Author: Dan Feldman

Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers

Rockets signing Montrezl Harrell, facing hard cap


Montrezl Harrell has gotten drafted.

He has played well in summer league.

He has even pulled someone from an overturned car.

He just hasn’t signed a contract.

That will soon change for Harrell, the No. 32 pick by the Rockets.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Unless the Rockets make another major move before executing this contract, they’ll be bound by the hard cap this season.

Houston used part of its mid-level exception – less than the value of the non-taxpayer MLE – to re-sign K.J. McDaniels. Because contracts signed through the minimum-salary exception are limited to two years, the Rockets will have to use the MLE to sign Harrell. Even if Harrell gets a minimum salary, that would push Houston into taxpayer-MLE range – triggering the hard cap.

The Rockets are just $459,239 below the hard cap, according to data from Basketball Insiders. Harrell’s minimum salary is $525,093. So, they’ll have to make at least one minor move to fit him. Waiving one of their four unguaranteed rookies – Chris Walker, Denzel Livingston, Remi Yusuf, Will Cummings – is most likely.

Even if it waives all four of them (quite possible) and inks Harrell to a minimum deal (unlikely), Houston would be just $2,034,518 below the hard cap with 14 players. The Rockets would have enough room below the hard cap to add a veteran on a minimum deal, but they could stand pat with 14 players.

The bigger issue is the inability to make a big in-season trade that adds salary. You can be sure Houston general manager Daryl Morey didn’t want to restrict himself like this. He’s always chasing the next splash.

The Rockets already dealt for Ty Lawson, and that could suffice for this year.

It will probably have to.

Report: Jan Vesely likely returning to NBA

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

Just seven top-six picks since the NBA-ABA merger have played three or fewer seasons in the NBA (excluding, of course, those drafted after 2012 who haven’t yet had the opportunity):

  • Jan Vesely
  • Jonny Flynn
  • Jay Williams
  • Len Bias
  • Chris Washburn
  • Russell Cross
  • James Ray

Vesely is trying to escape that list.

Orazio Cauchi of Sportando:

That’s a mighty Vesely-slanted spin. I don’t think Vesely – who signed in Turkey last year after three seasons with the Wizards and Nuggets – can just decide whether or not he plays in the NBA.

He has averaged 16.8 points 9.0 rebounds per game in EuroBasket for Czech Republic, which faces Serbia in a semifinal tomorrow. But he looked so overmatched in the NBA, not nearly skilled enough to turn his athleticism into production. Vesely – who, with Ray, is one of two players on that list whose NBA exit wasn’t caused by injury or drugs – needs to impress for more than just a couple weeks.

If Vesely wants to chase an NBA job through a training-camp tryout, he can probably do that. A guaranteed contract, while possible, seems unlikely.

NBA GMs discuss expanding draft once D-League reaches 30 teams


D-League expansion is coming.

When the NBA’s minor league reaches 30 teams – an affiliate for every NBA franchise – what will happen?

David Aldridge of

And once every NBA team has its own D-League team, the assumption is there will be a need for more players to fill out those rosters — and the need to expand the Draft by at least a round, maybe two.

“If everybody’s going to have a D-League team, that’s eight more positions that everybody’s going to get,” one longtime GM said over the weekend. “Maybe you go to five (rounds) the first year to allow everybody to stock the teams, and then the next year, you go down to four.”

Another general manager proposed that players taken after the second round of an expanded Draft have so-called “two-way” contracts, similar to those used for some players in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Such contracts pay salaries based on whether the player is in the major leagues or the minors.

I’m all for expanding the draft.

The players union will resist it, because the draft restricts players. Undrafted free agents have much more freedom and leverage to negotiate their contracts.

But, holistically, a longer draft could boost player salaries.

The goal for the D-League should be stocking teams with players the parent NBA squad holds exclusive rights to. Right now – except assigned players, who continue to make an NBA salary and count against an NBA roster – D-League players are NBA free agents. That partly explains why D-League salaries are so low. Why spend too much on a player any team can sign? But if NBA teams held exclusive rights of their D-League players, those D-League players would be much more valuable and NBA teams would pay them more. The best way for NBA teams to construct those rosters is through an expanded draft.

The salary issues are bit trickier.

Should NBA teams and D-League affiliates have separate salary caps? Would individual-player maxes exist? Would it be possible for an NBA team not to have enough cap space to call up a D-League player?

A “two-way” contract could solve some issues, but it could leave the possibility of a team leaving an NBA-ready player in the D-League just to pay him less. That probably shouldn’t be allowed.

I’m very much in favor of a 30-team D-League, but it will require careful consideration to make it fully functional.