Trail Blazers Rumors

Pau Gasol Aims For Olympics, Possible NBA Comeback

Pau Gasol hopes to represent Spain in the Olympics this summer and hasn’t given up on a return to the NBA next season, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Before either of those things can happen, Gasol will need to fully rehabilitate the left foot injury that forced him to undergo surgery last spring. Gasol, 39, signed with the Trail Blazers in July, but was never able to suit up for the team. Portland waived him in November.

“I’m in rehab right now, just focusing solely on and prioritizing getting my foot healed so I can get back out there and try to play again,” said Gasol, who was wearing a walking boot during an interview with ESPN Radio.

He admitted that retirement remains “a possibility” if the foot doesn’t heal the way he hopes. Gasol said it was a mutual decision with the Blazers to release him so he could do rehab work independently.

“We just agreed that it was better for me just to focus on the rehab and not have to be under a team kind of a schedule,” he added. “Just focusing solely and prioritizing my health, and from then we’ll see.”

Gasol played 18 NBA seasons and won a pair of championships with the Lakers. He played a combined 30 games for the Spurs and Bucks last year.

Damian Lillard Suffers Groin Injury, Out Through All-Star Weekend

FEBRUARY 13: An MRI confirmed that Damian Lillard has a groin strain. The anticipated recovery timeline will range from one to two weeks, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 12: Damian Lillard was set to be a major part of All-Star weekend. He was lined up to participate in the 3-point contest and put on a rap performance on Saturday before playing in the actual game on Sunday. All of that seems unlikely to happen after the point guard suffered a groin injury on Wednesday.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links) reports that it’s a grade 1-2 right groin strain for Lillard. Dame will spend All-Star weekend recovering in preparation for a second-half playoff push.

Lillard is averaging 29.5 points while dishing out 7.9 assists per game this season. He’s taking an absurd 10.0 shots from three per game, which somehow is only second in the league behind James Harden (12.8 shots per game).

There’s no word yet on who will replace Lillard in the All-Star game and three-point contest. Who do you believe should be Lillard’s replacement? Take to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Devin Booker Replacing Lillard In All-Star Game, 3-Point Contest

The NBA has announced that Suns guard Devin Booker will replace injured Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in this weekend’s All-Star Game and 3-point contest. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 first reported (via Twitter) that Booker would be Lillard’s replacement for both events.

Booker, 23, was widely considered the most notable Western Conference snub when the 2020 All-Star reserves were revealed last month. He took the exclusion hard, publicly suggesting the picks were about entertainment, drama, and politics rather than rewarding the NBA’s best players. Now, after Lillard suffered a groin injury that will sideline him through the break and specifically endorsed Booker as his replacement, the Suns star will get a chance to play in his first All-Star Game.

In 52 games (35.9 MPG) this season, Booker has averaged 26.4 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.2 RPG with a shooting line of .496/.358/.920. Considering his scoring numbers are more impressive than those put up by several All-Stars, Booker presumably didn’t make the initial cut due to Phoenix’s poor record and his limitations on defense. Bradley Beal, the biggest snub in the Eastern Conference, was omitted from the list of All-Star reserves for similar reasons.

Beal was ineligible to step in for Lillard since the replacement had to come from the Western Conference, despite the fact that the All-Star Game won’t actually pit the East vs. the West. Booker will join LeBron James‘ team, since LeBron selected Lillard in last week’s All-Star draft.

Lillard had also been scheduled to put on a rap performance during Saturday night’s festivities in Chicago, but it’s safe to say Booker won’t be replacing Dame D.O.L.L.A on stage as well. Lillard still intends to perform, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Rodney Hood Discusses Achilles Recovery

  • Trail Blazers swingman Rodney Hood, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles, spoke to Casey Holdahl of about his recovery process and sounded like someone who plans to pick up his 2020/21 player option. “I really want to get back as soon as possible so I can help our goal toward a championship next year,” Hood said.

Details On Blazers' Projected Tax Bill

The Trail Blazers, Heat, and Thunder all reduced their projected end-of-season tax bills with their moves leading up to the trade deadline, while the Rockets and Warriors got out of tax territory altogether. The Timberwolves ended up sneaking slightly over the tax line as a result of the D’Angelo Russell trade, but the league-wide tax penalties for 2019/20 will be very modest overall, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).

According to Marks’ calculations, the Trail Blazers will have the highest bill, at around $5.94MM, followed by the Heat ($2.96MM), Thunder ($2MM), and Timberwolves ($1.34MM). If those numbers don’t change between now and the end of the regular season, it would mean the league’s other 26 teams receive approximately $236K apiece in tax distribution, which would be the lowest mark in league history, according to Marks.

Forbes Releases 2020 NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have had a miserable 12 months, finishing the 2018/19 season with a league-worst 17 wins, missing out on their top free agent targets, and then firing head coach David Fizdale and president of basketball operations Steve Mills during the 2019/20 season.

None of that seems to have had a noticeable impact on the team’s market value though. Once again, the franchise is considered the most valuable of any of the NBA’s 30 clubs, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Lakers and Warriors aren’t far behind, having both surpassed the $4 billion mark for the first time this year.

For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1.3 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. Every team’s value increased by at least 6% since Forbes put out their 2019 valuations last February, with a handful of franchises jumping by 20% or more.

The NBA-wide average of $2.12 billion per team in 2020 is also a new record — that league-wide average surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time. NBA franchise values are up almost sixfold over the last decade, according to Badenhausen.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $4.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $4.4 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $4.3 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $3.2 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.1 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.6 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $2.5 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $2.475 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $2.4 billion
  10. Toronto Raptors: $2.1 billion
  11. Philadelphia 76ers: $2 billion
  12. Miami Heat: $1.95 billion
  13. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.85 billion
  14. San Antonio Spurs: $1.8 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.775 billion
  16. Washington Wizards: $1.75 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.625 billion
  18. Denver Nuggets: $1.6 billion
  19. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.58 billion
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.575 billion
  21. Utah Jazz: $1.55 billion
  22. Indiana Pacers: $1.525 billion
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $1.52 billion
  24. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.51 billion
  25. Charlotte Hornets: $1.5 billion
  26. Detroit Pistons: $1.45 billion
  27. Orlando Magic: $1.43 billion
  28. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.375 billion
  29. New Orleans Pelicans: $1.35 billion
  30. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.3 billion

The Raptors are among this year’s big “winners,” with their value rising 25%, from $1.675 billion a year ago to $2.1 billion this year following their first NBA championship. The Clippers also had a noteworthy bump, moving from ninth place on Forbes’ list to sixth after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer.

Although every franchise’s value increased, the Nets had the smallest jump, just 6%. The Magic‘s modest 8% increase resulted in the team slipping from 23rd on last year’s list to 27th this year.

It’s worth noting that when a franchise has been sold in recent years, the price often exceeds Forbes’ valuation, so these figures are just estimates.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Beasley, Nuggets, Dort

Damian Lillard won’t be fined for his post-game tirade against the officials on Friday, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The Trail Blazers guard had to be held back following a loss in Utah that included a missed goaltending call with 11.2 seconds remaining on a shot that would have tied the game.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert blocked Lillard’s shot, but it clearly hit the backboard first. Because no call was made, the play couldn’t be challenged or reviewed. Crew chief Josh Tiven admitted after the game that referees got it wrong.

Lillard met with league officials yesterday to discuss the incident.

“We get to the last play of the game, and they miss an easy call,” Lillard said after the game. “And then they tell us that’s an easy no-call, like that was obviously not a goaltend. It cost us a (expletive) game, man.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley, acquired from the Nuggets in a four-team deal this week, brings some much-needed passion to his new team, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. After word of the trade broke, Beasley flew to Minnesota Wednesday morning and hoped to play that night. However, the trade call wasn’t completed until almost game time and he was held out, even though he insisted to his new coaches that he was ready to go. “I’m like a mini-vet,” Beasley said. “I’m like a young vet for a team, so I have to bring the winning mentality from Denver over here and watch some extra film, make sure guys are on time, making sure I get extra guys in the gym in the morning, things like that. Just pushing each other and holding each other accountable.”
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is glad that Beasley, along with Juan Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt, all left the team on “positive terms,” relays Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Malone sent messages to his former players last night before their first game in Minnesota. “Change is inevitable in the NBA,” he said. “Players come, players go. Malik and Juancho were here for four years, Jarred for two. Everybody’s leaving on positive terms. I’m happy for those guys. Those guys are going to get opportunities in Minnesota that they deserve.”
  • Luguentz Dort has become a starter for the Thunder, but he’s still not practicing with the team, notes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Dort’s two-way contract limits him to 45 days in the NBA, and team officials want to maximize his number of games. “You’ve got to watch a lot of film with him,” coach Billy Donovan said. “You’ve got to catch him up. He’s got to certainly watch and spectate. All those things become important, following the rules in terms of how we can best keep him engaged to what’s going on and what we’re doing.”

23 Trade Exceptions Generated In Deadline Deals

As we explain in our glossary entry on the NBA’s trade rules, teams that complete a “non-simultaneous” deal can create what’s called a traded player exception. These are salary cap exceptions a team can use anytime during the following calendar year to acquire one or more players whose salaries are no greater than the amount of that exception (plus $100K).

A number of the traded player exceptions created at the 2019 trade deadline expired this week without being used, but nearly two dozen new TPEs were generated as a result of the trades completed at this year’s deadline. They’ll expire next February, so they could be used during the offseason or sometime next season.

The full list of traded player exceptions created this week is below, sorted by amount. The player whose departure helped generate the TPE is noted in parentheses. The full list of available trade exceptions can be found right here.

In addition to the traded player exceptions from the deals completed on February 6, this list includes the exceptions created on February 5 in the four-team trade involving the Hawks, Timberwolves, Rockets, and Nuggets.

It doesn’t include trade exceptions generated in deals earlier this season, such as the $7,069,662 TPE the Trail Blazers got when they sent Kent Bazemore to Sacramento in a five-player trade. Again, the full list of current TPEs can be found here.

If you have any questions or corrections, please let me know in the comment section below.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights was used in the creation of this post.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots After Trade Deadline

The 2020 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, so teams that had been holding open roster spots in case they needed them before a last-minute deal can now fill those openings, if they so choose. The Nets did exactly that today — after holding their 15th roster spot open through the deadline, they signed Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to a multiyear contract today to fill it.

While Brooklyn no longer has an open roster spot, a number of teams around the league still do. Here’s a quick breakdown of which clubs fit that bill and what their roster situations are, with their roster openings noted in parentheses:

  • Golden State Warriors (3): The Warriors initially had six roster openings, but signed Juan Toscano-Anderson and promoted Ky Bowman and Marquese Chriss to fill three of them. Zach Norvell and Jeremy Pargo are expected to sign 10-day deals, allowing Golden State to get to the league-mandated minimum of 14. The Dubs will probably keep their 15th slot open as they attempt to stay below the tax line.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (2): Alfonzo McKinnie agreed to a long-term contract with the Cavaliers and will fill one of their two open spots once his deal becomes official. However, the team could re-open that second slot this weekend when Marques Bolden‘s 10-day contract expires.
  • Houston Rockets (2): The Rockets figure to keep a close eye on the buyout market as they look to reinforce their depth. They’ll have up to two weeks to get back to at least 14 players.
  • Atlanta Hawks (1): The Hawks opened a roster spot by trading Jabari Parker and Alex Len to Sacramento for Dewayne Dedmon. They’re not anywhere near the tax, so I’d expect them to fill that opening soon with a young player, either on a 10-day deal or a rest-of-season contract.
  • Los Angeles Clippers (1): The Clippers opened up one roster spot by trading Derrick Walton. They’re expected to open up a second by waiving Isaiah Thomas, a move that isn’t yet official. Like Houston, the Clips figure to scour the buyout market in an effort to fill its roster. Darren Collison is also an option if he decides to make a comeback.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (1): The Thunder stood pat at the deadline and seem unlikely to fill that final roster spot anytime soon, since a 15th man would increase their projected tax bill.
  • Portland Trail Blazers (1): The same goes for the Trail Blazers, who remain in the tax even after moving Skal Labissiere for nothing at the deadline.
  • Denver Nuggets / Memphis Grizzlies / Orlando Magic (0): The Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Magic don’t currently have roster openings, but likely will soon. Denver is expected to waive Gerald Green, Memphis reportedly doesn’t intend to keep Dion Waiters, and Gary Clark‘s 10-day contract with Orlando will expire tonight.

Note: These roster counts are up to date as of the time of publication. This list is just a snapshot and won’t be updated to reflect subsequent moves, but our roster counts page will be.

Blazers Trade Skal Labissiere, Cash To Hawks

5:18pm: The Hawks have officially announced the acquisition of Labissiere and cash. They traded their 2024 second-round pick (top-55 protected) in the swap, according to a press release. Meanwhile, Hollinger clarifies (via Twitter) that the exact amount of cash headed to Atlanta is $1,759,795.

12:40pm: The Hawks are accommodating another minor salary dump, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the Trail Blazers are sending big man Skal Labissiere and cash to Atlanta. The Hawks will also receive $1.9MM in cash from Portland to take Labissiere off its hands, John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets.

The Blazers will receive token consideration from Atlanta to legally execute the deal, likely a top-55 protected second round pick, Hollinger adds.

Atlanta is creating two roster spots this week. The Hawks are shipping out Alex Len and Jabari Parker to Sacramento while agreeing to re-acquire center Dewayne Dedmon and also waived Nene after acquiring the veteran big man from Houston as part of a four-team deal.

Labissiere has appeared in 33 games with Portland this season, averaging 5.8 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 17.2 MPG. He hasn’t played since December 28 due to a left knee articular cartilage lesion but the Hawks plan to keep the 23-year-old power forward, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The deal will shave $3.8MM off Portland’s luxury tax bill, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The tax bill is now down to $5.9MM while also opening up a roster spot, Marks adds.

The Hawks agreed to a similar acquisition with the Clippers on Tuesday involving guard Derrick Walton. Atlanta essentially rented out cap space to execute these types of moves before making the Dedmon trade official.