August 1, 2017, 9:31 pm
This was supposed to be JaMychal Green’s summer. After going undrafted out of the University of Alabama in 2012, Green spent three years in the NBA Development League (now the G League) and overseas before making it to the NBA in 2015. Not only has he earned a spot on an NBA roster, but he played a prominent role on a playoff team last season. He started 75 games and averaged nine points and seven rebounds per game for the Grizzlies in 2016-17.
After making less than $2 million his first three years in the NBA, Green entered the offseason as a restricted free agent, optimistically expecting a contract of more than $30 million. Set-you-up-for-life type money. Instead, the former and hopefully-future Grizzly waits for an offer, trying to decide what to do next.
It’s not Green’s fault. He’s a victim of the circumstances of the NBA’s economy. After the NBA salary cap surged last offseason, from $70 million in 2015-16 to $94 million in 2016-17, money was flowing like never before for the free agent class of 2016. Which led to the NBA-record 73-win Golden St. Warriors being able to sign Kevin Durant without losing anyone of consequence.
While it was impossible for another increase of that magnitude, most teams were prepared for another solid jump this year. Instead, the cap barely rose, to only $99 million.
The result has been a depressed market that has caused several free agents to settle for below-market deals. Former MVP Derrick Rose made more than $21 million last season, but signed for the veteran’s minimum of $2.1 million this year. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope turned down at least $80 million from the Detroit Pistons before free agency, only to be left with a 1-year, $18 million offer from the Lakers.
Restricted free agents have been hit the hardest. While restricted free agency is always a roll of the dice for players, this year has been more extreme. Teams are often hesitant to give restricted free agents offer sheets, because when they sign a player to the offer sheet, they have to designate that salary as money spent for up to two days while the player’s original team decides if they want to match the offer. Thus, it ties up the new team’s cap space so they can’t use it on any other players.
Still, that doesn’t always stop players from making their money. Allen Crabbe signed a 4-year, $74 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets in 2016, then returned to Portland when they matched the offer (The Blazers traded Crabbe to Brooklyn this offseason). Tim Hardaway signed a 4-year, $71 million contract with the New York Knicks this offseason.
But Green is one of several restricted free agents that are still lingering as the calendar turns to August. Nerlens Noel has not received an adequate offer from the Dallas Mavericks. Nikola Mirotic was expected to leave the Chicago Bulls, but never got a deal to his liking. Mason Plumlee in Denver and Alex Len in Phoenix also sit in similar positions.
Eric Bledsoe of Phoenix and Tristan Thompson of Cleveland have had restricted free agency stalemates drag into September in recent years, and it appears we could see a few situations go a similar path this year.
Green appears to have three options from this point. One, get as much money as he can from Memphis. The team has a huge hole at power forward after Zach Randolph has already left this offseason. Brandan Wright would likely be the starting power forward if Green does not come back. Raw young players Jarell Martin and Ivan Rabb would be the backups at the position.
The team would surely like to have Green back at a lower salary for as many years as possible, probably something like four years for $25-30 million. That’s still more money than 98% of humans will ever make, but it’s less money and more years than Green was hoping for.
The second option would be to accept the qualifying offer NBA teams have to offer players to keep their rights as a restricted free agent. For Green, this would be a one-year, $2.82 million contract. This could appeal to Green. With another solid year, it would be more likely he would get more money as a free agent next year. Also, he would be an unrestricted free agent, so if another team wanted to sign him, they wouldn’t have to wait on the Grizzlies to decide whether they wanted to match the offer.
The downside to a short-term deal, besides not getting $10+ million this year, is a serious injury could harm or even end Green’s career, and he would have missed his opportunity to cash in with a major NBA contract.
Finally, Green could split the difference. He could settle with the Grizzlies for something like a two-year, $14 million contract. This would lock in a decent chunk of money and still give Green a chance to be a free agent and earn more while he’s still in the prime of his career. Ideally, Green could get a player option for the second year, so if he has another good season, he could opt out next summer and sign a big contract then.
Unfortunately for Green, not much has been ideal about this summer.
May 27, 2019, 8:52 amDan Gilbert - Team - Cleveland Cavaliers
Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert was admitted to the hospital yesterday morning after experiencing stroke-like symptoms.
“He received immediate medical attention and is currently recovering comfortably,” a Quicken Loans company spokesman said.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 10:12 pmJimmy Butler - G/F - Philadelphia Sixers
According to Tom Moore, it's a good move for the Sixers to sign Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to big deals over the summer.
Moore points out that the move to acquire Butler at the NBA trade deadline was with the intention of keeping him with the team long-term. Butler was one of the more reliable Sixers players in the playoffs and his experience and composure shined through. Both he and Harris are expected to get a lot of suitors come free agency so it will be interesting to see how much the Sixers will be willing to cough up to retain their talented veterans.
Source: Tom Moore on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 4:01 pmBrook Lopez - C - Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have multiple decisions to make when free agency starts but re-signing Brook Lopez is a priority, according to Malika Andrews.
The Bucks will likely lock up Khris Middleton first and then will have to decide on Malcolm Brogdon. He is a restricted free agent, but keeping him may vault Milwaukee into the luxury tax. After those two, Lopez is a priority over the other pending free agents such as Nikola Mirotic and George Hill. The Bucks won't have Bird Rights on Brook Lopez meaning they'd only have the mid-level exception to offer him, and if they go into the luxury tax, the mid-level exception drops from about $9 million to about $5 million. He'd almost certainly be taking a discount to stay in Milwaukee, but it's still possible he remains a Buck.
Source: Malika Andrews on ESPN
May 26, 2019, 3:53 pmNick Nurse - Team - Toronto Raptors
According to Peter Yannopoulos, Nick Nurse will be the coach of Team Canada this summer at the World Championships in China.
Nurse will be succeeding Hornets assistant coach Jay Triano, and will be in a similar position that Gregg Popovich has with Team USA. Nurse has had a meteoric rise since being the innovator of the Raptors new offense in 2017-18 as an assistant, to being promoted to head coach, to making the NBA Finals and now being named Team Canada's head coach.
Source: Peter Yannopoulos on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 11:48 amOG Anunoby - F - Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are expressing optimism that OG Anunoby will be able to see the floor for their NBA Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
Anunoby's size and defensive versatility could make for a very valuable weapon against the Warriors' small-ball lineups. That being said, he has been out for nearly a month and a half, and the Raptors' eight man rotation has hit its stride in the crux of this playoff run. It remains to be seen if he will make it back, but in the event that he can, there is no guarantee that he will be able to crack meaningful minutes in Toronto's tight rotation.
Source: Ryan Wolstat on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 11:19 amMichael Porter Jr. - F - Denver Nuggets
As a symptom from his back surgeries, Michael Porter Jr. developed drop foot, and will wear to a leg brace to help stabilize it when he makes his professional debut in Summer League according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.
Drop foot makes it hard for one to lift the front part of their foot and is a common symptom of back related ailments, of which Porter Jr. has had two surgeries to address over the last year and a half. Porter Jr. remains an unknown commodity with a laundry list of health concerns as an NBA player. There has been some recent success with young guys being able to bounce back in big ways after suffering year-long injuries, but Porter Jr. will remain a mystery until we see him on the court for his inaugural season.
Source: The Denver Post
May 26, 2019, 11:04 amJonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies
Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next head coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option.
Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.
Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 10:06 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.
This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.
Source: Micha Adams on Twitter
May 26, 2019, 1:17 amKawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors
Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.
Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
May 26, 2019, 1:14 amGiannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks
While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.
The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.