Author: Dan Feldman

Report: Jabari Parker returning for Bucks-76ers on Wednesday

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The Bucks have stumbled to an 0-3 start, but help is on the way:

Jabari Parker, who was still bothered by a December ACL tear.

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A two-game stretch against the Nets and 76ers seems like an opportune time for the Bucks to get on track. But their biggest weakness has been defense. They’re allowing a league-high 117.1 points per 100 possessions.

Parker probably won’t help much there.

I like the Bucks’ collection of talent and future, but the question remains: How quickly will they be ready to win? It’s nice to have Parker playing, but he might not move the needle much immediately.

Report: Pacers decline Solomon Hill’s option

Solomon Hill
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It’s getting harder and harder for first-round picks not to fulfill the four years on their rookie-scale contracts.

Yet, some still fall below the low bar to have their options exercised.

As the salary cap rises and rookie-scale contracts remain tied to salary-cap projections made before the new national TV deals, first-round picks are occupying a lower percentage of the salary cap than ever. So, it’s usually worthwhile to keep first-rounders for all four years of their rookie-scale contracts, including the final two seasons, which are team options.

From the 2013 draft, only No. 18 pick Shane Larkin and No. 30 pick Nemanja Nedovic had their third-year options declined last year. No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett and No. 19 pick Sergey Karasev had their fourth-year options declined earlier this fall.

On the final day before the deadline, No. 23 Solomon Hill might be the final first-round pick from the draft class to fall short of completing his rookie-scale contract.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Indiana Pacers have declined the fourth-year option on forward Solomon Hill, league sources told Yahoo Sports, making the 2013 first-round pick a free agent in July.

Hill’s option was for $2,306,019, a pretty low figure for someone the Pacers deemed worthy of starting 78 games last season – even if that was only because Paul George got hurt.

Hill showed a solid ability to attack the rim, though the total package left a lot to be desired. Already 24, Hill seemingly has less room for growth than most players in their third season.

I expected Hill to play more this season with George shifting to power forward, as the Pacers would need help filling their wing minutes. But Hill has fallen from the rotation.

He’ll become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and this probably signals his exit from Indiana is imminent.

Warriors not extending Festus Ezeli’s contract

Festus Ezeli
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Warriors general manager Bob Myers said he was “focused and motivated” to complete contract extensions for Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli.

But Barnes isn’t getting an extension, and neither is Ezeli.

Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

There’s a decent chance this was a package deal.

A Barnes extension would’ve raised his initial cap number next offseason from $9,683,495 to the starting salary of his extension – a jump that could have decimated the Warriors’ flexibility. I think they would have done that to lock Barnes into a reasonable deal, but they were incentivized to play hardball.

So, once Barnes wasn’t signing an extension, cap flexibility became more of an imperative. An Ezeli contract extension also would’ve surely raised his initial cap number from $5,021,870. If the Warriors had extended Barnes and had no chance of cap room, having even less cap room wouldn’t have hindered them. But with a chance to be under the cap, Ezeli probably would’ve had to accept substantially less than the market rate.

Golden State can make Barnes and Ezeli restricted free agents, and there’s a decent chance both return. But by going this route, the Warriors give themselves a chance to look around – maybe at Kevin Durant.

Report: No contract extension coming between Thunder, Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters, Will Barton
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Surprising: The Thunder and Dion Waiters had serious contract-extension discussions.

Not surprising: An extension isn’t happening.

David Aldridge of

The Thunder can make Waiters a restricted free agent next summer by extending him a $6,777,589 qualifying offer. They’ll probably do that if for no other reason than they traded a first-round pick for him. Too often, teams prioritize saving face.

Waiters is young and talented enough to become a helpful NBA player, but it’ll take major work to get there. I’ve yet to see Waiters show a desire to fix his bad habits – ball-stopping, poor shot selection, low defensive effort. Until his mindset changes, he won’t get anywhere. He’s not good enough to serve as a go-to scorer.

At least Oklahoma City will have another season to evaluate him and try to change his approach. Kevin Durant will be the priority next summer, but Waiters also fits into the equation. How much the Thunder value Waiters might depend whether or not Durant re-signs, but I doubt Waiters leaves Oklahoma City.

Even without extending his contract, all signs point to the Thunder valuing Waiters more than any other team does.

Report: Nets declining Sergey Karasev’s option

Sergey Karase, Marcus Smart
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The NBA salary cap is rising so much, even the Nets project to have cap space next summer.

So, cheap rookie-scale contracts are becoming more valuable. Salaries for first-round picks were determined before the new national TV contracts, making rookie-scale contracts even more relatively deflated than usual.

Still, not every rookie-scale deal is team-friendly. Hence, the Nets are declining Sergey Karasev‘s $2,463,754 fourth-year option for next season.

Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops:

Karasev, who has yet to crack the rotation after dislocating his patella and tearing his MCL last March, will become an unrestricted free agent.

Maybe Brooklyn sees Karasev has lost some of the athleticism that makes him intriguing at age 22. Otherwise, I’m not a big fan of declining this option.

If Karasev develops a more reliable outside shot and better feel for the NBA game, his salary would be a tremendous value. Most players his age improve.

If Karasev struggles, the downside of waiving him and eating his salary – maybe even in stretching it – isn’t that costly. Karasev needn’t a likely success to justify that small outlay.

Again, the Nets should know Karasev better than the rest of us. If they don’t think he’s worth even $2.5 million, that’s probably telling.