Posts Tagged ‘John Schuhmann’

Raps keep Lowry, still have more work


VIDEO: Free Agency: Lowry Remains a Raptor

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Toronto Raptors have taken care of the important business, agreeing to terms with Kyle Lowry on a new four-year, $48 million contract. After winning their division for the second time in franchise history and returning to the postseason after a five-year absence, they’re bringing back their best player. Lowry is a bulldog on both ends of the floor, and if he wasn’t the best point guard in the Eastern Conference last season, he was right there with John Wall.

The Raptors had one the conference’s best benches as well. Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson arrived in the Rudy Gay trade in December and made big impacts. Patterson spaced the floor at the power forward position, while Vasquez’s passing was infectious. Toronto recorded assists on just 49 percent of its baskets before the trade and 60 percent after it.

The numbers spell out how important Patterson and Vasquez are. They had the two best on-court NetRtg marks on the team, with the Raptors outscoring their opponents by 9.9 points per 100 possessions with Patterson on the floor and by 8.5 with Vasquez on the floor. In the playoffs, Toronto outscored Brooklyn by 53 points with Vasquez on the floor and was outscored by 64 with him on the bench. Patterson was a plus-30.  As it was in the regular season, they were at their best with those two guys on the floor.

If the Raptors want to build on last season’s success, they need to keep the bench together. If Lou Williams (acquired in a trade for John Salmons) is healthy, it could be even better than it was last season.

On Friday, Toronto reportedly agreed to terms with Patterson, a restricted free agent, on a three-year, $18 million contract. That’s Step 2.

Vasquez is another restricted free agent, meaning the Raptors can match any offer sheet he receives from another team. But with the new contracts for Lowry and Patterson, the addition of Williams, and the possibility of adding rookies Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira, Toronto is approaching the luxury tax line. And they want to make one more move.

After Joe Johnson beat them up in that playoff series, the Raps acknowledged that they need more size on the wing. Even if Caboclo is less than “two years away from being two years away,” that size would have to come in free agency, perhaps from an Al-Farouq AminuAlan Anderson, Jordan Hamilton or Richard Jefferson. The Raptors have the mid-level exception (or a portion of it) to spend on an outside free agent.

Adding one of those guys, keeping Vasquez, and staying under the tax line will be a challenge. If Darren Collison can get the full mid-level exception (from Vasquez’s former team) in Sacramento, Vasquez should surely be worth that much. Complicating matters is that Toronto is already paying small forwards Landry Fields and Steve Novak almost $10 million to ride the pine.

Back in January, SportsNet’s Michael Grange reported that the Raptors would be willing to go over the line “at the right time.” But if they bring everybody back, they’re still a team that lost in the first round.  Even if they add a piece, they still have a ceiling, especially if LeBron James remains in Miami. And if Jonas Valanciunas gets a lucrative contract extension next summer, it will overlap with the last two seasons of Lowry’s deal (and the last of DeMar DeRozan‘s), which may be the time to think about paying the tax.

So Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has his work cut out for him over the next couple of weeks. He got the most important deal done. But his team’s depth is just as critical to its success as its best player.

Nets move quick, hire proven Hollins


VIDEO: GameTime: Bucks-Nets Coaching Situation

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – It didn’t take long for the Brooklyn Nets to find a replacement for Jason Kidd. It’s as if they’ve done this coaching search thing before.

The Nets announced Wednesday afternoon that they have reached an agreement with Lionel Hollins, who will be their fourth coach in the last two years. Avery Johnson was fired, P.J. Carlesimo was never considered to be more than an interim replacement, and Kidd thought that, after half of a season of success, he was ready for bigger things.

Hollins arrives after year off from coaching, which followed a 4 1/2-year stint in Memphis, in which the Grizzlies improved every year.

Grizzlies pace and efficiency, Lionel Hollins’ four full seasons

Season W L Win% Pace Rk OffRtg Rk DefRtg Rk NetRtg Rk
2009-10 40 42 0.488 96.1 8 104.8 17 107.6 24 -2.9 20
2010-11 46 36 0.561 94.5 15 104.4 16 102.5 8 +1.9 10
2011-12 41 25 0.621 93.4 18 101.0 21 98.9 7 +2.1 12
2012-13 56 26 0.683 91.1 29 101.7 18 97.4 2 +4.2 8

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Hollins’ teams have never been better than average offensively, despite having Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol for most of those four full seasons. The Grizzlies were one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league, but they didn’t shoot well. And shooting is much more important than rebounding.

In Hollins’ last season in Memphis, no team made or attempted fewer 3-pointers. When you’re playing Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince and Randolph at the 2, 3 and 4 spots, you’re not going to space the floor very well.

Last season, Brooklyn ranked 10th or 11th in 3-point makes, 3-point attempts, and 3-point percentage. And that was with a starting guard — Shaun Livingston — who shot 1-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Livingston is gone and his departure will hurt the Nets’ defense. Paul Pierce, meanwhile, is a free agent. And we don’t know for sure that Kevin Garnett will return for the last year on his contract. Those three and Kidd were Brooklyn’s biggest acquisitions last summer.

So the Nets could be hitting the reset button, going back to their core from their first season in Brooklyn, with Hollins on the bench. Even without Pierce or Garnett, they’d be above the luxury tax line, with only the tax payer’s mid-level exception to use on free agents. That could go to Croatian small forward Bojan Bogdanovic.

No matter what Pierce and Garnett do, Hollins’ success in Brooklyn will depend on the health of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, their two former All-Stars who could still be in their prime, with emphasis on the word “could.”

Williams had surgery on both ankles in May. Lopez had a third surgery on his right foot in January. They will be the team’s biggest questions come October.

The good news is that Hollins can’t get off to a worse start than Kidd, who saw his team go 10-21 in the first two months of last season. If Williams and Lopez are healthy, Hollins will have three guys — Joe Johnson being the third — who can consistently draw double-teams offensively. Their guards and forwards will be able to spread the floor much better than Hollins’ Grizzlies did.

Though offense was the issue in Memphis, defense will be a bigger question in Brooklyn, where Hollins won’t have Allen or Gasol.

This is still one of the more talented teams in the league though. And it’s playing in the weaker conference. Hollins has an opportunity to keep it near the top.

Blogtable: Where Will Melo Land?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: The Carmelo Sweepstakes | The steal of free agency | Jason Kidd: Discuss



VIDEO: Free agent Carmelo Anthony will have a choice to make in the days ahead

> The Bulls are charging hard for Carmelo Anthony. Other teams will follow. What are the chances he stays in New York? If not New York, where?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’d peg it at a 75 percent chance Anthony stays in New York. Or should I say, 34 million to 1, since that’s the gap — $34 million — between a max contract from the Knicks and the best deal he can get anywhere else. Typically, I scoff when media folks report the difference in contracts only in raw dollars, neglecting to note the difference in years (four vs. five). You usually can assume the player will get a “next” contract. But at Melo’s age, any new deal at age 34 won’t be starting at $29 million (the other $5 million is due to the bigger raises New York can pay him). Besides, he and his wife like the stage of New York, they have a child in school there and there’s no assurance he’d win a ring anywhere else. If he does go? Flip a coin: Miami or Chicago, the former if they’ll have him, the latter because that’s actually the best available fit for him.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: As a totally amateur oddsmaker, I still put it at about 10-1 against that he bolts. At the end of the day, Anthony is looking at leaving nearly $40 million on the table to leave the Knicks and his history has not been in that direction. Toss in the word that his wife supposedly doesn’t want to give up those Broadway lights and I think he stays. However, if Melo goes, I’d give Chicago the best shot.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: I’ve got it as a 50/50 toss-up right now between New York and Chicago, and I give the Knicks that good of a chance only because the city will surely tug at his heartstrings. After all, he is home.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI have the Bulls as the team to beat, with the Knicks still in play. He obviously likes the city because he wanted to go there in the first place, and nobody tops the money. If it’s a winning thing, though, New York is out. Then it’s Chicago and Houston, and maybe Miami. The Heat give him the wins. I’m just not sure about the money and the role. I am not as convinced about Melo/South Florida as a lot of other people. See the appeal, just don’t see it actually happening.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comIf the Knicks are really offering Anthony the max (and willing to pay him more than $29 million when he’s 34), it would be hard for him to pass on a five-year, $129 million contract. If the chance at a championship is his top priority, then the Bulls have the most to offer, especially if they’re able to keep Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. I’m not inside his head, so I can’t tell you what the odds are, but at this point in his career, Chicago should be his top choice.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comIt’s a toss up. The chances of Carmelo staying in New York depend on what it is the Knicks do when they get that last shot to recruit him. If they come up with a max offer, this is over. But I don’t think ‘Melo is conducting this national tour (from Chicago to a Texas two-step and then to Los Angeles) for show. He’s searching for the opportunity to win and win big, but he has to keep the bottom line in the equation as well. The Knicks can offer more than anyone else, of course, so they do have that chip to play, if they are willing to go there. But I don’t think this is about Carmelo going to the highest bidder. He’s in chasing titles mode right now, which means he’s got to give serious consideration to bolting from New York. Chicago makes the most sense to me. The structure is in place for him to compete at the highest level and in the Eastern Conference, where the landscape isn’t nearly as treacherous as it is in the Western Conference. That said, I wouldn’t count out the Hollywood/Kobe Bryant factor in this Melodrama.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blogI think he stays in New York. I know he was out and about in Chicago and will be visiting with other teams in coming days, but to me the deciding factor here is money. Will Melo really leave $30 million on the table and leave New York, the city he jockeyed so hard to get to just a few years ago? And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Melo will decide or has decided that the chance to win right now is the most important factor for him. If that’s the case, Chicago probably makes the most sense. (Actually, signing pretty much anywhere other than New York will give him that chance.) But considering that Carmelo is 30 years old and this is likely his last chance to sign a max contract, I don’t know if he’ll walk away from that extra cash. After all, money talks.

Blogtable: A steal of a free agent

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: The Carmelo Sweepstakes | The steal of free agency | Jason Kidd: Discuss


> Who’s going to be the absolute steal of this free agency class, a guy who signs way under where he could have signed and gives way more than most expect?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: If some of these reports prove true about the Miami stars’ reconfigured deals, I’ll say Chris Bosh. The prospect of getting a discount of 30 percent or more from his pre-opt-out 2014-15 salary ($20.6 million) would make him a terrific bargain for the Heat or any other contender. He’s got a flexible offensive game — he could do more inside if Miami hadn’t nudged him to the perimeter — and his defense is an asset, too. Other candidates, for opposite reasons: Boston’s Avery Bradley (he might get paid at his current level but take a big step up in game) and Indiana’s Lance Stephenson (assumptions about Lance’s behavior with big guaranteed money could drive down his price).

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: He’s not The Matrix anymore, but I could see Shawn Marion joining a contender on a sweetheart deal and making a difference.

Eric Bledsoe (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

Eric Bledsoe (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: We know it won’t be Jodie Meeks. The lucky guard hit a nice pay day with the Pistons. My money’s on Pau Gasol. The odds of my favored scenario actually taking shape probably aren’t great, but I’ve been touting it all along — Pau needs to go play for Miami. He could be dynamite for this team as long as he can stay healthy — but that’s a prerequisite for just about any player over 30. The way the market is shaping up, Miami can give Pau a decent salary, maybe $7 million, $8 million, maybe even a little more. For a chance to play with LeBron and chase titles, that’s pretty good. The Lakers might be able to hit his preferred $10 million – $12 million, but that roster has yet to take any form — let alone the form of a contender.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: LeBron James is going to be the steal, the guy who won’t get paid what he can deliver. But if you’re sticking to “a guy who signs way under where he could have signed,” that’s clearly more under-the-radar: P.J. Tucker. He should have received more attention for Most Improved Player. Now he’s going to become a great value as a free agent. Defense, 3-point range — he will produce more than he will get paid, probably just without a lot of attention.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comGreivis Vasquez made a big impact in Toronto when he arrived in the Rudy Gay trade. The Raptors were at their best when he was on the floor and his willingness to pass the ball was infectious. He’s a restricted free agent, but there are other point guards ahead of him on the free-agent market, including one – Kyle Lowry – on his own team. So he could be had at below mid-level money, and he could make a similar impact wherever he goes as a second point guard that can share the floor with the starter. If the Raptors can keep both Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, and Lou Williams returns to form, that could be the league’s best bench outside of San Antonio.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comEric Bledsoe. And he’s a restricted free agent, so whatever offer he gets is going to be below the mark of what he could command on the open market as an unrestricted free agent. He was spectacular during an injury-curbed season in Phoenix, but every executive I have spoken with seems to think he’s the one impact player of this summer that few people are talking about. The Suns have the opportunity to match whatever big offer comes his way, and that means some teams will be scared off, therefore reducing the dollars he can command.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I think so much of this depends on the place these players end up. If Greg Monroe, for instance, signs with Atlanta, that allows Al Horford to shift to the power forward spot and could have a huge impact beyond just Monroe’s stats. That said, I don’t think Monroe’s going to be undervalued. If Wade and Bosh and Bron all end up in Miami, as it seems, a bunch of teams who had money saved up may have extra cash to spread around. But the guy who I think is being undervalued right now is Luol Deng. He’s not a name that will sell season tickets, but he’s the ultimate team player, a former All-Star, and a guy who goes all out every night. Some team might be able to get themselves a superstar at a bargain.

Blogtable: Jason Kidd is in Milwaukee

Jason Kidd joins a team that won only 15 games last season (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Jason Kidd joins a team that won only 15 games last season. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: The Carmelo Sweepstakes | The steal of free agency | Jason Kidd: Discuss


> Is Jason Kidd the right man for the job in Milwaukee? Anything else you want to say about how this whole Kidd-to-Bucks thing went down?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’ve been out front and outspoken on this topic already, so I’ll try not to repeat any previous harangue. When Kidd was hired by Brooklyn last year, my thought was: Interesting choice but he needs to take over a rebuilding team so he can learn and grow as a coach along with his players. The win-now, veteran-heavy Nets roster seemed like (and mostly was) a mismatch. So if Kidd had been fired, oh, last December when Brooklyn was losing and got hired by Milwaukee now — sometime after Larry Drew‘s firing — it would have seemed legit. But then, he wouldn’t have tipped his hand in craving personnel power — a privilege completely unearned at this point — or in relying so much on “buddy ball” with his wealthy pal, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry. One more thing: Letting a coach weasel out of a four-year contract after one season to switch teams and double his pay is something the players and their union might want to bring up to the NBA owners at the next CBA talks in 2017.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: It was one thing to have Kidd trade in his jersey for a suit jacket and stand on the sidelines running a team packed with veterans and led by a couple of future Hall of Famers.  Now the Bucks are asking him to roll up his sleeves and go to work with a 15-win club.  No.  I believe that job takes more of a coaching background and resume. In addition, Kidd is a guy who always creates turmoil and heads for the door at the first sign of trouble. No reason to think he’s got the stomach or the know-how for this long-term job. As our man Steve Aschburner wrote, Kidd and the new owners ham-handedly handled the whole situation. Replace Larry Drew?  Fine.  But you do it with a whole lot more class.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Who knows if Jason Kidd’s the right man for the job in Milwaukee? Which coach was the last right man there? George Karl? Don Nelson? I’ll give Kidd this, he managed to get the Nets turned around after that clueless start. But we’ll see what kind of patience he has with a young team that needs a teacher. As for how the whole situation went down, I have one word — despicable.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The big picture is that we just learned a lot about how the new Bucks ownership intends to conduct business. It’s not a good lesson, of course. Beyond the obvious that Kidd and Marc Lasry just gave a clinic on how not to handle the situation, beyond the fact that Larry Drew and John Hammond are two of the classiest people in the league and deserved professionalism and honesty instead of this back-door play, Lasry gave away his honeymoon in Milwaukee and gave away his credibility to get someone who would have been a questionable hire under the most basic circumstances. Underhanded and arrogant — making a basketball decision without input from your basketball people — never looks good. Underhanded and arrogant to get a coach with one season of experience and position him to run personnel looks even worse. So, no, I really don’t have anything else to say.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Once the Nets found their identity in January, Kidd did a nice job of managing his rotation and getting contributions from everybody, while keeping his vets relatively fresh. He made the most of his team’s matchup advantages in the playoffs against both Toronto and Miami. He’s a basketball savant. But what happened in Brooklyn is the latest evidence that he’s just not a good person. And the most important aspect of a coach’s success is the talent he has on the roster. The Bucks are lacking in that department.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: He could be the right man for the job, but the way this was handled makes it extremely difficult to have anything but a sour taste in your mouth about Kidd and his future in Milwaukee or anywhere else. I’m going to avoid the moral soapbox and refrain from cracking Kidd or the Bucks for doing what they have done. This is the NBA. No one goes in thinking it’s going to be all roses and lollipops. Larry Drew, as low down as he was treated by both the Bucks and ultimately Kidd, will survive this. The Bucks will even shed this drama in time. Kidd’s reputation, however, might never recover.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Perhaps it came out when I was watching the Money In The Bank pay-per-view the other night, but somehow I missed the memo where Larry Drew isn’t a good coach. I enjoyed watching his Hawks teams, who utilized a balanced offense and went to the playoffs three consecutive seasons. Drew also was terrific drawing up back-picks and slip-screen plays in last minute situations; Drew was no fan of Hero Ball. I think Jason Kidd is also a very good coach, and he improved as the season went along with the Nets, and he’s a bigger “name” than Larry Drew. So that’s all great. Maybe the way this situation shook out wasn’t handled as cleanly as it could’ve/should’ve been, but it is what it is. Either way, I’d like to have seen Kidd win more than 15 games last season in Milwaukee with that roster.

Free agency update: Options and offers


VIDEO: K.C. Johnson talks about the Bulls’ free-agency future

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Free agency officially tipped off at midnight ET on Tuesday morning. But before then, players and teams had to make decisions on options, qualifying offers, and non-guaranteed contracts. Here’s the low down on who’s staying and who could be going.

Player options

These players had an option in the final year of their contract. If they exercised it, they’re staying for one more year. If they declined it, they became free agents Tuesday morning.

Exercised (staying put)
Joel Anthony (BOS)
Darrell Arthur (DEN)
Tim Duncan (SAS)
Rudy Gay (SAC)
Jonas Jerebko (DET)
Andrei Kirilenko (BKN)
Zach Randolph (MEM)
Jason Richardson (PHI)
Nate Robinson (DEN)


VIDEO: Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro talks about Rudy Gay opting in with Sacramento

Declined (free agents)
Chris Andersen (MIA)
Alan Anderson (BKN)
Andray Blatche (BKN)
Darren Collison (LAC)
Glen Davis (LAC)
Channing Frye (PHX)
Francisco Garcia (HOU)
Danny Granger (LAC)
Udonis Haslem (MIA)
Josh McRoberts (CHA)
Anthony Morrow (NOP)
Byron Mullens (PHI)
Mo Williams (POR)
Nick Young (LAL) (more…)

Hawks set up well to add a star


VIDEO: East Draft Review: Atlanta Hawks

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The big free agent destinations for this summer are Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami.

But what about Atlanta?

Few teams are set up to sign a star better than the Atlanta Hawks, who created more cap space with a trade reportedly agreed to on Sunday.

John Salmons is under contract for $7 million next season, but the Hawks only have to pay him $1 million if they waive him by Tuesday. That’s exactly what they’re expected to do, so by trading Lou Williams‘ $5.45 million deal (Lucas Nogueira doesn’t have a contract), the Hawks have created an additional $4.45 million of cap space.

As it stands, that gives the Hawks more than $13 million of cap space total. Assuming they extend qualifying offers to restricted free agents Shelvin Mack (more important now that Williams is gone) and Mike Scott and don’t extend one to Gustavo Ayon (who played just 26 games last season), they have a little more than $15 million in cap space.

That’s not enough to offer a max contract to LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, but it’s enough to make a serious upgrade on the wing, where DeMarre Carroll started 73 games last season.

It’s just not cap space that makes a star player a good fit in Atlanta. It’s the supporting cast.

The best way to complement a star who draws the attention of extra defenders is with shooting. And starting with Kyle Korver, the Hawks have an abundance of that. They ranked fifth in 3-pointers last season and fifth in effective field goal percentage from outside the paint. It was their ability to space the floor with all five guys that gave the Indiana Pacers a world of trouble in the first round of the playoffs.

Bigs Paul Millsap and Pero Antic can step out beyond the 3-point line and Al Horford — expected to make a full recovery after December surgery on a torn pectoral muscle — has been one of the league’s best mid-range shooters over the last few years.

Those bigs are also good rebounders, and Jeff Teague is a solid point guard who can make defenses scramble on the pick-and-roll. That takes pressure off a star to carry the offense by himself.

Of course, beyond James and Anthony, there’s not a real offensive star (on the wing) to be had in free agency. Lance Stephenson might be the closest thing, but he doesn’t quite fit into the Spurs East model that Danny Ferry and Mike Budenholzer are trying to build in Atlanta (neither does Anthony, really).

And so, while Ferry did well in clearing contracts to get to this point, his tenure with the Hawks can’t be ruled a success until he actually gets the team back where they were — making three straight trips to the conference semifinals — before he got there.

Joe Johnson‘s contract is kind of ridiculous, but the Joe Johnson that we saw in the playoffs this year is exactly the kind of the player that would fit in well with the Hawks right now. Ferry has done well to set up a strong supporting cast, but there’s one more big step to take.

What can the Heat offer free agents?


VIDEO: Wade opts out

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and now Chris Bosh have informed the Miami Heat that they will exercise the early termination options on their contracts, ending what were six-years deals after four seasons.

In addition, Udonis Haslem, has declined his $4.3 million player option.

Nine days ago, Pat Riley made it clear that he’d like his three All-Stars to take less money to help him retool the roster. On Tuesday, James put added pressure on Bosh and Wade by opting out of his deal. Now, it looks like things are falling into place and Riley will have the opportunity to upgrade the other two positions in his starting lineup.

Rumored targets for the Heat include point guard Kyle Lowry, forward Trevor Ariza and center Marcin Gortat. All have tools (ball-handling, defense, size) that would certainly help Miami. The idea of adding Carmelo Anthony seems far-fetched, but it all depends on how much money he’s willing to sacrifice, as well as how much Miami’s Big Three are willing to sacrifice.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that James is seeking a max contract, which would be a five-year deal worth about $120 million. So it would apparently be Bosh and Wade who would have to take pay cuts.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard tweeted that Bosh is seeking a new five-year deal worth $15-16 million per year. Those two reports (as well as the assumption that Wade isn’t going to take less than Bosh) gives us the framework of the Heat’s salary math, with an expected salary cap of $63.2 million …

Heat salary math

Player 2014-15 Notes
1 James, LeBron $20,020,875 Cap hold
2 Bosh, Chris $13,043,478 Reduced salary (5 yrs/$75M)
3 Wade, Dwyane $13,043,478 Reduced salary (5 yrs/$75M)
4 Cole, Norris $2,038,206 Under contract
5 Andersen, Chris $915,243 Cap hold
6 Napier, Shabazz $1,032,200 Cap hold
7-11 Cap hold x 5 $2,536,680 Cap hold
TOTAL $52,630,161
Salary cap $63,200,000
Left for free agent $10,569,839 4-year deal for $45.1 million

1. James’ max contract would start at about $20.8 million. Since his cap hold (1.05 x last year’s salary) is a little less than that, the Heat would use that number until the other pieces are signed. Then they can go over the salary cap to re-sign James.

2 and 3. If Bosh and Wade both accept five-year deals worth $75 million ($15 million per year), those contracts would have starting salaries of just over $13 million.

4. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports that the Heat are looking to unload Norris Cole. If they do that (and don’t get another player in return), his $2.0 million would be replaced by another rookie minimum cap hold (see 7-11) and they’d have an additional $1.5 million of cap space.

5. The Heat could renounce the rights to Chris Andersen, but he has just a vet’s minimum cap hold. Keeping that would allow them to sign him for much more after they’re back over the salary cap.

6. The Heat can pay Shabazz Napier 120 percent of the rookie scale for the No. 24 pick. As with James, better to keep the cap hold number until the other pieces are signed.

7-11. If you don’t have 12 guys on your roster, there is a rookie minimum cap hold ($507,336) for every slot that takes you up to 12. So, if we’re talking about James, Bosh, Wade, Cole, Andersen, Napier and one free agent, we need five minimum cap holds.

Additional note: In this scenario, the Heat have renounced their rights to Haslem, Ray Allen, Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Toney Douglas, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, and Greg Oden, and have also waived Justin Hamilton (who has a non-guaranteed deal). It’s assumed that Haslem will get rewarded for opting out (with a long-term deal that pays him more than the $4.3 million he could have earned next season), and Allen is a critical piece in the rotation, but their cap holds ($8.2 million and $4.2 million) are too big to keep on the books.

After the Heat have gone over the cap, they can use the room exception (starting at $2.7 million) to bring one or more of those guys back (or add other free agents). It can be split among multiple players. After that, they’d have only minimum deals to offer players.

If all the above holds, the Heat could offer one free agent $45.1 million over four years ($11.3 million per year). If they are able to trade Cole, that would turn into $51.7 million over four years ($12.9 million per year).

That’s still about half of what Anthony could earn elsewhere. If he were to re-sign with the Knicks for the max, he’d get $129.1 million over five years ($25.8 per year). If he were to sign with a new team for the max, he’d get $95.9 million over four years ($24.0 million per year).

So Lowry, Ariza and Gortat are obviously more realistic options. If the Heat were to split their cap space among two free agents (assuming they traded Cole), they could offer them a total of about $13.5 million per year. Ariza and Gortat each made $7.7 million for the Wizards this past season, while Lowry made $6.2 million for the Raptors.

Both Gortat and Lowry will likely be offered raises from their current teams, who are both looking to keep the momentum going after returning to the postseason after long layoffs. With Martell Webster and Otto Porter on the roster, the Wizards might not fight hard for Ariza, but he could still get more than mid-level money elsewhere, as one of the better three-and-D guys in the league and still just 29 years old.

So there’s no clear starting-lineup upgrade for the Heat. But if James accepts less than the max or if Bosh and/or Wade accept less than $15 million per year, there’s more money to spend. And since they’re also offering a chance to play with the best player in the world for a championship on Biscayne Bay, they may not have to spend as much as other teams.

Sixers stay looking toward the future


VIDEO: Post Draft: Dario Saric

BROOKLYN – When the Toronto Raptors selected Brazilian Bruno Caboclo with the 20th pick of the 2014 Draft, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said that the 18-year-old was “two years away from being two years away.”

With that description, Caboclo would be a better fit in Philadelphia, where “two years away from being two years away” seems to be the ongoing mantra.

For the second straight season, the Sixers used a Lottery pick on a guy that can’t help them right away. But this time, they doubled-down, using both of their Lottery picks on guys that can’t help them right away.

A year after drafting the injured Nerlens Noel with the No. 6 pick (acquired from New Orleans), the Sixers selected the injured Joel Embiid with the No. 3 pick. And then, after swapping picks with the Orlando Magic (getting two future picks for moving down), they used the No. 12 pick to select Croatian Dario Saric, who just just agreed to a deal in Turkey that will keep him from playing in the NBA until 2016 at the earliest.

So Sixers fans, who endured a rough 2013-14 season after general manager Sam Hinkie broke down the roster, will have to have some more patience, because Hinkie isn’t ready for his team to be good – or even mediocre – yet.

The Sixers might not have been dramatically better with Noel and two Lottery picks who could actually participate in a game this fall. The rest of their roster is still thin on both talent and experience. But Hinkie is clearly looking well beyond next season. And he hopes to have increased his team’s chances of getting dramatically better down the line.

Noel was considered by many to be the best talent in last year’s draft and fell to No. 6 because he was coming off ACL surgery. This year, Embiid was the consensus No. 1 pick. Saric may have gone a few picks higher had he been willing to play in the NBA next season. Together, they might make one heck of a frontline someday.

Hinkie, clearly not worried about job security, is looking to take advantage of GMs that are. And it will be a while before we find out just how successful he was in doing so.

Last week’s surgery on his fractured right foot could keep Embiid out for much of his rookie season. If Philly takes the same tack as they did with Noel, thinking long-term all the way, Embiid won’t play at all as a rookie.

With all three picks, there was risk involved. Sports medicine has come a long way, but Noel still major knee surgery. Embiid is a seven-footer with both back and foot issues. Saric – like other international picks before him – could choose to never come over. So, in addition to having patience, Sixers fans will have to cross their fingers and hope for the best.

But their team got the top talents in each draft. And in this league, you don’t aim to be a playoff team. You aim to be a title contender. Sometimes, getting there takes a long time.

It’s easy to forget, but the Sixers were a game away from the conference finals just two years ago. Then they swung and missed on a trade for Andrew Bynum that summer and, after he was hired last May, Hinkie continued driving the bus toward 60-Loss Land, trading Jrue Holiday for the picks that became Noel and Saric.

Unless he change direction in the next 12 months (don’t bet on it), Hinkie will be back in this same position again at the 2015 Draft, where he’ll have another chance to pick someone who’s not ready to play. But this all could pay off in a big way a few years down the line.

The Sixers are going to lose a lot of games again, but maybe they’re the early favorites for the 2020 NBA title.

Blogtable: Over the top with the Draft

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: LeBron, staying or bolting? | Banking on the Draft | Wrangling over an RFA



VIDEO: Big things are expected from one of the most-awaited Drafts in years

> Do you see a lower-level lottery team that, through smart picking alone on Thursday, can change its fortunes this season and make the playoffs? What makes you say that?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: The question seems to be twisting our arms in Phoenix’s direction (No. 14) or maybe Denver’s (No. 11) because the teams around them – Minnesota, Orlando, Philadelphia – deep in the lottery (Nos. 1-14) don’t seem ready to be transformed so quickly, and Charlotte (No. 9) made the postseason two months ago. But that’s fine, because Denver is the right answer anyway. The Suns came close last season and I’m eager to see coach Jeff Hornacek‘s second act, but the Nuggets could add a valuable piece – think shooting guard – and take a mighty stride thanks to the return of various injured contributors (JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson) in Brian Shaw‘s second act.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I guess it’s too easy to say Phoenix, since the Suns barely missed out last season.  So I’m gonna cheat on you a little bit and take a team that has picks in the top (4) and bottom (12) of the lottery and say the Magic.  If GM Rob Hennigan hits on both picks, with the core of young talent on hand, I could see the Magic making a bid for the playoffs in the (L)east.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Here’s the deal, as bad as the East was this year, I don’t see any of the so-called “lower-level” lottery teams — which I’ll consider the bottom four in each conference — making a significant enough leap to get into the playoffs. So let’s go West: Sacramento. Stop laughing. Once Rudy Gay arrived he transformed into Mr. Efficiency. DeMarcus Cousins could have been an All-Star last year — and probably would have been Dwight Howard‘s backup had the center position still existed. Let’s assume Isaiah Thomas remains. Ben McLemore enters his sophomore year. And there’s some decent role guys on a roster that heads into Year 2 under coach Michael Malone. So now add the eighth overall pick in a deep draft. The problem in the West is finding a team that drops out of the playoffs. Does Dallas slip? Memphis? It’s difficult to think of any of the top six dropping out.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The obvious thought would be the Suns, in a good position to make the playoffs anyway, except that they will have to be pushed over the line next season by returning players and whatever moves are made via free agency or trade, not when No. 14 is the best pick. If you’re looking for draft impact for a team that is not coming off a playoff appearance — eliminating Charlotte, in other words — Cleveland could do it if the pick is Jabari Parker, more NBA-ready than any of the top prospects. The Cavaliers have the obvious advantage of getting close last season. I would put Orlando in there as well, with two picks in the lottery, as long as No. 4 isn’t spent on Joel Embiid. It’s got to be two players expected to be in uniform opening night. Making up 15 games is a big jump, but it’s the East. What are we talking, a good week?

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The obvious answer is Phoenix, but the Timberwolves (plus-219) had basically the same point differential as the Suns (plus-216) this season, and it was mostly awful late-game execution (and defense) that kept the Wolves from winning eight or nine more games. If they keep Kevin Love or if they get a couple of good players (David Lee and Klay Thompson, perhaps) for him, add a No. 13 pick that can contribute right away, and improve their defense under Flip Saunders, the Wolves could be in the playoff mix next year.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: I don’t. And it’s not because of the team picking but because even for what everyone deems a deep draft, a lower-level lottery team would need to unearth a surprise pick that no one saw coming in the lead-up to the Draft. It’s been years since we’ve had a genuine Draft stunner like that, a talent capable of lifting a lower-level lottery team to change it’s fortunes in such a short period of time. We’re talking all the way back to the heralded 2003 Draft and what Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade did for their teams (Denver and Miami), in terms of a fist-year impact like that.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I almost answered this with a simple “No,” but I knew doing that would mean a series of angry emails and phone calls from The Powers That Be, so I’ll go with Phoenix, mainly because they just missed the playoffs last year. Also, they’ve got a system that looks for and rewards energy and effort, and while it may take some picks time to learn the NBA game, energy and effort are the one thing every player comes armed with. Other than PHX, I don’t know what “lower-level” lottery teams I’d expect to make a run at the postseason this year. Most of the teams are building for some vague future, from Orlando to Philly to Charlotte to Sacto. Phoenix is the only team that plays and prepares as though the future is now.