Rodney McGruder

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.

Heat Waive Rodney McGruder

The Heat have waived swingman Rodney McGruder, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, in a financially motivated attempt to skirt the luxury tax.

The Heat lost to the Raptors earlier today, putting a large hit on the club’s playoff chances. Wins by the Pistons and the Nets, both playing now, would officially eliminate Miami. Therefore, the Heat were left with a decision — keep McGruder, hope to make the playoffs against long odds, and try to re-sign him this summer, or waive him for potential financial gain. The team chose the latter.

As noted by Bobby Marks of ESPN, the Heat will avoid the luxury tax if McGruder’s $1.54MM minimum-salary contract is claimed by another team. However, any team interested in picking up McGruder would not have the 27-year-old available for the playoffs, so the only incentive to claim him would be to obtain his Early Bird rights and the right to match any offers for him in free agency. McGruder will be a restricted free agent this summer with a qualifying offer of a little more than $3.6MM.

As such, it will be interesting to see whether another franchise claims McGruder and helps out Miami. On the one hand, McGruder is still relatively young and on a cheap contract. Moreover, he will be a restricted free agent this summer, which is always a tantalizing asset for any club. But, he can’t help now, in the playoffs, which is currently the primary focus of many teams. For what it’s worth, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Heat believe McGruder will be claimed.

McGruder started 45 games for the Heat this season, averaging 7.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He appeared in 161 games for the Heat over three seasons and led the Heat’s G-League affiliate to a championship back in 2016.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast 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 Southeast Division:

Dewayne Dedmon, Hawks, 29, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $14.1MM deal in 2017
Dedmon seems like a prime candidate to hit the buyout market, but incentive clauses in his contract may motivate him to stick out the season in Atlanta. As long as Dedmon stays in the rotation, spending the season with the lottery-bound Hawks shouldn’t hurt his value when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Dedmon has evolved into a ‘stretch five’ in the sixth year of his career. Lately, he’s taken a majority of his shots from beyond the arc and he’s getting pretty good at it. He’s shooting 46.4% from long range this month and 38.6% for the season, which will serve as a nice selling point.

Kemba Walker, Hornets, 28, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $48MM deal in 2015
Walker will be the second-best point guard on the market after Kyrie Irving but he’ll hardly be a consolation prize. Walker has been terrific throughout the season and he’s off to a blazing start this month. In his last four games, he’s averaging 34.0 points, 8.0 assists and 5.8 rebounds. Walker is averaging a career-high 25.1 PPG this season and has missed just six games since the 2015/16 campaign. Walker has been working on a team-friendly contract paying him $12MM annually. He’ll get a gargantuan raise whether he decides to stick with the Hornets or join one of the many teams with significant cap space seeking a top-flight free agent.

Rodney McGruder, Heat, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder lost his rotation spot, then got it back when Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson were traded last week. In the last two games, McGruder has scored a total of four points on 2-for-10 shooting. He’s lacking in confidence, as evidenced by the fact he’s missed his last 17 3-point attempts. Coming off an injury-marred 2017/18 campaign, McGruder got off to a strong start and contributed as a play-maker as well as a scorer. Miami can make him a restricted free agent by extending a modest $3MM qualifying offer this summer, but even that’s no longer a sure thing.

Jerian Grant, Magic, 26, PG (Down) — Signed to a four-year, $7.57MM deal in 2015
Grant had a golden opportunity to enhance his value after getting traded to Orlando in July via a three-team swap. He entered one of the sketchiest point guard situations in the league but after failing to beat out journeyman D.J. Augustin for the starting job, he has also fallen behind Isaiah Briscoe on the depth chart. Grant has played a total of six garbage-time minutes over the last six games. It’s hard to imagine Orlando extending a $3.76MM qualifying offer to make Grant a restricted free agent, so he’ll be scrounging for a fresh start elsewhere.

Tomas Satoransky, Wizards, 27, PG (Up)– Signed to a three-year, $9MM deal in 2016
John Wall‘s pain has led to Satorsansky’s gain and he could cash in before he becomes a restricted free agent. Reports surfaced early last month that the team has engaged with Satoransky’s representatives regarding an extension. With Wall likely out all of next year after tearing his Achilles, Satoransky becomes even more valuable to the franchise. He could sign for as much as $47.5MM over a four-year period on an extension and he hasn’t hurt his cause since taking over as the primary point man. He’s racked up eight or more assists in nine games since January 9th.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Johnson, McGruder, Waiters, Johnson

The Heat have had to use countless different lineup combinations throughout the season as players have come and gone due to injuries, but recently it has been Tyler Johnson that has become a key staple in the starting lineup.

As Ira Winderman writes for The Sun-Sentinal, Johnson has provided an energetic approach that has made him a perfect fit for the starting lineup, especially as Erik Spoelstra continues to look for ways to jumpstart his team.

The Heat have made several significant changes in the wake of Goran Dragic‘s injury, most notably converting Justise Winslow to being the team’s primary ball-handler and creator.

There’s more from the Heat:

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Spoelstra, Wade, McGruder

Hassan Whiteside has impacted the Heat in a much more positive way this season, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who shares perspectives from some of Whiteside’s teammates and other figures around the franchise.

Whiteside, who missed part of last season due to injury, was unhappy with his playing time after his minutes dropped from 32.6 per game to 25.3. The Heat handled the matter internally at the time, working with him to become a better teammate and approach games with a team-first mentality.

“I think I’m just in a better place than what I was last year,” Whiteside said, according to Jackson. “Going through all the injuries and stuff, I was real frustrated with myself too, not being able to be there with my teammates, not being able to contribute like I wanted to. There was a lot of frustration with myself also, with the injuries. I’m just happy we’re winning. All the other stuff will come.”

Whiteside has averaged 12.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.8 minutes per game this season with Miami. His overall mindset and willingness to trust coach Erik Spoelstra has helped improved their relationship as a result.

“Spo’s my guy,” Whiteside said. “We overcommunicate. We got an understanding. He wants to win. I want to win. We’re definitely in a better place.”

Spoelstra, who’s coached Whiteside for each of the past five seasons, is impressed with his growth and maturity. Whiteside has put forth a ton of work in recent months, including improving his quality of screens to help his team.

“Every year, he’s becoming a better basketball player and learning how to become an ultimate winner. And he’s enjoying it more,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the whole thing that’s tough for players to really grasp. The more you breathe life into somebody else and enjoy somebody else’s success, whatever it is that you are searching for yourself, you usually end up getting because of that giving mentality.”

There’s more out of Miami today:

  • Erik Spoelstra will tie Pat Riley‘s franchise record by coaching his 849th regular-season game with the Heat on Monday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Spoelstra, who’s in his 11th season as head coach, can pass Riley’s record on Wednesday against the Clippers.
  • Dwyane Wade played his final game in Chicago on Saturday, tallying 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in nearly 27 minutes. “I have more of a connection here than anywhere else,” Wade said postgame, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports. “It’s my birth city. It’s the place where my vision to become an NBA player started, watching my favorite team and watching my favorite players growing up. It definitely felt different than any other city but it was a good different. It was a joyous time for me to be here.”
  • Rodney McGruder has earned a higher ground for restricted free agency this summer, Winderman details for the Sun Sentinel. McGruder, 27, met the criteria of starting half of the season (41 games) last week, raising his $1.9 million qualifying offer to $3MM. The CBA also states that the “starter criteria” could include playing 2,000 or more minutes, according to Winderman, with McGruder logging 1,185 minutes just over the halfway point of the season.

Southeast Notes: Schroder, Kemba, McGruder, Wizards

Returning to Atlanta this week for the first time since he was traded from the Hawks to the Thunder last summer, Dennis Schroder didn’t mince words when he spoke about heading from Atlanta to Oklahoma City. As Erik Horne of The Oklahoman relays, Schroder suggested that he welcomed the move to a contender after growing tired of the Hawks’ rebuilding efforts.

“I wanted to be in a winning-mentality organization,” Schroder said before Tuesday’s game between the Thunder and Hawks. “You just can’t go out there and try to lose. I’m a competitor and I try to give everything out there. I want the organization to feel the same way. Right now with our organization, all the players in the locker room, all of the coaches, they’ve got a winning mentality. That’s what makes it fun, when you go out there and go to war with your brothers. There’s nothing better than that.”

Despite Schroder’s veiled shots at the Hawks, it was Atlanta that had the last laugh on Tuesday. The Hawks overcame Schroder’s 21 points and six assists to beat the Thunder in a 142-126 barn-burner. Atlanta’s offensive outburst included a pair of 45-point quarters.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In an interesting and in-depth feature for Bleacher Report, Jonathan Abrams explores Kemba Walker‘s situation in Charlotte, including his upcoming free agency. While Walker didn’t drop any bombshells regarding his future, he said he remains very interested in helping the Hornets reach new heights. “I do want to be the first to accomplish a lot of the goals that have never been accomplished around here,” Walker said. “Yeah, I do think about that. Just because I know a lot of things haven’t been accomplished here, and this is my eighth season here now. … I want to help accomplish those goals and help get this organization far—as far as possible.”
  • Rodney McGruder, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, started his 41st game for the Heat on Tuesday. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, that means McGruder has now met the “starter criteria” for RFAs, which will increase the value of his qualifying offer from $1.93MM to $3.02MM.
  • After falling to 13-23 and losing John Wall for the season, the Wizards‘ season looked over. But since then, the club has won five of eight games, including impressive victories against Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. As Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington details, that puts the Wizards at a crossroads with the trade deadline fast approaching. In a separate story, Standig takes a closer look at whether Washington should buy, sell, or stand pat.