Up next in our Basketball Insiders series of the best transactions in each division is the Pacific Division. With the exception of the Golden State Warriors, every other team in the division is in a state of transition.
The Los Angeles Clippers are preparing for life without Chris Paul, while the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings are all going through rebuilding phases. We’ve officially hit the dog days of summer and most of the activity has slowed to a crawl. Teams will still look to improve their rosters if they can as training camp draws near, but most rosters are, for the most part, set for next season. With this in mind, let’s take a look at six of the best deals that were made in the Pacific Division so far this offseason.
Warriors re-sign their entire core
Coming off their second championship in three years, the Warriors had a couple of important decisions to make as the season came to a close. While it was a foregone conclusion that Kevin Durant and Steph Curry would remain with the team, the futures of key role players such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston were much less certain.
In the end, Durant took less money than what he could’ve signed for, and the Warriors were able to bring back both of their top reserves. Not only that, but they also re-signed Zaza Pachulia, who was last year’s starting center, and David West, who provided valuable veteran minutes off the bench. They even managed to bring back JaVale McGee as well.
Ian Clark notwithstanding, the Warriors didn’t lose anyone of value and kept their team intact. They won the title this year, and they’ve also won the offseason.
Warriors add Nick Young and Omri Casspi
As if they weren’t dominant enough, the Warriors managed to make their roster even stronger this offsason. In the past, veteran players still producing at a high level have sacrificed money and/or years on other teams for a chance at a championship. It’s unknown what other offers were out there for either Young and Casspi, but both had decent seasons last year and had other teams interested in their services. They both chose to play on one-year deals and in Casspi’s case, the veteran’s minimum.
Both players are deadly shooters. Young shot 40.4 percent from three-point range last year with the Lakers. Although Casspi didn’t have a strong shooting year, he is a career 36.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc and all the open looks he’ll get in the Warriors’ offense should be helpful. Both will be asked to provide additional scoring off the bench and Casspi is able to rotate between both forward positions.
The offseason isn’t over yet, and there’s still rumblings of Carmelo Anthony heading to the Houston Rockets, but it’s pretty safe to say the Warriors have put themselves in an excellent position to contend for another title.
Clippers re-sign Blake Griffin
After losing Paul, the Clippers couldn’t afford to lose Griffin as well. Despite some of his past injuries, Griffin, when healthy, can play at the level of a top ten player in the league and is a franchise cornerstone. He’s improved his outside shooting to the point where he can score from pretty much anywhere on the court, and he’s one of the best passing big men in the league. Losing him as well would’ve been a major blow for a franchise that has struggled since its inception with finding and maintaining legitimacy.
With Griffin back in the mix alongside DeAndre Jordan and newly acquired Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers maintain one of the best frontcourts in the Western Conference. Griffin is in the midst of the prime of his career and it will be interesting to see how he performs without Paul.
The West had a big infusion of talent this summer with the arrival of several All-Stars from the East, making the conference that much stronger. From top to bottom though, the Clippers still have a talented roster and should be in the mix for a playoff berth with Griffin leading the charge.
Lakers sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
A win-win scenario for both parties involved. Despite being one of the top, and most intriguing wing players on the market, the free agent money dried up, leaving Caldwell Pope searching for a new team after the Detroit Pistons traded for Avery Bradley. The Lakers were searching for someone who could potentially fit with their young core, while not compromising their cap space for next summer.
For Caldwell-Pope, he gets another year to prove his worth and look for a bigger payday next summer when the NBA’s salary cap is projected to jump up again. He’s only 24-years-old and he’s become one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. He’s also an improving shooter who shot a career-high 35 percent from the three-point line this past season.
For the Lakers, they get an extended look at a young guy who’s still developing and who could possibly end up as a member of their young core as they navigate the rebuilding process. With his outside shooting and defensive prowess, he could be a good fit alongside Lonzo Ball in the backcourt. Being that it’s a one-year deal, the Lakers also maintain cap room for next summer when players like Lebron James and Paul George will hit the free agent market.
Kings add trio of veterans
The Kings have struggled for the better part of the last decade, but this summer should have the Sacramento faithful feeling good about the team again. They first added De’Aaron Fox, Harry Giles, Justin Jackson and Frank Mason III through the draft to go along with their other young talent in Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. They had a great offseason by way of the draft alone.
It’s greatto have a bunch of young talent, but they’re going to need a couple veterans to bring them along and show them the ropes. And the Kings did just that, bringing in a group of some of the best veteran guys available.
George Hill was one of the top free agent point guards, and he’ll provide valuable locker room leadership, as well as being a mentor to Fox. Zach Randolph has long been one of the most crafty and skilled post players in the league. Labissiere and Cauley-Stein should pick up a lot from him. Vince Carter will do the same. At age 40, Carter is the oldest active player in the NBA and was still a valuable rotation player in Memphis. He probably won’t be counted on for a ton of production on the court, but instead will be looked to as the elder statesman in the locker room. Assuming the Kings stand pat, they should have a nice mix of veterans and young talent to build around next season.
Clippers sign Milos Teodosic
Long considered one of the best players in the world not playing in the NBA, Teodosic finally made the move this summer across the sea. An incredibly skilled and talented playmaker, he should fit right in with high flying athletes like Griffin and Jordan. It won’t be easy to fill Paul’s shoes, but Teodosic should help ease the transition.
There have been cases in the past where star players in Europe have come to the NBA and struggled to make any sort of impact. Vassilis Spanoulis and Sarunas Jasikevicius come to mind. Teodosic has played well against the United States in international competition and led Serbia to the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. But the NBA game is a different animal. There will be an adjustment period. He’ll most likely get his chance to start, but he is limited defensively. It will likely be a battle in training camp between him and his former EuroLeague teammate Patrick Beverly as to who will replace Paul in the starting lineup.
Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.
Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.
The Grizzlies and Pelicans have agreed on a trade to send Jonas Valanciunas, 2021 Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, 2021 picks Nos. 10 and 40 and a protected 2022 first-round pick via the Lakers, per @wojespn pic.twitter.com/q7ZoqzpJjt
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 26, 2021
Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.
From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.
Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.
NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.
“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.
In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.
Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.
NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.
Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.
However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.
Raptors, Wolves, Cavs, Pacers and Kings have all showed interest in acquiring Ben Simmons, per B/R's @JakeLFischer
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 25, 2021
Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.
On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.
Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.
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