Shabazz Napier

Suns Notes: Point Guard, Free Agency, Booker, Baynes

The Suns will miss out on important opportunities for player evaluation if the season doesn’t resume, states John Hollinger of The Athletic in a conversation with Gina Mizell. Holllinger says after going through several failed attempts to find a back-up point guard, Phoenix could have used Ty Jerome in that role for the remainder of the season to see if he can handle it. He speculates that since Jerome didn’t get the opportunity to prove himself, the Suns will wind up spending resources on the position in free agency.

If Phoenix uses all its cap space to land a power forward, that will leave a room exception of about $5MM to sign a point guard. Hollinger mentions the Clippers’ Reggie Jackson, who formed a connection with Suns executive Jeff Bower in Detroit, as one possibility, along with the Wizards’ Shabazz Napier. Hollinger adds that D.J. Augustin and Jeff Teague may also be available for that price.

He also notes that the team may opt to address the position through the draft. The Suns hold the 10th spot right now, which is probably too low to land any of the top point guard prospects, but Hollinger suggests Alabama’s Kira Lewis could be a sleeper in that range.

There’s more from Phoenix:

  • The Suns could create up to $24MM in cap room, Hollinger notes in the same piece, which might be enough to attract Danilo Gallinari, Davis Bertans or Paul Millsap, but he notes that the options will shrink if that number is lowered because a loss of revenue due to the hiatus. Depending on what happens in free agency or the draft, Hollinger suggests Phoenix may try to re-sign Aron Baynes and Dario Saric to one-year contracts.
  • In an interview with Robby Kalland of Dime Magazine, Devin Booker said Monty Williams‘ first priority when he took over as head coach was to change the way the Suns were viewed around the league. “And if that’s having to get a little nasty, play tougher, more physical, but people are going to know when they play against up some talented, hard-working guys,” Booker said.
  • Baynes is pessimistic about the potential of a “bubble” environment as a way to finish the NBA season, relays Matt Layman of Arizona Sports 98.7. “They’re trying to come up with some scenarios that would work, but I think in terms of everyone being in one hub, how’s that going to work when you have 450 guys and if one guy does test positive then you have to get back in two months of isolation to get back to playing again?” Baynes said this week in an interview with an Australian radio station. “That’s unrealistic and there’s a better way to put all those resources that are being used into something else than professional sport.”

Wizards GM Discusses Free Agency, Draft, Wall

Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard took part in a Q&A on Twitter earlier today, addressing numerous topics, including the free-agent statuses of Davis Bertans and Shabazz Napier. Sheppard said both players have “shown enough” to make the team want to retain them.

“We acquired [both those players] not as rentals. We acquired them to stay here,” Sheppard said.

Bertans came to the Wizards last offseason, as part of a three-way trade that the Spurs made to create a path to sign Marcus Morris (Morris backed out of the verbal agreement with San Antonio and instead inked a deal with the Knicks). Napier joined the franchise during a midseason trade that sent Jordan McRae to Denver.

Here’s more highlights from the session with Sheppard:

  • The executive discussed Washington as a free agency destination.“Look at the [free agents] we’ve retained over the years. We’ve retained our biggest free agents. They wanted to stay here and re-sign. We attracted plenty of free agents over time,” Sheppard said, arguing that location and ownership are two of the biggest factors to attracting talent.
  • The inability to meet with and evaluate prospects in person in the coming weeks and months isn’t going to impede the Wizards’ ability to scout talent in the draft. “If we were going to decide to take a player off of one workout, we’re in a lot of trouble,” Sheppard said.
  • Sheppard added that the league’s hiatus has not been great for John Wall‘s progress. The point guard had been participating in scrimmages as he continued to rehab his Achilles injury. However, without the ability to compete against others, Wall can’t get into game shape. “He’s just not able to get out on the floor and do those things. So, when we do come to play, he will be behind, unfortunately,” Sheppard said.

Wizards GM: John Wall Not Expected Back This Season

Although John Wall has left the door open for the possibility of a return to the court before the 2019/20 season ends, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard essentially closed that door this week, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Having mentioned that Bradley Beal‘s life will be easier when Wall returns “next year,” Sheppard was asked for a follow-up and explained that the team doesn’t expect its starting point guard back until next season.

“I think we have maintained that all along. We didn’t plan on seeing him this year,” Sheppard said. “I think that’s fair to John, to manage the expectations for him. He’s on his way, but he’s not there and he’s not close yet. He’s a lot closer than he was a year ago when the injury happened.”

Given the Wizards’ 17-32 record, it makes sense that the team will be cautious with their star point guard and give him a few extra months to get to 100%. When he spoke to Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington about visualizing his first game back, Wall talked as if he’s targeting opening night in 2020/21.

“I’ve gotta be honest with you, if our first game isn’t in D.C. then I probably won’t play,” Wall joked. “Just to be realistic. I’m going to try to force the NBA for my first game to be at home next season.”

Let’s round up a few more Wizards notes…

  • Sheppard said on Thursday that almost every playoff team in both conferences inquired on Davis Bertans, Hughes writes for NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards hung onto Bertans and will aim to re-sign him this summer. “There was never a doubt in my mind that we wanted to keep him,” Sheppard said. “But I promise you that the more you say you want to keep somebody, the more teams don’t want to believe you and they keep calling.”
  • Jerome Robinson hasn’t made major strides during his first two NBA seasons, but the Wizards liked him in the 2018 draft and are confident in a player development program that has had success with other young players like Moritz Wagner, says Fred Katz of The Athletic. Washington acquired Robinson from the Clippers in one of the team’s two deadline-day deals.
  • Within that same story, Katz passes along word that the Wizards haven’t discussed a possible buyout with center Ian Mahinmi, who is on an expiring contract. “We’re obviously always open to anything that makes us better. But I wouldn’t even go down that road right now,” Sheppard said of the possibility. “Ian has done a great job for us this year, and he’s been a great leader, great professional for us.”
  • Katz confirms (via Twitter) that the Wizards acquired Shabazz Napier‘s contract in their trade with Denver using their disabled player exception. Washington was the only team to use a DPE at the deadline.

Nuggets Trade Napier To Wizards For McRae

6:56pm: The Nuggets have officially announced their swap of Napier for McRae, issuing a press release to confirm the deal is done.

1:13pm: The Nuggets are trading newly-acquired point guard Shabazz Napier to the Wizards in exchange for guard Jordan McRae, reports Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link).

Both players have expiring contracts ($1.6MM for McRae and $1.8MM for Napier), and the Nuggets will get early Bird rights when McRae hits free agency this summer, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Napier came to Denver from Minnesota in the four-team deal that was completed last night. He averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists in 36 games in his first season with the Timberwolves. He provides depth at point guard if John Wall winds up missing the rest of the season.

McRae gives the Nuggets another instant-offense option off their bench to help make up for the loss of Malik Beasley. In his second season in Washington, McRae was averaging 12.8 PPG and shooting 37.7% from 3-point range through 29 games.

McRae has missed the past four games with an injured right ankle, but is expected to be ready tomorrow, tweets Mike Singer of The Athletic. McRae can handle both backcourt spots and the Nuggets gave up a player they didn’t really need, adds Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

Wolves, Hawks, Rockets, Nuggets Complete Four-Team Trade

FEBRUARY 5: The trade is now official, with Twitter announcements from the RocketsTimberwolves and Nuggets confirming the deal. Atlanta also formally waived Chandler Parsons to accommodate the trade, as detailed earlier.

FEBRUARY 4: The Timberwolves, Hawks, Rockets, and Nuggets are in agreement on a massive four-team trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the four clubs were close to reaching a deal, while Woj says (via Twitter) the players involved are now being informed.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Charania (Twitter links), Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), and Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), the trade looks like this:

There have been rumors for the last several days suggesting that a trade like this one could be in play. An earlier variation had the Warriors in Denver’s place, with the Wolves pursuing D’Angelo Russell, but Golden State backed off those talks earlier on Tuesday, leaving Minnesota, Houston, and Atlanta to work out a new agreement.

Let’s break down how the deal will impact each team…

Houston Rockets:

Daryl Morey‘s group has long been on the lookout for an upgrade on the wing, and they’ll get their man in Covington, a three-and-D specialist who is on a team-friendly contract that’s worth $11.3MM this season and runs through 2021/22.

The Rockets gave up two valuable assets in Capela and their 2020 first-round pick to bring in Covington, Bell, and a second-round pick. By moving Nene and Green in the deal, the team will also move well below the luxury-tax line, which would be a favorable outcome for ownership — while Tilman Fertitta has claimed to have signed off on the club being a taxpayer, it looks like this could be the second straight season that the Rockets sneak out of the tax at the deadline.

On the other hand, as Wojnarowski points out (via Twitter), the structure of the deal would allow Houston to take back up to another $12MM in salary. So until the trade is made official, there’s a window for the Rockets to potentially expand it even further to include another team and player, assuming they find a suitable target, agree on compensation, and are willing to go back into the tax. That won’t be easy, however.

While Bell could play some minutes at the five, the Rockets will remain on the lookout for a more reliable replacement for Capela, either via a trade or on the buyout market, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston’s go-to lineup will feature P.J. Tucker at center, but the team still wants a more traditional big to match up with star bigs in the playoffs, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN (via Twitter).

MacMahon also adds (via Twitter) that Green, who is likely out for the season with a broken foot, had the ability to veto his inclusion in this trade, but won’t do so.

The move will reduce the Rockets’ roster count to 13 players on standard contracts, so the team will have two weeks to get back up to the NBA’s required minimum of 14 players.

Denver Nuggets:

The Nuggets were said to be seeking a first-round pick for Beasley and a second-round pick for Hernangomez, their two restricted-free-agents-to-be. They won’t quite meet that asking price, but they’ll at least get the first-rounder they were looking for, acquiring Houston’s 2020 pick in the deal.

In addition to sending out Beasley and Hernangomez, Denver also moved Vanderbilt and will bring back four players: Green, Bates-Diop, Napier, and Vonleh. The team had an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no one will have to be waived, though MacMahon reports (via Twitter) that Green is expected to be cut after the trade is official, once again opening up that last roster spot.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski observes (via Twitter), Napier and Vonleh are capable of playing rotation minutes and providing depth off the bench for the Nuggets. Bates-Diop will probably be further down on the depth chart. Napier and Vonleh will be unrestricted free agents at season’s end, while KBD has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2020/21.

Having previously traded away their own 2020 first-round selection for Jerami Grant, the Nuggets can get back into this year’s draft with Houston’s first-rounder. Of course, with Wojnarowski suggesting Denver will continue to be active before Thursday’s deadline, that pick could theoretically be flipped in another move.

Atlanta Hawks:

The Hawks have been linked to several centers over the course of the season, reportedly expressing interest in Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, and Dewayne Dedmon, among others. In recent days, the club appeared to be zeroing in on Capela, a big man whose rim-running ability will complement Trae Young on offense and whose rim-protecting ability could help bail out Young on defense.

Atlanta will surrender Turner’s expiring contract, Brooklyn’s lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick, and an extra future second-round pick in order to lock up Capela. The move will give the Hawks some cost certainty in the middle — Capela, who has a $14.9MM cap hit in 2019/20, has three more years and about $51.3MM left on his contract after this season. He won’t be eligible for free agency until the summer of 2023.

Acquiring a center now rather than waiting until the summer and trying to land one in free agency will give the Hawks the opportunity to evaluate how Capela looks next to big man John Collins. A heel injury is currently nagging Capela, but it’s not believed to be an issue that jeopardizes the rest of his season.

A 2017 first-round pick, Collins will be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the 2020 offseason. If he meshes with Capela down the stretch, Atlanta would likely be more willing to invest heavily long-term in Collins, who is expected to seek the max or something close to it.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Hawks are currently carrying 15 players, so they’ll have to waive or trade someone in order to take back both Capela and Nene for Turner, even if they intend to eventually release Nene.

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Although the Timberwolves probably would have preferred to get the Warriors involved in this deal to acquire Russell, they’ll get a handful of intriguing assets in exchange for Covington and several low-cost role players (Bell, Bates-Diop, Napier, and Vonleh).

Beasley and Hernangomez will both be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, which will give the Wolves the chance to match any offer sheet they sign. Neither player had been great this season in Denver, as a crowded depth chart pushed them out of the rotation at times, but they both had solid seasons in 2018/19.

Beasley averaged 11.3 PPG with a .474/.402/.848 shooting line in 81 games (23.2 MPG) a year ago, while Hernangomez averaged 5.8 PPG and 3.8 RPG on .439/.365/.767 shooting in 70 games (19.4 MPG). The Nuggets explored contract extensions last fall with both players, reportedly offering Beasley $30MM over three years, but they didn’t reach a deal with either one. Now the Wolves will have the opportunity to evaluate them during the season’s final two months and decide whether they’re part of the franchise’s long-term plans.

In addition to acquiring those two Denver players – and a little-used project in Vanderbilt – the Timberwolves take on Turner’s $18.6MM expiring contract, generating some extra cap flexibility for the 2020 offseason by moving off Covington’s guaranteed money. They also secured Brooklyn’s lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick, which could end up at No. 15 or 16 if the Nets hang onto a playoff spot this spring.

This move doesn’t necessarily affect the Wolves’ plans to revisit a Russell trade with the Warriors, though like Allen Crabbe, Turner can’t be aggregated with another player in a deadline deal to match D-Lo’s salary. That Brooklyn first-round pick figures to be one of the assets Minnesota dangles in any offer for Russell.

Like Houston, Minnesota will have two openings on its 15-man roster once this trade is finalized, and will have up to two weeks to get back up to 14 players, the league’s required minimum.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Grant, Millsap, Anthony, Conley, Napier

What the Nuggets decide to do with Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap provides an intriguing subplot to the offseason, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Millsap will be an unrestricted free agent and Grant can join him on the market by declining his $9.35MM option.  Grant is undersized at the power forward spot but brings more agility and shot blocking to the four spot. The Nuggets will probably try to re-sign Grant but could also bring back Millsap if he’s willing to meet their price, Singer adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony is still too distraught over Kobe Bryant’s passing to take the court, especially at the Staples Center. Anthony will sit out the Portland-Los Angeles Lakers game on Friday, Stadium’s Shams Charania tweets, as he continues to grieve over the loss of his close friend.
  • The Jazz are close to returning point guard Mike Conley to the starting lineup, according to Charania. Conley has come off the bench in six games since he recovered from an aggravated hamstring strain. Utah wants Conley to reestablish chemistry with the other starters, most notably backcourt partner Donovan Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert, Charania adds.
  • The lack of a good plan regarding their point guard rotation has been the Timberwolves’ biggest issue, Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines. Jeff Teague wasn’t a good fit prior to being traded to Atlanta because Minnesota needed a floor leader adept at pushing the tempo. Shabazz Napier has been a good pickup but he’s probably best suited for a 15-20 minute backup role while Jordan McLaughlin is more of an emergency backup than a second-unit player, Rand adds.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Nuggets, Towns, Wiggins, Dort

The Trail Blazers will entertain offers for center Hassan Whiteside, a free agent after the season, and The Athletic’s Jason Quick estimates the chances of him being traded at 50/50. Quick also dealt with a few other Blazers-related topics.

Their recent trade with the Kings which involved five players and two second-round picks was a solid one, according to Quick, because the Trail Blazers saved approximately $12MM and upgraded at the wing with Trevor Ariza replacing Kent Bazemore. Portland is unlikely to deal its first-round pick because president of basketball operations Neil Olshey covets draft choices, even if the draft class is considered weak, Quick adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will continue to be without three rotation players when they face the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Starting point guard Jamal Murray will miss his sixth straight game due to an ankle sprain while power forward Paul Millsap will sit out for the 11th consecutive game due to a knee injury. Backup big man Mason Plumlee will miss his fourth straight game due to a foot ailment.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins get the blame when things aren’t going well with the Timberwolves but the players around them need to do more, Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Guard Shabazz Napier told Youngblood that the role players need to do their jobs better. “This team is so used to KAT and Wigs doing all the work that when it doesn’t happen, we just stand around,’’ Napier said. “That’s how it is. We just gotta find ways to help them guys out. … We all, the role players, have to figure out, how do we help them out better?’’
  • Undrafted rookie guard Luguentz Dort has earned playing time with the Thunder for his defense while showing more of an offensive game, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. Over the last five games, Dort is averaging 7.2 PPG and 1.8 APG while shooting 5-for-12 on 3-pointers and making seven steals. “You can’t tell me he’s a rookie,” guard Chris Paul said of the two-way player.

Trade Details: Napier, Graham, Warriors, Pacers, More

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has provided some additional details on one of the most interesting trade sequences of the offseason, filling in the blanks on the deals that sent Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham from Brooklyn to Golden State to Minnesota.

As previously outlined by cap guru Albert Nahmad (Twitter link), in order to match salaries in their sign-and-trade deal for Kevin Durant ($38,199,000), the Nets had to send out $30,479,200 in salaries of their own, but D’Angelo Russell‘s maximum salary was only worth $27,285,000.

Brooklyn included Napier’s ($1,845,301) and Graham’s ($1,645,357) non-guaranteed contracts to make up that $3,194,200 difference, but had to partially guarantee those salaries in order for them to count for salary-matching purposes. According to Pincus (via Twitter), the Nets did so by giving each player a guarantee worth $1,597,100.

The hard-capped Warriors, who only took on the duo in order to acquire Russell, didn’t want those contracts on their books, so they flipped them to the Timberwolves in a separate trade. According to Pincus (via Twitter), Golden State paid $3.6MM in cash to Minnesota in that deal, more than enough to cover both players’ full salaries and make it worth the Wolves’ while (Napier’s and Graham’s combined salaries total $3.5MM for 2019/20).

[RELATED: 2019 NBA Offseason Trades]

Interestingly, teams are limited to sending out a total of $5,617,000 in cash in trades during the 2019/20 league year, and the Warriors have now sent out $3.6MM to Minnesota and $2MM to Memphis (in the Andre Iguodala deal). In other words, Golden State won’t have the ability to send out additional cash later in the season in another trade.

Here are more details on recent trades:

  • In the three-way trade that landed them T.J. Warren from Phoenix and three future second-round picks from Miami, the Pacers sent $1.1MM in cash to the Suns, per Pincus (Twitter link).
  • The Clippers sent $110K to the Heat in the four-team Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade deal, says Pincus (Twitter link). That small amount of cash – the minimum allowable in a trade – was the only outgoing piece for the Clips in a swap that landed them Maurice Harkless, the Heat’s lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick (later included in the Paul George package), and the draft rights to 2017 second-rounder Mathias Lessort.
  • In addition to getting $1.1MM from the Wizards in their three-team Anthony Davis trade, the Pelicans also received $1MM in cash from the Lakers, tweets Pincus. Pincus also notes that Washington used its trade exception from February’s Markieff Morris trade to take on Bonga’s $1.42MM salary. That exception was originally worth $8.6MM and was also used to acquire Davis Bertans ($7MM), so it has essentially been all used up.

Warriors Trade Graham, Napier To Timberwolves

JULY 8: The trade is official, with the Warriors receiving the draft rights to Lior Eliyahu in the swap, according to a press release from the team.

Because they had to be used for salary-matching purposes in the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade, Graham and Napier both received significant partial guarantees. Graham had about 90% of his $1.65MM salary guaranteed, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North.

JULY 1: Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier, two of the three players the Warriors are acquiring from the Nets in their sign-and-trade deal for D’Angelo Russell, will be re-routed to the Timberwolves, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Minnesota will also receive cash in the deal, Woj notes.

As part of the agreement, Napier and Graham – who are both on non-guaranteed contracts – will receive partial guarantees, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Both players will have their minimum salaries for 2019/20 becomes guaranteed if they’re not waived by July 10, Marks adds (via Twitter).

It’s a cap-conscious move for the Warriors, for whom every dollar will count, since they face a hard cap of $138.9MM for this season. According to Marks (via Twitter), flipping Graham and Napier will save the team about $250K.

There’s a chance that one or both of Napier and Graham could stick in Minnesota for the season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, that’s far from a certainty.

Nets, Warriors Complete Durant, Russell Sign-And-Trade

JULY 8: The first-round pick going to Brooklyn in the deal is the Warriors’ 2020 pick, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic, who tweets that it will be top-20 protected. If it falls in that range – and it very well could, given Golden State’s roster changes – the Nets would instead receive the Warriors’ 2025 second-round pick, per Scotto.

JULY 7: The Nets and Warriors have officially completed the sign-and-trade deal that sends Kevin Durant and a protected 2020 first-round pick to Brooklyn in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, Treveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier, the two teams announced in a pair of press releases.

“Kevin is a champion, perennial All-Star and one of the great players of this, or any, generation,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “Adding a player of Kevin’s caliber to our organization elevates our ability to compete with the elite teams in this league. His tremendous abilities and dedication to his craft have made him as talented an offensive player our game has ever seen and we, as well as all of Brooklyn, are thrilled to welcome Kevin and his family to the Nets.”

Durant initially agreed to sign with the Nets outright using their cap room, but the Warriors engaged them in discussions last Sunday night and eventually agreed to a deal that would include a pair of sign-and-trades — Durant to Brooklyn and D’Angelo Russell to Golden State. Russell, a restricted free agent, became expendable when the Nets finalized agreements with Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“We’re excited to add a player of D’Angelo’s ability to our roster,” Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said in his team’s announcement. “He’s coming off an All-Star season with the Nets and we feel, at the age of 23, his best basketball is certainly ahead of him in regards to his career trajectory.”

In order to incentivize the Nets to accommodate the Russell sign-and-trade, the Warriors sent a future draft pick to Brooklyn, and will also take on Graham and Napier — those two players will be flipped to Minnesota in a subsequent deal.

Durant, who is recovering from a torn Achilles, isn’t expected to be ready to return until the 2020/21 season, but the Nets have him the long-term — he reportedly agreed to a four-year contract (with a fourth-year player option) that will be worth the maximum salary, or possibly slightly below it to accommodate DeAndre Jordan‘s deal with the club.

Meanwhile, the Warriors will be hard-capped at $138.9MM as a result of acquiring Russell via sign-and-trade, which will limit their ability to make roster moves during the 2019/20 league year. The club already had to send Andre Iguodala and his $17MM+ salary to Memphis in a cost-cutting measure.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.