Knicks, Austin Rivers Agree To One-Year Deal

The Knicks have agreed to add free agent combo guard Austin Rivers to their rotation on a one-year deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (via Twitter) that this brings New York to 15 total roster spots, including another new addition, center Ed Davis.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has long been a fan of Rivers, according to Frank Isola of ESPN (Twitter link). Selected by the Pelicans with the 10th pick out of Duke in 2012, the 6’3″ Rivers has developed into a solid reserve scoring guard. He also had stops with the Clippers and Wizards, before turning in memorable performances on competitive Rockets teams during parts of the last two seasons. In 68 games for the Rockets last season, Rivers added 8.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG. He had a respectable shooting line of .421/.356/.703.

According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link), Rivers is one of eight players with ties to either CAA or the University of Kentucky added by new Knicks GM Leon Rose via draft, trade or free agency.

Donovan Mitchell Agrees To Max Extension With Jazz

4:32pm: Mitchell’s five-year extension will include a fifth-year player option for the 2025/26 season, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

11:19am: Jazz star Donovan Mitchell will sign a maximum rookie scale extension, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Mitchell will be guaranteed 25% of the salary cap, which would make the total value of the deal around $163MM over five years. That figure could rise to 30% if he meets All-NBA criteria for the upcoming season, which would put the contract in the neighborhood of $195MM. Those projections rely on an annual 3% increase in the cap, so the actual value could vary.

Mitchell has become a star in Utah during his three NBA seasons and is coming off his first All-Star appearance. He averaged a career-best 24.0 points per game last season and followed that with a historic playoff performance, scoring 36.3 PPG in the seven-game loss to the Nuggets.

Having locked up Mitchell, the Jazz are expected to focus on a contract extension for center Rudy Gobert.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jazz Ship Tony Bradley, Saben Lee To Pistons

NOVEMBER 22: The Jazz have officially announced their deal with the Pistons, confirming in a press release that they received cash from the Pistons in exchange for Bradley and the rights to No. 38 pick Saben Lee. Detroit has already agreed to flip Bradley to Philadelphia in a separate deal.

NOVEMBER 18: The Jazz have agreed to trade center Tony Bradley and the No. 38 pick to the Pistons for cash considerations, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links).

Bradley, 22, appeared in 58 regular-season games last season, averaging 4.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 11.4 MPG. Bradley will be entering his fourth season after spending most of his first two seasons in the G League.

Bradley has a $3.54MM guaranteed contract for the upcoming season and could be a restricted free agent if Detroit extends a $5.277MM qualifying offer next offseason.

Utah’s motivation for the trade was to open more cap room and increase roster flexibility, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. The Jazz have made re-signing unrestricted free agent guard Jordan Clarkson a top priority.

[UPDATE: Jazz, Jordan Clarkson agree to four-year deal]

Detroit has been arguably the busiest team this week, with new GM Troy Weaver completely reshaping the roster by acquiring assets and adding young players. The Pistons made three first-round selections, via their own lottery pick and a pair of draft-night trades.

Wolves, Juan Hernangomez Finalizing Three-Year Deal

After striking a deal with Malik Beasley on Friday, the Timberwolves are now finalizing an agreement with their other key restricted free agent, Juan Hernangomez.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Hernangomez will sign a three-year, $21MM contract to remain in Minnesota. The deal will include a third-year team option, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 15th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Hernangomez spent the first three-and-a-half years of his career in Denver. Although he was a solid part of the Nuggets’ rotation in 2018/19, the 25-year-old saw his minutes cut back in ’19/20 after the team added Jerami Grant. With not enough minutes to go around for Hernangomez and Beasley, they were sent to the Timberwolves at the deadline.

With an increased role, Hernangomez elevated his game after being traded from Denver to Minnesota, averaging 12.9 PPG with a .420 3PT% in 14 contests as the Timberwolves’ starting power forward. That strong finish helped him earn a nice multiyear commitment from the Wolves in free agency.

It’s been an eventful week so far in Minnesota, where the Timberwolves drafted Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 overall pick on Wednesday, agreed to reacquire Ricky Rubio in a trade with the Thunder, and now have secured commitments from their top two free agents.

While most of the top players on the free agent market are now off the board, the Wolves do still have their exceptions available and could make an additional move or two.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics, Jayson Tatum Agree To Five-Year Max Extension

The Celtics have agreed to a five-year, maximum-salary contract extension with forward Jayson Tatum, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The deal will go into effect for the 2021/22 season, once Tatum’s rookie contract expires. Ryan McDonough of tweets that the deal includes a fifth-year player option for the 2025/26 season.

Tatum, 22, blossomed into an All-Star during his third season in Boston. He posted career-high averages of 23.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.9 BPG across 66 games for the Celtics during the regular season. Tatum also logged impressive shooting splits of .45/.403/.812.

Along with his fellow 2020 Boston All-Star, point guard Kemba Walker, and ascendant young forward Jaylen Brown, Tatum led the Celtics to their second Eastern Conference Finals appearance of his young tenure during the 2019/20 season.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details (Twitter link), Tatum’s starting salary will be worth at least 25% of the 2021/22 salary cap. If he makes an All-NBA team again in 2021, his deal will start at 30% of next year’s cap. Based on a 3% cap increase, Tatum’s first-year salary will range from about $28.1MM to $33.7MM.

Marks notes in a separate tweet that, if Tatum and/or his fellow recently-extended young Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell, qualifies for the full 30% extension by making any of the three All-NBA teams next season, either player would earn the biggest rookie extension in NBA history. Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons holds the current record at $177.2MM.

Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox could also earn the 30% max on his new deal, though he’ll have to earn All-NBA First Team honors to do so, per the terms of his own extension. Among this year’s players eligible for rookie contract extensions, Tatum, Mitchell and Fox are the only three who have agreed to terms so far.

With Brown’s own extension (for $103MM in guaranteed money plus an additional $12MM in possible incentives) locked in through the 2023/24 season, getting off the contract of oft-injured veteran forward Gordon Hayward a year early has helped streamline Boston’s books for the immediate future, while securing their young core. Hayward opted out of the final year of his deal with Boston to sign a four-year, $120MM contract with the Hornets yesterday.

In terms of the team’s immediate roster-building, Boston will be able avoid the luxury tax this season thanks to Hayward’s departure. The club can still upgrade its roster using its $3.6MM biannual exception, along with trade exceptions acquired through the moves of Vincent Poirier and Enes Kanter.

Brown, Walker, and Tatum will all be under contract together for the next two seasons. Walker has a $37.7MM player option for 2022/23, his age-33 season. Defensive stalwart Marcus Smart has the team’s next-biggest contract, and is owed $27.8MM through the 2021/22 season.

Yesterday, the Celtics added center Tristan Thompson, signed into the club’s full mid-level exception. He will earn $19MM through 2021/22. Boston also fully guaranteed the contracts of incumbent starting center Daniel Theis and reserve forward Semi Ojeleye. Theis may be in line for a raise when he enters unrestricted free agency in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers, Pistons To Swap Zhaire Smith, Tony Bradley

The Sixers and Pistons are completing a minor trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that third-year wing Zhaire Smith will head to Detroit in the deal, while fourth-year center Tony Bradley goes to Philadelphia.

Smith was the 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft but has barely seen the court during his first two professional seasons, having battled health issues and playing just 13 total NBA games. He did appear in 28 games for the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League last season, averaging 13.5 PPG and 3.1 RPG with a .530/.376/.714 shooting line.

As Omari Sankofa of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter), the Pistons had been seeking more shooting on the wing and – since they’re in rebuilding mode –  can afford to be patient in developing him. Moving Bradley also helps the team slightly clear its logjam at center, where the team has added Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, and first-round pick Isaiah Stewart in the last few days.

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, new 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has apparently developed a newfound fondness for centers, having already signed Dwight Howard on Saturday to back up Joel Embiid. If Bradley remains with the 76ers, he’ll provide additional depth in the middle.

The 28th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Bradley spent his first three seasons in Utah before the Jazz agreed to trade him to Detroit earlier in the week. He earned regular minutes for the first time in 2019/20, averaging 4.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 58 games (11.4 MPG).

The financial impact of the trade will be minimal. Smith has a $3.2MM salary for 2020/21 and a $4.92MM team option for 2021/22, which Detroit must exercise or turn down by the end of next month. Bradley will earn $3.54MM this season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency next year.

Suns To Sign E’Twaun Moore To One-Year Deal

Free agent shooting guard E’Twaun Moore has reached an agreement to sign a one-year deal with the Suns, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Stein reports that the deal will be worth $2.4MM, which suggests it’s likely a minimum-salary pact, rounded up. Moore’s minimum salary this year, as a nine-year veteran, will be $2,331,593.

Moore, 31, has spent the last four seasons in New Orleans, bouncing back and forth between roles as a starter and a backup during that time. He has been an effective scorer and shooter for the Pelicans, averaging 10.7 PPG on .474/.404/.736 shooting in his four years with the team.

Moore represents the latest intriguing addition for a Phoenix team that appears to be poised to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference in 2020/21. Having kicked off their offseason by acquiring Chris Paul in a trade with Oklahoma City, the Suns have since reached free agent agreements with Jae Crowder and Moore, as well as their own restricted free agent guard Jevon Carter.

The team also drafted big man Jalen Smith with the No. 10 pick on Wednesday and reportedly wants to re-sign RFA forward Dario Saric.

Pelicans To Add Willy Hernangomez

The Pelicans are set to sign center Willy Hernangomez to a one-year veteran’s minimum contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium tweets. With four years of NBA experience to his credit, Hernangomez should earn $1,737,145 on such a deal.

The 250-pound 6’11” journeyman center, 26, started his NBA career with the Knicks, who drafted him with the 35th pick in 2015. Hernangomez finally joined New York for the 2016/17 season, and was eventually flipped to the Hornets in 2018. He will now back up starting Pelicans center Steven Adams, sent to New Orleans in a recent trade by the Thunder.

Hernangomez will essentially replace reserve center Jahlil Okafor in the New Orleans rotation. Okafor left the Pelicans for the Pistons in free agency. Hernangomez holds career averages of 6.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG in just 14.4 MPG.

Knicks, Lakers Exploring JaVale McGee Trade

As the Lakers look to clear some salary to strengthen their offer to free agent center Marc Gasol, the Knicks have emerged as a potential trade partner in a possible deal involving JaVale McGee, sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Due to their hard-cap constraints, the Lakers are probably limited to only offering Gasol a one-year, minimum-salary deal for the time being. Clearing some salary would allow them to offer Gasol more than the minimum if the Raptors are willing to do a sign-and-trade. It would also allow them to offer a two-year minimum deal (which carries a higher first-year cap hit), as John Hollinger of The Athletic notes (via Twitter).

If the Knicks are going to take on McGee’s contract using their cap room, they’ll need some sort of sweetener. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype points out (via Twitter), New York got two second-round picks from Utah for taking on Ed Davis‘ $5MM expiring deal and would likely seek a similar haul for accepting McGee’s $4.2MM expiring contract.

The Lakers, who will probably only make a deal if they have an agreement lined up with Gasol (or another free agent), would have to decide how much they’re willing to pay in extra assets to upgrade from McGee at center.

The Knicks have been prioritizing 2023 second-round picks in trades this week, having already acquired – or agreed to acquire – three of them. The team reportedly expects that to be the first draft that high school players will once again permitted to enter, which would make for an extra-talented class. I imagine if a McGee deal gets done between the two teams, the Knicks may well come out of it with the Lakers’ 2023 second-rounder.

Rockets To Sign Sterling Brown

Shooting guard Sterling Brown has agreed to a one-year deal with the Rockets, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Because Brown never received a qualifying offer from the Bucks, he was able to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.

The 6’5″ swingman was drafted by the Bucks with the 46th pick in 2017 out of SMU. The 25-year-old has a career slash line average of 5.2 PPG/3.1 RPG/1.0 APG across his three seasons in the league. He also has connected on an average of 77.4% of his free throw attempts, 41.7% of his shots from the floor, and 34.5% of his 2.6 three-point looks per contest.

His shooting should be a solid attribute to a changing Rockets club that still prioritizes surrounding stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook with switchable perimeter scorers, though how long those All-Star guards will stay with the franchise remains up in the air now.