kevin durant lebron james
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Report: NBA also reduces projected 2018-19 salary cap to $103 million

3 Comments

Adam Silver said he dislikes the 1+1 contracts signed by players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

The NBA commissioner might soon see players lock into longer deals more often and switch teams less often.

Not only does it now project the 2017-18 salary cap to reach just $102 million, the league has dropped its 2018-19 salary-cap projection from $108 million.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

For 2018-19, the NBA estimates a cap of $103 million with the tax line at $125 million.

This would stifle player movement for a few overlapping reasons.

Fewer teams would have cap space. Not only would that mean players having fewer options of where to sign, capped-out teams would prioritize re-signing their own free agents through Bird Rights.

Those with player or early termination options would be more likely to opt in for similar reasons.

Knowing these conditions are coming will have players ahead of time prioritizing security in long-term contracts rather than flexibility.

In the last three years, the salary cap has risen 7.5%, 11.0% and 34.5%. It projects to rise 8.3% next season.

In a league where contracts can call for max raises of 7.5% for fully or early qualifying veteran free agents or 4.5% otherwise,* it made more sense for players who could command the max whenever they wanted it — like LeBron and Durant — to take short deals. Signing a new max deal (which starts at 25%-35% of the salary cap, depending on experience) would pay more than a max raise on a previous season’s max.

Unlike LeBron, who already had 10 years experience when he returned to the Cavaliers, Durant has the added bonus of qualifying for a higher max tier next season. But that potential benefit had long exist, and players didn’t take the short-term contracts until the rapidly escalating salary cap offered the boost coming from both directions (bigger pie and larger slice of it).

*Max raises will increase to 8%/5% in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement

So, with the league projecting just 1.0% salary-cap growth between 2017-18 and 2018-19, it’s far better to sign long-term in 2018 and receive raises on a 2017-18 starting salary rather than signing new contracts each year.

From the other side, teams ought to be more careful about whom they sign to those long-term deals. The salary cap will no longer rise fast enough to turn bad contracts into good contracts.

Stan Van Gundy backs off feud with ESPN ahead of televised Pistons game

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said he wouldn’t give ESPN its usual access – a private pre-game meeting and an in-game interview – in the aftermath of ESPN publishing LaVar Ball’s negative comments about Lakers coach Luke Walton.

The first test of Van Gundy’s new policy comes with today’s Pistons-Wizards game on ESPN… and Van Gundy is mostly backing down.

Van Gundy, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

“I got an email from Rick Carlisle of the coaches association and they want me to cooperate, so my whole idea was to boycott the thing in support of coaches,” Van Gundy said. “If the coaches don’t want that, then it would be a selfish thing, sort of a grandstanding thing.”

“I’m certainly not looking to do extra stuff with ESPN.com when those guys call and want to do things,” Van Gundy said. “They want to put themselves out there as a journalistic enterprise — they’re clearly not. They don’t have any journalistic standards. I have no obligation to do anything extra.”

Many media members have quoted Ball on a variety of issues. Coaches threw a fit over this one because they’re sensitive to coaches being criticized. It wasn’t about journalistic ethics or the source. Van Gundy and other coaches simply didn’t like Ball’s conclusion.

I’m so glad Van Gundy is no longer grandstanding. [extreme sarcasm]

He’s not obligated to speak with ESPN reporters, but when Van Gundy rails on journalistic standards as cover for disagreeing with the opinion a journalist published, he sounds a lot like the guy he loves to criticize.

Pistons’ Jon Leuer to undergo season-ending surgery

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jon Leuer‘s ankles survived this.

But apparently they’re not invincible.

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

After suffering a sprained ankle on Oct. 31, the symptoms worsened, as an exam revealed bone fragments and other issues. Leuer has missed the last 35 games and has decided to have season-ending ankle surgery, he told The Detroit News on Friday.

Leuer, 28, has scheduled the procedure to remove bone fragments for next Friday and will have a four-month rehabilitation process.

The Pistons have applied to the NBA for a disabled-player exception

The Pistons have been without Leuer for a while, and they’ve done fine without him. Anthony Tolliver is a capable backup stretch four, and Henry Ellenson adds even more insurance there. Detroit misses Leuer as a stretch center, providing a different style behind Andre Drummond, but Eric Moreland and Boban Marjanovic have at least decently handled those reserve minutes.

The bigger issue: The Pistons are paying Leuer $10,497,319 this season and owe him $19,510,724 over the next two years and don’t miss him that much. He’s a luxury they don’t need and maybe can’t afford.

Perhaps, they’ll deal him before the trade deadline, as they look to upgrade the roster for a playoff run. Detroit could send Leuer and a draft pick or young player (Stanley Johnson) for a better player on a more favorable contract. How about Leuer and a first-round pick to the Bulls for Nikola Mirotic?

A disabled-player exception (DPE) would be worth $5,248,660, half Leuer’s salary. It could be used to sign a free agent for the rest of the season or trade for a player in the final year of his contract.

But the NBA grants a DPE only if a league-appointed physician rules the player is “substantially more likely than not” to be unable to play through June 15. The reported timeline would have Leuer back in May.

Still, the league tends to be lax with giving out DPEs. Detroit has a chance to get one.

The Pistons are just $2,745,417 below the luxury-tax line. So, they’re unlikely to use a full Leuer DPE to acquire another player (and would still need to clear a roster spot). But it could be helpful in facilitating a bigger trade.

PBT Podcast: All-Star starters mock draft, picking reserves

Getty images
Leave a comment

The votes are in, and LeBron James and Stephen Curry are your All-Star captains.

For the first time in NBA All-Star history, that means they are picking their own teams, playground style, first from the pool of starters, then the pool of reserves. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports take on the roles of LeBron and Curry and pick their All-Star starters, from James Harden through Kyrie Irving.

Then the pair gets into who should be the All-Star Game reserves — and choosing among the Western Conference guards is brutal. Do they leave out Damian Lillard? Lou Williams? Klay Thompson? And that’s not even getting into Paul George being a bubble All-Star in a deep West.

Kurt and Dan break it all down, plus talk some Kemba Walker trade scenarios.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Aaron Gordon forgoes desperation attempt to win, sinks halfcourt shot instead (video)

Leave a comment

The Magic were in dire straights near the end of their game against the Cavaliers last night. Orlando trailed 104-103 with 0.2 seconds and a jump ball to be tossed at center court. By rule, the Magic didn’t have time to catch-and-shoot, let alone recover the jump ball then shoot. Aaron Gordon had to tip the jump ball through the hoop from halfcourt – nearly impossible, but technically possible.

Instead, Gordon grabbed the jump ball – a violation – then sank a halfcourt shot. What an ironic end.

Cleveland then harmlessly inbounded the ball to seal the win.