Spurs Rumors

World Cup Notes: Kuzma, Barnes, Belinelli, K. Antetokounmpo

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma helped his bid to earn a World Cup roster spot in Team USA’s exhibition opener, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Playing in front of front of a partisan crowd in Anaheim that chanted for him every time he touched the ball, Kumza contributed seven points, five rebounds and three assists in Friday’s win over Spain.

Kuzma is considered on the bubble to make the final roster, even after a series of big-name stars pulled out. He says he’s following the orders of coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who have asked him to contribute in non-glamorous parts of the game such as defense, rebounding, getting loose balls and making the right decision when the ball is in his hands.

“I’m not one to really grade my performances, but I think my energy was at a high level,” Kuzma said after the game. “That’s the only thing I can really control.”

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Defections of top talent have led to skepticism about whether this version of Team USA can bring home a gold medal, but Harrison Barnes tells Marc Spears of ESPN that the players are using that as motivation. De’Aaron Fox and P.J. Tucker were the latest players to announce that they’re leaving the team“We hear the noise,” Barnes said. “It’s just about the 14 guys that we got here right now, and when we go to Australia (for exhibition games), it’s about just us, getting better, continuing to grow closer on and off the floor, and we’ll go from there.”
  • Italy is adopting a similar attitude about being ranked 11th in the 14-team field, relays Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Spurs guard Marco Belinelli explained the team’s mindset in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’ve seen it on Instagram and immediately took a screenshot, saving it on my phone”, Belinelli said, “We’re not in the top 10, I’ll keep it as motivation. We have to grow as a team, both on offense and defense, and help each other out on the rebounds.”
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo has been cut from the Greek squad, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The move leaves the team with just two Antetokounmpo brothers, Giannis and Thanasis. It has been an eventful summer for Kostas, who was waived by the Mavericks last month and claimed by the Lakers.

Spurs Sign Forward Daulton Hommes

The Spurs have signed forward Daulton Hommes, according to RealGM’s official transactions log. It’s an Exhibit 10 contract, tweets Andy Buhler of Scorebook Live Washington.

Hommes, 23, averaged 21.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG for Point Loma Nazarene University in his senior campaign in 2018/19. Those efforts earned Hommes NABC Division II National Player of the Year honors.

After going undrafted, Hommes suited up for the Bucks’ Summer League squad. In two games, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward notched averages of 8.4 PPG and 1.6 RPG in Las Vegas.

It’s likely that Hommes will spend most of his time with the Spurs’ G League affiliate in Austin.

Community Shootaround: Spurs’ Playoff Streak

Gregg Popovich found the right solution when he decided to fire head coach Bob Hill early in the 1996/97 season. Popovich, who was serving as San Antonio’s general manager and VP of basketball operations, named himself as coach, taking over a team that was crumbling under injuries to David Robinson, Sean Elliott and Chuck Person. The Spurs didn’t rally to make the playoffs that season, but they haven’t missed since.

Some lottery luck brought Tim Duncan to San Antonio and started one of the most remarkable runs of success in North American sports. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili later became important components of a team that was among the NBA’s best for nearly two decades. Even after all the stars were gone, the Spurs continued to win, extending their playoff streak to 22 games last season, tied for the longest ever with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers, who did it from 1950 to 1971.

Keeping that tradition alive seems to get tougher every year. In the Western Conference, where nearly all the contenders made a flashy summer move, DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles were the Spurs’ most significant offseason additions. They join a veteran-laden lineup built around LaMarcus Aldridge (34), Rudy Gay (32) and DeMar DeRozan (30). The team’s best hope for improvement lies in Dejounte Murray‘s return from a torn right ACL and continued progress from Lonnie Walker and Derrick White.

Playoff spots will be at a premium in the West this year, and many seemed sewed up before the season starts. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should keep the Clippers in the postseason, while the Lakers are likely to join them after trading for Anthony Davis. The Warriors will have a different look after five years at the top, but they still have an All-Star backcourt, plus Klay Thompson is expected to return sometime before the playoffs.

The Nuggets, Jazz and Trail Blazers all look strong in the Northwest, and the Rockets should also get in with a pair of MVP guards. That’s seven spots already locked up without considering other potential contenders such as the Pelicans, Mavericks, Thunder, Timberwolves and Kings.

Popovich believes in his system and has shown an ability to adapt and get the most from his players. However, surviving the Western Conference gauntlet and stretching the playoff streak to 23 might be his greatest coaching challenge yet.

We want to get your opinion. Do you see the Spurs as a playoff team, or is this the year the streak finally ends? Please leave your responses in the space below.

DeMar DeRozan In Line For Max Extension?

According to Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News, the Spurs have not ruled out the possibility of offering four-time NBA All-Star DeMar DeRozan a maximum contract extension, which DeRozan became eligible for on July 14.

Per Finger, despite some outside speculation that DeRozan could be used as trade bait this offseason, the Spurs generally value the 30-year-old shooting guard’s presence in San Antonio and want to keep him around.

DeRozan’s current contract runs through the 2020/21 season, so a maximum contract extension would put DeRozan under contract with the Spurs through the 2023/24 campaign.

As for the value of the potential new contract, DeRozan’s salary for both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons is approximately $27.7MM, so a max extension would see DeRozan earn $33.3MM, $36MM, and $38.6MM per season from the 2021/22 season to the end of the contract.

The total value of the new five-year contract would be $163,332,973, which just exceeds the value of Kristaps Porzingis‘ five-year contract with the Mavericks but falls short of Khris Middleton‘s new five-year contract with the Bucks.

Dejounte Murray Gets Encouraging News From Doctors

  • Injured Spurs guard Dejounte Murray tweeted today that he has received medical clearance to continue his summer workouts. It’s the latest encouraging sign for Murray as he tries to work his way back from a torn right ACL he suffered during a preseason game last October. Murray was coming off a promising 2017/18 campaign in which he earned second-team All-Defense honors while posting an 8.1/5.7/2.9 line in 81 games. He is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

World Cup Notes: Team USA, White, Young

Head coach Gregg Popovich is strongly considering taking 15 players to Australia later this month in advance of the World Cup as opposed to cutting the roster down to a dozen players prior to leaving the country, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. FIBA regulations state that teams can only carry 12 players for the World Cup itself, though the remaining players could simply attend alongside the coaching staff and never suit up.

Here’s more surrounding the World Cup:

  • Spurs guard Derrick White and Kings big man Marvin Bagley III are the strongest contenders to be promoted from the Select Team to Team USA’s primary World Cup roster, tweets Stein. Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher suggests (via Instagram) that White’s promotion has already happened, while Bagley’s is likely.
  • Mitchell Robinson is dealing with a knee injury, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. The Knicks center initially suffered the injury over the weekend and returned to practice on Tuesday and re-injured it the following day. A source close to the situation describes the ailment as “just soreness.”
  • Hawks guard Trae Young left Team USA’s training camp because of a minor eye infection, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Young had been practicing with the Select Team.
  • Chris Boucher has withdrawn from the World Cup for personal reasons, Josh Lewenberg of the TSN tweets. The Raptors big man had been practicing with Canada’s National Team.

Six NBA Players On Australia’s World Cup Roster

Team Australia has formally announced its 12-man roster for the 2019 World Cup, and the group features six NBA players.

Aron Baynes (Suns), Joe Ingles (Jazz), Patty Mills (Spurs), Matthew Dellavedova (Cavaliers), and Jonah Bolden (Sixers) are part of the 12-man squad. So is former No. 1 pick Andrew Bogut, who is technically back under contract with the NBL’s Sydney Kings, but was part of the Warriors team that appeared in the NBA Finals this spring.

Australia’s roster is rounded out by NBL players Cameron Gliddon, Chris Goulding, Nathan Sobey, and Nicholas Kay, along with Jock Landale and Xavier Cooks. Landale currently plays for Lithuanian club Zalgiris Kaunas, while Cooks is a member of SIG Strasbourg in France.

Although Team Australia has a strong roster, there are no guarantees that the squad will make a deep run in next month’s event. The Boomers finds themselves in Group H, which features a handful of tough competitors — Lithuania, Canada, and Senegal. Only the top two teams will advance to the second round.

NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2019/20

The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $109,140,000 threshold once their room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit of $132,627,000 as well — the Trail Blazers have this season’s highest payroll at the moment, more than $11MM above the tax line.

The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows a club like Portland to build a significant payroll without violating CBA rules. However, there are certain scenarios in which teams can be hard-capped.

When a club uses the bi-annual exception, acquires a player via sign-and-trade, or uses more than the taxpayer portion ($5,718,000) of the mid-level exception, that club will face a hard cap for the remainder of the league year.

When a team becomes hard-capped, it cannot exceed the “tax apron” at any point during the rest of the league year. The tax apron was set $6MM above the luxury tax line in 2017/18 (the first year of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement) and creeps up a little higher each season. For the 2019/20 league year, the tax apron – and hard cap for certain clubs – is set at $138,928,000.

More teams than ever this offseason have been willing to hard-cap themselves, and in at least a couple cases, it will significantly impact a team’s ability to add further reinforcements later in the league year. The Warriors and Heat are nearly right up against the hard cap, and won’t be players in free agency during the season unless they can shed salary.

So far this year, half the teams in the NBA have imposed a hard cap on themselves by using the bi-annual exception, using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, or acquiring a player via sign-and-trade. Listed below are those 15 teams, along with how they created a hard cap.

Boston Celtics

  • Acquired Kemba Walker from the Hornets via sign-and-trade.

Brooklyn Nets

  • Acquired Kevin Durant from the Warriors via sign-and-trade.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Acquired Terry Rozier from the Celtics via sign-and-trade.

Chicago Bulls

Dallas Mavericks

  • Acquired Delon Wright from the Grizzlies via sign-and-trade.
  • Used approximately $7.46MM of their mid-level exception to sign Seth Curry.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Boban Marjanovic.

Detroit Pistons

  • Used approximately $7.32MM of their mid-level exception to sign Derrick Rose.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Markieff Morris.

Golden State Warriors

Indiana Pacers

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Used their full mid-level exception ($9,258,000) to sign Tyus Jones.
  • Used their bi-annual exception to sign Marko Guduric.

Miami Heat

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Acquired Jake Layman from the Trail Blazers via sign-and-trade.

Orlando Magic

  • Used their full mid-level exception ($9,258,000) to sign Al-Farouq Aminu.

San Antonio Spurs

Toronto Raptors

Washington Wizards

Outside of the Warriors and Heat, no clubs on the list above are really being restricted by the hard cap at this time. A few teams – such as the Pistons and Magic – are near the luxury tax threshold, but that still gives them several million dollars in breathing room below the hard cap.

While it’s possible that trades could push some teams closer to the apron, Golden State and Miami appear to be the only clubs that will be noticeably affected by the hard cap in 2019/20.

Warriors Notes: Green Extension, Youth Movement, Kerr

Draymond Green‘s contract extension is a victory for both sides, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The Warriors and Green avoided a potential free agency drama next summer by agreeing to a four-year, $99.6MM extension that will run through the 2023/24 season.

Slater calls the agreement a “team-friendly extension” for Golden State, considering that Green would have qualified for a five-year, $201MM deal next summer and could have become eligible for a $235MM super-max contract by earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Green opted for the security of having a huge deal in place and securing a long-term future with the Warriors.

Slater cites a Summer League conversation with a Golden State assistant coach who said the team was looking forward to having “Contract Year Draymond,” implying that he would be extra motivated to have a huge season with free agency awaiting. Although the Warriors will miss out on that, they now have the comfort of knowing that Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will all be together for a few more years.

There’s more from the Bay Area:

  • The agreement minimizes future risks for both Green and the organization, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. After this summer’s spending spree, most of the teams that can open cap space next July are a long way from contention. Leroux identifies the Hawks, with former Warriors executive Travis Schlenk as GM, as the most intriguing team that could have made a serious run at Green. From Golden State’s perspective, with Curry and Thompson already combining for $78.4MM in 2020/21, there wouldn’t have been much available cap space to replace Green if he had left.
  • The extension shows the Warriors aren’t willing to give up their place as one of the elite teams in the West, observes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. There’s an edict from ownership to remain competitive despite the loss of Kevin Durant in free agency and a torn ACL that will sideline Thompson for most of the upcoming season.
  • After years of surrounding their stars with veterans, the Warriors emerged from the offseason shakeup as one of the league’s youngest teams, notes Nick Friedell of ESPN. DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are all gone, with a group of rookies and unproven players hoping to take their places. “We went from one of the oldest teams in the league to one of the youngest,” assistant GM Kirk Lacob said. “All of a sudden you look at it and Steph is the oldest player on the whole team. Klay and Draymond are the elder statesmen. I think Alfonzo McKinnie (26) may be our fourth-oldest player by age. He’s only had a couple years of NBA experience.”
  • The Warriors will look to the Spurs as a blueprint as they navigate their new situation, Friedell adds. San Antonio has managed to reach the playoffs every year after the losing the core of its championship teams. Coach Steve Kerr is part of Gregg Popovich’s staff on the FIBA World Cup team.

Blazers Notes: Hood, Kanter, McCollum, Aldridge

Shooting guard Rodney Hood surprised the Trail Blazers by accepting the $5.72MM taxpayer mid-level exception, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

Portland was hoping to bring back center Enes Kanter at that number, but he balked. Blazers GM Neil Olshey thought Hood wanted more in free agency but was pleasantly surprised by Hood’s decision.

Olshey then shifted gears to finding a starting-quality center and got involved in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade to Miami, winding up with Hassan Whiteside by dealing Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

We have more on the Blazers:

  • Backcourt partners CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are now locked up long-term after McCollum signed a three-year, $100MM extension and they’re excited about that prospect, as he told Quick in a separate story. “It’s a special time,” McCollum said. “(Lillard and I) talked about being in Portland, making a staple here and winning a championship here, and all those things. We’ve crossed off a lot of goals individually and collectively, but I think that both of us being here for the long haul, and both of us being able to grow together and win together is something that people will remember for a long time.”
  • Pau Gasol, who recently signed with the Blazers, said former Spurs teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has spoken highly of Portland and may want to play there again, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Aldridge said last season he and Lillard had spoken about the prospect of becoming teammates again. Aldridge’s $24MM contract for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed, so it’s conceivable that could occur as soon as next summer.
  • If you missed the details on McCollum’s extension, you can find it all here.