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Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Expected To Decline Player Option

Veteran swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is expected to be among the Lakers turning down a player option for the 2020/21 season, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Earlier reports indicated that Rajon Rondo is likely to opt out and that Anthony Davis plans to do the same.

The second-year option on Caldwell-Pope’s for next season is worth approximately $8.54MM, but there’s a perception that he has outperformed that figure and could be in line for a raise and/or a longer deal after essentially acting as the Lakers’ third option during the team’s NBA Finals victory.

Having put up relatively modest numbers (9.3 PPG on .467/.385/.775 shooting) during 69 regular season games (25.5 MPG), Caldwell-Pope made some big shots in the playoffs, knocking down 42.1% of his three-point attempts in the first three rounds and then averaging 12.8 PPG in the Finals, the third-highest scoring average on the team behind LeBron James and Davis. He also provided strong perimeter defense.

Caldwell-Pope has spent the last three seasons with the Lakers and the two sides have “significant mutual interest” in reaching a new agreement, per Charania. Los Angeles holds KCP’s Bird rights, giving the club plenty of flexibility to sign him to a new contract worth essentially any value up to the max.

The 27-year-old is expected to receive interest from a handful of external suitors, according to Charania, who identifies the Hawks as one team that could “emerge with interest.”

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2020/21]

Besides Caldwell-Pope, Rondo, and Davis, the Lakers with player options for 2020/21 include Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee. They’re also candidates to opt out, though their intentions remain unclear for now.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Anthony Davis Plans To Opt Out, Re-Sign With Lakers

Anthony Davis isn’t expected to exercise his $28.75MM player option for the 2020/21 season, but there’s also no expectation that he’ll leave Los Angeles, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that the star big man intends to opt out and then re-sign with the Lakers.

As Charania details, the plan is for Davis and agent Rich Paul to hold meetings in the coming weeks leading up to free agency to discuss the situation and determine the contract length and structure that is “most sensible” for the 27-year-old.

The Lakers are expected to offer Davis whatever form of max contract he wants, whether it’s for one year or five, so it will be up to AD and Paul to decide the best route for the seven-time All-Star.

There are several factors to consider, including the state of the NBA’s salary cap for the next couple seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, Davis will be eligible for a more lucrative “maximum” salary in 2022, when he’ll have 10 years of NBA experience and will be eligible for a starting salary worth 35% of the cap instead of 30%.

Assuming the cap doesn’t increase for the 2020/21 season, Davis would be in line for a max salary of $32,472,000 next season, which is why he’ll turn down his $28,751,774 option. If he tacks on extra years to his new deal, he can receive 8% annual raises, regardless of future salary cap increases. With so much uncertainty surrounding the cap, a multiyear deal that locks in those raises could end up being more player-friendly.

If Davis signs a two-year deal with a second-year player option or a three-year deal with a third-year player option, he’d be in a position to sign a new long-term contract in 2022. The hope would be that the NBA has mostly recovered from the impact of the coronavirus by that point and that the cap would be on the rise again. Even if it the cap hasn’t significantly increased by then though, it’d be a good time for Davis to sign a new contract that would start at 35% of the cap.

Davis, who was sent from New Orleans to Los Angeles last summer in a blockbuster trade, had a monster first year with the Lakers, averaging 26.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 2.3 BPG in 62 regular season games (34.4 MPG).

He finished sixth in MVP voting and second in Defensive Player of the Year voting, helping lead the club to the West’s No. 1 seed. He followed up a dominant regular season by recording 27.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.5 APG, and 1.4 BPG in 21 postseason contests en route to the first title of his career.

Given the success he enjoyed as a Laker, there has never been any real doubt that Davis would re-up with the franchise, even if he was noncommittal when asked about it earlier this week following the team’s Game 6 win.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rajon Rondo Likely To Decline 2020/21 Option

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo is likely to decline his $2.69MM player option for the 2020/21 season, a source familiar with the situation tells Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Chris Sheridan of BasketballNews.com first reported that Rondo is expected to opt out of his contract.

The deadlines for ’20/21 player option decisions remain up in the air, but will likely fall sometime in late November, so Rondo still has plenty of time to reverse course and opt in. However, it makes sense that he’d seek a new deal, even if he intends to remain in Los Angeles.

Rondo’s current two-year contract is worth the veteran’s minimum and he arguably outperformed it by playing a key role in the Lakers’ run to this year’s championship.

After returning from a broken thumb during the second round vs. Houston, the veteran guard averaged 8.9 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.3 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in 16 games (24.7 MPG) off the bench. He even provided some reliable outside shooting, knocking down 40.0% of 3.1 three-point attempts per game during the postseason.

Assuming the salary cap remains at the same level in 2020/21 as in ’19/20, Rondo’s minimum salary would be about $2.56MM, so if he has to settle for another minimum deal, he’d miss out on the 5% raise that his option would have afforded him. But that difference is minimal and the opportunity for a more lucrative offer makes declining the option worth the risk.

The Lakers will hold Rondo’s Early Bird rights, giving the team the ability to offer him a starting salary worth up to approximately $10MM (105% of the league-average salary in the previous season). However, contracts signed using the Early Bird exception must run for at least two years, without a second-year option. Los Angeles could potentially get around that rule by not fully guaranteeing the second year of an offer to Rondo.

Another potential path for the Lakers would be to re-sign Rondo using the Non-Bird exception. That would allow for a one-year deal (with or without a second-year option) and would give the 34-year-old veto rights on any trade, though his salary would be limited to about $3.08MM (120% of the minimum).

The Lakers will also have the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions available, but may prefer to use those exceptions to bring in outside help or to re-sign Non-Bird free agents Markieff Morris and/or Dwight Howard.

Of course, rival suitors could make life difficult for the Lakers by pursuing Rondo with mid-level type offers, but I imagine that – after winning a title with the team – the point guard’s first choice will be to stick with L.A.

Rondo is one of five Lakers with player options for the 2020/21 season. Anthony Davis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley, and JaVale McGee are all candidates to opt out in search of new deals as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Sign Justin Anderson As Substitute Player

4:24pm: The signing is official, the team announced on Twitter.

3:42pm: Justin Anderson will sign with the Nets later today, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Rumors of the 27-year-old swingman joining the team began in late June and continued last week when he discussed the possibility on a radio show (YouTube link). However, Brooklyn opted for Lance Thomas instead, making the deal official earlier this week.

Another spot opened up when veteran forward Michael Beasley tested positive for COVID-19 when he arrived in Orlando and failed to clear quarantine. It’s possible the Nets already knew they’d be replacing Beasley when they signed Thomas instead of Anderson last week.

Anderson signed a 10-day contract with the Nets in January and averaged 1.0 PPG in three games before being released by the organization. He also spent part  of the season with Brooklyn’s G League affiliate in Long Island. A first-round pick by the Mavericks in 2015, Anderson had brief stops with the Sixers and Hawks as well.

Wizards Sign Jarrod Uthoff As Substitute Player

3:37pm: The Wizards have officially signed Uthoff as a substitute player for the NBA season restart in Orlando, the team announced in a press release.

It’s not entirely clear which player Uthoff is replacing. An earlier tweet from John Hollinger of The Athletic indicated that he would be a substitute player for Bradley Beal. However, Beal’s absence is thought to considered injury-related, which would make him ineligible to be replaced, and Hollinger’s tweet has since been deleted.

Head coach Scott Brooks declined to say today which player Uthoff is replacing, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link).


11:54am: Free agent forward Jarrod Uthoff  will sign with the Wizards, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Uthoff, 27, briefly saw action in the NBA this season after signing a 10-day contract with the Grizzlies in late February. He appeared in four games, averaging 1.0 PPG in limited playing time. He also played nine games for the Mavericks during the 2016/17 season.

Most of Uthoff’s professional career has been spent in the G League, where he has been with various teams since 2016. He was named to the All-NBAGL First Team this season as a member of the Memphis Hustle, averaging 19.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

Nets Sign Lance Thomas As Substitute Player

3:03pm: The Nets have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed Thomas as a substitute player.

There’s no word yet on how the deal will affect Anderson.

2:56pm: The Nets have finalized an agreement with free agent forward Lance Thomas, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Begley first reported over the weekend that Thomas was nearing a deal with Brooklyn.

Thomas hasn’t appeared in an NBA game in 2019/20, having been waived by the Nets before the regular season began last fall. The 32-year-old previously appeared in 392 regular season contests over eight seasons with New Orleans, Oklahoma City, and New York, averaging 5.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG. He last suited up for the Knicks in ’18/19, recording 4.5 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 46 games (17.0 MPG).

Word of Thomas’ agreement with the Nets comes on the heels of Justin Anderson saying during an appearance on the JWILLY Show (YouTube link) that he’s quarantining in an Orlando-area hotel as he prepares to officially sign his contract with Brooklyn, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays.

The Nets are allowed to sign substitute players to replace their four players who have either opted out of the restart (Wilson Chandler) or been ruled out due to COVID-19 (Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince). So far, the team has officially signed three substitutes — Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, and Donta Hall.

While it’s possible that Brooklyn could sign both Thomas and Anderson, that would presumably mean a fifth player on the roster is being replaced. There has been no word yet that another Net has opted out or contracted the coronavirus, and the club has yet to formally announce the signing of either Thomas or Anderson, so we’ll await further updates.

Lance Thomas Nearing Deal With Nets

The Nets are close to signing free agent forward Lance Thomas, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv. After this week’s additions of Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley and Donta Hall, Brooklyn still has just 13 players available for Orlando.

Thomas, 32, was with the Nets in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. He was waived just before the start of the season.

Thomas hasn’t played in the NBA this season, but he has eight years of experience with the Hornets/Pelicans, Thunder and Knicks. He has career averages of 5.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 392 games.

The Nets will be without at least seven players for the NBA’s restart. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Nicolas Claxton are sidelined due to injuries, while Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, and Wilson Chandler contracted COVID-19 and/or voluntarily opted out.

Brooklyn is permitted to sign substitute players to replace the four non-injured players. So far, the team has signed three substitutes (Crawford, Beasley, and Hall), and the belief was that Justin Anderson would be the fourth. It’s not yet clear if Thomas will be signed in place of Anderson or if another Net will be unavailable.

Nets Sign Donta Hall To Rest-Of-Season Deal

JULY 10: The Nets have officially signed Hall as a substitute player, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 9: The Nets have agreed to sign free agent big man Donta Hall to a rest-of-season contract, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Hall, who will turn 23 next month, spent last fall with the Pistons after going undrafted out of Alabama. He was waived by Detroit before the regular season began, but spent most of his rookie year with the Grand Rapids Drive – the Pistons’ G League affiliate – before eventually earning a call-up to the club’s NBA roster.

In 38 games (28.6 MPG) for Grand Rapids, Hall averaged 15.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and 1.4 BPG on 66.9% shooting, earning All-NBAGL Second Team honors. He signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Pistons in February and March, logging limited minutes in four NBA games during that time. His 10-day deal was still active when the NBA went on hiatus on March 11, but didn’t carry over to the summer, making him a free agent.

The Nets have ruled out Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, and Wilson Chandler for the NBA’s restart due to positive coronavirus tests or voluntary opt-outs. As a result, the team is eligible to sign four substitute players. It appears those players will be Michael Beasley (whose deal is already official), Justin Anderson, Jamal Crawford, and Hall.

As Stein tweets – and previously reported – the Nets strongly considered signing Amir Johnson to add frontcourt depth. The club also reportedly had some interest in Lance Thomas. However, having already reached deals with multiple veterans, Brooklyn will opt instead for youth in signing Hall.

Hall’s rest-of-season contract won’t include any form of Bird rights, and he’ll become an unrestricted free agent this fall. Still, if the Nets like what they see this summer, they could try to get him back for the 2020/21 season.

Jamal Crawford Signs With Nets

JULY 9: Crawford has officially signed with the Nets, per an official team statement (Twitter link).

JULY 8: Free agent guard Jamal Crawford has agreed to join the depleted Nets for the league restart, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 40-year-old crossover maestro, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, last suited up for the Suns in 64 games during the 2018/19 season. Across 19 NBA seasons, Crawford sports a slash line of 14.6 PPG, 3.4 APG, and 2.2 RPG. He is also averaging 34.8% from three-point range and 86.2% from the free-throw line.

During his lone Phoenix season, Crawford’s scoring dipped to a single-digit average for the first time since his 2001/02 season with the Bulls. Crawford averaged 7.9 PPG, 3.6 APG and 1.3 RPG, while shooting just 39.7% from the field. He scored 51 points in his last game for Phoenix, on April 9, 2019. John Hollinger of The Athletic notes that Crawford rated as a below-replacement level player last season (Twitter link).

The Nets have been hit particularly hard ahead of the NBA’s return to action at Orlando’s Disney World campus, currently scheduled to kick off July 30. Injured All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the 2019/20 season. Center DeAndre Jordan, wing Taurean Prince, and guard Spencer Dinwiddie have been stricken with COVID-19 and will also all miss the restart. Additionally, Nicolas Claxton is sidelined due to a shoulder injury and Wilson Chandler has opted out of participating.

The team can sign up to two more substitute players after making it official with Crawford and Justin Anderson, whose deal was reported in June.

Nets Sign Michael Beasley As Substitute Player

JULY 9: The Nets have officially signed Beasley, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 8: The Nets and free agent forward Michael Beasley are moving toward a contract agreement, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The second overall pick in the 2008 draft, Beasley hasn’t played in the NBA this season, having last suited up for the Lakers during the 2018/19 campaign. He averaged 7.0 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 26 games (10.7 MPG) for the Lakers before being traded to the Clippers at the ’19 deadline. The Clips subsequently waived him.

Beasley, who averaged 19.2 PPG for the Timberwolves back in 2010/11, has always been an effective scorer, but isn’t a particularly strong play-maker or defender. Still, the 31-year-old’s ability to put the ball in the basket could benefit the depleted Nets.

As a result of injuries, opt-outs, and positive coronavirus tests, Brooklyn will be missing Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, and Nicolas Claxton when play resumes this summer.

Dinwiddie, Jordan, Prince, and Chandler are eligible to be replaced by substitute players, and Brooklyn has already reached agreements with Justin Anderson and Jamal Crawford. Assuming they strike a deal with Beasley too, the Nets would still be able to sign one more substitute player — they’re said to be eyeing a frontcourt piece, perhaps Amir Johnson or Lance Thomas.

Beasley – who has a strong relationship with Durant, according to Charania (Twitter link) – would sign a minimum-salary, rest-of-season contract with Brooklyn if the two sides finalize an agreement. It wouldn’t count against the club’s cap and the Nets wouldn’t have any form of Bird rights on Beasley at season’s end.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks points out (via Twitter), Beasley was hit with a five-game suspension in August 2019 for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. He has yet to serve that ban and would have to do so if he signs with Brooklyn. Still, the club would have him available for its final three seeding games, plus up to two play-in tournament contests and the entire postseason, assuming the Nets make it.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.