August is traditionally a vacation month for NBA teams.
Outside of last week’s schedule release, a few late free agent signings and Team USA playing in Rio, the league is relatively quiet.
The NBA starts to rev up for the preseason in September, finalizing training camp rosters, with camps opening at end of the month (or start of October) followed by exhibition games.
Opening night will be Tuesday, October 25, although a few key milestone dates will happen before then.
August 31 is the last day teams can stretch a player’s salary for the 2016-17 season.
For instance, if the Lakers chose to waive Nick Young before September, his two-year, $11.1 million salary would be stretched over the next five seasons. Should the team wait until after August, his full $5.4 million would stay on the cap for the year, but his second year’s $5.7 million would be stretched out over the following three seasons.
Young fell out of favor under Byron Scott, but the team has since hired head coach Luke Walton. The team may prefer to find a trade, or even give Young a shot on the roster instead of waiving and stretching him.
Other teams looking at a roster crunch may decide to stretch out unwanted players, although the record $94.1 million salary cap this year may prompt teams (including the Lakers) to avoid stretching altogether.
Qualifying Offer Deadline
On October 1, the Houston Rockets’ qualifying offer of $5.7 million to Donatas Motiejunas expires, presuming an agreement is not reached before that deadline.
Motiejunas would still remain a restricted free agent, but he would lose the ability to accept Houston’s offer, and then try unrestricted free agency next summer.
Technically the Rockets can extend the offer, though that’s not necessarily likely – historically speaking.
Teams can carry up to 15 players, so the Rockets – with 14 guaranteed – still have room for Motiejunas. Houston also reportedly has verbal agreements to sign Gary Payton II, Kyle Wiltjer, Isaiah Taylor and Bobby Brown, but if Motiejunas does return – no room for others, barring trade.
Opening Night Rosters
The NBA will release opening night rosters on Monday, October 24. Teams will need to whittle down their rosters to 15 players by then. Most will make cuts 48 hours prior to the deadline to make sure players clear waivers in time.
A few teams waited past the deadline last year, like the Philadelphia 76ers who were charged $3,089 against their cap for one extra day of J.P. Tokoto and $6,178 for two days apiece for Jordan McRae and Jordan Railey.
The Boston Celtics currently have 16 fully-guaranteed players. One will have to be cut or waived. James Young, the Kentucky guard/forward taken 17th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, appears to be the most expendable player on the roster.
The Atlanta Hawks may need to make room for Mike Muscala, whose $1.0 million contract is half-guaranteed. The Hawks haven’t gotten much out of Tiago Splitter, who has struggled to stay healthy. Stretching out his $8.6 million salary may not make sense – why hurt cap room in future seasons?
Instead, Atlanta may be better off pursuing a buyout, or looking to one of the teams hoping to reach salary cap floor ($84.7 million), like the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets or 76ers.
What, in terms of future draft considerations, would the Hawks be willing to give up to save $8.6 million?
Since franchises below the floor are required to cut a check at the of the season to their roster players for the shortfall, a team like the 76ers would not be spending any extra money to acquire a player like Splitter. Under former executive Sam Hinkie, Philadelphia used this exact salary cap mechanism multiple times to acquire draft picks – essentially for free.
Rookie-Scale Options and Extensions
Teams have to decide on the third- or fourth-year options on their first-round picks by October 31. Those going into their fourth year of a rookie-scale contract are extension eligible through Halloween.
The following list of players have pending option or extension decisions:
Extension Eligible: Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Team Options: Marcus Smart, James Young, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter
Extension Eligible: Kelly Olynyk
Team Options: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough
Team Option: Frank Kaminsky
Team Options: Doug McDermott, Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant
Extension Eligible: Tony Snell
Team Option: Justin Anderson
Team Options: Emmanuel Mudiay, Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris
Team Option: Stanley Johnson
Extension Eligible: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock
Golden State Warriors
Team Option: Kevon Looney
Team Options: Sam Dekker, Clint Capela
Team Option: Myles Turner
Los Angeles Lakers
Team Options: Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr.
Team Options: Jordan Adams, Jarell Martin
Team Option: Justise Winslow
Extension Eligible: Michael Carter-Williams, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Team Options: Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Adreian Payne, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
Extension Eligible: Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng
New York Knicks
Team Option: Kristaps Porzingis
Oklahoma City Thunder
Team Options: Mitch McGary, Cameron Payne, Josh Huestis
Extension Eligible: Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson
Team Options: Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, C.J. Wilcox
Team Options: Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas
Extension Eligible: Nerlens Noel
Team Options: Devin Booker, T.J. Warren
Extension Eligible: Alex Len, Archie Goodwin
Portland Trail Blazers
Team Options: Noah Vonleh, Shabazz Napier
Extension Eligible: Mason Plumlee
Team Option: Willie Cauley-Stein
Extension Eligible: Ben McLemore
San Antonio Spurs
Team Option: Kyle Anderson
Team Option: Lucas Nogueira, Bruno Caboclo, Delon Wright
Team Options: Dante Exum, Trey Lyles, Rodney Hood
Extension Eligible: Rudy Gobert
Team Option: Kelly Oubre
Extension Eligible: Trey Burke, Otto Porter
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