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Getting Ready for NBA Trade Season

Salary cap guru Eric Pincus provides the latest information on the upcoming NBA trade season.

Eric Pincus

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The 2016-17 NBA season is already over a month old but only one trade has been consummated since opening night.

Outside of the November 1 deal that sent Jerami Grant to the Oklahoma City Thunder from the Philadelphia 76ers for Ersan Ilyasova, the trade market has been quiet.

That’s not uncommon with trade restrictions suppressing the market. Last season, Miami and Memphis made the only deal before late December.

By rule of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, free agents who signed over the summer cannot be traded for three months or December 15, whichever is later.

JaVale McGee, who signed with the Golden State Warriors on September 12, has the December 15 restriction. Kyle Wiltjer inked with the Houston Rockets on September 23 and cannot be dealt until December 23.

With the NBA’s trade deadline on February 23, less than three months away, all future free-agent signings will not be trade eligible this season.

Additionally, players who re-signed with their teams over the offseason to at least a 20 percent raise (via Early or Full Bird Rights) cannot be traded until January 15.

Meanwhile, general managers are taking the time to determine if their team will be a buyer or seller in the trade market. Currently, Warriors (14-2) have the best record overall, while the Dallas Mavericks (2-13) have the worst. Dallas has been beset by injuries, but is still just 5.5 games behind the eighth-place Portland Trail Blazers (9-9).

No-Trade Clauses

Now that Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan have retired, only LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) and Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks) have explicit no-trade clauses.

A much greater number of players have a similar right to block trades since they re-signed with their respective teams on one-year deals.

That list includes Kris Humphries (Atlanta Hawks), Deron Williams (Mavericks), James Jones (Cavaliers), Beno Udrih (Detroit Pistons, picked up off waivers from the Miami HEAT), Anderson Varejao (Warriors), James McAdoo (Warriors), Ian Clark (Warriors), Luc Mbah a Moute (Los Angeles Clippers), Metta World Peace (Los Angeles Lakers), Udonis Haslem (HEAT), Steve Novak (Milwaukee Bucks), Sasha Vujacic (New York Knicks), Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs) and Marcus Thornton (Washington Wizards).

Nowitzki, who has a team option on the second year of his deal, also has the implicit version of a no-trade. Technically, Dallas could get around that by opting him into the second year but Nowitzki would still have his actual no-trade clause.

Both Tyler Johnson (HEAT) and Allen Crabbe (Trail Blazers) can block trades as well, given their respective franchises matched offer sheets in July.

Roster Space

With the NBA currently full with 15 players on all 30 teams, 450 in total, teams will need to make room if they intend to make a trade that brings in more players than they send out.

For example, if a team needs to take on three players in a deal while sending out one, they would first need to waive two players on their current roster.

By January 10, all players on non/partially-guaranteed contracts will lock in for the rest of the season. A total of 408 players may have guaranteed money, but teams are certainly free to cut those with locked in salary.

Hard Cap

Teams with hard caps, set at $117.3 million for the current season, cannot go over for any reason — limiting how much salary they can take on in trade.

The Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks are all hard-capped.

The Clippers are the closest to that mark at $114.7 million in salary. They would be unable to make a deal that brings in an additional $4 million in salary.

Los Angeles triggered the hard cap by using the Mid-Level Exception (MLE) on Wesley Johnson and the Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) on Mbah a Moute. The Raptors used their MLE on Jared Sullinger.

The Grizzlies and Bucks were hard-capped after acquiring players via sign and trade (Troy Daniels and Matthew Dellavedova, respectively).

Trade Exceptions

Trade exceptions can be used to acquire a player without sending out matching salary. Teams can bring in a player earning up to $100,000 more than the exception.

The following franchises have trade exceptions available:

Charlotte Hornets: $1.7 million, expiring 7/12/17

Cleveland Cavaliers: $845,059, expiring 1/12/17; $9.6 million expiring 2/18/17; $947,276, expiring 2/18/17; $1.3 million, expiring 8/15/17

Los Angeles Clippers: $1.2 million, expiring 7/15/17

Milwaukee Bucks: $1.7 million, expiring 9/22/17

Oklahoma City Thunder: $7.4 million, expiring 11/1/17

Trade-Restricted Players

Neither Michael Carter-Williams (Chicago Bulls) nor Tony Snell (Bucks) can be traded in a package with others players on their respective team. The salary-aggregation restriction lifts on December 17.

Additionally, Udrih cannot be aggregated by the Pistons until December 24.

The following players cannot be traded until the dates listed below:

Dec. 15

Atlanta Hawks: Kent Bazemore, Malcolm Delaney, Dwight Howard, Kris Humphries

Boston Celtics: Gerald Green, Al Horford

Brooklyn Nets: Trevor Booker, Randy Foye, Justin Hamilton, Joe Harris, Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola

Charlotte Hornets: Treveon Graham, Roy Hibbert, Brian Roberts, Ramon Sessions, Christian Wood

Chicago Bulls: Isaiah Canaan, Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade

Cleveland Cavaliers: Chris Anderson, Richard Jefferson, James Jones, DeAndre Liggins

Dallas Mavericks: Harrison Barnes, Nicolas Brussino, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, Deron Williams

Denver Nuggets: Darrell Arthur, Mike Miller

Detroit Pistons: Jon Leuer, Boban Marjanovic, Ish Smith, Beno Udrih

Golden State Warriors: Ian Clark, Kevin Durant, James McAdoo, JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Anderson Varejao, David West

Houston Rockets: Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Nene

Indiana Pacers: Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin

Los Angeles Clippers: Alan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Raymond Felton, Wesley Johnson, Luc Mbah a Moute, Marreese Speights

Los Angeles Lakers: Jordan Clarkson, Luol Deng, Marcelo Huertas, Timofey Mozgov

Memphis Grizzlies: Troy Daniels, James Ennis, Chandler Parsons, Troy Williams

Miami HEAT: Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem, James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Willie Reed, Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside, Derrick Williams

Milwaukee Bucks: Matthew Dellavedova, Steve Novak, Mirza Teletovic, Jason Terry

Minnesota Timberwolves: Cole Aldrich, Jordan Hill, John Lucas, Brandon Rush

New Orleans Pelicans: Tim Frazier, Langston Galloway, Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones, E’Twaun Moore

New York Knicks: Ron Baker, Brandon Jennings, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Maurice Ndour, Joakim Noah, Marshall Plumlee, Sasha Vujacic

Orlando Magic: D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, Arinze Onuaku, Damjan Rudez

Philadelphia 76ers: Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez

Phoenix Suns: Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley, Derrick Jones

Portland Trail Blazers: Festus Ezeli, Tim Quarterman, Evan Turner

Sacramento Kings: Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Ty Lawson, Garrett Temple, Anthony Tolliver

San Antonio Spurs: Dewayne Dedmon, Bryn Forbes, Pau Gasol, David Lee

Toronto Raptors: Jared Sullinger, Fred VanVleet

Utah Jazz: Joe Johnson

Washington Wizards: Danuel House, Ian Mahinmi, Sheldon McClellan, Andrew Nicholson, Daniel Ochefu, Jason Smith, Marcus Thornton

Dec. 21

Los Angeles Lakers: Thomas Robinson

Dec. 23

Houston Rockets: Bobby Brown, Kyle Wiltjer

Los Angeles Lakers: Metta World Peace

Dec. 26

San Antonio Spurs: Nicolas Laprovittola

Jan. 9

Houston Rockets: James Harden (renegotiated and extended contract)

Jan. 15

Boston Celtics: Tyler Zeller

Charlotte Hornets: Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James, J.R. Smith

Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki

Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond

Los Angeles Clippers: Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers

Los Angeles Lakers: Tarik Black

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley

Miami HEAT: Tyler Johnson

Milwaukee Bucks: Miles Plumlee

New York Knicks: Lance Thomas

Orlando Magic: Evan Fournier

Portland Trail Blazers: Allen Crabbe, Mo Harkless, Meyers Leonard

San Antonio Spurs: Manu Ginobili

Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan

Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal

Jan. 31

Atlanta Hawks: Ryan Kelly

Feb. 4

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook (renegotiated and extended contract)

Feb. 9

Brooklyn Nets: Yogi Ferrell

Feb. 16

Denver Nuggets: Alonzo Gee

Feb. 21

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Brown

Feb. 17

Dallas Mavericks: Jonathan Gibson

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NBA

Defensive Player Of The Year Watch – 11/17/17

Spencer Davies updates the list of names to keep an eye on and who’s in contention for DPOY.

Spencer Davies

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We’re exactly one month into the season now, as the NBA standings have started to take shape headed into winter.

A couple of weeks ago, Basketball Insiders released its first Defensive Player of the Year Watch article to go in-depth on players that could compete for the prestigious award. Since then, there have been injuries keeping most of the household names out of the picture.

Guys like Rudy Gobert (knee) and Al-Farouq Aminu (ankle) have been or will be sidelined for weeks. Kawhi Leonard has yet to make his season debut recovering from a bothersome right quad.

While that isn’t the best news for fans and the league at the moment, it’s likely that those players will be just fine and return with the same impact they’ve always made. In the meantime, there are opportunities for others to throw their names in the hat as elite defenders. With new names and mainstays, here’s a look at six healthy candidates.

6) Joel Embiid

Trusting the Process in Philadelphia was worth the wait. As polished as the seven-footer is with the ball in his hands on offense, he might be even more dangerous as an interior defensive presence.

One of ten players in the NBA averaging at least a block and a steal per game, Embiid makes a world of a difference for in limiting opponents. Through 14 games, the Philadelphia 76ers are allowing just 96.4 points per 100 possessions with him playing. Furthering that, he’s the only one on the floor who dips the team’s defensive rating below 100 and has the second-highest Defensive Real Plus-Minus rating (3.03) in the NBA.

5) Kristaps Porzingis

Like Embiid, it’s been an incredible season for the one called The Unicorn. Before the season started, Porzingis stated it was a goal of his to accomplish three things—an All-Star game appearance, Most Improved Player, and Defensive Player of the Year.

So far, he’s on the right track. Outside of being the league’s third-highest scorer (28.9 points per game), the Latvian big man is hounding and deterring shot attempts nearly every time inside. According to SportVU data, Porzingis is allowing his opponents to only convert 35.1 percent of their attempts at the rim, which is the lowest by far among his peers seeing at least four tries per game. Oh, and when he’s off the floor, the Knicks have a 112.4 defensive rating, which is 9.3 more points per 100 possessions than with him on.

4) Nikola Jokic

At the beginning of the season, it looked like the same old story with the Denver Nuggets defense, but their intensity has stepped up on that end of the floor for the past couple of weeks. Playing next to new running mate Paul Millsap has taken some getting used to, but it seems like the two frontcourt partners have started to mesh well.

Though it might not have been the case a season ago, the Denver Nuggets are a net -12.4 per 100 possessions defensively without Jokic on the court as opposed to a team-best 100.1 defensive rating with him on. A huge knock on the Serbian sensation last year and before then was his inability to defend. He’s still got things to work on as a rim protector with his timing, but the progress is coming. He’s seventh in the league in total contested shots (168) and has been forcing turnovers like a madman. Averaging 1.6 steals per game, Jokic has recorded at least one takeaway in all but two games.

3) Draymond Green

In the first DPOY watch article, the Golden State Warriors had been better off defensively with Green sitting. That right there should tell you how much we can really put into data in small sample sizes. It’s changed dramatically since that point in time.

Without Green playing, the Golden State Warriors have a defensive rating of 105.4 as opposed to 98.4 on the same scale with him on the floor. His matchups are starting to grow weary of driving on him again, as he’s seen less than four attempts at the basket. Currently, in DRPM, he ranks eighth with a 2.60 rating.

2) Al Horford

The Boston Celtics are still the number one team in the NBA in defensive rating. Horford is still the straw that stirs the drink for Brad Stevens. If you didn’t see that watching that knockdown, drag-it-out game against the Warriors on Thursday, go back and watch it.

He has the highest net rating on the team among starters and is leading the team by altering shots and grabbing rebounds with aggressiveness we haven’t seen since he played for the Atlanta Hawks. Ranking fourth in Defensive Box Plus-Minus and in DRPM, Horford is continuing to make his presence felt.

1) DeMarcus Cousins

Dominance is the word to describe Cousins’ game. With a month-long absence of Gobert, he has a real chance to show fans and voters that his defensive side of him is no façade.

Next to his partner Anthony Davis, Boogie has kept up the physicality and technique of locking up assignments. The third and final member of this list averaging at least a block and steal per game, Cousins is at the top of the mountain in DRPM with a 3.13 rating.

The New Orleans Pelicans significantly benefit with him on the hardwood (102.3 DRTG) as opposed to him on the bench (112.7 DTRG). He’s one of six players in the league seeing more than six attempts at the rim, and he’s allowed the lowest success percentage among that group. He’s also contested 193 shots, which is the second-most in the NBA.

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NBA

Gregg Popovich Continues To Be The Gold Standard For Leadership

There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and Gregg Popovich.

Moke Hamilton

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There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and the San Antonio Spurs.

Okay, let’s be honest, it’s probably not the first time that you’ve heard that one, but it also won’t be the last.

Behind the genius of Gregg Popovich, the Spurs have qualified for the NBA Playoffs 20 consecutive years. In hindsight, they appear to have been the only team to legitimately frighten the Golden State Warriors during their 16-1 playoff run last year, and this season, well, they’ve been the same old Spurs.

That’s been especially amazing considering the fact that the team has been without Kawhi Leonard. Although Popovich recently said that Leonard would return “sooner rather than later,” he himself admitted to not being certain as to what that meant.

Best guess from here is that Leonard will return within the next few weeks, but at this point, it’s entirely fair to wonder whether or not it even matters.

Of course, the Spurs don’t stand much of a chance to win the Western Conference without Leonard thriving at or near 100 percent, but even without him, the Spurs look every bit like a playoff team, and in the Western Conference, that’s fairly remarkable.

“A team just has to play in a sense like he doesn’t exist,” Popovich was quoted as saying by Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News.

“Nobody cares if you lost a good player, right? Everybody wants to whip you. So it doesn’t do much good to do the poor me thing or to keep wondering when he is going to be back or what are we going to do. We have to play now, and other people have to take up those minutes and we have to figure out who to go to when in a different way, and you just move on.”

In a nutshell, that’s Popovich.

What most people don’t understand about Popovich is what makes him a truly great coach is his humility. He is never afraid to second-guess himself and reconsider the way that he’s accustomed to doing things. Since he’s been the head coach of the Spurs, he’s built and rebuilt offenses around not only different players, but also different philosophies.

From the inside-out attack that was his bread and butter with David Robinson and Tim Duncan to the motion and movement system that he built around Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the latest incarnation of Popovich’s genius isn’t only the fact that he has survived without Kawhi Leonard, it’s what could fairly be considered the major catalyst of it.

There are many head coaches around the league that take their roles as authority figures quite seriously, and that’s why a fair number would have been threatened by one of their star players requesting that things be rebuilt in a way to maximize his potential.

So when LaMarcus Aldridge proactively sat down with his coach to discuss the ways that he felt he was being misused in the team’s schemes, it wouldn’t have come as a shock for Popovich to meet him with resistance.

Instead, he did the opposite.

“We have talked about what we can do to make him more comfortable, and to make our team better,” Popovich acknowledged during Spurs training camp.

“But having said that, I think we are mostly talking about offense. Defense, he was fantastic for us. Now, we have got to help him a little bit more so that he is comfortable in his own space offensively, and I haven’t done a very good job of that.”

Just 11 days after those comments were printed, the Spurs announced that they had signed Aldridge to a three-year, $72 million extension.

Considering that Aldridge’s first two years as a member of the Spurs yielded some poor efforts and relatively low output, the extension seemed curious and was met with ridicule.

Yet, one month later and 15 games into the season, the Spurs sit at 9-6. They’ve survived the absence of Kawhi Leonard and the loss of Jonathon Simmons.

Behind an offensive system tweaked to take advantage of his gifts, in the early goings, Aldridge is averaging 22 points per game, a far cry above the 17.7 points per game he averaged during his first two years in San Antonio.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Death, taxes and the Spurs.

So long as Gregg Popovich is at the helm, exhibiting strong leadership while remaining amazingly humble, the Spurs will be the Spurs.

Sure, Kawhi Leonard will be back—at some point.

But until then, the Spurs will be just fine.

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NBA

NBA AM: Atlanta’s Dewayne Dedmon Is Letting Shots — And Jokes — Fly

Dewayne Dedmon’s emergence has been an unexpected positive for the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks.

Buddy Grizzard

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It’s been a brutal season for the Atlanta Hawks, currently 3-12 with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Wednesday’s franchise-record 46-point win over the visiting Sacramento Kings was a rare chance for Atlanta to have a laugh in the postgame locker room and reflect on things that have gone well, including hot shooting for the team and a potential breakout season for center Dewayne Dedmon.

The Hawks trail only the Golden State Warriors in three-point shooting at just over 40 percent. Prior to joining the Hawks, Dedmon had attempted only one three-pointer in 224 career games. As a Hawk, though, Dedmon is shooting 42 percent on 19 attempts. Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer explained after Wednesday’s game how his staff decided to encourage Dedmon to extend his range.

“You do your research and you talk to friends around the league, you talk to people who have worked with him and you watch him during warmups,” said Budenholzer. “We had a belief, an idea, that he could shoot, he could make shots. We’re kind of always pushing that envelope with the three-point line. He’s embraced it.”

Dedmon is currently averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, blocks and minutes, and set season-highs in points (20), rebounds (14) and assists (five) against the Kings. He’s also brought an offbeat sense of humor that has helped keep the locker room loose despite the struggles. It became apparent early on that Dedmon was a different type of dude.

At Media Day, when nobody approached Dedmon’s table and reporters instead flocked to interview rookie John Collins at the next table, Dedmon joined the scrum, holding his phone out as if to capture a few quotes.

“This guy’s going to be a character,” said a passing Hawks staffer.

Those words proved prophetic, as Coach Bud confirmed after Wednesday’s win.

“He brings a lot of personality to our team, really from almost the day he got here,” said Budenholzer. “I think he’s getting more and more comfortable and can help the young guys and help everybody.”

Dedmon took an unconventional path to the NBA. Growing up, his mother — a Jehovah’s Witness — forbade him to play organized sports. Once he turned 18, Dedmon began making his own decisions. He walked on to the team at Antelope Valley College, a two-year school in Lancaster, Ca., before transferring to USC and eventually making it to the league.

His personality, which formed while Dedmon forged his own path, shone through in the locker room after the Sacramento win. Asked about conversations he’s had with Budenholzer about shot selection, Dedmon turned to teammate Kent Bazemore at the adjacent locker.

“What’s the phrase, Baze? LTMF?”

“Yep,” Bazemore replied.

“Yeah, LTMF,” Dedmon continued. “Let it fly. So he told me to shoot … let it go. I’m not going to say what the M means.”

Amidst laughter from the assembled media, he explained that ‘LTMF’ is Budenholzer’s philosophy for the whole team, not just part of an effort to expand Dedmon’s game.

“Everybody has the same freedom,” said Dedmon. “So it definitely gives everybody confidence to shoot their shots when they’re open and just play basketball.”

With the injury bug thus far robbing Atlanta of its stated ambition to overachieve this season, Dedmon’s career year and team success from three-point range are two big positives.

Rebuilding or retooling can be a painful process. But with a unique personality like Dedmon helping keep things light in the locker room, Atlanta should make it through.

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