San Antonio Spurs

Spurs Sign Matt Costello To Two-Way Deal

July 24: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

July 20: The Spurs are set to sign Summer League standout Matt Costello to a two-way contract, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link). It will be the first two-way deal in the franchise’s history.

A Michigan State alum, Costello went undrafted in 2016, but caught on with the Hawks and spent training camp with the club. The big man didn’t make Atlanta’s regular season roster, but was signed – and then waived again – by the Grizzlies at the end of the preseason so that Memphis could gain his G League rights. Costello ultimately spent the season with Iowa, averaging 9.5 PPG and 10.3 RPG in 23 contests.

Costello showed off his rebounding prowess again this summer in Las Vegas, as his 12.0 RPG led all players in Summer League action. The 23-year-old played for the Timberwolves’ squad in Summer League, and according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), Minnesota also had significant interest in locking up Costello to a two-way contract. However, he’ll make the move to San Antonio, and figures to spend much of 2017/18 with the Austin Spurs.

For more information on how two-way contracts work and how much they pay, be sure to check out our FAQ.

Pau Gasol Re-Signs With Spurs

July 24: The signing is official, according to a team press release. The deal will be for $48MM over three seasons with the final year’s salary being partially guaranteed, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports (ESPN Now link)

July 21: Veteran center Pau Gasol has agreed to a three-year contract with the Spurs, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports. The third year will be partially guaranteed, Wojnarowski adds.

Gasol opted out of the final year of his contract this summer but was expected all along to rejoin the Spurs. Gasol, 37, left $16.2MM on the table when he made that decision but he wanted to facilitate the team’s offseason.

The tradeoff was getting a couple more years of security. That helped the Spurs sign several free agents, including Rudy Gay.

Gasol played a lesser role last seson for San Antonio than he had for other clubs. However, he remained efficient when he did play. Averaging a career-low 25.4 minutes per game, the Spaniard chipped in 12.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.1 BPG. He also developed into a three-point shooter, shooting an eye-popping 53.8% from outside, with 0.9 threes per game.

International Notes: Fredette, Hamilton, Seraphin

After considering a possible NBA return, Jimmer Fredette will spend at least one more season in China, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Fredette has agreed to a one-year deal in the $1.8MM range to remain with the Shanghai Sharks. The 28-year-old is coming off an MVP season in the Chinese Basketball Association, averaging 37.4 points per game, along  with 7.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

The 10th player taken in the 2011 draft, Fredette started his career in Sacramento but never developed into the player the Kings had hoped. He also spent time with the Bulls, Pelicans and Knicks before leaving the NBA after the 2015/16 season. He reportedly turned down several 10-day offers at the end of last season.

There’s more news on the international front:

  • Justin Hamilton, who was waived by the Raptors last week after being acquired in a trade with the Nets, has signed with the Beijing Ducks of the CBA, according to Orazio Carcia of Sportando. Hamilton, who was part of the deal that sent DeMarre Carroll to Brooklyn, averaged 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 64 games with the Nets last season.
  • Barcelona has interest in Kevin Seraphin if he isn’t retained by the Pacers, according to Dario Destri of Sportando. Seraphin’s $1,974,159 salary for next season doesn’t become guaranteed until August 1st, and the Pacers already have 14 players with guaranteed deals. He signed with Indiana last summer after spending five years with the Wizards and one with the Knicks. In his only season as a Pacer, Seraphin appeared in 49 games, averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per night.
  • Ryan Arcidiacono, a former Italian league star who spent last season with the Spurs’ affiliate in the G-League, will return to Italy with Juvecaserta, tweets Chris Reichert of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Arcidiacono was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Villanova.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving‘s request to be traded is the latest story to rock the league during an eventful offseason. The news broke Friday, but Irving’s meeting with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert took place about two weeks ago, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

The Cavs tried to keep it quiet so they could work on a deal without the distractions that are starting to happen now. Apparently some players learned about the news and started talking, which is how the trade request became public.

Pluto also speculates that Irving’s demand validates rumors last month that former Bulls star Jimmy Butler was warned by Cavaliers players not to push for a trade to Cleveland. They have a close friendship, so Irving may have told Butler that he was planning to leave the team. Butler was subsequently traded to the Timberwolves, one of the teams Irving included on his list of preferred destinations, along with the Spurs, Knicks and Heat.

There’s more today on the Irving trade front:

  • The Wolves have a strong interest in acquiring Irving, even though they just signed former Pacers point guard Jeff Teague, Pluto adds in the same story. Pluto believes the Cavs should ask for Andrew Wiggins, whom the Cavs made the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2014, as part of the deal. Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns are untouchable, but Wiggins will be a free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension before the October deadline.
  • The Knicks have offered Carmelo Anthony and a parcel of draft picks, adds Pluto, who says Cleveland should insist on Kristaps Porzingis. Other teams that have expressed interest include Sacramento, with rookie De’Aaron Fox as part of the offer, and Phoenix, with a package centered around Eric Bledsoe.
  • Pluto also notes that a trade would take away Irving’s opportunity to sign a super-max extension like the one John Wall just agreed to with the Wizards. The move could cost Irving between $50MM and $70MM.
  • Butler and Towns have done some recruiting work with Irving and have made it clear to Wolves management they would like to acquire him, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who first broke the story of Irving’s trade request. Windhorst believes Teague would likely be included in any Minnesota-Cleveland deal and notes that as a newly signed free agent he can’t be traded until December 15th.
  • The Spurs would be Irving’s first choice if he could pick a team, writes Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.
  • The Cavaliers had a deal on the table involving Irving before the draft, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The trade was put together by former GM David Griffin, but the Cavaliers didn’t pull the trigger because they didn’t know that Irving wanted to leave.

Dewayne Dedmon Signs With Hawks

July 21: The Hawks have made their contract with Dedmon official, the team announced via press release on its website.

July 11: Free agent Dewayne Dedmon has agreed to a two-year, $14MM deal with the Hawks, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical. Dedmon’s deal includes a player option in the second year.

Dedmon, who turns 28 next month, hit free agency after opting out of the second year of his original two-year pact with the Spurs. As it turns out, Dedmon’s decision paid off as he was set to make just $3.028MM in 2017/18 under his player option. Now, he gets a significant raise and security for two seasons.

Strong play for the Spurs last season allowed Dedmon to opt out and pursue a larger deal. In 76 games (37 starts), Dedmon posted totals of 5.1 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 17.5 minutes per game. Now, the 7’0″ center will provide the Hawks with valuable rim protection and defense next season.

Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk promised his team would seek help at center earlier this week, and if those comments stand, the team is not done adding.

“We’ll sign a third point guard. We are deciding to we get a veteran guy or do we get a young guy that we think has upside,” Schlenk said. “Do we bring in a couple guys and let them battle it out? We are going to sign a power forward for sure. We’ll sign a center for sure. Probably sign three more big guys so we end up with six.”

Dedmon figures to split time with Mike Muscala, who the Hawks signed last week. With Howard shipped out to the Hornets and Millsap heading to Denver, the Hawks will continue to scour the market for size and skill vacated by those departures.

The departures of Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, and Tim Hardaway Jr. have created the cap space for the Hawks to pursue Dedmon and other free agents.

Southwest Notes: Ginobili, Rockets, Noel

Manu Ginobili said the decision to return to the Spurs for his 16th season was not an easy one to make, Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation relays.

“[Coach Gregg Popovich] told me that he wanted me to continue and he needed me on the team,” Ginobili said.“If he did not want me, it would have been easier for me.”

The future Hall of Famer added that he didn’t want to walk away while he could still play at a high level.

“I accepted because it is a great honor to be with such a franchise, at 40 years old, feeling important, with people who tell me that they love me and that I am still important to the team,” Ginobili wrote. “Everything I had in mind if I retired, I can postpone for another time. On the other hand, if I retired and took a year (off), I would not be able to compete again at 41.”

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Multiple sources tell Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that Daryl Morey and the Rockets‘ management team is not attempting to put together a group to buy the franchise. Leslie Alexander announced earlier this week that he is selling the team after 24 years of ownership.
  • Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News speculates that Nerlens Noel could end up signing a one-year deal with the Mavericks. Noel has yet to reach an agreement with the franchise and the scribe believes the center is searching for leverage, but Dallas’ ability to match any offer limits his negotiation power.
  • Brandon Paul, who signed a two-year deal with the Spurs this summer, is thrilled for the chance to play for the franchise, as he tells Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Paul played in Russia, Spain, and Turkey in addition to the G-League before landing his first NBA contract.

Spurs Sign Joffrey Lauvergne

JULY 18, 1:05pm: The Spurs have officially signed Lauvergne, the team confirmed today in a press release.Joffrey Lauvergne vertical

JULY 10, 2:00pm: The Spurs have reached a two-year contract agreement with free agent big man Joffrey Lauvergne, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical. The news comes on the heels of the Bulls withdrawing Lauvergne’s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent, which will allow him to sign outright with San Antonio.

Lauvergne, a second-round pick in 2013, made his NBA debut for the Nuggets in 2014 and spent two years with the franchise before being sent to the Thunder in a trade last August. He was flipped again at this year’s trade deadline, heading to Chicago as part of a trade package in a deal that saw Oklahoma City land Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott.

Lauvergne, a 6’11” forward/center, looked like a player on the rise in 2015/16, averaging 7.9 PPG and 4.9 RPG with a .513 FG% in 59 games (17.6 MPG) for the Nuggets. However, he took a step backward last season. For the year, he recorded just 5.4 PPG and 3.6 RPG with a .440 FG% in 70 contests.

Despite his very modest production for the Bulls down the stretch, Lauvergne initially received a qualifying offer worth about $2.14MM from the team, which made him a restricted free agent. However, Chicago apparently decided that the big man wasn’t in the team’s long-term plans, allowing him to reach the open market with no restrictions over the weekend.

While details of the Spurs’ agreement with Lauvergne aren’t yet known, the club already used its full mid-level exception on Rudy Gay, leaving the $3.29MM bi-annual exception and the minimum salary exception for other free agents. San Antonio had been in need of some frontcourt depth, with Dewayne Dedmon, David Lee, and Pau Gasol all on the free agent market, though Gasol is expected to re-sign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Teams With Hard Caps For 2017/18

The NBA salary cap is somewhat malleable, with various exceptions allowing every team to surpass the $99.093MM threshold when that room is used up. In some cases, teams blow past not only the cap limit, but the luxury-tax limit as well, with clubs like the Cavaliers, Warriors, and Trail Blazers going well beyond that tax line this year.

The NBA doesn’t have a “hard cap” by default, which allows those clubs to build significant payrolls 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 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. Under the new CBA, the tax apron is set at the point $6MM above the luxury tax line. For the 2017/18 league year, the tax line is at $119.266MM, so the apron – and the hard cap – is at $125.266MM.

So far this year, six teams 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 six teams, along with their current salary situation. Team salaries are estimations, since not all contracts have been finalized, and we don’t know the exact figures on all those salaries.

Los Angeles Clippers

  • How they created a hard cap: Acquiring Danilo Gallinari via sign-and-trade. Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Milos Teodosic and Jawun Evans.
  • Approximate team salary: $120MM
  • Breakdown: The Clippers still have some non-guaranteed salary on their books, but even if they were to cut those contracts, they’d need to fill out their 15-man roster somehow, so they appear likely to stay over the tax line, despite losing Chris Paul. They’ll fill out their roster with minimum salary players and will have somewhat limited flexibility in trades unless they dump some salary at some point.

Houston Rockets

  • How they created a hard cap: Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign P.J. Tucker and Zhou Qi. Using bi-annual exception to sign Tarik Black.
  • Approximate team salary: $119MM
  • Breakdown: The Rockets acquired Chris Paul before the new league year began in order to hang onto their mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, and made full use of them. Like the Clippers, the Rockets have some non-guaranteed salary that could be removed from their cap to sneak under the tax line, but they don’t appear concerned about that for now. It will be interesting to see if their hard cap limits their flexibility at all when it comes to adding a highly-paid player like Carmelo Anthony.

Toronto Raptors

  • How they created a hard cap: Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign C.J. Miles.
  • Approximate team salary: $118MM
  • Breakdown: Dumping the salaries of DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph allowed the Raptors to use their full mid-level exception, which gave them the opportunity to land a talented swingman like Miles. Toronto was originally planning to acquire Miles via a sign-and-trade, but either approach would have hard-capped the club.

Detroit Pistons

  • How they created a hard cap: Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Langston Galloway and Eric Moreland. Using bi-annual exception to sign Anthony Tolliver.
  • Approximate team salary: $116MM
  • Breakdown: Once the Pistons added Galloway and Avery Bradley, it became clear that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wouldn’t return. Even without KCP on their books, the Pistons are inching close to tax territory, though they should be able to avoid crossing that threshold.

Memphis Grizzlies

  • How they created a hard cap: Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Ben McLemore and Rade Zagorac. Using bi-annual exception to sign Tyreke Evans.
  • Approximate team salary: $104MM
  • Breakdown: The Grizzlies are well below the tax line – and the hard cap – for now, but JaMychal Green‘s new contract looms large. At this point, it seems unlikely that Green will sign a massive offer sheet that forces Memphis into tax territory to match it. But even if Green gets $10-12MM per year, the Grizzlies will get a whole lot closer to the tax threshold, which will limit their ability to add more salary. If they let Green walk, that won’t be a problem, but I’d be surprised if that happens.

San Antonio Spurs

  • How they created a hard cap: Using non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Rudy Gay.
  • Approximate team salary: $97MM
  • Breakdown: The hard cap shouldn’t have a major impact on the Spurs, who are still nearly $30MM away from reaching it. However, new contracts for Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol could take San Antonio a whole lot closer to that tax threshold, depending on how much the club ends up paying its returning veterans.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders, HeatHoops, and ESPN used in this post.

Spurs, Manu Ginobili Finalizing Agreement

The Spurs are finalizing the details on a new agreement with longtime guard Manu Ginobili, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Ginobili had considered the possibility of retirement, but appears poised to return for at least one more season. It will be his 16th in the NBA.Manu Ginobili vertical

Ginobili, who will turn 40 later this month, has been a Spur since the 2002/03 season, and continued to play a key role for the team last year. Although he set new career lows in several categories, including PPG (7.5), FG% (.390), and MPG (18.7), the Argentinian made 39.2% of his three-point attempts, and the Spurs had slightly better offensive and defensive numbers when he was on the court.

The Spurs hold Ginobili’s Bird rights, so the team won’t be limited in its ability to offer him a fair salary. While the former second-round pick won’t necessarily be in line for a big payday at this stage in his career based on his 2016/17 production, San Antonio has less than $100MM in team salary on its books for 2017/18, and has already used its full mid-level exception.

As such, the Spurs may be willing to overpay Ginobili a little to reward him for his performance with the franchise over the years, since doing so wouldn’t really limit the team’s spending flexibility. However, the club will also have to account for a new contract for Pau Gasol, who is expected to re-sign at some point.

Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks) and Tony Parker (Spurs) are the only players who have been on the same team’s NBA roster longer than Ginobili. Nowitzki has been a Maverick since 1998, while Parker joined the Spurs in 2001. Ginobili was technically drafted in 1999, but didn’t sign with the Spurs until 2002.

Ginobili is currently the second-oldest player in the NBA behind Vince Carter, who turned 40 earlier this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rudy Gay: Winning Outweighs Bigger Contract

Rudy Gay doesn’t have any regrets opting out of his contract with the Kings and taking less money to play for the Spurs, as he discussed with ESPN’s Michael C. Wright during a Q&A session. Gay could have made $14.26MM next season if he had opted in but instead wound up signing a two-year, $17.2MM deal with San Antonio. The Spurs offered the 31-year-old forward their mid-level exception. He’ll make $8.4MM in the first year and has a player option next summer. Gay met with the Clippers during free agency and the Heat, Thunder, Jazz and Warriors were also reportedly interested in him.”Looking at my career, it’s just time to win,” he told Wright. “That’s what it’s mostly about. I’ve been in this league for a little while now, and I haven’t gotten out of my career what I wanted.”

Other interesting tidbits from the Q&A session:

  • Gay says he’s medically cleared “to do everything” after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon injury that limited him to 30 games last season. He’ll “definitely be ready” to play by training camp.
  • He’s had multiple conversation with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich regarding his role and is eager to prove he’s more than just a scorer. His ability to switch defensively is another aspect of his game that attracted San Antonio. “I’ve been known to get buckets, and I’ve had that stigma of just being a scorer. But I think there’s a lot more to my game. I think I can show that here in San Antonio.”
  • Gay has no qualms about playing for the hard-driving Popovich: “You want to play for somebody that you respect on the court and off the court. That’s a guy you’d want to go to battle for, a guy that’s not afraid to say how he feels on the basketball court or off the basketball court.”
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