Shabazz Muhammad

Nets Interested In Shabazz Muhammad?

Shabazz Muhammad will be a restricted free agent this offseason and Darren Wolfson of ESPN.com (podcast) hears that the Nets are a team to keep an eye on. Brooklyn has pursued several restricted free agents since Sean Marks took over GM duties, though the organization has been unsuccessful in its attempts. The team went after Donatas Motiejunas, Tyler Johnson, and Allen Crabbe only to see each player’s original team match Brooklyn’s offer sheet.

Minnesota likes Muhammad and would like to bring him back, Wolfson adds. The Wolves have approximately $75MM in guaranteed salary on the books next season, so they could ostensibly make the small-forward a lucrative offer. However, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins will all be lining up for new deals over the next few years, so the team may be best served to keep its future cap sheet clean and veer away from adding any substantial long-term money.

The UCLA product shot the ball nearly eight times per game last season and he made 48.2% of his attempts. He wasn’t efficient from behind the arc, making just 33.6% of his shots and he didn’t set up teammates for good looks with his passing very often. He had 35 dimes on the season, which includes a 15-game stretch between the end of December and the end of January where he registered just one assist. In fact, Muhammad had the fewest assists on a season in league history among all non-bigs who played at least 1500 minutes and used over 20% of his team’s possessions.

Muhammad made slightly over $3.0MM this season, though regardless of his score-first mentality, he should be in line for a raise on that figure with his next deal. He’ll turn 25 at the start of next season.

Northwest Rumors: Thunder, Wolves, Rubio, Blazers

In the wake of a historic regular-season performance that could earn Russell Westbrook an MVP award, Lee Jenkins of SI.com and Royce Young of ESPN.com took deep dives this week into Oklahoma City’s year, providing several interesting tidbits in their pieces. Jenkins, for instance, reports that several high-ranking executives in the Thunder‘s front office rejected job offers from rival teams within the last year, as those clubs anticipated a “post-Durant exodus” that never materialized.

Meanwhile, Young writes that after Durant left for Golden State last July, the Thunder did their due diligence by fielding trade calls on Westbrook from a number of teams, but “never remotely considered” trading their star point guard. If Westbrook had turned down the opportunity to sign an extension with OKC, the Thunder’s stance may have shifted, but the team preferred to lock up Westbrook for multiple years rather than to consider moving him.

Here are a few more notes and rumors from across the Northwest division:

  • Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau held his end-of-season press conference today, expressing a desire to bring back potential RFA Shabazz Muhammad, and suggesting that his club’s most pressing offseason needs are defense (specifically on the wing), shot-blocking, and shooting (link via 5 Eyewitness News).
  • Asked earlier this week if he wants to remain in Minnesota and win with the Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio said he wants to win, but was noncommittal about whether it will happen with the Wolves, noting that that decision is ultimately up to the team (link via Marca.com; translation via HoopsHype).
  • The Trail Blazers will avoid the luxury tax by the slimmest of margins after Maurice Harkless earned a $500K bonus for shooting over 35% on three-pointers. According to Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link), Portland will finish $4,462 below the tax line. By comparison, the one-day minimum salary for a rookie this season was worth $3,197.
  • After being relied on as a top scoring threat for years, Joe Johnson has thrived this year in a reduced role and as a veteran mentor for the Jazz, writes Kareem Copeland of The Associated Press. Johnson remains under contract for one more year.

Potential 2017 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, includes a number of changes to the free agent process, including some that apply specifically to restricted free agents. However, one aspect of restricted free agency unaffected by the new CBA is what’s referred to as the “starter criteria,” which can affect how much an RFA’s qualifying offer will be worth.

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 2015/16 and 35 in 2016/17, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons exceeds 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 ensures that a team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet, and 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. Still, those QOs can have an impact on a team’s salary cap outlook during July’s free agent period, so it’s worth checking in to see which potential RFAs will be eligible for higher or lower qualifying offers this summer.

Listed below are the 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 $4,187,598.

Len and Noel had the worst QO luck this season. As the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2013, they would have been in line for qualifying offers worth about $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively. Instead, their QOs will be worth less than $4.2MM. Both players were very close to meeting the starter criteria too — they’ve started 77 games apiece in the past two years, so they’ll fall just short of the 82 required.

The players listed below are non-lottery first-round picks who will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,588,840.

All four of these players were selected in the 20-26 range in the 2013 draft, and their QOs would’ve ranged from about $3.39MM to $3.22MM if they hadn’t met the starter criteria.

Here are the rest of the RFAs whose qualifying offers won’t necessarily be determined by the standard criteria:

  • Undrafted power forward JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) has met the starter criteria, putting him in line for a QO worth $2,820,497 instead of the more modest amount he would’ve received as a minimum-salary player.
  • Two players – Joe Ingles (Jazz) and Ben McLemore (Kings) – still have a chance to meet the starter criteria depending on how the season’s last four days play out. Ingles has played 1,848 minutes this season, meaning he would have to average about 38 MPG in Utah’s last four contests to reach 2,000, which is a tall order. McLemore may fall just short as well, as he currently sits at 79 starts over the last two seasons. He’ll need to start three of the Kings’ last four games in order to average 41 starts per year, but he has only been in Sacramento’s starting lineup twice since the start of March. (End-of-season update: Neither Ingles nor McLemore met the starter criteria.)

Wolves Notes: Rubio, Muhammad, Thibodeau, Wiggins

Now that the dust has settled from the trade deadline, Ricky Rubio has high aspirations for the 22-35 Timberwolves.

“I believe this team can make the playoffs and we can make a push,” Rubio told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Minnesota will have a tough road ahead to forge a postseason run. The Wolves entered Friday three games behind the Nuggets for the eighth-seed of the Western Conference, and two teams ahead of them- the Pelicans and Mavericks- made stellar deadline acquisitions to boost their chances.

Rubio spoke to reporters, including Jon Krawczynsk of the Associated Press, about the human element of being mentioned in trade rumors.

“As pros, we know what’s the deal,” Rubio said. “But yeah, this time felt a little different. It’s all rumors. Until it doesn’t go down, you don’t believe it…I know this is a business and it has to be like that.”

More from Minnesota…

  • Shabazz Muhammad will hope to stick with the T’Wolves in restricted free agency. “Come this summer I want to be Timberwolf,” the former UCLA Bruin told Darren Wolfson of KSTP Eyewitness News (Twitter link). Minnesota was “determined” to move Muhammad during the trade deadline, according to David Aldridge of TNT. Despite being linked to the Wizards at one point, Muhammad ultimately stayed put. With the assurance of staying with Minnesota through the season, Muhammad is focused on helping the Wolves enter the playoff picture. “It’s a great opportunity for us,” Muhammad said. “We’re going to finish this season out strong, and we’ve still got a lot to show.”
  • Coach Tom Thibodeau had a measured view of the trade deadline, claiming no trades really came close. “If something made sense, we would have done it,” Thibodeau told the Associated Press. “But it had to make sense and make us better. If it didn’t, just be patient, continue to work.” With trade talks in the rear-view mirror, Thibodeau discussed his approach following the All-Star break. “Before the break we laid out what we wanted them to do when they were away,’’ Thibodeau told Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune. “The first day back (Wednesday) was more activation, just to get the bodies going again. And then we had a really good practice Thursday, and shootaround today. Again, the big thing is to make sure you have a routine established in terms of how you prepare to play.”
  • A playoff chase would benefit the young Timberwolves, Jace Frederick of Twin Cities writes. While FiveThirtyEight currently gives Minnesota a 2% chance of making the postseason, it’s a breath of fresh air for Wolves fans to see their team involved in the playoff picture. “It’s a good feeling knowing that we’re in the mix,” Andrew Wiggins said. “And if we put in a good stretch, we can put ourselves in a really good position. We’re getting better every game. Some games we play bad and there’s a little setback, but we keep playing hard, practicing hard, learning a lot of new things.”

Trade Rumors: Muhammad, Raptors, Collison, Mavs

The Timberwolves are “determined” to move Shabazz Muhammad today and hope to land a draft pick in return, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (via Twitter). One report earlier today suggested that Minnesota might attach Muhammad to Ricky Rubio, but Aldridge is unsure if Muhammad would be included in a potential Rubio/Derrick Rose swap.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) has heard that Raptors players would like to see the team acquire Suns forward P.J. Tucker, in the hopes of getting someone capable of defending LeBron James in the postseason.
  • Darren Collison, who is on an expiring contract, is drawing interest from many teams, but the Kings are holding firm on their asking price of a first-round pick, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. An earlier report identified the Bucks as a potential Collison suitor, but Charles F. Gardner of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) says Milwaukee hasn’t engaged in talks with the Kings.
  • Now that they’ve found a taker for Andrew Bogut, the Mavericks have shifted their focus to a possible Deron Williams deal, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Wizards are exploring the market for a possible deal for a point guard, sources tell Kyler (Twitter link).
  • The Warriors aren’t active today, and figure to focus on the buyout market if they want to bolster their bench, according to Kyler (Twitter link).

Knicks Rumors: Lee, O’Quinn, Jennings, Rubio

Courtney Lee has been cited this week as a possible trade candidate, and according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, the Clippers recently displayed interest in the Knicks shooting guard. However, one team that was in touch with the Knicks didn’t get the impression that Lee will be going anywhere, says Begley.

Here are a few more notes out of New York:

  • Another team that has spoken to the Knicks said New York is seeking a first-round pick and has talked about packaging Kyle O’Quinn and Brandon Jennings together in a trade, Begley reports.
  • Although the Knicks are shopping O’Quinn, it’s unclear if they’ll be able to get equal value for him, leagues sources tell Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link). On Wednesday, we heard that New York has been seeking a first-round pick for O’Quinn, so if the team believes that constitutes “equal value,” it makes sense that it may not happen.
  • A report earlier today indicated that Ricky Rubio remains a “significant” trade target for the Knicks. However, Sam Amick of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that the Timberwolves continue to shop Rubio to teams besides the Knicks. Jake Fischer of SI.com adds (via Twitter) that Minnesota is willing to part with Shabazz Muhammad to help accommodate a Rubio trade.

Trade Rumors: Rose, Rubio, Okafor, Caldwell-Pope

The Timberwolves have reached out to the Knicks about a possible Derrick Rose deal, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post. Rose has fallen out of favor with Knicks president Phil Jackson, who is disappointed with the veteran guard’s effort on defense. Rose is entering free agency and sources tell Berman that New York would rather move him now than give him a long-term deal. He won MVP honors in Chicago in 2011 under Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau.

The proposed deal is believed to involve Ricky Rubio, whom Thibodeau has never believed in as his long-term point guard, according to Berman. Rubio still has two years and more than $29MM left on his contract and has been the subject of trade rumors since Minnesota drafted Kris Dunn last summer.

The Knicks contacted the Wolves about Rubio at last year’s deadline, Berman writes, and have been interested in him since he entered the league in 2009 because of the recommendations of their European scout, Kevin Wilson, who is based in Barcelona.

New York also reportedly likes Minnesota’s Nemanja Bjelica and inquired about his availability as part of the Rose discussions, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link).

There’s more on the trade front as Thursday’s deadline inches closer:

  • The Rockets have asked about Wolves guard Shabazz Muhammad, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Wolfson doesn’t believe the teams are close to a deal.
  • The Pistons refused an offer from the Sixers involving Jahlil Okafor and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. Philadelphia offered to bring a third team into the trade, but Detroit still wasn’t interested. The Pistons reportedly have hesitations about giving Caldwell-Pope a maximum salary after his contract expires at the end of the season. The Sixers have been calling around the league trying to make a deal for Okafor, with the Pacers and Bulls as the most frequently mentioned potential trade partners.
  • The Suns are looking for someone to take Brandon Knight‘s contract and might be a fallback option for an Okafor trade, according to Fischer (Twitter link). A former starter in Phoenix, Knight in is the midst of a disappointing season, averaging 11.0 points per game and shooting less than 40% from the field. He still has three seasons and nearly $43.9MM left on his current deal.
  • The Thunder and Clippers remain in pursuit of Nuggets swingman Wilson Chandler, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today.

Wizards Interested In Shabazz Muhammad

The Wizards continue to search for help off the bench and they have shown interest in Shabazz Muhammad, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post tweets that the team is looking for someone who will remain under team control past this season. Muhammad will be a restricted free agent after the season.

It was reported earlier this week that the team would like to add a wing. Washington has been linked to P.J. Tucker, though he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

John Wall recently said that he expects the team to make a move before the deadline. “We’re looking at some options to help our bench out. Other than that I don’t know. I haven’t talked to [GM Ernie Grunfeld] about it.”

Timberwolves Offered Muhammad for P.J. Tucker

The Timberwolves offered swingman Shabazz Muhammad for Suns forward P.J. Tucker, according to Basketball Insiders’ Michael Scotto, citing a league source. Minnesota was rumored last month to be one of the teams interested in Tucker, who told Scotto he’d rather stay put in Phoenix.

The salaries don’t quite match up but they’re reasonably close, with the 6’6” Tucker making $5.3MM in the final year of his contract and Muhammad earning approximately $3.0MM. Muhammad’s qualifying offer is priced at $4.24MM this summer.

Tucker, 31, is one of the hottest trade candidates this month because of his cheap, expiring contract and his reputation as a solid defender. Tucker, who is averaging 6.9 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 28.3 MPG this season, has posted a positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating ever since he joined the Suns for the 2012/13 season, according to Basketball Reference.

“This is the last year of my contract, but as of now, I’m a Phoenix Sun,” he told Scotto. “So, I’m going to keep playing until somebody tells me otherwise. In this league, it’s part of the business, especially coming up in a contract year.”

Tucker added that he’s not seeking a trade.

“Phoenix has been great to me. I’ve been here five years,” he told Scotto. “It’s been a great five years, somewhere I would love to be for a long time. So places like this, where I just fit and they understand me and let me be myself. It’s a big factor for me.”

The Clippers, Bulls, Cavaliers and Hawks have also been linked to Tucker. The Clippers reportedly offered a second-round pick last month but the Suns held out for a first-rounder.

Timberwolves, Pistons Have Discussed Rubio, Jackson

The Timberwolves and Pistons have discussed a point guard swap of Ricky Rubio and Reggie Jackson, Marc Stein of ESPN reports. Nothing is imminent, as each team is in the “talking stage,” and as Stein notes, any deal would expand to involve other players, such as Shabazz Muhammad.

While the Timberwolves have reportedly been actively shopping Rubio, the Pistons have contended that Jackson wouldn’t be available via trade, though rival clubs aren’t so convinced. Both players have multiple years left on long-term deals, but could be available in the next month for different reasons. Jackson and the Pistons have struggled this year, and in their ESPN report, Stein and Haynes note that rookie Kris Dunn is regarded as Minnesota’s “point guard of the future,” making Rubio expendable.

The 26-year-old Rubio has averaged 7.7 points with 7.9 assists in his sixth NBA season. The Spaniard missed a five-game stretch in November due to an elbow injury, but has otherwise remained healthy in 2016/17. Now in the second year of a four-year, $55MM contract, Rubio has a cap hit of $13,400,000.

On the heels of a breakout 2015/16 campaign, Jackson’s statistics have slightly regressed this season; averaging 16.7 points with 5.3 assists through 23 games. The 26-year-old Jackson missed the season’s first 21 games with left knee tendinitis, but has come on strong of late; scoring 20.2 points on 46.4% shooting over his last 10 games.

If the Timberwolves are seeking a “bridge” guard to assume starting duties until Dunn is ready, as has been reported, Jackson would be a peculiar choice for a few reasons. Jackson is slated to make $16MM, $17MM+, and $18MM+ over the next three seasons, making him an expensive option to bridge the gap at point guard. What’s more, the role of (eventually) backing up Dunn may not come naturally to Jackson, who hasn’t played in a reserve role since 2012/13 with the Thunder.

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