Los Angeles Clippers

Beverley Expected To Return Monday

Patrick Beverley is expected to return to the Clippers’ lineup Monday after missing five games with soreness in his right knee, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The injury-riddled team needs to get healthy soon, as it has dropped eight straight games and fallen to 5-10 after a 4-0 start. L.A. has been without its opening-night starting backcourt of Beverley and Milos Teodosic, who remains out indefinitely with a left plantar fascia injury.

Beverley was part of the package the Clippers received from Houston in this summer’s trade for Chris Paul. He was off to a strong start, averaging 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists through 10 games, along with elite-level defense.

  • With Beverley, Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari all sidelined by injuries, the Clippers want more offensive production from Wesley Johnson, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Johnson, who has a player option for next season worth more than $6.1MM, is taking more than twice as many shots as last season at 5.5 per game, but is careful about not forcing things. “I just see how the game feels out and then just go like that,” he said. “But I think they want me to just go out there and just have an imprint on the game. Just go out there and junk it up, do whatever.”

2018 Salary Cap Outlook: Pacific Division

NBA rosters will undergo some changes over the course of the 2017/18 season, particularly around the trade deadline, and those changes may have an impact on teams’ cap sheets for future seasons. Based on the NBA’s current rosters, however, we can identify which teams are most and least likely to have cap room in the summer of 2018, which will dictate the type of moves those clubs can make in the offseason.

We’re taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams by division this week. Today, we’re tackling the Pacific division. With the help of salary information compiled by Basketball Insiders, here’s how the summer of 2018 is shaping up for the five Pacific teams:

Golden State WarriorsKevin Durant vertical
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $102,091,455
Projection: Over the cap

The Warriors’ total guaranteed salary of $102MM for next season looks modest at first glance. But that figure only accounts for seven players, and Kevin Durant isn’t one of them. Even if Durant is willing to sign for several million less than the max again, which is certainly no lock, re-signing him and then filling out the rest of their roster figures to take the Dubs into luxury-tax territory.

Phoenix Suns
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $70,667,235
Projection: Up to approximately $28MM in cap room

While the Suns’ return in the Eric Bledsoe trade was widely viewed as underwhelming, the move did clear $15MM in guaranteed salary from the club’s 2018/19 cap, creating additional flexibility. Retaining Alan Williams – who has a non-guaranteed salary – and re-signing Alex Len would cut into the Suns’ cap space. However, neither of those moves are locks at this point, so Phoenix could get easily get to $25MM+ in cap room, and could potentially open up even more room by trading Jared Dudley and/or Tyson Chandler, who will be on expiring contracts next season.

Sacramento Kings
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $68,252,577
Projection: Up to approximately $33MM in cap room ($16MM if player options exercised)

There have been no reports yet suggesting that Kosta Koufos and Garrett Temple will exercise their player options for 2018/19, which are worth about $8.74MM and $8MM, respectively. The Kings should probably be preparing for that outcome though — neither player has a major role, and the free agent market won’t be as player-friendly as it was in 2016, when Koufos and Temple signed their current deals.

If those options are exercised, the Kings’ guaranteed salaries will increase to about $85MM, limiting their cap flexibility. But they’ll also be able to dedicate that remaining cap room to a single player, if they so choose — assuming Koufos and Temple return, Sacramento would head into the offseason with 14 players under contract, not including draft picks.

Los Angeles Clippers
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $59,880,133
Projection: Up to approximately $31MM in cap room

Only five Clippers players currently have fully guaranteed salaries for 2018/19, but there are several other candidates to return. For one, Patrick Beverley and his $5MM non-guaranteed salary will certainly be back — that’s a tremendous bargain for one of the league’s best defensive players, and our cap projection for the Clippers assumes he’ll be on the books at that price.

Our cap projection doesn’t take into account any player options though, and four Clippers players hold those options for 2018/19. DeAndre Jordan, who figures to land a lucrative multiyear deal, will likely turn down his $24MM option, but Austin Rivers ($12.65MM), Milos Teodosic ($6.3MM), and Wesley Johnson ($6.1MM) are candidates to opt in. If all three of those players pick up their options and Beverley is retained, the Clips’ cap room will essentially disappear.

Los Angeles Lakers
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $49,336,471
Projection: Up to approximately $47.5MM in cap room

The Lakers’ desire to open up two maximum-salary slots for the 2018 free agent period has been well publicized, but the team still has some work to do to achieve that goal. Based on a $101MM cap, maximum salaries for, say, LeBron James and Paul George would be worth a combined $65.65MM in 2018/19. L.A. remains about $18MM shy of that figure, even assuming the team renounces Julius Randle, Brook Lopez, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Of course, moving Luol Deng‘s $18MM salary would just about get the Lakers there, but finding a club willing to take on that deal without sending out any salary in return will be challenging, to say the least. Waiving and stretching Deng’s contract next July and dumping Jordan Clarkson‘s $12.5MM salary is probably a more realistic path for the Lakers to get into that range for two max deals.

Previously:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Make G League Moves

Clippers Leaning On Rookie Guards

Patrick Beverley Out One Week With Right Knee Injury

  • A sore right knee has sidelined Clippers’ point guard Patrick Beverley, head coach Doc Rivers told reporters, including Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Despite initial concern, Rivers said the team expects their catalyst to miss about one week.  “It’s the same thing that kept him out of the second half of camp,” Rivers said. “But he’ll be fine, that’s the good news. We were worried that it could be worse and it’s not. But he’s still probably going to miss a week of games. So, it’s just another guy out.”

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Deng, Looney, Kings

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were the Clippers‘ leaders for years, but the two stars weren’t always on the same page, and Austin Rivers acknowledges that the dynamic between the two players was “weird,” as Lee Jenkins of SI.com relays.

“I don’t know why. It was just strange,” Rivers said. “No one knew who the leader was, and if you had something to say, it would turn into an argument. I think people were sometimes scared to say something to Blake, because you didn’t know how he’d react. [Now] he’s a whole different person, more approachable, and I think it’s because we’ve embraced him. We know who our leader is. We’re all-in with Blake Griffin.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific division:

  • While the Lakers and Luol Deng are both open to getting a trade or buyout done, actually completing a deal will be difficult, according to Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. The trade market for Deng is “non-existent,” a source tells Oram, and unless the Lakers can convince the veteran forward to give back a significant chunk of money, there’s little incentive for the team to release him.
  • After having his 2018/19 option declined by the Warriors, Kevon Looney admits that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, and says he isn’t stressed about it. Logan Murdock of The Bay Area News Group has the details, along with the quotes from Looney.
  • The Kings have multiple young prospects capable of playing center, including starter Willie Cauley-Stein, but the team has performed well when veteran Zach Randolph shifts to the five. As Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, it will be interesting to see whether Sacramento continues to focus on developing their youngsters and only uses Randolph as an “emergency” option at the center, or if he’ll start to play more consistent minutes at the five.

Clippers Recall Brice Johnson From G League

  • The Clippers recalled second-year power forward Brice Johnson from the G League on Sunday, per the team. Johnson helped lead the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario to a Saturday win, piling up 25 points and 11 boards.

Clippers Recall Jawun Evans From G League

  • The Clippers recalled rookie guard Jawun Evans from the G League on Saturday, per the team. The 2017 second-rounder struggled in his debut with the Agua Caliente Clippers on Friday night, scoring just four points on 2-of-11 shooting.

Doc Rivers Is Skeptical Of Analytics

  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is not a fan of the NBA’s advanced statistics, most notably pace, Elliot Teaford of The Orange County Register writes. There seems to be a discrepancy in Rivers’ interpretation of pace (having players move efficiently on the court) versus the NBA’s definition (number of possessions per game).

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/3/17

Here are the G League moves from around the Association today:

10:53pm:

8:03pm:

  • The Nets have assigned guard Isaiah Whitehead to the Long Island Nets, an official press release reports. The big man is expected to play with the G League affiliate in their season opener on Saturday.
  • The Grizzlies recalled sophomore Deyonta Davis from the Memphis Hustle, the team’s Twitter account said. The center had been assigned to the G League affiliate on Thursday.
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