Los Angeles Clippers

Willie Reed's Arraignment Hearing Set

NBA Teams That Can’t Offer More Than The Minimum

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.

For a full breakdown of how teams have used their mid-level, room, and bi-annual exceptions for the 2017/18 league year, be sure to check out our MLE tracker and BAE tracker.

Andre Iguodala Nearly Signed With Rockets In Free Agency

An eventful series of free agent meetings in July had Andre Iguodala on the verge of signing with the Rockets before the Warriors swooped in and met his demands at the last minute, Chris Haynes writes in a fascinating piece for ESPN.com.

Back on July 1, we heard that Iguodala was expected to circle back to Golden State after getting an offer he liked from Houston, but Haynes goes into far more detail in describing the process that got Iguodala to that point. Here are a few highlights from the ESPN report:

  • As free agency opened, the Warriors increased their initial offer for Iguodala to $42MM over three years, with a partial guarantee in year three, according to Haynes. However, the swingman wasn’t satisfied with Golden State’s pitch and opted to take meetings with several suitors rather than accepting the Dubs’ offer.
  • The Lakers were the first team to speak with Iguodala, but as was the case throughout free agency, L.A. only offered one year, aiming to preserve 2018 cap room. The Lakers’ one-year offer was worth $20MM, per Haynes.
  • Iguodala met with the Spurs next, and San Antonio offered a fully guaranteed four-year deal. The Spurs only had their mid-level exception to offer, meaning they couldn’t offer more than about $36MM, but Iguodala – who likes being involved in the tech world – was intrigued by the team’s proximity to Austin.
  • The Kings met with Iguodala next and, armed with about $43MM in cap room, essentially asked him to name his price — within reason. If Iguodala named a price that Sacramento was willing to match, the Kings wanted a commitment on the spot, according to Haynes. Not wanting to commit right away, the 33-year-old held off on specifics, but recognized that Sacramento likely had the means to offer him the most money.
  • The Rockets were the next team to make a pitch to Iguodala, and one source within his camp called it “the best recruiting presentation of all time,” per Haynes. Houston was limited to its mid-level exception, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey began proposing “lucrative sign-and-trade scenarios like a mad scientist” in an effort to meet Iguodala’s demands. Following the meeting with the Rockets, Iguodala cancelled his remaining meetings, including sit-downs with the Sixers, Clippers, Timberwolves, and Jazz, and there was “a strong sentiment that he was Houston-bound.”
  • Iguodala decided to meet one last time with the Warriors, though he expected to use the meeting as an opportunity to say goodbye, sources tell Haynes. Golden State offered a fully guaranteed three-year, $45MM deal, but Iguodala wasn’t budging from his asking price of $16MM per year, and intended to sign with the Rockets if Golden State didn’t meet that demand.
  • Shortly after Iguodala’s meeting with the Warriors ended, GM Bob Myers went to team owner Joe Lacob to ask for a little more money, and received approval to offer $48MM over three years, which was enough to bring Iguodala back into the fold.

Los Angeles Notes: Bogut, Lakers, Gallinari

After reaching an agreement on Monday to sign Andrew Bogut, the Lakers are starting to create a logjam at the center position, where Bogut figures to join youngsters Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant as backups to Brook Lopez. However, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register suggests there are at least a couple reasons why it make sense for the club to add Bogut to complement Lopez.

As Oram explains, Lopez is more of an offensive-minded player, so Bogut will add more rim protecting and rebounding to the roster. Oram also suggests that Bogut will provide insurance against Lopez’s health. The former Net has dealt with some back issues this summer and may miss part of the preseason as a result.

Of course, while Lopez was once considered injury-prone, he has been healthy enough to appear in at least 72 games in each of the last three seasons, while Bogut has been the one battling more frequent and more recent injury issues. We’ll have to wait to see whether either veteran center can stay on the court for the entire 2017/18 season.

Here’s more from out of Los Angeles:

  • In his breakdown of the Bogut deal, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) acknowledges that the fit with the Lakers is somewhat “perplexing.” Pelton doesn’t want to see Zubac or Bryant denied any opportunities to earn playing time, since they’re better bets than Bogut to stick with the Lakers beyond 2017/18.
  • The Lakers announced a handful of basketball operations hires and promotions this week, confirming the moves in a press release. Among the most notable promotions was Jordan Wilkes being named the club’s director of player development.
  • New Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is just “days away” from returning from the hand injury he suffered in July, and should be ready to go for training camp next week, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

Poll: Los Angeles Clippers’ 2017/18 Win Total

The summer of 2017 represented the end of an era for the Clippers, who sent nine-time All-Star Chris Paul to Houston in a blockbuster trade that helped replenish their depth, but cost them a superstar. While the Clips did well to extract several pieces of value for Paul, who could have joined the Rockets as a free agent, the club will face a challenge as it enters the coming season without its longtime starting point guard.

With Paul, J.J. Redick, and Raymond Felton all gone, the Clippers’ new-look backcourt will be fortified by Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams – two players acquired in the CP3 trade – and international import Milos Teodosic, who will get his first taste of NBA action after years of starring in Euroleague play.

Meanwhile, the frontcourt no longer features Luc Mbah a Moute, Marreese Speights, Paul Pierce, or Brandon Bass, but Danilo Gallinari was a big acquisition for the Clippers, Willie Reed should provide solid minutes off the bench, and the trade with the Rockets also provided a couple interesting young forwards in Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. Of course, Blake Griffin – locked up to a new long-term contract – and DeAndre Jordan are still the mainstays up front.

The Clippers look deeper and more balanced than they have in recent years, but losing Paul will hurt. The club has played a certain style with CP3 leading the way for years, so it will be interesting to see what adjustments Doc Rivers makes with his new group. It also remains to be seen how Gallinari will acclimate to his new team — he looks like a natural stretch four, but he’ll likely end up spending more time at the three if he plays frequently alongside Griffin and Jordan.

The Clippers have won between 51 and 57 games in each of the last five seasons, but oddsmakers aren’t as enthusiastic about the new-look roster, with offshore betting site Bovada putting the team’s over/under for 2017/18 at 43.5 wins.

What do you think? Will the post-Paul era result in some struggles for the Clippers in a tough Western Conference? Or does the team still have enough talent to win 44 or more games this year? Vote below in our poll and then jump into the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Previous over/under voting results:

Change Of Pace Could Be Good Thing For Clippers

  • The Clippers had a busy offseason this summer and shaking things up could serve them well in the long run, Shaun Powell of NBA.com implies. Doc Rivers has been relieved of his roster management responsibilities and will be able to focus on coaching with Blake Griffin now the lone focal point of his offense.

Clippers Sign C.J. Williams To Camp Deal

SEPTEMBER 14: The Clippers have officially signed Williams, according to RealGM’s log of NBA transactions.

SEPTEMBER 5: Free agent shooting guard C.J. Williams has signed a training camp deal with the Clippers, according to Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). The team has yet to officially announce the signing, but if and when L.A. completes its reported agreements with Williams and LaDontae Henton, the club’s 20-man offseason roster will be full.

Williams, 27, signed a training camp deal with the Mavericks a year ago, and while he didn’t earn a spot on Dallas’ regular season roster, he did end up joining the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ G League affiliate. The N.C. State alum appeared in 50 games for the Legends, averaging 12.8 PPG and 4.1 RPG with a shooting line of .441/.386/.789.

More recently, Williams was part of the Team USA squad that brought home gold at last week’s AmeriCup. In five games in that tournament, the 6’5″ guard averaged 8.8 PPG, making 51.4% of his shots from the floor.

The Clippers currently have 14 players on fully guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, with Marshall Plumlee, DeAndre Liggins, and Tyrone Wallace among the non-guaranteed players vying for a roster spot, so Williams will have an uphill battle to make the 15-man roster. He may end up back in the G League for the ’17/18 season.

15 Two-Way Contract Slots Remain Open

With NBA training camps just a couple weeks away, most teams are putting the finishing touches on their respective rosters. In addition to having secured at least a dozen players on guaranteed contracts and perhaps a handful of camp invitees, each NBA club has also signed at least one player to a two-way contract.

As we explain in depth in our FAQ, two-way contracts – a new concept under the league’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement – allow NBA teams to carry two extra players in addition to the 15 on their regular season roster. These players spend most of their time with the club’s G League affiliate, but are eligible to join the NBA roster for up to 45 days per season, and remain under team control — they can’t be poached by rival franchises.

Teams have been signing players to two-way contracts since July, so we’re starting to get a better idea of what players on those deals will look like — some are late second-round draft picks; some are undrafted rookies; others are G League or international veterans, or former NBA players looking to work their way back into the league.

Every NBA club has signed at least one player to a two-way deal, but only half of those 30 clubs have filled both spots, meaning that there are still 15 two-way openings around the league. With the help of our two-way tracker, here’s a breakdown of the teams that still have an open two-way slot:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Miami Heat
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Portland Trail Blazers

While the Suns and Jazz technically could be included on this list, they’ve reportedly reached agreements – with Alec Peters and Nate Wolters, respectively – to fill their second two-way slots, so unless those deals unexpectedly fall through, they won’t have any openings.

Although some of these two-way openings figure to be filled in advance of training camp, many of the clubs listed above have signed camp invitees to Exhibit 10 contracts, which can later be converted into two-way deals. So rather than signing someone new and waiving a camp invitee, a handful of teams may simply convert an Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way contract before the regular season begins.

Kyler: Could Doc Rivers Land On Hot Seat?

In the wake of that performance, Warney spoke to HoopsHype and expressed hope that he’ll get a chance to make his NBA debut this season, as Bryan Kalbrosky details. While there has been no word yet of a contract agreement for Warney, he seems like a good bet to land a training camp deal or a two-way contract. In the days since Team USA’s win, his teammates Larry Drew II and C.J. Williams have landed camp deals with the Heat and Clippers respectively, so we’ll see if Warney is next.

  • In a piece for Basketball Insiders, Steve Kyler examines some head coaches around the NBA who may find themselves on the hot seat if their teams struggle out of the gate in 2017/18. Kyler identifies Dwane Casey (Raptors), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Steve Clifford (Hornets), Doc Rivers (Clippers), and Brett Brown (Sixers) as coaches who fit that bill.

Dwyane Wade To Consider Miami, L.A. If Bought Out?

Dwyane Wade remains under contract with the Bulls for 2017/18 and appears virtually certain to open the year with the club, but he’s also considered a strong bet to be bought out at some point during the season. If and when that happens, Miami and Los Angeles are among Wade’s possible landing spots, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

According to Jackson, a Wade associate has been telling people that Miami and L.A. would appeal to the veteran guard. The Herald scribe adds that this same source was the first to inform him of trouble in contract negotiations between Wade and the Heat before the former Finals MVP left Miami as a free agent.

A return to the Heat certainly wouldn’t be out of left field for Wade — despite a breakdown in contract talks last summer, he still has a good relationship with Udonis Haslem and others within the organization. Wade’s children are also currently enrolled at a South Florida school, Jackson notes, citing WINZ-940’s Andy Slater.

As for Los Angeles, Jackson doesn’t specify whether Wade would have his eye on the Clippers or Lakers, but the Clips figure to be closer to contention this year, even without Chris Paul. The Lakers may become a more viable option for Wade in future seasons, particularly if the team could land LeBron James or another marquee free agent.

In addition to Miami and Los Angeles, Cleveland is considered a very real possibility for Wade, and the Cavaliers may still be the favorite if and when the Bulls buy him out. However, as Jackson’s report suggests, the Cavs won’t be the only team in the mix.

So far, Wade and the Bulls reportedly haven’t engaged in discussions about a buyout, though that’s expected to change in the coming months.

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