NBA Thursday: Sign-And-Trade In The Works?
More NBA Free Agency News: We are into day four of NBA free agency and while things tend to settle down a little on the Fourth of July holiday, teams and players are still working and talking about deals. Here are some of the things we know today:
Tyreke Out, Lopez and Vasquez In: Tyreke Evans was going to sign the New Orleans Pelicans contract offer sheet worth some four years and $44 million. Evans gave the Kings a chance to make a counter offer, an offer that never came.
Evans’ camp made it clear yesterday to the Kings that he would be signing the New Orleans offer on July 10, however the two teams have started talking about a sign-and-trade package that would send center Robin Lopez and point guard Greivis Vasquez to Sacramento and land Evans in New Orleans.
The deal, if consummated, would allow the Pelicans to use $7.26 million of existing contract money on their cap to offset the expected $9.5 million first year of Evans’ new deal.
If consummated, the Pelicans would not only land Evans, but would still have some $5 million to spend under the salary cap to flesh out the roster.
Eric Gordon Loves The Moves: For some time it’s been believed that the Pelicans would have to trade guard Eric Gordon, mainly because of the rampant belief that he wanted out and has not bought into what’s happening in New Orleans.
That’s seems to have changed with the moves the Pelicans have been making. Gordon has a bit of a history with both Jrue Holiday who was acquired on draft night and with Tyreke Evans who could be dealt to New Orleans on July 10.
“I’m all in with the Pelicans,” said Gordon to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports. “It would be great if we can all play together. I would say we’d definitely have a chance to make the playoffs.”
Gordon said he’s fairly confident that he’ll be part of the new core the Pelicans are assembling.
“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent, but I do feel comfortable I am coming back,” Gordon said. “I think there is a good to great chance I will be back.”
On paper and if healthy, the Pelicans have a fairly respectable roster: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Jason Smith and Austin Rivers.
With $5 million more to spend, the Hornets could find themselves in a position to compete, especially if their young guys can make a second year jump as players.
OJ And Bucks Working A Deal: The Milwaukee Bucks may have found their man after missing out on J.R. Smith. Word is the Bucks and free agent guard O.J. Mayo are working on a multi-year deal that could have Mayo earning more than $40 million over the next four years. The two sides are expected to reach an agreement at some point today.
The Bucks have also started contract talks with Brandon Jennings. Both sides would like to reach a deal before an offer sheet from another team gets involved, mainly because it allows the Bucks to structure a deal that makes sense for them.
Milwaukee has made it clear to virtually every team in the league that they are matching offers to Jennings as a restricted free agent, so that’s kept most of the big money teams from making offers. Once business resumes and players start falling off the board there is a chance someone puts Milwaukee on the clock with an offer, but it seems that Jennings reaching a new deal in Milwaukee is more semantics even if it takes an offer sheet to ultimately get it done.
The Bucks have roughly $23.4 million available under the salary cap which includes Jennings’ $4.5 million qualifying offer.
The Future For Rudy Gay: Yesterday amid rumors of teams making offers for his services, Toronto forward Rudy Gay tweeted out how much he was looking forward to playing a full season in Toronto.
Lookin forward to playing a full season with the raptors
— Rudy Gay (@rudygay22) July 3, 2013
Next season is not the problem for the Raptors; it’s the following season which is worrisome. Gay has a player option year worth some $19.3 million next summer that Gay is expected to opt out of, making this the last year that Toronto has control. It’s that unknown of next year that has teams circling the Raptors like buzzards.
Gay and teammates Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are completely bought into what Toronto could be this year and with Andrea Bargnani off the roster on July 10, there seems to be more going for Toronto than against it.
The challenge for new team president Masai Ujiri is that so much of his roster is not under contract going forward and extending those deals now would come at a hefty price, a price he does not seem to be willing to meet just yet. Hence the rumors and phone calls from other teams.
A quick look at the obtainable free agents next summer in the 2014 NBA Free Agent class puts Gay near the top of the list and in the driver’s seat for his future.
It is unlikely any team is going to offer Gay a first year salary anywhere near $19 million next summer, but can he find a team willing to lock in $60 million or more to get him? The answer there is maybe.
With teams like the LA Lakers poised to have ample space to spend, it is highly unlikely Gay is committing to anything more than this season and that’s a key reason why Toronto is answering phone calls and ultimately why Ujiri and the Raptors may have to consider trading Gay, not because of this year, because next year he could leave them with nothing.
Worse yet for Toronto is that because of the player option that Gay holds, he will have significantly more influence over where he goes in trade, because as other pending free agents have done, Gay can refuse to consider signing for a team which would severely limit what Toronto gets in return for him, something Ujiri went through already with Carmelo Anthony in Denver.
Ujiri also knows what a circus this situation can create in the locker room and that’s something that has to weigh into the decision making process.
Inquiring teams say the Raptors are not engaging on Rudy Gay discussions, despite several teams calling. The question is how long does Toronto take that stance and will they be willing to extend Rudy Gay at or near the money he’s making now. If they won’t Rudy could leave them empty handed next July.
The hiring is a great fit for what Boston is looking to do, and while it seems like a reach on Boston’s part the Celtics were not the only NBA team at the table with Stevens.
The Memphis Grizzlies had Stevens on their list and strongly considered him before reaching a deal with Dave Joerger to be their next head coach. The Phoenix Suns had eyes for Stevens but were unwilling to make the kind of commitment the Celtics made in terms of dollars and guaranteed years.
Stevens has a reputation as a smart, analytics driven coach that really relates to and understands that players power the game. Those two attributes should give him a better than average chance at success in the NBA.
The Celtics are expected to add some veteran NBA assistants to Stevens’ staff, although sources say he’ll have a major hand in rounding out his bench.
Celtics president Danny Ainge issued a statement about the hire yesterday, saying he felt Stevens could help bring the organization its 18th championships.
“Brad and I share a lot of the same values,” Ainge said. “Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic. His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18.”
The Celtics are expected to formally introduce Stevens on Friday.
We Want To Know:
A Howard-Sized Mess: After meetings with the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors and LA Lakers free agent Dwight Howard has taken to the mountains of Aspen Colorado to ponder his options and his future.
Word yesterday was that the Warriors made a sizable impression on Howard and were very much in the discussion to land him as a free agent. The problem with the Warriors is unless the Lakers have a change of heart and agree to a sign and trade transaction, the Warriors can’t sign Howard outright and least not to a starting salary that is plausible.
Word has it that Golden State is open to trading the ending contract of Andrew Bogut ($14 million) and one of either Klay Thompson ($2.31 million) or Harrison Barnes ($2.92 million) to make a deal with the Lakers happen.
The Lakers’ stance from the beginning is that they were either re-signing Howard or moving on, however that’s easy to say but much harder to justify after the fact.
The big wrinkle for the Lakers is the luxury tax implications of doing a deal and not keeping Howard, as every dollar exchanged would be a taxed dollar in the NBA’s new incremental tax system that kicks in this year.
Beginning this season teams are assessed luxury tax on a graduated scale which amplifies what teams must pay for exceeding the luxury tax line.
The penalty then increases to $1.75 for every dollar over the tax threshold for the next five million over the tax line. Then $2.50 for every dollar over the tax threshold for the next five million over the tax line, then $3.25 for every dollar over the tax threshold for the five million after that and $3.75 or every dollar over the tax threshold for amounts over $20 million and increasing $.50 for each additional $5 million after that.
Last season, with Howard making $19.5 million, the Lakers had a total taxable salary of just over $99.91 million. That salary level resulted in a luxury tax bill in the neighborhood of $29.6 million. That exact same salary level would result in an $83.31 million tax bill under the new system.
If the Lakers let Howard walk away for nothing in return, they would shed some $20 million off of their salary cap total which would reduce their taxable salary to roughly $79 million, which produces a tax bill in the neighborhood of $15.55 million.
A rough run at the math on that – not getting anything for Howard saves the Lakers $20 million in his salary or $16.2 million in traded players’ salary plus a tax savings in the neighborhood of $67.7 million.
All in the Lakers save more than $80 million saying ‘no thank you’ to Howard and a sign-and-trade with any team, however passing up on viable assets like Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson might be tough to do even with a hefty tax bill associated.
Howard has not set a time table for a decision, however there is a growing belief that he could make his decision before the weekend.
NBA teams can begin signing actual contracts on July 10, so there is really no rush for Howard other than allowing the teams involved in his courtship time to put other moves in place before the NBA resumes business next week.
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