Trail Blazers Rumors

14 NBA Teams Have Open 20-Man Roster Spots

With NBA training camps right around the corner, several more teams filled their 20-man offseason rosters this week. The Hornets did so on Monday, with the Mavericks, Pistons, Raptors, and Hawks following suit over the next few days. Those clubs join a list of 16 total teams that don’t have any openings on their offseason rosters.

Of course, every NBA team with a full 20-man roster is carrying multiple players who have non-guaranteed contracts, so it’s not as if any of them would be hamstrung if they really want to sign another player. But for now at least, it appears as if those 16 teams have their 20-man squads set for when camps get underway at the end of the month.

That leaves 14 clubs that still have open roster spots, as our tracker shows. Here’s a breakdown of those teams, along with my speculation on whether we can expect them to make moves within the next week or two:

19 players under contract:

  • Golden State Warriors
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Washington Wizards

None of these teams are carrying 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so it’s possible they’ll still add a veteran player who could earn a regular season roster spot. But it’s more likely that they’ll each sign another young player who could end up in the G League, since all four teams have their own NBAGL affiliates. The Wizards, who need to add some point guard depth, are said to be eyeing Chris Chiozza for their final spot.

18 players under contract:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Houston Rockets
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Orlando Magic
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers

While it’s not official yet, the Celtics essentially have a full roster. Kaiser Gates and Yante Maten have both reportedly agreed to Exhibit 10 contracts with the Celtics, but have yet to finalize them. Once they’re under contract, Boston’s 20-man roster will be full.

The Magic could also have a full 20-man roster if and when they complete their reported agreement with Isaac Humphries and sign first-round pick Chuma Okeke. The Pelicans, meanwhile, reportedly reached deals with undrafted rookies Jalen Adams, Javon Bess, and Aubrey Dawkins, but there’s only room for two of them on the roster, so unless New Orleans plans to waive a player, the team won’t be signing all three.

The Rockets are signing Thabo Sefolosha and would have room for one more camp invitee, while I’d expect the Suns to invite two more young players to camp with them.

The Nuggets and Trail Blazers don’t have their own G League affiliates, so they may not fill out their rosters unless they just need healthy bodies for camp.

17 players under contract:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Oklahoma City Thunder

All three of these teams have their own G League affiliates and should fill out their camp rosters with young players who can play for the Long Island Nets, Windy City Bulls, or OKC Blue. Of course, rumors continue to swirl that the Nets are eyeing Carmelo Anthony, but I wouldn’t expect the Bulls or Thunder to be seeking any veteran help.

Blazers Sign Troy Caupain, London Perrantes To Exhibit 10 Deals

The Trail Blazers have officially added two players to their training camp roster, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Troy Caupain and London Perrantes have signed Exhibit 10 contracts with the club.

Caupain, 23, has spent his first two professional seasons playing for the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s G League affiliate. The 6’4″ guard was on a G League contract in his rookie season and on a two-way deal with Orlando last season, appearing in four contests at the NBA level. In 99 career NBAGL games, he has recorded 16.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 5.4 APG on .457/.367/.812 shooting.

As for Perrantes, the 24-year-old point guard appeared in 14 games with the Cavaliers and 35 with the Canton Charge during the 2017/18 season while on a two-way contract with Cleveland. The former Virginia standout spent last season playing in France, first for Limoges CSP. and then for Cholet Basket.

Because they don’t have a G League affiliate of their own, the Blazers’ options for camp invitees are limited. While they can sign Exhibit 10 contracts, those players won’t be eligible to receive $50K bonuses if they spent the 2019/20 in the NBAGL. Still, Portland does have an open two-way contract slot available alongside Jaylen Hoard, so one of the club’s Exhibit 10 players could end up filling that opening.

With Caupain and Perrantes under contract, the Blazers now have 18 players on their offseason roster, including 14 on guaranteed contracts, Hoard on a two-way deal, and Moses Brown also on an Exhibit 10.

Trail Blazers Sign Moses Brown To Camp Deal

The Trail Blazers have signed undrafted UCLA center Moses Brown to a training camp contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The move increases Portland’s offseason roster count to 16 players.

Brown, who will turn 20 next month, declared for the 2019 draft as an early entrant after spending just one season playing for the Bruins. In his freshman year, Brown averaged 9.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG in 32 games (23.4 MPG).

While Brown isn’t much of a shooter – he didn’t attempt a three-pointer and made just 35.2% of his free throws – he flashed impressive rim-protecting upside, with 1.9 blocks per game. He caught on with the Rockets for Summer League play, but saw just two minutes of action for the team in Las Vegas.

The Trail Blazers typically don’t load up their offseason roster with many camp invitees on non-guaranteed contracts, since they don’t have a G League affiliate of their own to send those players once the regular season begins. Still, the club has one two-way contract slot available, so Brown could be a candidate to fill that opening alongside fellow rookie Jaylen Hoard.

Examining Why Zach Collins Should Adapt His Game This Season

Northwest Notes: Blazers, ‘Melo, Nuggets, Wolves, Jazz

Star point guard Damian Lillard attempted to recruit Carmelo Anthony to the Trail Blazers before the 10-time All-Star was traded to Oklahoma City in 2017 and then again before ‘Melo signed with Houston in 2018.

With Anthony once again on the lookout for a new team, Lillard has made peace with the fact that the veteran forward probably isn’t coming to Portland, as he said during an appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast (video link via ESPN). After Lillard detailed his previous recruiting efforts, he was asked if he’s “not putting [his] hand out again.”

“The team or me,” Lillard responded. “I’m like, ‘He ain’t coming here.’ He deserves to be in the league, but he ain’t coming here.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Free agent point guard Isaiah Taylor is working out for the Nuggets in Denver this week, league sources tell Harrison Wind of BSN Denver (Twitter link). After spending the 2017/18 season with Atlanta, Taylor was pushing for a spot on Cleveland’s roster last fall when he suffered a stress fracture in his leg and was subsequently waived. Now healthy, Taylor has also worked out for the Suns and Celtics, according to Wind.
  • The Timberwolves announced this week in a press release that Sam Newman-Beck will assume head coaching duties for their G League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves. Newman-Beck, who was an assistant for the Erie BayHawks last season, previously spent eight years (2010-18) in Minnesota as a coaching associate/video scouting director.
  • Bryan Bailey, who was previously on the Salt Lake City Stars’ staff in the G League, has been hired as an assistant by the Jazz, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones adds (via Twitter) that Johnnie Bryant and Alex Jensen will continue to be Utah’s lead assistants, with Lamar Skeeter, Zach Guthrie, and Vince Legarza sharing the third assistant role and rotating on the bench.

NBA Teams In The Tax For 2019/20

While 2019’s salary cap increase wasn’t as substantial as 2016’s, the jump from last season’s $101,869,000 cap to this year’s $109,140,000 represents the second-biggest increase in NBA history.

The luxury tax line increased along with the salary cap, getting a bump all the way from $123,733,000 to $132,627,000 and creating some breathing room for many cap-strapped teams around the league. Still, despite the extra financial flexibility in 2019/20, a handful of teams find themselves above that tax threshold as opening night nears.

Clubs have until the end of the 2019/20 regular season to adjust team salary in an effort to get back under the tax line, and at least one of the teams listed below – the Thunder – figures to push hard to get out of tax territory. But most of the other clubs on the current list of projected taxpayers will have little leverage if they try to dump salary, so it won’t be easy to cut costs.

With the help of salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights, here are the teams projected to be in the tax for ’19/20 as of September 1, 2019:

Portland Trail Blazers
Approximately $12.4MM over tax line

All of the big long-term contracts the Trail Blazers signed in 2016 – for Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless, and Meyers Leonard – are now off the team’s books. However, three of those deals had to be swapped for lucrative contracts belonging to Hassan Whiteside and Kent Bazemore. Throw in huge cap hits for stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, plus an eight-figure salary for Jusuf Nurkic, and Portland projects to have the NBA’s highest team salary for the 2019/20 season.

Since last season was the only recent instance the Blazers have paid the tax, they don’t have repeater concerns yet. As it stands, they have a projected tax bill just over $22MM.

Golden State Warriors
Approximately $5.9MM over tax line

The Warriors‘ team salary falls in between the tax line ($132,627,000) and the tax apron ($138,928,000), which acts as a hard cap for the team this season. Golden State is much closer to the latter than the former, with only about $407K in breathing room below the apron.

That figure assumes Alfonzo McKinnie – who has a non-guaranteed contract – holds the 14th roster spot. The Warriors don’t currently have enough room below the hard cap to start the season with a 15th man.

The Warriors project to have a tax bill in the $15MM range, since they’re subject to repeater penalties after finishing in tax territory in 2016, 2018, and 2019. If not for the repeater penalties, that projection would only be in the neighborhood of $9MM.

[RELATED: Recent History Of NBA Taxpaying Teams]

Miami Heat
Approximately $3.8MM over tax line

Like the Warriors, the Heat are in the territory between the tax line and the apron. Some bonuses push Miami’s total team salary to within approximately $855K of the hard cap (per ESPN’s Bobby Marks), but those incentives won’t count against the team’s cap or tax bill if they go unearned.

Our projection for Miami assumes the team will retain Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, who don’t yet have fully guaranteed salaries. With those two players and their other 12 guaranteed deals, the Heat would have a projected tax bill a little shy of $6MM.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Approximately $921K over tax line

The Thunder have managed to cut costs significantly so far this summer as they’ve retooled their roster, most notably sending Jerami Grant to Denver in a salary-dump deal for a first-round pick.

Oklahoma City briefly inched below the tax line, but only had 13 players under contract at the time. Signing a mandatory 14th (Justin Patton) pushed the club back into tax territory for the time being. The Thunder’s tax bill would be very modest (about $1.4MM) if they don’t add any more salary, but I expect the team to do all it can to make a cost-cutting trade to get out of the tax altogether.

Although only four teams project to be taxpayers for now, several other clubs – including the Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pistons, and Magic – are within spitting distance of that threshold.

A rebuilding team like Cleveland will likely be extra careful not to finish the season in the tax –particularly since the Cavs would be subject to repeater penalties. Would-be contenders like Denver may be more inclined to pay a small tax bill if it means acquiring one more impact player for a postseason run.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Remaining Offseason Questions: Northwest Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps a month away, many clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

We’re in the midst of looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on a key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2019/20 regular season begins.

After focusing on the Atlantic, Southeast, and Central last week, we’re moving onto the Northwest today. Let’s dive in…

Denver Nuggets
Will Bol Bol sign a two-way contract?

A year ago, Bol was considered a potential 2019 lottery pick. This spring, he fell all the way to No. 44 in the draft due to health concerns. Now it’s not even clear if he’ll sign a standard NBA contract for his rookie season. No player drafted as high as 44th overall has signed a two-way deal as his first NBA contract, but that’s said to be the Nuggets‘ preference for the young center.

From the Nuggets’ perspective, slotting Bol into their two-way opening makes sense. As cap expert Albert Nahmad recently explained, keeping Bol on a two-way contract would allow the club to avoid moving precariously close to the tax line (certain players’ unlikely incentives could subsequently push Denver’s team salary beyond that threshold). It would also allow the organization to bring him along slowly, developing him and making sure he’s healthy in the G League before he’s eventually promoted to the NBA roster.

Of course, it makes sense that Bol would be reluctant to embrace such an arrangement, and he has some leverage if he wants to force the issue. In order to retain his rights, the Nuggets must offer a one-year rookie contract, and Bol could accept it, putting him on track for restricted free agency next summer.

Still, it might be in his best interest to accept Denver’s proposal and trust that the team will do right by him. Monte Morris and Torrey Craig started on two-way deals before they were promoted to the Nuggets’ 15-man roster and became key parts of the club’s rotation. Bol could be next to follow that path.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Does Gersson Rosas have any major moves in the works?

When Rosas took over as the Timberwolves‘ new head of basketball operations this spring, there was plenty of chatter about how his Rockets roots and his apprenticeship under Daryl Morey would make him inclined to swing for the fences more than most first-time general managers.

We haven’t seen much of that so far in Rosas’ first offseason in Minnesota, though it wasn’t for lack of trying — the Wolves reportedly made a serious push for D’Angelo Russell before the All-Star point guard opted to join the Warriors.

Not many blockbuster trades are completed during the preseason, but given Rosas’ reputation, he won’t be averse to exploring the market. Even though moving Andrew Wiggins‘ contract would be tough, the Wolves could theoretically make a big splash – like acquiring veteran point guard Chris Paul – without including Wiggins in the package.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Will the Thunder be able to find a taker for Chris Paul?

Speaking of Paul, the Thunder have been adamant that they’re willing to take a patient approach on the trade market and even start the season with the nine-time All-Star on their roster. Still, I imagine the rebuilding club would jump at the opportunity to send him to a contending team for the right offer.

Paul’s salary ($38.5MM) makes him the NBA’s second-highest-paid player for the 2019/20 season and will make it difficult for Oklahoma City to move him. Even if a suitor could comfortably match salaries, Paul’s two extra guaranteed years hurt his trade value, and the Thunder will be reluctant to attach any draft picks from their treasure trove to help grease the skids on a deal.

Various CBA restrictions for teams around the NBA will limit the market for Paul too. The Lakers would be a logical trade partner, but most of their roster can’t be traded until at least December 15. The Heat might typically have interest in an impact player like Paul, but they’re hard-capped and want their draft picks back from the Thunder.

The Thunder will revisit the CP3 trade market this fall, but finding a favorable deal won’t be easy.

Portland Trail Blazers
What is Jusuf Nurkic‘s recovery timetable?

A broken leg ended Nurkic’s 2018/19 season in March, and he’s not expected to be healthy to start the 2019/20 season. Beyond that, the Trail Blazers haven’t offered up many details on Nurkic’s recovery timetable.

In May, Blazers beat writer Jason Quick speculated that the veteran center might be ready to return to action just before the 2020 All-Star break, which would sideline him for more than half the season. Nurkic will certainly look to beat that timeline, but the Blazers should get a better idea this fall of whether or not that will be possible.

Portland traded for Hassan Whiteside and signed Pau Gasol this offseason, adding the pair of veterans to a center rotation that also figures to include up-and-coming youngster Zach Collins. Assuming decent health, that trio can comfortably hold the fort at the five until February, but Nurkic is still the most talented player of the bunch (for now, at least) and he’ll help solidify the club’s frontcourt when he returns.

Utah Jazz
How will the Jazz’s top players perform in the 2019 World Cup?

Several of Utah’s impact players are participating in the 2019 World Cup in China over the next couple weeks. However, unlike the Celtics – who have four players on Team USA – the Jazz have their players spread across several national teams. Donovan Mitchell is the only one on Team USA’s roster, with Rudy Gobert representing France and Joe Ingles playing for Australia.

While they may not have the same chemistry-building potential that the Celtics’ quartet does, Utah’s World Cup participants have a great opportunity to make an impression on an international stage and boost their stock heading into the 2019/20 season.

We’ve seen plenty of players over the last couple decades follow up strong World Cup or Olympic performances with breakout years for their NBA teams, and Mitchell in particular could be a prime candidate to follow that template. It’ll be worth keeping a close eye on him and the rest of Utah’s international representatives as they look to make deep runs in the FIBA tournament.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Teams With Open Two-Way Contract Slots

Only a small handful of two-way players from 2018/19 had their contracts carried over to the 2019/20 season. A couple more of last year’s two-way players have signed new two-way deals. For the most part though, NBA teams have filled their two-way contract slots for the coming season with new faces, including several rookies who went undrafted in 2019.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contracts]

At the moment, 44 of 60 league-wide two-way contract slots are occupied. A 45th appears set to be filled if and when the Knicks finalize their reported agreement with Kris Wilkes. That leaves just 15 two-way deals available across the NBA as training camps approach.

Some clubs may not fill these slots before camps get underway, preferring to sign players to non-guaranteed NBA contracts and then convert those deals to two-way pacts later, depending on how players perform in camp and in the preseason. By the time the 2019/20 regular season begins though, I don’t expect many two-way slots to still be open.

With the help of our two-way contract tracker, which lists all the players currently on two-way deals, here are the teams who can still offer two-way contracts without waiving anyone:

Two open slots:

  • Houston Rockets
  • Miami Heat
  • Toronto Raptors

One open slot:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • New York Knicks
    • Note: The Knicks only have a slot available if their reported deal with Wilkes isn’t finalized.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

Northwest Notes: Collins, Porter Jr., Thunder

Zach Collins is expected to be 100 percent healthy by the time training camp rolls around, Jason Quick of The Athletic relays. The big man suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain while competing in Tim Grgurich’s summer camp in Las Vegas.

Collins is expected to play a significant role for the Trail Blazers this upcoming season. The team lost Enes Kanter in free agency and jettisoned Meyers Leonard to Miami. Portland did acquire Hassan Whiteside, but the team’s big man depth will be tested until Jusuf Nurkic is able to recover from the broken leg he suffered at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • How much will Michael Porter Jr. play for the Nuggets this upcoming season? Eric Spyropoulos of would be surprised if it was more than 15-17 minutes per game as a result of the depth on Denver’s roster.
  • In the same piece, Spyropoulos argues that no team will start the season as strongly from a chemistry standpoint as the Nuggets will. The team brings back a core that has spent several seasons together with the only major addition being Jerami Grant.
  • We may be in the midst of a player empowerment era in the NBA, though Tom Ziller of SB Nation contends that Paul George‘s move to Los Angeles is not on par with Anthony Davis‘ and LeBron James‘ power moves. Ziller explains how the Thunder, like the Pacers two years prior, received good value in a trade for George.

Offseason's Success Depends On How Trades Work Out