It’s been a rough offseason for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.
His plan to decline Chandler Parsons’ team option veered off track when the Mavericks gave Parsons a whopping offer sheet.
Still, Morey still had 72 hours to salvage his cap space before matching – if he could create room in the first place.
He traded Jeremy Lin to the Lakers, sending out a first-round pick to dump the productive backup point guard. But his prearranged trade of Omer Asik to the Pelicans seems to have hit an unexpected snag (though New Orleans might be positioning itself to fix the issue).
Still, Houston surely wants cap room to spend on other free agents before the deadline to match on Parsons.
And that’s where Morey has found even more trouble.
I, like many, assumed the Rockets drafted Clint Capela with the No. 25 pick, at least in part, because he wouldn’t join the NBA this year. If Capela signed a letter agreeing to defer signing for a season, the Rockets could immediately clear Capela from the cap. These arrangements are frequently negotiated before the draft so teams like the Rockets know whom they can draft and stash and whom won’t agree.
Currently, Capela counts against the cap at his rookie-scale amount.
The NBA and the players association, as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, previously negotiated a payment structure for all first-round picks depending on year and pick. The scale amount for the No. 25 pick signed in 2014 is $991,000. Teams can offer between 80 percent and 120 percent of scale, but with rare exception, players get 120 percent.
By design, there’s little room to negotiate. The NBA doesn’t want rookies holding out for monster contracts, which once happened regularly. The league has effectively made signing first-round picks a seamless process.
But occasionally there are snags.
The Houston Rockets and their 2014 NBA first round draft pick Clint Capela are in a contract dispute following the team’s failed attempt to lure Chris Bosh from Miami, league sources informed CSNNW.com.
According to one source, for cap space, the Rockets requested that Capela spend another season in France, believing they would land Bosh in free agency. Capela’s representatives were strongly against that idea and that still stands. Friction amongst the two sides is ongoing, sources say.
There’s a $500,000 buyout to free the 6-11 forward from his French team.
I’m very surprised the Rockets didn’t know Capela’s intent when drafting him. Maybe they thought they did – but there was a clear communication breakdown, which has led to the current impasse.
The Rockets must give Capela a required tender – a standing offer worth at least 80 percent of scale – by Wednesday.
However, Houston’s real deadline is probably Sunday, when Parsons’ offer sheet becomes binding. As soon as the Rockets match, they run out of cap room unless they make other salary-clearing moves.
The Rockets could cover Capela’s full buyout without the spent money counting toward team salary. However, if they don’t want him to sign this year, why would they offer to contribute any money toward his buyout?
Houston could refuse to make Capela a required tender, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Only once – the Bulls with Travis Knight in 1996 – has a team let its first-round pick go rather than offering the scale amount. I can’t believe Morey would squander an asset in that manner, though.
The Rockets could low-ball Capela, offering only 80 percent of scale and refusing to pay any of his buyout. Maybe Capela accepts that, paying his buyout out of his own pocket. If he does, his cap number would be lowered from 100 percent to 80 percent of scale, though Houston wouldn’t get it down to $0 as it would prefer.
If the Rockets toy with Capela in that way, he might not sign this year. And if he does, he could toy right back by delaying an official signature. Either way, he’d remain on the books at his current 100 percent of scale while the Rockets pursue free agents.
Unless the Rockets really need to free an extra $483,664 in cap room (Capela’s scale amount minus a minimum-salary roster charge of $507,336), they will submit the required tender. Then, they can test just how desperate Capela is to join the NBA. Houston could offer 80 percent of scale and none of his buyout this year while promising to pay 120 percent of scale and cover all of his buyout next year.*
*The scale amount, which increases annually, is determined by the year a player signs, not the year he’s drafted.
The difference for Capela would be $2,233,029 over four years if the third-year and fourth-year team options of his contract are exercised ($4,041,792 if signed this year vs.
Both sides have leverage here, which makes this somewhat-minor dispute all the more compelling.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Orlando Magic president Alex Martins entered the season believing this was the franchise’s best chance to break into the playoffs for first time in the post-Dwight Howard era.
With 23 games remaining, Martins realizes that’s a longshot at best.
“The season to date has been incredibly disappointing,” Martins told The Associated Press. “We didn’t expect to be in mix for one of the top seeds by any stretch as we are progressing. Our hope was to get in there and make the playoffs.”
The team brought in two key veteran front-court additions to fuse with a young nucleus and hired an experienced playoff coach in Frank Vogel. The pieces seemed in place to end a five-year playoff drought.
But Orlando has the third-worst record in the NBA at 21-28 and have scrapped their dominant front-court plan, shipping Serge Ibaka to Toronto. Their slim postseason chances are quickly fading.
It’s other setback for 34-year-old general manager Rob Hennigan, who has not delivered on putting Orlando back into the playoffs during his nearly five-year tenure. The roster has been consistently re-made and three different head coaches have been hired during Hennigan’s tenure.
Martins expressed his excitement about the future of a young nucleus of players that includes Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier and now nearly acquired swingman Terrence Ross. He also spoke highly of Vogel, who was hired last May after a successful run with the Indiana Pacers .
But Martins didn’t mention Hennigan, who has one more year remaining on his contract.
When asked about the GM, the president said Hennigan’s future will be evaluated at the end of the season, along with the rest of the basketball operations staff.
“We feel that you have to have the complete book of business for the year to be able to evaluate them and we are going to do that,” Martins said. “Everybody is accountable to all of the results and we will evaluate our basketball operations staff extensively at the end of the year and make any decision that we need to make.”
Hennigan has not shied away from discussing his job security, acknowledging that things have not worked out as he had hoped to this point.
“The seat is always hot,” Hennigan said last week. “That’s something that comes with the territory and it’s just something that comes with the job. It’s a difficult job with a lot of complexities. We feel like we are figuring it out.”
But the results don’t seem to support Hennigan’s assertion that they are any closer to figuring it out than when he came aboard in June 2012. Draft picks haven’t panned out, free agents have been brought in and shipped out as quickly and there has seemed to be a revolving door at the head coaches’ office.
The latest fallout was the Ibaka acquisition that fell apart quickly. The Magic gave up a promising young player in Victor Oladipo and other assets in order to get Ibaka from Oklahoma City.
Ibaka, who entered the season on the final year of his contract, turned out not to be a good fit for the two-big men defensive scheme and wasn’t giving indication he would be willing to re-sign with the Magic this summer.
“We certainly didn’t want to put ourselves in that position if Serge were to make a decision to go elsewhere and not have anything to show for it,” Martins said. “We wanted to protect ourselves against that.”
There were reports Orlando would be active in trade market before Thursday’s deadline, but the only trade they ended up pulling off was the Ibaka-Ross deal. Martins said the team had hoped to add what it considered to be significant pieces as late as Thursday, but that it all fell through.
“As they say it takes two trade partners to make a deal happen but unfortunately nothing came to fruition,” he said.
Now the focus becomes finishing strong, eyeing what is being touted as one of the deepest drafts in years and then free agency. Martins anticipates having as much as $30 million in salary cap space to spend in free agency.
“If we can get lucky for the first time in several years in the lottery and get up into the top 3, obviously you have a difference maker in this draft,” Martins said. “We also expect to be aggressive in free agency this summer. So we will see.”
In his first game in New Orleans, coach Alvin Gentry threw forward Omri Casspi right into the rotation, and he scored a dozen points.
Because there is so little time in the season and the Pelicans want to make the playoffs, they have decided to waive Casspi, reports Sams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The idea is to create a roster spot to either grab someone waived by another team over the next few days or to get players on 10-day contracts.
Casspi will be a free agent this summer, and there are a number of teams that think he has real potential once unleashed outside what was going on in Sacramento.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Ryan Kelly and guard Lamar Patterson to multiyear contracts.
Patterson provides depth across the perimeter, including at point guard. He previously signed two 10-day contracts with the team, most recently on Feb. 8. He has averaged 2.3 points in four games.
The 6-foot-11 Kelly has played in nine games with the Hawks after signing Oct. 31.
The Hawks now have their maximum 15 players. They traded forward Mike Scott to the Suns on Thursday, leaving two vacant roster spots.
Kelly and Patterson are expected to be available when the Hawks play Miami on Friday night.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee fired back at Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter after the former star-turned analyst posted on his verified account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, “America meet Javale “BUM” McGee.”
O’Neal also responded angrily to McGee , saying he would “smack” McGee’s “bum a–.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant backed McGee on Friday, with Durant calling Shaq “childish” while calling out the retired center’s free throw shooting and other flaws in his game during a Hall of Fame NBA career.
Shaq and McGee went back and forth in a heated Twitter spat late Thursday night, when McGee returned to a reserve role for the NBA-best Warriors as starting center Zaza Pachulia returned from an eight-game absence because of a shoulder injury.