The Celtics made a number of headlines with their acquisitions of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving this summer. Now, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England writes, it’s time to focus on who might make up the core of the team’s second unit.
Having traded Avery Bradley in a cap clearing maneuver to sign Hayward, the Celtics will turn to Terry Rozier to serve as a game-changer off the bench. His ability to pick up scoreer on the perimeter will be valued, as will his ability to knock down shots now that Isaiah Thomas is a Cavalier.
Another player who could see a bigger role with the Celtics in light of the Irving trade is Jayson Tatum. The third-overall pick will see extra opportunities than the C’s may have initially expected now that Jae Crowder is out of the picture.
Former Nets GM Billy King, who is widely blamed for turning the organization into a perennial loser with no lottery picks, tells his side of the story in an interview with The Glue Guys, a Nets-themed podcast.
King touches on several controversial issues in the 45-minute session, including an effort to acquire Chris Paul, the failure to get Dwight Howard when he wanted to join the Nets and the ill-fated trade that sent three unprotected first-rounders to Boston for a package centered around veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
- King tried to get Paul from New Orleans before dealing with Utah for Deron Williams. King believed he was making progress, but the deal went cold after Jeff Bowers was replaced as GM by Dell Demps. “At that time, I don’t think Dell wanted his first thing to be trading Chris Paul,” King said.
- The Nets believed they were close to acquiring Howard from Orlando just before the 2012 trade deadline. “We went to bed as a staff — we left the office pretty late — we went to bed pretty much knowing that tomorrow we’re going to get Dwight,” King said. Magic GM Otis Smith had planned to finalize the deal the next morning, but King woke up to a text saying that Howard had elected to opt in for the following season. King reached out to Howard’s agent, who responded, “I don’t think he did,” and even Smith hadn’t heard the news when King called him. However, Smith returned the call an hour later and confirmed the news.
- The Nets responded by trading their 2012 first-round pick to Portland in exchange for Gerald Wallace in an attempt to appease Williams and discourage him from opting out over the summer. The Blazers used that pick to draft Damian Lillard.
- King reached out to the Celtics in 2013 because he thought he had a talented nucleus that needed veteran leadership and was interested in acquiring Pierce. Negotiations led to Garnett and Jason Terry being included and the package of picks going to Boston.
- King made an offer to Pierce in the summer of 2014, but he got a better deal from Washington and the Nets decided not to match it. “Once that decision was made, I think it changed our thought process,” King said. “I think some of the players even thought, ‘What’s going on here? We were committed and now we’re not.” King added that he wouldn’t have made the deal with Boston if he knew he couldn’t keep Pierce longer than one season.
At this point in the NBA offseason, most free agents who remain on the open market will have to settle for minimum salary contracts, if they receive an NBA offer at all.
There are some exceptions, particularly on the restricted free agent market, where Mason Plumlee just signed a three-year, $41MM deal with the Nuggets. Within the last week or two though, we’ve seen top remaining unrestricted free agents like Shabazz Muhammad, Tony Allen, and Andrew Bogut settle for minimum salary contracts.
That’s good news for several teams who have used all their available cap room and/or exceptions and can only offer minimum salary contracts for the rest of the 2017/18 league year. They won’t necessarily be at a disadvantage when it comes to signing free agents if those players aren’t being offered more than the minimum by teams with the means to do so.
In some cases though, an inability to offer more than the minimum can handicap a team. Dante Cunningham‘s free agent decision this week reflects this — according to multiple reports, the deal Cunningham agreed to with the Pelicans is actually worth $2.3MM, which is more than his minimum salary of $2.1MM. While we haven’t seen the official terms of Cunningham’s new contract yet, it’s possible that the $200K difference was one reason Cunningham chose New Orleans over a suitor like the Timberwolves, who could only offer the minimum.
Teams with the flexibility to offer more than the minimum could also benefit later in the NBA season. For instance, if Dwyane Wade negotiates a buyout with the Bulls and considers which team to join as a free agent, the fact that the Heat have retained their $4.328MM room exception could be a factor — it would allow Miami to make a stronger offer than the Cavs could.
With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the teams that currently don’t have the ability to offer more than the minimum salary, which is $815,615 for a first-year player:
- Boston Celtics
- Detroit Pistons
- Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets: $350 of mid-level exception available
- Los Angeles Clippers: $774,770 of mid-level exception available
- Memphis Grizzlies: $1,440,385 of mid-level exception available, but will use at least $815,615 to sign Ivan Rabb.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New York Knicks
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Meanwhile, the following teams have less than $3.29MM (the value of the bi-annual exception) to offer to free agents:
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $2,549,143 of taxpayer mid-level exception available
- Utah Jazz: $1,128,000 of room exception available
- Washington Wizards: $1,902,000 of taxpayer mid-level exception available
Of course, just because a team has an exception available, that doesn’t mean the club will be eager to use it. Teams like the Bucks or Pelicans, for instance, still have various MLE and BAE exception money available, but their proximity to the luxury tax threshold will make them reluctant to offer more than the minimum salary to anyone the rest of the way.
SEPTEMBER 19: The signing is official, Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group relays on Twitter.
SEPTEMBER 18: The Lakers have reached an agreement with free agent center Andrew Bogut, agent David Bauman tells Shams Charania of The Vertical. According to Charania, Bogut will sign a one-year contract with Los Angeles. David Aldridge of TNT adds (via Twitter) that the deal will be worth the veteran minimum, while ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweets that it’ll be partially guaranteed.
Bogut, who will turn 33 in November, began last season with the Mavericks, appearing in 26 games (21 starts) for Dallas before being traded to the Sixers in a deadline deal. He was subsequently bought out by Philadelphia and joined the Cavaliers as a free agent, but fractured his tibia in his first game with his new team, ending his season.
Bauman suggested last week that a CT scan on Bogut’s tibia showed “complete healing,” with a radiology report showing that the center’s leg is “solidly united.” With a medical green light, Bogut was expected to find a new NBA home quickly, and ultimately landed with the Lakers, who will add him to a promising frontcourt that already features Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, and rookies Kyle Kuzma and Thomas Bryant.
[RELATED: Lakers’ depth chart at RosterResource.com]
Even if he’s fully healthy heading into the 2017/18 season, Bogut likely won’t make a major on-court impact at this point in his career — since the start of the 2012/13 season, he has been a role player, averaging 5.9 PPG in 23.5 minutes per contest. Still, he has provided reliable rim protecting and rebounding, chipping in 1.6 BPG and 8.2 RPG during that stretch, so he could have some value in L.A.’s rotation.
According to Aldridge (via Twitter), the Timberwolves made a “major pitch” to Bogut, and the Celtics and Cavaliers were in the mix too. However, the former first overall pick liked L.A.’s “vibe,” not to mention the opportunity to reunite with head coach Luke Walton, who played a part in recruiting the ex-Warrior (Twitter link). While Boston was frequently linked to Bogut during his free agency, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) suspects the Celtics didn’t push overly hard to land him.
The Lakers entered the day with 19 players under contract, so their roster will be at the 20-man offseason maximum when they finalize their agreement with Bogut.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Kyrie Irving addressed the circumstances surrounding his desire to leave Cleveland during an appearance this morning on ESPN’s First Take (Twitter link). The All-Star point guard dismissed the idea that his trade demand was motivated by a desire to get away from LeBron James, according to a post from Chris Forsberg on ESPN Now. But Irving also told the hosts he didn’t inform James before making the request and doesn’t care if the Cavaliers star took it as a personal insult. “Why would I have to?” Irving responded to a question over whether he talked to James before meeting with owner Dan Gilbert.
Irving also discussed the loss of a potential “supermax” designated veteran extension by changing teams, saying “You can’t put a price on happiness,” relays ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link). He responded to a question on whether he can win a title without James, first by saying “time will tell,” then “absolutely.”
There’s more today out of Boston:
- President of basketball operations Danny Ainge may regret not trying harder to get Jimmy Butler from the Bulls when he was available, writes Shaun Powell of NBA.com in his season preview of the Celtics. He states that Ainge could have easily topped Minnesota’s offer and that Butler would have provided a greater upgrade than switching Isaiah Thomas for Irving. Powell speculates that Ainge was reluctant to give Thomas a max extension next summer considering his hip problems and his age.
- Paul Pierce, who signed a one-day deal with the Celtics in July so he could retire in Boston, is sharing his knowledge with the organization’s younger players, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. He has taken a particular interest in Jayson Tatum, the Celtics’ first-rounder, who has a skill set similar to Pierce’s. “I feel I can help out this young generation and impact that way,” said Pierce, who has landed a job as an ESPN analyst. “I can still talk about the game. I enjoy talking about the game, being around it; traveling to see games. It’s always going to be in my blood. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. So, it’s gonna be hard to completely pull me away from the game.”
- Opening arguments were set to begin today in the felony assault trial for Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, according to The Associated Press. The trial regarding a 2015 beating incident is expected to last 10 days and will conflict with the start of training camp. The Celtics acquired Marcus Morris from this Pistons this summer in a deal to free up cap room to sign Gordon Hayward.
- Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders updated his salary totals for two Atlantic Division teams in light of recent signings. The Celtics are at $111,505,141 total and $109,873,911 in guaranteed money after camp deals with L.J. Peak and Andrew White and a two-way contract with Jabari Bird. Tyler Zeller‘s deal with the Nets brought Brooklyn to $97,328,061 total and $94,222,526 in guaranteed cash.
While the Celtics won’t struggle to replace the statistics that Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder posted, they’ll be hard-pressed to find a replacement for the toughness and temperament they brought to Boston, A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England writes.
Both Thomas and Crowder took their careers to a new level in Boston, blossoming into substantial core pieces for the rejuvenated Celtics. Some of the franchise’s best moments from the past few seasons, Blakeley writes, can be attributed directly to the twosome.
The trial for Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris, who are accused of aggravated assault, got underway today in Phoenix, writes Terell Wilkins of The Arizona Republic. Jury selection for the trial, which will take place in Maricopa County Superior Court, concluded on Wednesday, and opening statements will be delivered on Monday, per an Associated Press report (link via ESPN.com).
The trial will be worth watching for fans of the Celtics and Wizards, since the Morris brothers would face suspensions from the NBA if they’re convicted — a violent felony results in at least a 10-game ban. Even if the Morris brothers reach plea deals, they could be subject to discipline from the league, with the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement empowering commissioner Adam Silver to decide on an appropriate suspension in that scenario.
Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:
- While many NBA observers were dumbfounded by Kyrie Irving‘s trade request, Warriors forward Draymond Green suggests he gained a newfound respect for Irving, as Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post details. “I don’t think people take into account that he put so much pressure on himself by doing that,” Green said. “He’s basically saying, ‘I’m ready to deliver.’ That’s big. That says a lot.”
- The Pelicans have renounced their draft rights to 2011 second-rounder Ater Majok, according to RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions. New Orleans now holds the draft rights to just one non-NBA player — big man Latavious Williams.
- The relationship between the NCAA and the NBA wasn’t always strong during David Stern‘s days as commissioner, but Adam Silver has struck a more conciliatory tone, and that’s beginning to show, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. As Givony explains, the invite list for a recent student-athlete symposium suggests the NCAA’s philosophy on preparing underclassmen for the NBA is evolving.
- Using the NBA’s response to its DNP-Rest issue as a jumping-off point, Tom Ziller of SBNation.com makes the case that the league is too focused on marketing a small handful of star players, and ought to make an effort to showcase more stars in nationally televised games.