Sixers Rumors

Cavaliers Talking To Luke Babbitt, Trevor Booker

The Cavaliers have reached out to free agents Luke Babbitt and Trevor Booker as they try to fill three open roster spots, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Cleveland saw its salary commitments for 2018/19 take a huge dive when LeBron James signed with the Lakers, but the Cavs still have a payroll of about $109.5MM. That’s over the $101.9MM salary cap, but about $20MM below the tax apron with the full mid-level exception ($8.6MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.3MM) still available.

Babbitt, 29, split last season between the Hawks and Heat. A career 40% shooter from 3-point range, Babbitt’s production fell after a February trade to Miami and he was barely used in the playoffs. Several European teams have expressed interest in signing him if he doesn’t land another NBA contract.

Booker, 30, spent parts of last season with the Nets, Sixers and Pacers. A rugged power forward, Booker had his best season in 2016/17, when he averaged 10.8 PPG and 8.0 RPG for Brooklyn.

No deal is considered imminent with either player, Vardon adds.

One of the Cavaliers’ open roster spots may be reserved for Rodney Hood, who had trouble adjusting to his new role after coming to Cleveland at the trade deadline but is still a valued prospect. He remains part of the plan for the future, a team source told Vardon. Hood is a restricted free agent, and the Cavs can match any offer he receives.

The source adds that Cleveland is “exploring all options” with its resources, including a $5.8MM trade exception from last summer’s Kyrie Irving deal that will expire August 22.

In addition, Vardon relays that there’s nothing new on a rumored trade that would send Kyle Korver to Philadelphia in exchange for Jerryd Bayless. The Cavs may see if they can get more for the 37-year-old marksman before dealing with the Sixers.

Sixers Trade Richaun Holmes To Suns

7:09pm: It’s official, according to a Sixers press release.

11:29am: The Suns are sending $1MM to Philadelphia in the trade, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

10:55am: The Sixers have agreed to a trade with the Suns that will send Richaun Holmes to Phoenix, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Philadelphia will receive cash considerations in return for Holmes, Charania adds (via Twitter).

Holmes, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, has been a rotation player for the Sixers for the last three seasons. However, after averaging 20.9 minutes per contest and starting 17 games in 2016/17, the 24-year-old had his role cut back last season, as he played 15.5 MPG and started just two of his 48 games.

With Joel Embiid, Amir Johnson, and Mike Muscala in the mix at center for the Sixers in 2018/19, Holmes was unlikely to play a major role for the team. Instead, he’ll join a prospect-heavy Suns frontcourt that features Deandre Ayton, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and veteran Tyson Chandler.

While the Suns’ acquisition of Holmes isn’t exactly a blockbuster, it has some interesting – albeit minor – cap ramifications. Phoenix wouldn’t have had the cap room to acquire Holmes without sending out any salary if not for the Jared Dudley/Darrell Arthur swap the club agreed to earlier today. Now, Holmes can slot into the team’s remaining cap space and its 15th roster spot.

As for the 76ers, there were reports in the wake of their three-team trade agreement on Thursday that the deal wouldn’t be completed right away because Philadelphia was working on another move. A Kyle Korver/Jerryd Bayless trade rumor hinted that the Sixers were looking to open up a little extra cap room themselves — they’ll do just that by moving Holmes’ $1.6MM salary, and now have the space to sign draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden to a four-year contract using cap room.

Without cap space, the Sixers wouldn’t have been able to offer Bolden – who will replace Holmes in the frontcourt – more than two years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers, Jonah Bolden Agree To Four-Year Deal

The Sixers have reached a contract agreement with 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden, and will sign him to a four-year, $7MM deal, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. The final two years of Bolden’s contract will be non-guaranteed, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Before finalizing an agreement with Bolden, the 76ers reached a deal to trade Richaun Holmes to the Suns, clearing a path for Bolden in more ways than one.

Bolden will replace Holmes as the 15th man on Philadelphia’s roster, and the trade of Holmes opened up the cap room necessary for the Sixers to complete Bolden’s signing. Without that cap space, the team could only have offered up to two years using either the room exception or the minimum salary exception.

The 36th overall pick in 2017, Bolden remained overseas for one more year, spending the 2017/18 campaign with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. He averaged 6.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 29 EuroLeague games, along with 7.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 26 Israeli League contests.

Despite playing international ball last year as a draft-and-stash prospect, Bolden has long been expected to join the Sixers for the 2018/19 season. Even after the dismissal of president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, who drafted Bolden, the 22-year-old said earlier this month that he planned on joining the NBA club.

Sixers, Cavs Talk Kyle Korver-Jerryd Bayless Swap

JULY 20: While a trade involving Bayless and Korver is possible, it’s “far from certain,” a league source tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

JULY 19: The Sixers and Cavaliers have had discussions about a Jerryd BaylessKyle Korver swap, sources tell Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Philadelphia is involved in the Carmelo AnthonyDennis Schroderthree-way salary dump along with the Thunder and Hawks, though the move is on hold at the moment with the Sixers reportedly looking to make another move before finalizing the transaction. The organization has very little cap room left and the acquisition of Mike Muscala, the big man who would join Philly in the proposed three-team deal, would put them over the salary cap.

Korver will take home a salary of $7.56MM this upcoming season and he has $7.5MM on his contract for the 2019/20 campaign, though his salary then is non-guaranteed. Bayless will make approximately $8.56MM this season during the final year of his contract.

Korver began his NBA career with the Sixers, playing 337 games with the franchise across parts of five seasons. With LeBron James no longer with Cleveland, the 37-year-old may welcome a deal to a more competitive team.

The former second-round pick was a mainstay in the Cavs’ rotation during the regular season, although his participation during the playoffs was spotty, as the team had to sit him because of his inability to defend the perimeter. Bayless, who has dealt with various injuries since coming to the Sixers, hasn’t really carved out a nitch in Philadelphia. If the Sixers and Cavs make the swap, I’d speculate that an additional asset, such as a second-round pick or cash, will head Cleveland’s way as well.

Korver sits fourth all-time with 2213 shots made from behind the arc. This past season, he took over five threes per game, making 43.6% of his attempts.

Anthony/Schroder Trade May Not Be Completed Right Away

The three-team trade that will send Carmelo Anthony to the Hawks (briefly), Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, and Mike Muscala to the Sixers may not be officially completed for several days, according to reports from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter links).

As Vivlamore notes, the Hawks will almost certainly waive Antonius Cleveland and his non-guaranteed salary in order to create the cap room necessary to make the deal work, but that shouldn’t hold things up much. Pompey hears from one source that the delay may be the result of the 76ers working on another move.

While it’s not clear what that Sixers move might be, the club does have a tiny sliver of cap room still available. It’s not enough space to be useful at this point, but perhaps Philadelphia wants to explore all its options before officially going over the cap and closing certain doors.

Whether the trade is ultimately finalized today, this weekend, or next week sometime, Anthony looks like a strong bet to eventually land in Houston once he’s acquired and then waived by Atlanta. Anthony has reportedly considered both the Rockets and Heat, but Houston has been viewed as the strong frontrunner for the last week or two.

David Aldridge of TNT provides more evidence in favor of Anthony joining up with James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston, citing a source who says that Carmelo has been telling people for over a week that he’ll wind up with the Rockets (Twitter link).

When the deal becomes official, the Hawks will use up their remaining cap room, leaving the Kings as the only NBA team with any meaningful space available. Sacramento still has more than $20MM in open cap room.

Spurs Notes: Leonard, Trade Details, Green

In his breakdown of this week’s mega-deal that sent Kawhi Leonard to Toronto and DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, ESPN’s Zach Lowe relays several intriguing Spurs-related tidbits on the situation. According to Lowe, San Antonio “never showed interest” in Leonard offers that were heavy on draft picks and unproven young players. Even in talks with the Sixers, it’s not clear if Markelle Fultz would have piqued the Spurs’ interest — San Antonio wanted one of Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid in any deal with Philadelphia, says Lowe.

Lowe also notes (via Twitter) that the league memo announcing the Leonard trade between the Raptors and Spurs includes one more interesting item: San Antonio is sending $5MM in cash to Toronto as part of the swap. As Lowe observes, that money is likely meant to help make up for the fact that Leonard’s trade kicker will increase the Raps’ projected tax bill for 2018/19, as we detailed on Wednesday.

Here’s more from Lowe, along with a few more Spurs notes:

  • The Spurs had dangled Danny Green in previous trade discussions over the past year, and weren’t seeking a big return for him, sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, San Antonio lowered its asking price for Leonard in the days leading up to the club’s agreement with Toronto. However, it was still difficult for other teams to put together an appealing package, since the Spurs’ top priority was acquiring an established veteran scorer who was under contract for multiple seasons.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spoke to reporters on Wednesday about the Leonard trade, explaining the team’s thinking and making an effort to turn the page on the Kawhi drama. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com has the story, along with the quotes from Popovich, who had nothing but good things to say about Leonard. “Kawhi was a great teammate the whole way through,” Popovich said. “He did his work, and he was no problem for anybody. Talking heads out there have to have a story. If I was a talking head, maybe I am, I would have stories, too. All the stories that denigrated him in that regard, that was unfortunate and inaccurate.”
  • In an interesting piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks takes an in-depth look at why the Raptors matched up best with what the Spurs were looking for and won the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes over teams like the Celtics, Sixers, and Lakers, who approached Leonard trade talks more conservatively.

Anthony To Hawks, Schroder To Thunder In Three-Team Trade

The Thunder and Hawks have agreed to a trade that will send Carmelo Anthony and a protected 2022 first-round pick to Atlanta, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, Oklahoma City will receive Dennis Schroder in the deal. Royce Young of ESPN adds (via Twitter) that the 2022 first-rounder will have 1-14 protection, and will turn into two second-rounders if it doesn’t convey in ’22.

The Sixers will also be involved in the trade, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who tweets that Philadelphia will acquire Mike Muscala from Atlanta and will send Justin Anderson to the Hawks. The 76ers will also deal Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to Oklahoma City, Vivlamore adds (via Twitter).

Upon acquiring him, the Hawks will waive Anthony, Wojnarowski adds. That will free up the veteran forward to join whatever a new team when he clears waivers, and the Rockets remain the strong frontrunners to land him.

We heard rumblings earlier this week about discussions between the Hawks and Thunder involving Anthony, Schroder, and Muscala, so it seems those two teams were able to find common ground, with the Sixers entering the mix as well. Here’s how the deal looks for each of the three teams involved:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

It has been nearly two weeks since word broke that the Thunder intended to part ways with Anthony, but the team resisted waiving him outright. Doing so would have reduced his $27.93MM cap charge to just $9.31MM, significantly reducing the club’s luxury-tax bill for 2018/19, but it would have added dead-money cap hits worth $9.31MM for the next two years as well.

By trading Anthony and a future protected pick and taking back Schroder and Luwawu-Cabarrot, the Thunder will reduce their 2018/19 team salary and projected tax bill substantially while also adding a productive point guard in Schroder. The 24-year-old, who averaged 19.4 PPG and 6.2 APG last season, figures to assume a role similar to the one Reggie Jackson previously had in Oklahoma City.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Thunder GM Sam Presti and coach Billy Donovan were granted permission to speak to Schroder before the deal was agreed upon, and both Presti and Donovan are “enthusiastic” about the fit. Oklahoma City had been seeking more speed and another ball-handler, Woj notes.

Still, there’s a reason Schroder was available. There are on-court questions about his shooting and defense, and off-court concerns about his character and his legal issues. Schroder was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge last September, with Georgia officials recommending in March that he be prosecuted for felony aggravated battery. He’ll face discipline from his team and/or the league when that case is resolved, but the Thunder appear to be banking him avoiding a more serious sentence.

As for the specific tax figures, by my count, the Thunder will now have a team salary of about $148.74MM with a projected tax bill just over $88.75MM. Prior to the deal, those numbers sat at about $160.97MM and $157.75MM, respectively. While Oklahoma City’s tax outlook for 2018/19 has improved, the Thunder will have to be wary about increased penalties in future seasons after adding Schroder’s $15.5MM annual salary through 2020/21. They’ll likely deal with that when the time comes though.

It’s worth noting that a lengthy suspension without pay for Schroder could further reduce the Thunder’s team salary and tax hit in 2018/19. A suspension would also reduce the likelihood of the point guard earning the $2MM in unlikely incentives included in his contract, though not all of those bonuses are tied to individual performance, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

Finally, the Thunder will create a traded player exception worth $10,883,189 in the deal. They’ll have a year to use it.

Atlanta Hawks:

The Hawks had been determined to move Schroder for much of the offseason, and drafting Trae Young and acquiring Jeremy Lin made Atlanta’s former starting point guard even more expendable. Despite his solid production, Schroder had a slew of on- and off-court question marks, as detailed above, and he was drafted and extended by Atlanta’s previous front office — general manager Travis Schlenk never seemed particularly attached to him.

By moving Schroder ($15.5MM) and Muscala ($5MM) for Anthony ($27.93MM) and Anderson ($2.52MM), the Hawks take advantage of their remaining cap room — they’re able to take back significantly more salary than they sent out as a result of that space.

Atlanta won’t get any real immediate help out of the deal, but the club will create future cap flexibility by clearing Schroder’s three remaining years from its books — both Anthony and Anderson are on expiring deals, and Carmelo will be waived shortly. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), he’ll get his full $27.93MM salary from the Hawks. That was certainly agreed upon prior to the completion of the deal, since Anthony had a no-trade clause and could’ve vetoed the move if he thought Atlanta would ask him to give back money in a buyout.

The Hawks will also acquire a 2022 first-round pick, which they’ll receive as long as Oklahoma City is a playoff team in ’22 — otherwise, it will become two second-rounders. The Stepien rule, which prevents teams from trading consecutive future first-rounders, meant that the Thunder would have had a hard time dealing an earlier first-round pick, since they’d already sent their top-20 protected 2020 first-rounder to Orlando.

Philadelphia 76ers:

While the Sixers’ involvement in this deal may seem extraneous, it’s a nice bit of business for Philadelphia. In Muscala, the team will acquire a big man capable of knocking down outside shots — he’s a career 37.8% three-point shooter and made a career-best 1.2 threes per game in 2017/18.

The Sixers thought they’d acquired a player who fit that role earlier in the offseason when they reached an agreement to sign Nemanja Bjelica, but Bjelica backed out of his deal with the team, leaving Philadelphia seeking a replacement. Muscala is a solid fallback plan, and is on an expiring contract, meaning he won’t compromise the team’s future cap flexibility.

In order to acquire Muscala, the Sixers only had to surrender Anderson and Luwawu-Cabarrot, a pair of players who seemed unlikely to have regular rotation roles for the team in 2018/19. The move will also help the 76ers clear out a roster logjam, as the team had 16 players under contract and was still believed to be considering bringing over draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden. Following the deal, the Sixers are back down to 15 players on NBA contracts, not including Bolden or 2018 second-rounder Shake Milton.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Nemanja Bjelica

Earlier today, we relayed the somewhat surprising news that despite agreeing on a one-year, $4.449MM deal with the Sixers earlier this month, free agent Nemanja Bjelica will not sign a contract with Philadelphia or any other NBA team this summer, opting instead to return to Europe for the 2018/19 season.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic has more details on why Bjelica chose to return to Europe, writing that the decision ultimately came down to what the 30-year-old Serbian forward believes is in the best interest of his family.

“I’m thankful for Philly for the opportunity, but I will always do what is the best for my family,” Bjelica said. “It’s not about coach or the Philly organization. Brett Brown, he’s a great guy and a great coach. The most important thing for me is family and some kind of stability.”

Bjelica and his wife have a school-age daughter and an infant son, and Bjelica did not want to uproot his family from their home in Minneapolis for the past three seasons to live in Philadelphia for the next eight months before potentially having to move again if he wasn’t able to re-sign with Sixers next summer.

It’s certainly possible, based on Krawczynski’s story, that Bjelica would have been willing and open to remain stateside if he were given a multi-year deal, but unfortunately, the free agent market this summer was largely limited to one-year contracts, with teams determined to keep as much cap flexibility as possible for next summer, when players like Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Kyrie Irving are all potentially free agents.

Bjelica, who was named the EuroLeague MVP in 2015, returns to Europe with NBA career averages of 6.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game in 192 contests.

Checking In On 2018’s Unsigned Draft Picks

The 2018 NBA draft took place less than a month ago, but over three quarters over the players selected on the night of June 22 have already signed their first NBA contracts. That includes each of the 30 players picked in the first round, all of whom are now under contract.

The following players have not yet signed contracts with their new NBA teams:

  1. Detroit Pistons: Khyri Thomas, SG (Creighton)
  2. Orlando Magic: Justin Jackson, F (Maryland)
  3. Washington Wizards: Issuf Sanon, G (Olimpija Ljubljana)
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Hamidou Diallo, SG (Kentucky)
  5. Houston Rockets: De’Anthony Melton, G (USC)
  6. San Antonio Spurs: Chimezie Metu, F/C (USC)
  7. New Orleans Pelicans: Tony Carr, PG (Penn State)
  8. Oklahoma City Thunder: Devon Hall, SG (Virginia)
  9. Philadelphia 76ers: Shake Milton, G (SMU)
  10. Charlotte Hornets: Arnoldas Kulboka, SF (Capo D’Orlando)
  11. Dallas Mavericks: Ray Spalding, PF (Louisville)
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Hervey, SF (Texas-Arlington)
  13. Denver Nuggets: Thomas Welsh, C (UCLA)

Sanon, Carr, and Kulboka will reportedly spend the 2018/19 season overseas, so we can safely remove their names from this list — they won’t be signing NBA contracts this offseason. Welsh, meanwhile, has reportedly agreed to terms on a two-way contract with Denver, though it’s not yet official.

That leaves just nine players from 2018’s draft class who we should still expect to sign at some point. Of those nine players, the higher picks such as Thomas (Pistons), Jackson (Magic), Diallo (Thunder), and Melton (Rockets) are good bets to sign multiyear NBA contracts. Even though some of those teams have luxury-tax concerns, they’ll have to fill out their rosters somehow, and a rookie contract at or near the minimum is the best way to avoid significantly increasing their potential tax penalties.

The players selected in the 50s may be candidates for two-way deals. A year ago, no player selected between Nos. 49-60 received a standard NBA contract, with all of those players signing two-way contracts, agreeing to straight G League contracts, or heading overseas to join an international team.

[RELATED: 2018/19 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

As such, players like Hall (Thunder), Milton (Sixers), Spalding (Mavericks), and Hervey (Thunder) should be considered two-way options. For now though, Dallas doesn’t have a two-way slot open, and Oklahoma City only has one, so it remains to be seen what the future holds for these late second-rounders. We should find out in the coming weeks.

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs‘ asking price for Kawhi Leonard remains high, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne. In an article packed with Leonard-related tidbits, the ESPN duo suggests that – based on conversations with opposing teams – San Antonio appears to be seeking an All-Star caliber player, high-potential young players, and draft picks in exchange for Kawhi.

It’s not clear if the Spurs will be able to land that sort of return, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, who note that a three-way bidding war involving the Lakers, Celtics, and Sixers never really materialized. The Lakers are being patience and conveying confidence that Leonard will sign with them in 2019. As for the Celtics and Sixers, they’ve held their top players out of trade discussions and have offered pick-heavy packages, which haven’t enticed the Spurs.

Given the Spurs’ reported demands, a Raptors offer built around one of their All-Star guards (likely DeMar DeRozan), one or two of their young players, and draft picks could be the most logical package for San Antonio.

In an appearance on Zach Lowe’s ESPN podcast, Brian Windhorst said he thinks the Raptors are in the “driver’s seat” in the Leonard sweepstakes, since the Lakers and Sixers haven’t been aggressive in their pursuit of the star forward. Lowe didn’t go so far as to call the Raptors the favorites, but he cautioned not to underestimate the club or to view the rumors linking Leonard to Toronto as mere speculation.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on the NBA’s most noteworthy trade candidate:

  • In addition to the four teams noted above, the Clippers, Nuggets, Suns, Trail Blazers, and Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Leonard, league sources tell Wojnarowski and Shelburne. However, it’s unlikely that any of those teams has made a monster offer, given concerns that Kawhi would be a one-year rental. Portland hasn’t discussed Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum, for instance, per ESPN.
  • Leonard is “seriously considering” participating in Team USA’s mini-camp next week, league sources tell Wojnarowski and Shelburne. There’s a sense that the All-Star wants to show the Spurs‘ prospective trade partners that he’s healthy, but there may be a concern within Leonard’s camp that participating in the mini-camp would give San Antonio more leverage to push him to report to camp in the fall.
  • While there have been whispers that Leonard has no intention of showing up at the Spurs‘ facility if he’s not traded, rival teams generally view that as an “empty threat,” since they’re skeptical he’s willing to risk forfeiting his $20MM salary for 2018/19, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne,
  • The Spurs haven’t allowed potential trade partners to talk directly with Leonard or his camp, or to see his medical information, per ESPN’s report. It’s unlikely that stance would change unless the Spurs agree to a trade in principle with a team, Woj and Shelburne add.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders addressed the Leonard situation in his latest article, suggesting that the start of training camp could be a key deadline to keep an eye on. One source close to Leonard also tells Kyler that the forward would ideally like to be the “focal point” of a team going forward. It’s not clear how that alleged desire to be a team’s focal point will impact Leonard’s preference to join the Lakers now that LeBron James is in L.A., Kyler writes.