Rudy Gobert

Fournier Could Be On The Move

Magic swingman Evan Fournier is the player most likely to be moved before the trade deadline, according to an ESPN Insider report from Bobby Marks.

While there’s no indication Fournier is being shopped, a straw poll of NBA executives believe that the Magic will need to start exploring their trade options on the veteran, who is likely to leave $17.2MM on the table and opt out this summer. Orlando is currently battling for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fournier is enjoying a career year, averaging 19.6 PPG and shooting 42.3% from long range.

Here are more nuggets from the ESPN report:

NBA Super-Max Candidates To Watch In 2019/20

The Designated Veteran Extension, as we explain our glossary entry on the subject, is a relatively new addition to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It allows players with 7-9 years of experience, who would normally qualify for a maximum starting salary of 30% of the cap, to qualify for a “super-max” contract that starts at 35% of the cap, a level normally reserved players with 10+ years of experience.

A player who has seven or eight years of NBA service with one or two years left on his contract becomes eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension if he meets the required performance criteria and hasn’t been traded since his first four years in the league. A Designated Veteran contract can also be signed by a player who is technically a free agent if he has eight or nine years of service and meets the required criteria.

The performance criteria is as follows (only one of the following must be true):

  • The player was named to an All-NBA team and/or was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.

With those criteria in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on the players who could qualify for a super-max veteran contract with their play this season. Let’s dive in and examine a few of those guys…

Players who already qualify for a super-max contract:

Antetokounmpo met the performance criteria for the super-max when he won last season’s MVP award. Gobert did so by winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018 and then being named to the All-NBA team in 2019 — his second consecutive DPOY award in ’19 merely put an emphatic stamp on his eligibility.

However, neither Antetokounmpo nor Gobert can actually sign a Designated Veteran Extension yet, since they must have seven years of NBA experience under their belts.

Each player is in his seventh season now, but years of experience aren’t officially added until the very end of the league year. In other words, the Bucks and Jazz stars will have to wait until next July to officially sign super-max extensions.

We know the Bucks will put that offer on the table for Giannis, but we’re not sure yet whether he’ll sign it. It also remains to be seen if the Jazz will make the same offer to Gobert. Based on the NBA’s latest cap projection for 2021/22 ($125MM), each player would be eligible for $253.75MM over five years.

Players who could qualify for a super-max contract by meeting the criteria in 2019/20:

Technically, any player who earns an All-NBA spot in 2019/20 and meets the contract criteria can qualify for a super-max, but the two players listed above are probably the only legitimately viable candidates. Thunder center Steven Adams, for instance, would become eligible for a super-max extension by earning an All-NBA spot, but that’s probably not happening.

Even Drummond might be a long shot, but if he can maintain the numbers he has posted in his first nine games (21.9 PPG, 18.6 RPG, 2.2 BPG), he’ll be in the conversation. So far, he’s outplaying last year’s All-NBA First Team center Nikola Jokic, who is off to a slow start.

Embiid, last season’s All-NBA Second Team center, looks like a safer All-NBA bet as long he stays healthy. He earned his spot in 2018/19 despite playing just 64 games, so if he can match or exceed that number this season with similar production, look for him to become super-max eligible.

Drummond is in his eighth NBA season, while Embiid is only in his sixth. So if Drummond were to earn All-NBA honors this season, he’d become eligible to immediately sign a super-max contract. Declining his player option and signing a five-year Designated Veteran contract would put Drummond in line for a deal worth $235.48MM based on the league’s latest cap projection for 2020/21 ($116MM). Though of course, there’s no guarantee the Pistons would be willing to go quite that high.

As for Embiid, if he makes an All-NBA team this season, he’ll be in a similar situation to the one Giannis and Gobert are in now — super-max eligible based on his performance criteria, but not yet on his contract criteria. He’d have to wait until the 2021 offseason to sign that extension. I expect the Sixers will be ready to do a super-max deal if he keeps playing at this level and doesn’t suffer any more major injuries.

It’s also worth mentioning Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns in this group. They’ll only have five years of NBA experience apiece after this season, so they wouldn’t be able to sign super-max extensions until the 2022 offseason. Technically though, one of them could meet the required performance criteria as early as this spring by winning the MVP award.

Players who can no longer qualify for a super-max contract:

There are many other players who could be added to this list, but these are the three who would otherwise be strong candidates to qualify the super-max if they hadn’t already become ineligible based on one of the required criteria.

In Beal’s case, he opted to sign a standard veteran extension this fall rather than wait to see if he’d make an All-NBA team this season and become eligible for the super-max. By the time he’ll be able to opt out of his new deal in the summer of 2022, he’ll have 10 years of experience under his belt, meaning he’ll automatically qualify for the 35% max.

Davis and Oladipo, meanwhile, were traded while playing out their rookie scale contract extensions, making them ineligible for a super-max. Davis would have been able to sign such a deal this past offseason if he had remained with the Pelicans.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

World Cup Notes: Walker, Gobert, Scola, Guduric

Chinese fans have embraced Kemba Walker and he’s enjoying the attention as the biggest star on Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Many fans are wearing his jersey in the stands.

“To know you have fans in other places, especially me, it was very humbling,” Walker said. “It’s just a great feeling.”

While many stars passed on playing for their national teams this summer, Walker has looked forward to this opportunity for years.

“It’s special to be a part of this team,” Walker said. “I’ve been a part of USA Basketball for years, I was on a couple Select Teams where I didn’t get this far. I appreciate it.”

We have more World Cup news:

  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who is representing France, is upset by FIBA’s drug testing procedure, Sportando relays. Gobert posted on Twitter that he was awaken after a late game to get tested. “No respect for the player’s recovery time,” he wrote in part.
  • Former NBA forward Luis Scola has moved into second place on FIBA’s all-time World Cup scoring list, Sportando reports. The 39-year-old Scola trails only Brazilian legend Oscar Schmidt. He surpassed Australia’s Andrew Gaze during a game against Nigeria.
  • Marko Guduric, who signed with the Grizzlies this summer, is averaging 10.5 PPG for Serbia through two games in the FIBA World Cup, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. The swingman inked a two-year, $5.3MM deal with Memphis after playing the last two seasons for Fenerbahçe in Turkey.

World Cup Updates: Lithuania, Joseph, Nigeria, France

The Lithuanian national team has announced its roster for the 2019 World Cup, according to Donatas Urbonas, who tweets that the 12-man squad will include Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt. Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas is also on the roster.

Lithuania is viewed as a contender to make a deep run in this year’s tournament, but it won’t have an easy path to even make it out of the first round. The Lithuanian national team is part of a group that also includes Australia, Canada, and Senegal — only two of those clubs will advance to the round of 16.

Here’s more on the 2019 World Cup, which will tip off in just four days in China:

And-Ones: Telfair, Georges-Hunt, O’Bryant, Re-Draft

Former high school basketball prodigy and NBA veteran Sebastian Telfair was sentenced on Monday to three and a half years in prison in his New York City gun case, per The Associated Press. Telfair, 34, was convicted earlier this year of carrying a loaded handgun in his pickup truck.

This was not Telfair’s first brush with the law nor his first incident involving a loaded weapon. He and a friend were arrested in 2007 after a traffic stop during which police found a loaded handgun in the vehicle. He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

While he never lived up to the hype from his prep career, Telfair did have a relatively successful NBA career. He played 564 games over 10 seasons and averaged 7.4 PPG and 3.5 APG.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along this evening:

  • Former Magic and Timberwolves guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, now fully healthy, recently worked out for the Nuggets as he looks to work his way back to the NBA. According to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, the fully healthy 25-year-old Georgia Tech product also has several other workouts lined up the rest of the month.
  • As first reported by Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link), top EuroLeague free agent and former NBA player Johnny O’Bryant has signed with Lokomotiv Krasnodar (Twitter link) of the Russian VTB United League. O’Bryant, a second-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, played four seasons in the NBA with the BucksNuggets, and Hornets.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic would draft Bucks forward and 2018/19 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, and Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum with the top three picks in a re-draft of the 2013 NBA Draft. None of the three went higher than No. 10 overall six years ago.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Grant, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jazz

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard believes he can bring out the best of Hassan Whiteside, the enigmatic center acquired from the Heat as part of the multi-team Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. Lillard has a good friendship with Whiteside and that should help prevent Whiteside from getting over-emotional, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“I said, ‘So this is what this is going to come down to: If in the middle of the game, you are not getting the ball and you mad, and you felt like somebody should have done something, you come and say something to me,” Lillard said. “And if (Trail Blazers) Coach (Terry Stotts) is getting on you, or Coach takes you out and you get mad at Coach, me and you have to be able to communicate. Even if we argue, that’s fine. But we have to be able to get through to each other.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is thrilled with the acquisition of forward Jerami Grant from the Thunder, as he told Alex Labidou of the team’s website. He believes Grant will mesh well with franchise player Nikola Jokic and significantly improve the team’s defense. “Watching film, he’s guarded Damian Lillard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, the guy can guard anybody,” Malone said. “I think that versatility is exciting.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gives the Thunder a long-term answer at point guard who may have a better future than Paul George, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Gilgeous-Alexander is nine years younger than George, Tramel notes, and he displayed better defensive and shooting skills than Russell Westbrook did in his rookie year.
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert shrugs off the Clippers’ acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and George, confident that the Jazz have done enough this offseason to become serious contenders. “We don’t want to pay too much attention into what the other teams are doing,” Gobert told Tony Jones of The Athletic. “We want to keep working hard, and we want to stay hungry. We know what we have to do. Whenever we step out onto the court, the goal is to win. We know that we have a chance to do some good things this year. But we want to take things one step at a time.”
  • The Timberwolves have brought back Bryan Gates as an assistant coach under Ryan Saunders, according to an Associated Press report. Gates has been on the Kings’ staff the last three seasons but spent the 2015/16 season with Minnesota.

Gobert Repeats As Defensive Player Of Year

Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season at the league’s annual awards show on Monday.

Gobert topped two players who are also finalists for the Most Valuable Player award, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George. The anchor of the Jazz’s defense averaged 2.3 blocks for the second straight season. Utah’s 105.2 defensive rating was second only to Milwauekee’s 104.9. The Jazz also allowed the fourth fewest points.

Kawhi Leonard was the last player to win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards (2015, 2016).

And-Ones: Durant, Superteams, French National Team

Multiple teams around the NBA still consider Kevin Durant a talent worth investing max money in, despite the ruptured Achilles that will sideline him through 2019/20. Ben Golliver of the Washington Post weighs in on several franchises that could entertain the idea this summer.

Golliver writes that the Clippers, backed by billionaire Steve Ballmer could afford to sign Durant, tinker with the impressive lineup that led them to the postseason this spring, and then hit the ground running with Durant in 2020/21. That’s a scenario that would be ever dreamier if they were able to land Kawhi Leonard this summer as well.

Of course Durant’s absence next season will still have some impact on his value. Could the revelation that Durant won’t play in 2019/20 derail a potential pairing with Kyrie Irving in New York? Would Irving prefer instead to work with a different star in Brooklyn?

These are questions we’ll get answers to eventually but for now one thing is clear, Durant’s value remains high but that’s not to say that his Achilles hasn’t still thrown the league for a loop.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Is this the beginning of the end of the Superteam Era? Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN wonders as much in a video released on Instagram, suggesting players around the league are showing a greater interest in leading their own teams. For the past decade, star players have seemingly gravitated to one another to stack the deck and win championships but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, if the Raptors’ 2019 title plays a small role in the ushering out the Superteam Era, they’ll be walking right back into a climate that saw former Raptor star Tracy McGrady bolt the franchise for the chance to get out of Vince Carter‘s shadow and lead his own Magic squad.
  • Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas has received interest from a number of NBA teams and has several offers to join teams on non-guaranteed pre-season camp deals, international basketball reported Donatas Urbonas tweets.
  • The preliminary French national team for the 2019 World Cup has been revealed and a number of household NBA names will fortify a competitive roster. As seen at Sportando, Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum and Evan Fournier are the biggest names on the preliminary roster but they’re not the only ones with big league credentials.

Rudy Gobert Eligible For Designated Veteran Extension in 2020

Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named to the All-NBA Third Team earlier today, and while he was not named to an All-NBA team last season, he will still be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension in the summer of 2020, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN, because he was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017/18 season.

It’s always been clear that to be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension, a player must:

  • have 7 or 8 years of service at the time the extension is signed;
  • have 1 or 2 years remaining on his current contract;
  • play with the same team continuously since entering the league, unless he was traded during his first four years in the league; and
  • meet the 35% Max Criteria

Gobert clearly meets the first three requirements. In the summer of 2020, he will have played seven seasons in the NBA, all for the Jazz, and have one year left on his contract. The fourth requirement wasn’t so clear. Before today, it seemed to be generally understood (h/t to Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ) that a player qualified for the 35% Max Criteria if:

  • He was named to the All-NBA First, Second, or Third team in the most recent season, or both of the two seasons that preceded the most recent season;
  • He was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or both of the two seasons that preceded the most recent season; or
  • He was named the NBA Most Valuable Player in any of the three most recent seasons.

Gobert was named All-NBA Third Team this season, but did not make an All-NBA team last season. Gobert was named Defensive Player of Year last season, but that award hasn’t been handed out yet for this season. So how does Gobert meet the 35% Max Criteria?

Bobby Marks of ESPN provides the answer, tweeting that the NBA is allowing players to combine DPOY and All-NBA when factoring in whether a player met the criteria in “both of the two seasons that preceded the most recent season” (here, the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, as Gobert’s extension would kick in after the 2019/20 season).

So, because Gobert earned DPOY or All-NBA in both 2017/18 and 2018/19, he meets the 35% Max Criteria and is eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension in 2020.

If the Jazz are willing to put that super-max extension on the table for Gobert, it would go into effect in 2021/22 and would add five years and an estimated $247MM to his current contract.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2018/19 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Antetokounmpo and Harden scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

As we detailed in March, this year’s All-NBA selections have significant financial implications for several players. Here’s a breakdown of how several All-NBA candidates were impacted:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Bucks, which he can sign in 2020. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by five years.
  • Damian Lillard is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Trail Blazers, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by four years.
  • Kemba Walker is now eligible for a super-max contract with the Hornets, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2019/20 and would be for five years.
  • Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, and other super-max candidates who didn’t earn All-NBA honors aren’t eligible for super-max contracts (or a super-max extension, in Beal’s case). Thompson’s and Vucevic’s maximum contracts this summer would start at 30% of the cap.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ extension with the Timberwolves, which goes into effect in 2019/20, will start at 25% of the cap, rather than 30%, because he didn’t earn All-NBA honors.

Beal and Thompson received the most All-NBA votes of any guards who missed out on the All-NBA teams, receiving 34 and 27 points respectively. Sixers guard Ben Simmons got seven points, while no other guards had more than four.

LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs) and Danilo Gallinari (Clippers) were the runners-up at forward, receiving 17 and seven points, respectively. Pascal Siakam (Raptors) had four points, while no other forwards had more than three.

At center, Towns received 20 points, followed by Vucevic at four and Pistons center Andre Drummond with three.

Interestingly, the 15 players named to the All-NBA teams for 2018/19 were the same 15 players that Hoops Rumors readers voted for in our end-of-season All-NBA polls last month. The only differences were George swapping places with Durant and Irving flipping spots with Westbrook.

The full and official All-NBA voting results can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.