Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has his hands full.
I don’t want to pile on, but he might have one more responsibility that previously seemed completed: Trading Omer Asik.
Houston reportedly agreed before the draft to trade Asik to the Pelicans for a future first-round pick. The deal was slated to become official after the July moratorium, which ended last night.
At the time the trade was agreed upon, it wasn’t exactly clear how New Orleans would clear the cap space to absorb Asik, who has a cap number of $8,374,646. It seemed simple enough, though.
The Pelicans could waive the unguaranteed contracts of Melvin Ely and Luke Babbitt, use the stretch provision on Austin Rivers
Maybe New Orleans didn’t want to dump Rivers, Ajinca and Withey for no return. But the Pelicans could, theoretically, at least assure Houston they’d take such measures if no trades emerged.
Now, that set of transactions leaves New Orleans $102,228 shy of having enough room for the trade.
Unless they stretch one of their top-five players – Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson – the Pelicans can’t unilaterally create enough cap space to trade a first-round pick for Asik.
Safe to say, they’re not stretching those valuable players. That means a New Orleans player must get added to the Houston trade or dealt elsewhere.
Trading one of the big five could clear room, but again, I can’t see the Pelicans going that route unless they had something lined up independent of the Asik trade.
Much more likely: New Orleans trades Ajinca or Rivers. Dumping either would clear enough room to add Asik.
Ajinca, due $981,084 next season, is a decent backup center. He averaged 5.9 points on 54.6 percent shooting and 4.9 rebounds in 17.0 minutes per game for the Pelicans last season.
Rivers has struggled to shoot efficiently in the NBA, but he was the No. 10 overall pick just two seasons ago. His 2014-15 salary is $2,439,840, and he has a $3,110,796 2015-16 team option that must be decided by Oct. 31.
These players are movable. It’s even possible New Orleans already has contingencies in place to complete the Asik trade.
But the NBA didn’t release the actual salary cap until yesterday, and the league’s estimates tend to be conservative. This is the rare official NBA cap estimate that overestimated reality. I’m not totally convinced the Pelicans and Rockets were ready for it.
At this point, dealing Ajinca or Rivers might be somewhat cumbersome. If teams know why New Orleans must shed salary – or even if they don’t – they might demand a second-round pick to take on Ajinca or Rivers. So many teams are trying to maximize cap space, even these small guaranteed salaries could get in the way.
Trading a first-rounder for Asik was already costly. If New Orleans must add another pick to dump Ajinca or Rivers, the value of the deal drops for the Pelicans.
A simple answer would be dealing Ajinca or Rivers to Houston as part of the Asik trade. But the Rockets are already likely asking Bosh to sacrifice salary. Adding another guaranteed salary would certainly reduce the effectiveness of trading Asik to trim salary, even if just a small amount.
When the margin for error is so slim, it’s easy to look back at previous moves and wonder what could have been.
Why did the Pelicans keep Withey past July 5? That triggered a $100,000 guarantee, and though that amount alone doesn’t alter the feasibility of the Asik trade, it’s a hindrance.
Why did New Orleans give Ajinca, who hadn’t played in the NBA in two years, a guaranteed two-season contract when signing him in December? If that second year were unguaranteed, a reasonable stipulation for a player of Ajinca’s caliber, this problem would have been avoided.
The Pelicans can’t undo these previous decisions, and they’ll have to deal with the fallout. But their problem is now Morey’s problem.
On the clock with Parsons, Morey must address this if he hasn’t already.
The Pelicans also face a time crunch to address this. Barring a much bigger move, they can’t feasibly trade for Asik after using the mid-level exception. That means free agents are picking other destinations as New Orleans handles this issue.
I still expect Asik will be traded to the Pelicans (though I wouldn’t be shocked if the deal falls apart). It will just be a little more complicated now.
However, I’m not sure those complications will be sorted out before Parsons’ deadline or before New Orleans’ top MLE target signs elsewhere.
Yet, Caldwell-Pope hasn’t signed an extension with the deadline six days away.
What will it take?
There was gossip over the summer that it would take a deal worth north of $20 million per year to get Caldwell-Pope’s signature.
That’s not an unreasonable demand. It’s up to Caldwell-Pope whether he’d accept less in exchange for more security, but I think he’d get even more as a restricted free agent next summer – maybe even a max contract, which projects to start at more than $24 million.
Caldwell-Pope is a good shooting guard in a league with a dearth of quality wings and a greater need for them as teams go smaller. He’ll be just 24 next offseason, so his next deal should last through his prime.
His preseason didn’t foreshadow a breakout year. He remains a good defender and streaky 3-point shooter. But it’s possible Caldwell-Pope steadies his outside stroke and/or becomes an even more impactful defender. He could also improve his off-the-dribble skills, though his bread is buttered as a 3-and-D player.
Still, it won’t take massive improvements for Caldwell-Pope to hold value. To some degree, the Pistons could view every dollar under the max on a Caldwell-Pope extension as savings.
If his demands remain high, the Pistons could always take another year to evaluate the fourth-year guard. With matching rights, they can always re-sign him in the offseason.
Until last season, the NBA set or tied its record for number of international players on opening-night rosters the previous three years.
But after peaking at 101 in 2014-15, the number dropped to 100 last season.
A sign the league has hit its foreign saturation point?
The NBA boasts a record 113 international players from a record 41 countries and territories to begin this season. Canada, with 11, leads the league for the third straight year.
A count of international players in the NBA on opening night:
- 2016-17: 113
- 2015-16: 100
- 2014-15: 101
- 2013-14: 92
- 2012-13: 84
Here’s a full list of 2016-17 international players, but before you read it, take our quizzes on opening-night rosters.
- Argentina: Luis Scola, Brooklyn Nets
- Argentina: Nicolas Brussino, Dallas Mavericks
- Argentina: Nicolas Laprovittola, San Antonio Spurs
- Argentina: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
- Australia: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Australia: Andrew Bogut, Dallas Mavericks
- Australia: Aron Baynes, Detroit Pistons
- Australia: Matthew Dellavedova, Milwaukee Bucks
- Australia: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
- Australia: Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs
- Australia: Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
- Australia: Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
- Austria: Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors
- Bahamas: Buddy Hield, New Orleans Pelicans
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Lakers
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mirza Teletovic, Milwaukee Bucks
- Brazil: Tiago Splitter, Atlanta Hawks
- Brazil: Cristiano Felicio, Chicago Bulls
- Brazil: Anderson Varejao, Golden State Warriors
- Brazil: Nene, Houston Rockets
- Brazil: Marcelo Huertas, Los Angeles Lakers
- Brazil: Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix Suns
- Brazil: Bruno Caboclo, Toronto Raptors
- Brazil: Lucas Nogueira, Toronto Raptors
- Brazil: Raul Neto, Utah Jazz
- Cameroon: Luc Mbah a Moute, LA Clippers
- Cameroon: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
- Cameroon: Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
- Canada: Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
- Canada: Anthony Bennett, Brooklyn Nets
- Canada: Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Canada: Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
- Canada: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
- Canada: Tyler Ennis, Houston Rockets
- Canada: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Canada: Nik Stauskas, Philadelphia 76ers
- Canada: Cory Joseph, Toronto Raptors
- Canada: Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz
- Canada: Andrew Nicholson, Washington Wizards
- Cape Verde: Walter Tavares, Atlanta Hawks
- Congo: Serge Ibaka, Orlando Magic
- Croatia: Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
- Croatia: Damjan Rudez, Orlando Magic
- Croatia: Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic
- Croatia: Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers
- Croatia: Dragan Bender, Phoenix Suns
- Czech Republic: Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic
- Dominican Republic: Al Horford, Boston Celtics
- France: Nicolas Batum, Charlotte Hornets
- France: Kevin Seraphin, Indiana Pacers
- France: Alexis Ajinca, New Orleans Pelicans
- France: Joffrey Lauvergne, Oklahoma City Thunder
- France: Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
- France: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Philadelphia 76ers
- France: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
- France: Boris Diaw, Utah Jazz
- France: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
- France: Ian Mahinmi, Washington Wizards
- Georgia: Zaza Pachulia, Golden State Warriors
- Germany: Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks
- Germany: Paul Zipser, Chicago Bulls
- Germany: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
- Greece: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- Greece: Georgios Papagiannis, Sacramento Kings
- Haiti: Skal Labissiere, Sacramento Kings
- Israel: Omri Casspi, Sacramento Kings
- Italy: Marco Belinelli, Charlotte Hornets
- Italy: Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
- Latvia: Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
- Latvia: Davis Bertans, San Antonio Spurs
- Lithuania: Mindaugas Kuzminskas, New York Knicks
- Lithuania: Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Lithuania: Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
- Mali: Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans
- Montenegro: Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
- Montenegro: Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Montenegro: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
- New Zealand: Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Nigeria: Festus Ezeli, Portland Trail Blazers
- Poland: Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards
- Puerto Rico: Jose Juan Barea, Dallas Mavericks
- Russia: Timofey Mozgov, Los Angeles Lakers
- Senegal: Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Senegal: Maurice Ndour, New York Knicks
- Serbia: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- Serbia: Boban Marjanovic, Detroit Pistons
- Serbia: Nemanja Bjelica, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Slovenia: Beno Udrih, Detroit Pistons
- Slovenia: Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
- Slovenia: Sasha Vujacic, New York Knicks
- South Sudan: Luol Deng, Los Angeles Lakers
- South Sudan: Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks
- Spain: Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets
- Spain: Jose Calderon, Los Angeles Lakers
- Spain: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
- Spain: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Spain: Guillermo Hernangomez, New York Knicks
- Spain: Alex Abrines, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Spain: Sergio Rodriguez, Philadelphia 76ers
- Spain: Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs
- Sweden: Jonas Jerebko, Boston Celtics
- Switzerland: Thabo Sefolosha, Atlanta Hawks
- Switzerland: Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
- Tunisia: Salah Mejri, Dallas Mavericks
- Turkey: Omer Asik, New Orleans Pelicans
- Turkey: Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Turkey: Ersan Ilyasova, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Ukraine: Alex Len, Phoenix Suns
- Ukraine: Joel Bolomboy, Utah Jazz
- Venezuela: Greivis Vasquez, Brooklyn Nets
NBA teams cut their rosters to a maximum of 15 players yesterday. Only one team, the Bulls, has just 14 players.
That means there are 449 players in the NBA as the season tips off tonight.
How many of them can you name?
Take these two quizzes, one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference. Players are in a random order within their teams.
Chandler Parsons missed the Mavericks’ final 18 games last season, including the playoffs, due to knee problems.
Now with the Grizzlies, his games missed streak will hit 19.
Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com:
Maybe this is just a blip. Parsons will get healthy soon enough and diversify Memphis’ offense.
But Dallas didn’t make a stronger push to keep Parsons due to his knees. We could look back on this and chastise the Grizzlies for signing someone to a max contract who wasn’t even ready to play in the first place. They have big plans for Parsons, but he must play for those to work.