promising. “He can’t get himself back to play, and he just wants to try some other avenues to try to get himself back to play,” Donovan said of Roberson. “He’s gotten to a point, and he can’t get past that point.”
  • Clippers swingman Rodney McGruder remains sidelined with a right hamstring strain, and head coach Doc Rivers said earlier this week that he didn’t believe McGruder was close to returning (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic).

Injury Updates: Kyrie, McGruder, E. Davis, Fall

After missing Wednesday’s game in Boston, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has also been ruled out of Friday’s rematch with the Celtics in Brooklyn, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. Irving, who continues to deal with a right shoulder impingement, will miss his eighth consecutive game as a result of the injury.

The Nets and Celtics face one another four times this season, but the next two games won’t take place until after the All-Star break. Irving’s first opportunity to play his old team will be on March 3, when the Nets travel to Boston again for a prime-time showdown on TNT.

The Nets did get some good injury news on Thursday, as the team announced that center DeAndre Jordan has been listed as probable for Friday’s game vs. the Celtics after missing Brooklyn’s last two contests.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Rodney McGruder, who has been playing a regular rotation role for the Clippers during the team’s seven-game winning streak, has been ruled out of Friday’s game vs. San Antonio after suffering a right hamstring strain on Wednesday, per the team. As Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register details, head coach Doc Rivers is prepared to be without McGruder “for a while,” though the club has yet to announce any sort of timeline for the swingman’s recovery.
  • Veteran center Ed Davis appears to be nearing a return for the Jazz. Davis, who was diagnosed with a fractured fibula nearly four weeks ago, has been upgraded to questionable for Utah’s game in Memphis on Friday, tweets Ben Dowsett of Forbes.
  • Celtics rookie big man Tacko Fall was diagnosed with a right knee bone bruise this week while playing for the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s G League affiliate (Twitter link). Fall is off to a good start in Maine, with 15.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 2.7 BPG in six games (24.0 MPG), but he’ll miss at least the next week or two, according to the team.

Rodney McGruder Signs Three-Year Deal With Clippers

JULY 10: The contract between McGruder and the Clippers is now official, per a release from the team.

JULY 2: The Clippers have reached an agreement with shooting guard Rodney McGruder on a three-year deal, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. The contract will pay McGruder $15MM over the three years.

Los Angeles picked up McGruder after the Heat waived him at the end of the season to avoid the luxury tax. He was not eligible to play in the postseason for the Clippers, but the team retained his restricted free agency rights by tendering him a qualifying offer.

In 66 games (45 starts) last season for Miami, McGruder averaged 7.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG with a shooting line of .403/.351/.722 in 23.5 minutes per contest.

McGruder’s deal does not significantly impact the Clippers’ ability to sign a max free agent (Kawhi Leonard), as Bobby Marks of ESPN.com tweets. McGruder’s modest $3MM cap hold has been factored into the equation for Los Angeles’ projected cap room all along.

Clippers Extend Qualifying Offers To Zubac, McGruder

The Clippers have extended a qualifying offer to center Ivica Zubac, making him a restricted free agent, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. They have also extended a QO to swingman Rodney McGruder, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

The Clippers declined forward Johnathan Motley‘s QO and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Motley was one of the team’s two-way players.

The move to make Zubac an RFA was a mere formality, as he impressed the Clippers after they acquired him from the Lakers at the trade deadline. His qualifying offer is $1,931,189 and the Clippers can now match any offer sheet for the young big man in free agency.

He averaged 9.4 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 1.5 APG in 20.2 MPG over 26 regular-season games after the deal, including 25 starts. The 7’1” Zubac, 22, saw reduced action in the postseason, averaging 9.8 MPG in four games during the first-round series against the Warriors.

Zubac, a 2016 second-round pick, was part of the February trade that sent veteran forward Mike Muscala to the Lakers.

McGruder’s QO is the same amount extended to Zubac. He was claimed by the Clippers in April after the Heat waived him for luxury-tax purposes. He did appear in any games with the Clippers and was ineligible for the postseason. He averaged 7.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 1.7 APG in 66 games with Miami last season, including 45 starts.

Heat Notes: Draft, Ellington, Langford

Should the Heat enter the sweepstakes for the No. 4 overall pick? Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes it depends on the cost.

The scribe isn’t a fan of the team sending away Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, or Bam Adebayo in a deal, though if a trade was structured around one of their player-friendly contracts, such as Dion Waiters or James Johnson, an additional player and the No. 13, moving up would make more sense.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat could use Wayne Ellington back, but luxury tax concerns may put him out of the team’s price range, Winderman notes in the same piece. Miami began last season with great depth in the backcourt but that’s no longer the case after the team sent Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and Tyler Johnson away and watched Dwyane Wade retire.
  • Romeo Langford (Indiana) met with the Heat today, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Langford’s busy day also includes a meeting with the Pelicans. He has previously visited Cleveland, Atlanta, and Minnesota.
  • The Heat also worked out Sekou Doumbouya (France), according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Doumbouya is expected to go in the lottery.

Pacific Notes: McGruder, Suns, Iguodala, Green

Clippers forward Rodney McGruder is getting a unique perspective of the playoffs due to his ineligibility to play, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes.

McGruder, 27, was claimed by the Clippers after being waived by Miami earlier in the month. Because he was released after March 1, NBA rules prohibit him from playing in the postseason — causing him to participate in practice and watch games from the sidelines.

“They welcomed me like no other,” McGruder said of the Clippers. “They made me feel welcome, and it’s been a great experience just getting to meet the guys and see how everything works around here. It’s basically like a recruiting visit.”

Los Angeles respected the grit and determination McGruder has played with in his short professional career, believing in his ability and bringing him on board.

“You play against people, they leave an impression,” teammate Patrick Beverley said of McGruder. “The impression he left on us is he plays extremely hard.”

The Clippers can extend a qualifying offer to McGruder by June 29 and allow him to enter restricted free agency, though it’s unclear where their plans stand ahead of the offseason.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examines the Suns’ offseason and potential draft options, noting that several sources around the NBA believe Phoenix may prefer to end up with Ja Morant rather than Zion Williamson. Suns general manager James Jones, according to Vecenie, is enamored with Morant’s playing abilities — coupled with the fact that his team needs a point guard.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr agrees with Andre Iguodala that he could play beyond his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of next season, as relayed by Mark Medina of The Mercury News. “I think he can play beyond this contract, if he really wants,” Kerr said. “He may not want to be. He may just want to go to the golf course and call it a career. But he can keep playing if he wants.” Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, has averaged 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists in a career-low 23.2 minutes per game this season.
  • The playoffs could be a prime chance for Draymond Green to raise his value ahead of potential contract extension talks with the Warriors this summer, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. When asked if he could use the playoffs as an opportunity to boost his value entering any potential negotiations, Green said, “Not at all. No, I can’t negotiate any contract right now, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to stress myself out trying to negotiate it in my head. It makes no sense. It’s a waste of time and energy.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Pacific Division:

Klay Thompson, Warriors, 29, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $69MM deal in 2015
The smart money has Kevin Durant signing elsewhere this summer, which makes it more imperative for Golden State to keep its dynamic backcourt intact. The Warriors would probably have to max out Thompson at $190MM over five years and ownership appears willing to do so. If not, rivals with ample cap space would certainly give him a four-year, $140MM deal, the max they could offer. In any case, Thompson won’t have to take a discount the way the market figures to play out. Even in a somewhat down year by his standards, he still had the sixth-most 3-point makes in the NBA.

Reggie Bullock, Lakers, 28, SG (Down) — Signed to a two-year, $5MM deal in 2017
The cap-strapped Pistons figured they couldn’t re-sign Bullock, so they traded him to the Lakers for a couple of assets. He was Detroit’s most reliable wing player but things didn’t go well for him in L.A. He never got into a shooting rhythm with the Lakers, as the career 39.2% long-range gunner made just 34.3% of his 3-point shots. Bullock’s price tag might have gone down somewhat, though he should still field some multi-year offers. He might even return to Detroit, where he played four seasons, if the Pistons can fit him into their budget.

Rodney McGruder, Clippers, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder finished his season in the Clippers organization, though he’s ineligible for the playoffs. Miami put him on waivers to get under the luxury tax and the Clippers claimed him. The Clippers gained control of his Early Bird rights and can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $3MM qualifying offer. It seems that McGruder might benefit from Miami’s surprising move, as he could claim a rotation role with his new club depending upon how well they do in free agency. If they choose not to give him a QO, he should be able to secure a contract on the open market befitting a second-unit player.

Jamal Crawford, Suns, 39, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
How crazy is this? Crawford entered the league in 2000, the same year Zion Williamson was born. They could be teammates next season. That’s if Crawford decides re-sign with Phoenix. He wants to play at least another year and why not? This week, Crawford became the oldest player in NBA history to record a 50-point game. Crawford appeared in 64 games with Phoenix after playing a minimum of 79 the previous three years. He’ll be providing offense off the bench somewhere next season, a tribute to his preparation, perseverance and durability.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kings, 25, C (Down)– Signed to a four-year, $15.35MM deal in 2015
Cauley-Stein said prior to the season he was “ready to get paid” after his walk year. He started all but one game this season for Sacramento but didn’t really enhance his value. He’s not a shot-blocker. He doesn’t rebound particularly well for his size. He can’t shoot free throws, nor does he pose much of an offensive threat. The Kings can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $6.25MM qualifying offer but even that’s not a given. Cauley-Stein will certainly get a raise compared to his rookie deal but it probably won’t be what he expected.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Potential 2019 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works:

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Two years ago, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,485,665.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Porzingis, who had no chance at meeting the playing-time requirements due to his torn ACL. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 4 overall pick would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth just over $7.5MM. Of course, it may not matter much, since Porzingis is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Mavericks anyway.

For Johnson, Kaminsky, and Lyles, falling short of the starter criteria was more about their roles than health issues.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Oubre was selected between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2015 draft and met the starter criteria, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,915,726 instead of $4,485,665. No other players fit the bill this year, as many of the players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2015 have either already been extended or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the 23rd overall pick in 2015, was the strongest candidate to join Oubre in this group, but fell just short of meeting the criteria, having started 80 games over the last two seasons — he needed to get to 82. Wizards forward Bobby Portis, the 22nd overall pick, also would have had a shot if he stayed healthy, but injuries limited his minutes over the last two seasons.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but have met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $3,021,354.

Tomas Satoransky (Wizards) was another player who qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will already be worth $3,911,484 based on other criteria.

There were a few second-round picks and UDFAs who just missed out on meeting the starter criteria, including Dorian Finney-Smith of the Mavericks (1,985 minutes played), Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono (1,961 minutes), and Clippers center Ivica Zubac (37 starts).

Those players, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents, won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Lottery, McGruder, Haslem

Heat center Hassan Whiteside isn’t the only Miami veteran with a player option decision to make this offseason. As Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes, point guard Goran Dragic will also need to make a choice as to whether he will opt in to his $19.2MM salary for the 2019/20 season or test the open market.

Dragic believes it’s still too early to make a decision on next year, stating that he will first need to speak with his family and agent to determine what the best next step will be. “There’s a lot of factors,” Dragic said. “I’ll try to do what is best for my career, for my family. It’s going to require to talk a lot and see from there what’s going to be best.”

When specifically asked whether the player option decision will be a difficult one, Dragic had a straightforward response. “I mean, if it would be a simple decision, probably I would already know now. So, yeah.”

There is more out of South Beach tonight:

  • Within the same article, Chiang also notes that the Heat, tied for the best record among lottery teams, only have a 4.7 percent chance at landing one of the top-four picks in this year’s draft (1.0 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, 1.1 percent chance at the No. 2 pick, 1.2 percent chance at the No. 3 pick, and a 1.4 percent chance at the No. 4 pick).
  • In a Q&A piece, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel notes that the Heat probably made a bad decision when they decided to let Rodney McGruder go for financial reasons. The Heat have built their organization on the premise of a certain culture, and making a decision premised on finances rather than basketball flies in the face of that culture.
  • In another piece for the Sun-Sentinel, Winderman writes that 16-year veteran forward Udonis Haslem will need some time to decompress before deciding whether to return for another season. Head coach Erik Spoelstra hopes Haslem returns, saying “He’s sacrificed as much as anybody, obviously. But UD can still play. He still can. We see it all the time in practices. We have a bunch of young bigs that he’s really taken on ownership to mentor and to help develop and everything.”

Clippers Claim Rodney McGruder Off Waivers

The Clippers have used an open roster spot and a traded player exception to claim shooting guard Rodney McGruder off waivers from the Heat, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Because he was released after March 1, McGruder won’t be eligible to participate in the postseason for Los Angeles. However, the Clippers will assume control of his Early Bird rights and will have the ability to make him a restricted free agent this summer by issuing him a qualifying offer. That QO would be worth just over $3MM, since McGruder met the starter criteria this season.

McGruder, 27, had a solid season in Miami, averaging 7.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.7 APG with a .403/.351/.722 as a regular part of the team’s rotation over 66 games (23.5 MPG). However, with the Heat’s playoff chances dwindling, they decided to prioritize getting out of the tax.

Since McGruder was claimed off waivers, Miami won’t be on the hook for his $1,544,951 cap hit, allowing the club to duck below the tax line. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the move will save the Heat approximately $5.2MM, since they’ll no longer have a $2.1MM tax bill and will instead be in line for a $3.1MM share of other teams’ tax payments. It should also help the organization avoid repeater-tax penalties down the road.

Although McGruder is earning the minimum salary this season, his contract was a three-year pact, meaning it wasn’t eligible to be claimed using the minimum salary exception, which only accommodates one- or two-year deals. As such, the Clippers had to use a traded player exception to place their claim. The team had two exceptions that could have worked, but likely used the $2,760,095 TPE from last August’s Sam Dekker deal, since it’s worth less than – and will expire before – the $9.8MM TPE created in February’s Tobias Harris blockbuster.

The Clippers are in position to make McGruder part of their future, but could just as easily let him go during the offseason if retaining him would compromise their ability to land a top free agent target. Still, his modest cap hold – which would be the amount of his qualifying offer if the Clips extend one – should give the club some flexibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.