Raptors Rumors

NBA Teams That Can’t Trade/Acquire Cash Until July

During each NBA league year, teams face limits on the amount of cash they can send out and receive in trades. Once they reach those limits, they’re no longer permitted to include cash in a deal until the following league year.

For the 2018/19 NBA season, the limit is $5,243,000. The limits on sending and receiving cash are separate and aren’t dependent on one another, so if a team has sent out $5,243,000 in trades and also received $5,243,000 in separate deals, they don’t have a clean slate — they’ve reached both limits for the season.

Thanks to reporting by cap experts like Bobby Marks, Eric Pincus, and Albert Nahmad, we’ve been able to keep tabs on the cash sent and received in trades by teams during the 2018/19 NBA league year, so we have a pretty clear idea of each club’s flexibility heading into the draft.

Being able to send or receive cash on draft day is particularly useful, since it can provide a simple means of acquiring – or moving – a second-round pick. A year ago, five of the trades agreed upon in June that featured 2018 draft picks included cash.

Of course, three of those five trades weren’t actually completed until July, which highlights a simple way to work around these restrictions. A team that can’t send or receive cash at this year’s draft could still technically agree to a deal involving cash, then officially finalize it sometime after July 1, when the cash limits reset for the 2019/20 league year.

Still, the 2018/19 restrictions are worth noting, since in some cases a player’s changing cap figure or contract status can make it impossible to wait until July to make a trade official.

With that in mind, here are some of the limitations facing teams until July 1:

Ineligible to receive cash:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Toronto Raptors

The Hornets reached their limit less than a week until the 2018/19 league year, having received $5MM from the Nets in their Dwight Howard trade and $243K from the Thunder in a deal involving Hamidou Diallo.

As for the Bulls, they reached their yearly limit in three separate transactions, acquiring approximately $2.63MM in a pair of swaps with the Rockets involving Michael Carter-Williams and Carmelo Anthony. Chicago then received another $2.61MM from the Thunder in a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot salary dump.

Based on the reported figures for the Raptors ($5MM from the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard blockbuster, plus $110K apiece from the Sixers and Nets in deadline deals), they could technically acquire another $23K. However, $110K is the minimum amount of cash a team can include in a trade this season, so Toronto can’t actually acquire any more.

Outside of these three teams, every NBA club is eligible to acquire at least $2MM before July. The Magic ($2,226,778), Sixers ($2,743,000), Mavericks ($3,148,049), and Hawks ($3,187,090) are most limited.

Ineligible to send cash:

  • None

No NBA teams have reached their limits for sending out cash this season, though some are close.

The Nets ($243,000) and Spurs ($243,000) can barely trade any cash after sending out $5MM in deals last July. The Thunder ($411,294) and Rockets ($565,513) are also nearly tapped out, having made a handful of moves aimed at reducing – or in Houston’s case, eliminating – their luxury tax bills.

The Wizards ($2,365,456), Grizzlies ($2,660,069), and Celtics ($2,737,090) are also somewhat limited in their ability to trade cash, but no other teams have less than $3MM available.

Injury Updates: Mirotic, Griffin, Anunoby, Oladipo

Nikola Mirotic has only played 14 games since the Bucks traded for him in February, but the club expects him to be ready for its playoff opener against the Pistons tomorrow, relays Malika Andrews of ESPN. Mirotic, who has been sidelined for nearly a month with a broken left thumb, was able to participate in a full practice Friday and a non-contact workout today, both times with the thumb lightly taped.

“Not much soreness, as we expected,” he said. “I should be ready to go.”

Mirotic moved into the starting lineup three games before getting hurt, replacing injured guard Malcolm Brogdon. Sterling Brown has been starting in Mirotic’s absence.

“Niko has been traveling with us,” Eric Bledsoe said. “He has been around practice. We have been feeling his energy. Him just being around has been big for us. I think he’s doing pretty good.”

There are more injury updates to pass along:

  • The Pistons aren’t sure if Blake Griffin‘s sore left knee will allow him to be ready for Game 1, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Griffin offered no clues after today’s practice as the team prepared to fly to Milwaukee. “We’re taking this day by day,” he said. “I’m not looking forward to a day that’s not here right now in front of me. I’ll sit with our training staff and whoever else needs to be in on that decision and make that each day.” Griffin sat out four of Detroit’s final seven games as the team was battling for a playoff spot. He was limited to riding an exercise bike during today’s practice.
  • On top of their loss to the Magic today, the Raptors got some bad health news about OG Anunoby, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Originally projected to miss at least two weeks after an emergency appendectomy on Thursday, Anunoby may now be sidelined until the Eastern Conference Finals.
  • There’s no chance he’ll return for the playoffs, but the Pacers are encouraged by the progress Victor Oladipo has made since suffering a ruptured quad tendon in January, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. Oladipo has been in Miami since the injury and is reportedly doing “really well.” He will see a doctor in a few days and hopes to be in Indiana for Games 3 and 4 of the Pacers’ playoff series.

OG Anunoby Expected To Miss At Least Two Weeks

Raptors forward OG Anunoby underwent an emergency appendectomy on Thursday night after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis, the team announced in a press release.

The Raptors didn’t provide any sort of timetable for Anunoby’s recovery, simply indicating that there’s no timeline for his return and his condition “will be updated as appropriate.” However, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets that the young forward is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks.

The Raptors’ first-round series against the Magic is scheduled to conclude on April 27, if seven games are necessary, so it’s safe to assume that Toronto won’t be counting on having Anunoby available at all vs. Orlando.

With Anunoby and Patrick McCaw sidelined, it will be interesting to see how the Raptors fill the back end of their playoff rotation. Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol are expected to start, with Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, and Norman Powell contributing off the bench.

Unless the team plans to roll with an eight-man rotation, Jeremy Lin and/or Jodie Meeks could see regular minutes. Based on his initial recovery timeline, it’s possible McCaw will also be available at some point in round one.

Grizzlies’ C.J. Miles Opts In For 2019/20

Grizzlies sharpshooter C.J. Miles has exercised the player option on his contract for the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Miles had informed Peter Edmiston of The Athletic (Twitter link) on Thursday that he intended to opt in.

The decision locks in Miles’ $8,730,158 salary for next season, putting him on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2020.

Miles’ decision doesn’t come as a surprise, since the 32-year-old struggled mightily in 2018/19, turning in his worst season in a decade. He’s also not healthy at the moment, having been ruled out for the season last month due to a stress reaction in his left foot.

The 14-year veteran, who started the season with the Raptors, was sent to the Grizzlies as part of the package for Marc Gasol in February. In total, Miles appeared in 53 games (16.2 MPG) for Memphis and Toronto, averaging just 6.4 PPG on .360/.330/.828 shooting. In his previous six seasons entering this year, he had averaged 11.2 PPG and shot 37.5% on three-pointers.

Depending on which direction the Grizzlies go this summer, it’s possible the club will look to move on from Miles via trade or buyout. If he returns to Memphis, the veteran swingman will look to compete for minutes on the wing.

With Miles’ $8.7MM+ salary locked in, the Grizzlies now have approximately $86.6MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, per Basketball Insiders. Given that Jonas Valanciunas looks like a decent bet to pick up his $17.62MM player option as well, Memphis projects to be an over-the-cap team this offseason, barring cost-cutting moves.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five Teams Finish 2018/19 Season In Tax Territory

With the exception of bonuses that could still be earned – or missed – in the postseason, 2018/19 NBA team salaries are now frozen for luxury-tax purposes, ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes. That means that five teams will finish the ’18/19 season as taxpayers.

Here are those five teams, along with approximations of their projected luxury tax bills, per Marks:

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder: $61.6MM
  2. Golden State Warriors: $51.5MM
  3. Toronto Raptors: $21.4MM
  4. Portland Trail Blazers: $15.1MM
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.9MM

While the Warriors‘ payroll is actually slightly higher than Oklahoma City’s, the Thunder met the repeater tax criteria, since they also paid the tax in 2015, 2016, and 2018. As a result, they’re subject to more punitive penalties, as we outline in our glossary entry on the luxury tax. The standard penalties for taxpaying teams start at $1.50 per dollar and increase from there; the repeater penalties start at $2.50 per dollar.

Golden State will meet the repeater criteria next season if they’re in the tax again, since they’ll have paid the tax in 2016, 2018, and 2019. Teams qualify as repeat offenders when they’ve finished in the tax in three of the previous four seasons.

The figures listed above are subject to change. For instance, Kyle Lowry has three separate $500K bonuses that he could still receive, depending on how far the Raptors advance in the playoffs. If he earns any of those, they’d be added to Toronto’s payroll and would in turn increase the club’s tax bill.

Since half of the luxury tax penalty money is reallocated to the teams that finished out of the tax, those non-tax clubs are in line for payouts of approximately $3.1MM, per Marks.

The Heat, Wizards, and Rockets made in-season transactions to get out of tax territory and will now receive $3.1MM from the tax pool. Other clubs, such as the Grizzlies, Knicks, Hornets, Cavaliers, Pistons, and Bucks, managed to keep their team salaries just below the $123.73MM tax threshold throughout the league year.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Smart, Embiid

Kawhi Leonard played in only 60 games this season due to a team maintaince plan designed to preserve his health. He’s happy with how the Raptors have managed him in what could be his only season in Toronto.

“We did a great job just attacking the [injury] problem in the beginning during training camp,” Leonard said, as Ryan Wolstat of Toronto Sun tweets.“Laying out the schedule. I feel good. I wasn’t as healthy as I wanted to be this year, but, I couldn’t say I would have this type of season in the beginning of the year the way things started, the way I felt.

“I’m happy. We’re second place. We’ve got an opportunity to get where we want to get to.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Marcus Smart has suffered a torn left oblique and could miss the first two rounds of the playoffs, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports. The Celtics host the Pacers in the Eastern Conference’s 4-5 matchup.
  • Sixers GM Elton Brand said he’s “optimistic” that Joel Embiid will be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs, as NBC Sports’ Serena Winters relays (Twitter link). Including Philadelphia’s finale vs. the Bulls, Embiid has missed five of the team’s last seven games as a result of knee soreness and the staff’s management plan and it’s possible that the big man could sit in the
  • Jonathan Gibson‘s deal with the Celtics is only for the remainder of the season, per Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Gibson signed with Boston on Tuesday and didn’t see action in the team’s final game of the year.

Details On Kyle Lowry's Contract Incentives

Although he didn’t play in the Raptors‘ regular season finale on Tuesday night, Kyle Lowry appeared in 65 games in 2018/19, just barely reaching an important threshold for the bonuses in his contract, ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes.

Raptors Sign Eric Moreland

The Raptors have signed Eric Moreland, according to a team press release.

Toronto will play its final game of the regular season tonight, meaning today was the final day for the team to sign a player. The Raptors entered the day with 14 players under traditional contracts and two players under two-way deals, so the team will not need to make a corresponding move in order to accommodate Moreland’s signing.

Moreland inked a 10-day deal with Toronto earlier this season, playing three games with the club. The franchise opted to not offer him an additional 10-day contract when his deal expired.

Moreland will be eligible to play in the postseason, since he has not been released by an NBA team since March 1. However, he’s unlikely to see any real action in the playoffs unless one of Toronto’s two centers – Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka – goes down with an injury.

Marc Gasol Adjusts Quickly To New Team In Toronto

  • Marc Gasol has quickly adjusted to his new role with the Raptors, positively impacting the team on both ends of the floor, Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star writes. Gasol grew acclimated to his new teammates and play style quicker than most expected, with Toronto holding a 17-8 record since acquiring him. “It’s just weird that he stepped in day one and he was right on point … He doesn’t need a learning curve,” teammate Fred VanVleet said of Gasol. “He stepped in from day one and was able to adjust to pretty much everything we did. So that just speaks to his basketball IQ.”

Cost-Cutting Measures Save $18 Million

  • The Raptors made a number of cost-cutting moves during the course of the season that saved an approximate $18MM, as Blake Murphy of The Athletic details. Waiving Lorenzo Brown, dumping the salaries of Malachi Richardson and Greg Monroe, trading three players for Marc Gasol, getting Gasol to waive his trade kicker, and signing players to 10-day contracts to meet roster requirements all contributed to a healthier bottom line.
  • The Raptors still have an open roster spot heading toward the playoffs and will likely sign a player, Murphy writes in the same story. Guard Jordan Loyd’s two-way contract could be converted to a standard contract and center Eric Moreland, who recently played on a 10-day contract, is another candidate. Veteran center Marcin Gortat could also be in play.