Ryan Anderson

Bulls Surrendered Potential Trade Chip By Waiving Asik

Veteran center Omer Asik, acquired in last season’s Nikola Mirotic with the Pelicans as a salary-matching piece, was unlikely to play at all this season for the Bulls. Still, Chicago’s decision to release him over the weekend in order to sign Shaquille Harrison was “stunning” to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), who referred to Asik’s contract one of the best trade pieces in the league.

[RELATED: Bulls sign Shaquille Harrison, cut Omer Asik]

Of course, Asik didn’t have trade value in the way that star players have trade value, but his contract was an intriguing potential trade chip for a couple reasons: It was signed under the league’s previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, and he was owed a partial guarantee of just $3MM on his $11.98MM salary for 2019/20.

Under the league’s new CBA, a team trading a player with an $11.98MM salary with a $3MM partial guarantee would only get to count that contract for $3MM for salary-matching purposes, limiting its appeal in a potential deal. However, if that same contract was signed under the old CBA – like Asik’s – it counts for its full $11.98MM for salary-matching purposes. That would have made it appealing to teams looking to cut costs during the summer of 2019.

For instance, let’s say that the Knicks wanted to make a run at Kevin Durant in the summer of 2019 and needed to move as much salary as possible to clear a maximum-salary slot. Cap rules would have allowed Chicago and New York to swap Courtney Lee (who has a $12.76MM salary for 2019/20) straight up for Asik. The Knicks then could’ve waived Asik, stretching his $3MM partial guarantee across three years and leaving just $1MM on their cap.

The Bulls might not have wanted Lee, and more parts may have been required to make such a deal acceptable for both sides, but that’s just one example of how Asik’s modest partial guarantee – and his old contract – provided some value. That $11.98MM cap hit could be useful for salary matching in all variations of trades and wasn’t a negative asset since it wasn’t guaranteed.

By comparison, a player like Avery Bradley has a contract structure similar to Asik’s for next season ($2MM partial guarantee on a $12.96MM salary), but signed his deal under the league’s current CBA. If the Clippers wanted to trade Bradley after the season, he’d only count for $2MM for salary-matching purposes rather than $12.96MM, making a deal tricky.

It’s possible that Chicago wouldn’t have found any use for Asik on the trade market next summer, especially since the team may be far enough below the cap to take on contracts in trades without matching salaries. Harrison will also certainly help the club more in the short term, and the Bulls may eventually be able to remove Asik’s contract from their cap altogether if he’s deemed medically ineligible to continue his career. Still, it’s somewhat surprising that the team didn’t wait a little longer before deciding to cut bait on him.

With Asik no longer under contract, there are just two notable players who signed contracts under the old CBA and have partial guarantees for next season — one is Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith ($3.87MM guarantee on $15.86MM salary) and the other is Suns forward Ryan Anderson ($15.64MM guarantee on $21.26MM salary). If either of those players is dealt during the summer of 2019, he’d count for his full salary for trade purposes, rather than just his guarantee amount.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Anderson, Wallace, Kleber, Randle

Suns forward Ryan Anderson lowered his guaranteed salary to $15.4MM for the final year of his contract in 2019/2020 but it can be traded for the prior fully guaranteed value of $21.4MM, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. Anderson agreed to the reduction to facilitate the trade from the Rockets. However, since his contract was signed under the previous CBA, its trade value remains unchanged. The Suns will have until July 10, 2019 to decide whether they want to guarantee Anderson’s full salary for the final year of his contract or waive him, in which case they’d still have to pay the reduced guarantee.

In other news from around the Western Conference:

  • Shooting guard Tyrone Wallace can’t be traded by the Clippers without his consent as a result of Los Angeles matching his offer sheet, salary cap expert Albert Nahmad tweets. The restricted free agent signed a two-year, $2.9MM offer sheet with the Pelicans but the Clippers opted to match it on Wednesday despite a roster logjam. The Clippers are prohibited from trading Wallace to the Pelicans for one year, Nahmad adds.
  • Maxi Kleber needs to improve his long-range shooting to earn rotation minutes with the Mavericks during the upcoming season, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. Kleber will be competing with Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri for playing time with DeAndre Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki guaranteed to play steady minutes. The 6’11” Kleber shot 31.3% from deep in his first season with the club.
  • Anthony Davis called Julius Randle three times after Randle hit the free agent market to ensure the former Laker would sign with the Pelicans, William Guillory of The Athletic reports. Randle had his rights renounced by the Lakers after LeBron James agreed to sign with Los Angeles and Randle quickly agreed to a two-year, $18MM deal with New Orleans. Randle had more lucrative deals on the table, Guillory adds, but Randle wants to remain with the franchise even though he has an opt-out next summer.

Western Rumors: Rozier, Williams, Durant, Rockets

The Celtics’ Terry Rozier and the Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie are two of the logical trade targets for the Suns in their search for a point guard, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Rozier is a solid two-way player coming off a career year but the Suns would likely have to offer a package that included an unprotected first-rounder to catch Boston’s attention. A trade for Dinwiddie would be more plausible and he’d be a good fit with Phoenix considering his size, perimeter shooting and pick-and-roll prowess, Urbina continues. The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, the Cavaliers’ George Hill and the Hornets’ Kemba Walker are some of the other names Urbina throws out as potential targets. The Suns are searching for a starting point guard after trading away Brandon Knight to the Rockets last week.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans signed Troy Williams, Kenrich Williams and Garlon Green to partially-guaranteed contracts in the hope of finding one reliable small forward, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate notes. That trio will compete for a roster spot, though the potential addition of swingman Tyrone Wallacesigned to an offer sheet on Monday — could change that. “They just told me they’re bringing some guys in and having them go head-on to see who wins a spot,” Kenrich Williams told Kushner.
  • By buying out Luol Deng‘s contract and using the stretch provision, the Lakers gave themselves a chance to offer Kevin Durant a max salary in free agency, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders examines. The Lakers now project to have $38.2MM in cap space, which would be just enough to afford Durant, Pincus continues. If they can’t land Durant, they’ll certainly have enough to bring in another All-Star level talent. Other high-level potential free agents, including Kawhi Leonard, Klay ThompsonDeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Walker and Kyrie Irving, could command a first-year salary of $33MM, leaving the Lakers with another $5MM to spend in other ways, Pincus adds.
  • The Rockets took a frugal approach this summer and it could cost them a title, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post opines. They traded away Ryan Anderson and allowed two key wing players to walk in free agency. In turn, they signed three players on veteran’s minimum deals and adding a couple of bench players in the Anderson trade, Bontemps notes. So while Houston execs had said they were unconcerned about the luxury tax, their actions showed they wanted to save some money, Bontemps adds.

Rockets Notes: Anderson, Knight, Gentile, Rosas

Trading power forward Ryan Anderson to the Suns did more for the Rockets than just shed salary, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle explains. Anderson didn’t have a clearly defined role with the addition of Carmelo Anthony, while acquisitions Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss could contribute, albeit in a limited fashion. As an added bonus, the Rockets only had to toss in second-rounder De’Anthony Melton instead of packaging a future first-rounder to move Anderson’s contract, Feigen continues. Though Houston tends to play mostly a three-guard rotation, Knight could emerge as the backup point guard if he beats out Michael Carter-Williams. Chriss could become part of the mix as a backup big man if he beats out second-rounders Zhou Qi and Isaiah Hartenstein, Feigen adds. The teams reached an agreement on the trade Thursday.

In other news regarding the Rockets:
  • Knight had a minor cleanup on his knee approximately six weeks ago and may not be ready for start of training camp, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 tweets. Knight, who missed last season with a torn ACL, expects to be ready for the start of the season, Gambadoro adds. Knight is excited about the chance to play for a championship contender, Gambadoro relays in another tweet.
  • Swingman Alessandro Gentile will not join other team members during a team bonding week in the Bahamas during the first week of September because he’s still recovering from right hand surgery, according to a Sportando report. Gentile expects to be fully cleared to practice by the end of the month, the report adds. Gentile, a 2014 second-round pick who has played in Europe since 2009, recently revealed he will join the team in training camp in an uphill battle to gain a roster spot.
  • The Rockets have granted the Sixers permission to interview executive vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas for their GM opening. Get all the details here.

Rockets Trade Anderson, Melton To Suns For Knight, Chriss

AUGUST 31: The trade is official, the Rockets and Suns announced in separate statements.

AUGUST 30: The Rockets and Suns have agreed to a trade, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Phoenix will acquire Ryan Anderson and De’Anthony Melton from Houston in exchange for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

Anderson has been on the trade block in Houston for over a year, with his expensive long-term contract having stood in the way of a deal until now. While the Rockets will finally shed the two years and $41.69MM remaining on Anderson’s deal, they’ll take back another pricey multiyear contract — Knight is owed $30.28MM over the next two seasons.

Chriss will earn $3.21MM in 2018/19 and has a team option worth just over $4MM for 2019/20. The Rockets will have to make a decision on that option by October 31 of this year. As for Melton, he has yet to sign his first NBA contract, so Houston is technically trading his draft rights to Phoenix. The Suns will have the opportunity to lock him up once the trade is official.

While the in-the-tax Rockets will save some money as a result of the swap, the on-court implications are even more interesting than the financial ones. Anderson’s impressive three-point range allowed Houston to stretch the floor on offense, but his defensive shortcoming made him unplayable in certain matchups — he didn’t see much action in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors last season, for instance.

In place of Anderson and Melton, the Rockets will be receiving two players with intriguing upside. Knight missed the entire 2017/18 season with an ACL tear, but isn’t far removed from averaging 19.6 PPG and 5.1 APG in 52 games for the Suns in 2015/16. Assuming he’s back to full health, Knight could provide Houston with scoring and play-making off the bench behind Chris Paul and James Harden.

Chriss, meanwhile, has yet to develop into the sort of difference-making big man the Suns hoped for when they drafted him eighth overall in 2016. However, he’s still just 21 years old and has shown flashes of potential during his first two NBA seasons. It’s not clear how he’ll fit into the Rockets’ plans.

The Suns, apparently not ready to bet on Chriss taking significant steps forward, will replace him in the frontcourt with Anderson, a veteran stretch four capable of playing alongside No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton. Phoenix will also add Melton, a 2018 second-round pick who had an impressive Summer League showing for the Rockets, filling the box score with 16.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 3.0 SPG in five games in Las Vegas.

The deal will leave the Suns lacking in experience and depth at point guard. Second-rounders Melton and Elie Okobo could see minutes immediately, with Shaquille Harrison and Isaiah Canaan also in the mix.

It will be interesting to see whether Phoenix has another move up its sleeve to fortify that point guard position or if the club simply plans to lean more heavily on Devin Booker as its primary play-maker. In his full report on the trade, Wojnarowski notes that the Suns may envision a larger role for Harrison.

The Rockets will create a modest traded player exception worth about $2.58MM in the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ryan Anderson Agreed To Reduce 2019/20 Guarantee

As part of the trade that will send him to the Suns, Ryan Anderson has agreed to reduce the guaranteed portion of his 2019/20 salary, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski, Anderson has agreed to reduce the guarantee on his $21,264,635 salary for the 2019/20 season to $15.6MM. Woj notes that this is the same amount that Brandon Knight will earn in ’19/20 — Knight, acquired by the Rockets in the trade, has a $15,643,750 cap hit for that season. Anderson’s salary for 2018/19 will remain unchanged.

While the agreement makes the trade a little more appealing for Phoenix, the team could still face a tricky decision next summer. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Suns will have to decide by July 10, 2019 whether they want to guarantee Anderson’s full $21MM+ salary for the final year of his contract or waive him, eating the guaranteed portion ($15.6MM).

Anderson’s reduced guarantee may also make him a more appealing trade chip for the Suns before that final-year salary becomes fully guaranteed. If Phoenix cuts the veteran forward after this season, the team would have the option of stretching his 2019/20 guarantee across three years.

For more details on the trade between the Rockets and Suns, be sure to check out our full story, along with a few additional notes on the deal.

Rockets/Suns Trade Notes: Grades, Knight, Melton

The Rockets and Suns agreed to an unusual trade late on Thursday night, with Houston poised to send Ryan Anderson and De’Anthony Melton to Phoenix in exchange for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. Both teams are essentially acquiring a potentially useful veteran on an expensive multiyear contract, plus a young prospect with some upside. That kind of straight two-for-two swap without any draft picks or other assets included is pretty rare, particularly between a title contender and a lottery team.

In an Insider-only piece at ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton tries to make sense of the deal for both clubs, and has an easier time doing so for the Rockets, assigning them a grade of B+ for shedding Anderson’s contract and acquiring a pair of intriguing players. Pelton isn’t as bullish on the trade for the Suns, who get a C- grade from the ESPN scribe.

While the Suns may view the deal as an opportunity to acquire a starting power forward and a promising young prospect in exchange for two players who weren’t in their plans, they probably could’ve driven a harder bargain with the in-the-tax Rockets, says Pelton.

Here’s more on the Rockets/Suns trade:

  • If the Rockets were to finalize the trade and waive Knight today, the team could greatly reduce its projected tax bill for 2018/19. However, ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link) hears that Houston has no plans to waive-and-stretch Knight.
  • Lowe’s other observations on the deal: The Suns paid a high cost to acquire Melton, but people around the NBA are “super-high” on him (Twitter link). The Rockets, who haven’t used their first-round pick for a few years, did well to avoid including their 2019 first-rounder in an Anderson deal, says Lowe (Twitter link). That pick could now be available for another trade at the deadline if necessary.
  • As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), it will be interesting to see what kind of contract Melton signs with the Suns, who are now over the cap. Without cap room, they’re limited to a two-year offer. While Phoenix could potentially open up cap space by buying out Darrell Arthur, he’s unlikely to give up much salary without lining up another landing spot, per Marks. Waiving and stretching Arthur today would also work, but adding an annual $2.5MM charge to their cap for two additional years may not be worth gaining the ability to give Melton an extra year or two.
  • In the view of Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link), the Suns made the trade with Igor Kokoskov‘s up-tempo, three-pointer-heavy offense in mind. Kokoskov’s system calls for a stretch four like Anderson, and Melton’s play-making ability figures to be a good fit too.

Texas Notes: Ginobili, DeRozan, Anderson, Jordan

Manu Ginobili‘s announcement on whether he plans to play another season could come this week, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Speaking at a basketball clinic, Ginobili’s older brother, Sepo, suggested the veteran Spurs guard is nearing a decision, tweets Spanish-language broadcaster Carlos Altamirano.

The 41-year-old is entering the second season of a two-year contract he signed with the Spurs last summer. He will make $2.5MM if he decides to play in the upcoming season, which would be his 17th in San Antonio.

There’s more NBA news out of Texas:

  • DeMar DeRozan feels like he has something to prove after being traded from the Raptors to the Spurs this summer, and Jakob Poeltl thinks that should be frightening for opponents, Orsborn relays in a separate piece. Poeltl came to San Antonio with DeRozan in the Kawhi Leonard deal and knows what his teammate is capable of. DeRozan is a four-time All-Star and may push his game to greater heights in response to the trade. “It’s a little bit scary, to be honest,” Poeltl said, “because I know what he can do when he has a chip on his shoulder, when he gets that extra motivation. Yeah, I think he’s going to be ready.”
  • The Rockets are running into dead ends in their quest to trade Ryan Anderson, according to Ashith Mathur of AmicoHoops. Teams are reluctant to take on Anderson’s contract, which pays him more than $20.4MM this season and nearly $21.3MM in 2019/20. “They’ve done everything short of posting an ad on Craigslist,” a rival executive said. Anderson slipped out of Houston’s rotation late last season and saw his scoring average fall below 10 points per game for the first time in eight years.
  • The addition of free agent center DeAndre Jordan solves two glaring problems for the Mavericks, notes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News in his latest player profile. Jordan should help with rebounding and offensive efficiency as he has led the NBA in effective field-goal percentage in five of the past six seasons.

Southeast Notes: Anderson, Young, Go-Go, Magic Big Men

The Heat aren’t particularly interested in acquiring Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. A rumored trade that would involve the Houston power forward and a draft pick in exchange for either Tyler Johnson or James Johnson doesn’t appeal to Miami’s front office, Jackson continues. Anderson has a higher salary than both of those players, so bringing him in would worsen the team’s luxury-tax issues. Additionally, even though James Johnson has three years left on his deal compared to Anderson’s two remaining seasons, Miami values his versatility, Jackson adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie Trae Young realizes the commitment the Hawks made to him by trading starting point guard Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. While Young was non-committal about whether he or Jeremy Lin should start, Young knows he’ll get ample playing time. “Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told Vivlamore. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate.”
  • The Wizards’ new G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, will share the same practice facility as the NBA team. The G League team’s GM, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, sees that as an incentive for his players, as he explained to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington“I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level.”
  • The Magic are bucking the league trend by building around big men, as Nick Zappulla of RealGM details. The trio of rookie Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon provide versatility and game-changing ability on both ends of the floor, Zappulla adds.

Trade Rumors: Rockets, Bazemore, Hawks, Heat, Bucks

The Rockets reportedly remain in the market for at least one more wing player, even after reaching a deal with Carmelo Anthony, but Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) hears that the team isn’t actively pursuing Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore.

According to Amick, Bazemore isn’t a major part of the Rockets’ discussions at this point. Amick suggests (via Twitter) that the Houston front office would have more interest in sending Ryan Anderson to the Heat in a deal that brings back a player like James Johnson or Tyler Johnson.

Of course, any Rockets offer would need to include additional compensation, such as a draft pick and/or a young player, to entice the Heat. Even then, it’s not clear if Miami would be interested in such a trade.

One team with apparent interest in dealing with the Rockets is Atlanta, according to Kelly Iko of RocketsWire (Twitter link). While Houston’s interest in Bazemore seems limited, Iko reports that the Hawks would be open to a trade if they could get a draft pick and a young player such as De’Anthony Melton in addition to Anderson. That asking price may be one reason why the Rockets’ interest in a Bazemore trade appears to have dissipated.

According to Iko (via Twitter), the Bucks have also contacted the Hawks about the possibility of acquiring Bazemore. New Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer was in Atlanta with Bazemore, and Iko indicates the young wing would be open to reuniting with his former coach on a contender. Initial trade discussions between the Bucks and Hawks didn’t get far though, Iko notes.