Dan Feldman

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Report: Thunder signing Andre Roberson to three-year, $30 million contract

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Andre Roberson entered restricted free agency with a confounding profile – arguably the NBA’s best defensive guard, but an atrocious shooter (especially on free throws) for a wing.

What’s the price point on a player like that?

It appears the Thunder found it.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Oklahoma City is now over the luxury-tax line, though the tax is assessed on the last day of the regular season. There’s plenty of time to duck it, though dumping players like Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler could require significant sweeteners.

Maybe the Thunder, with Russell Westbrook extension eligible and headed toward 2018 free agency otherwise, are actually willing to pay the tax.

No matter what comes next, this is a nice signing for Oklahoma City, which is already having a fantastic offseason by trading for Paul George and signing Patrick Patterson. The 25-year-old Roberson should maintain his defensive excellence over the next three years, and he and George will make a heck of a defensive tandem on the wing. George will also alleviate pressure on Roberson offensively, maybe even allowing Roberson to spend more time as a small-ball four.

The Thunder still badly need an upgrade at backup point guard, and this signing precludes using the bi-annual exception or more of the mid-level exception than allocated to Patterson, either of which would trigger a hard cap. A backup point guard will now come via minimum signing, trade or – gulp – once again relying on Semaj Christon.

Report: Celtics discuss sending Jae Crowder to Jazz in Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade

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A Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade is the rumor du jour.

One reported possibility involves Jae Crowder going from the Celtics to Jazz.

ESPN:

The Jazz and Celtics discussed on Wednesday the possibility of including Crowder into a sign-and-trade agreement for Hayward, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Celtics can trade Crowder to any team, and as long as they receive $2,683,079 or less* in returning salary and renounce all their free agents, they can add Hayward on a max contract. (Other moves, like waiving unguaranteed Jordan Mickey and convincing Guerschon Yabusele to spend another year overseas, would allow Boston to take back more money in a Crowder trade.)

*Qualifying Utah players: Rodney Hood, Raul Neto and Joel Bolomboy

So, there’s no incentive for the Celtics to deal Crowder to the Jazz in particular. Any team would do.

If the Jazz offer the best asset – likely draft pick(s) – for Crowder, they can get him. Hayward, who’s already going to Boston, doesn’t count.

The Celtics gifting Crowder to Utah because they’re getting Hayward is fantasy.

Could Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade allow Celtics to keep Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart?

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The Celtics are reportedly shopping Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart to clear max cap space for Gordon Hayward.

One possibility: A sign-and-trade with the Jazz.

Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:

The Utah Jazz are willing to engage in talks on a Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics, league sources told the Tribune on Wednesday evening, on one condition: Hayward, who committed to signing with the Celtics on Tuesday, would have to agree and get the ball rolling.

Hayward can’t earn more in a sign-and-trade than he could signing outright with Boston. His max is $127,829,970 over four years either way.

Fans often fantasize about a departing player demanding a sign-and-trade as a parting gift to his old team. It never happens. Why would Hayward weaken the team for which he’ll be playing the next three-plus years?

Not only would Hayward have to work against his self-interest to force a sign-and-trade, he’d have to do so emphatically to get the Celtics to go along. Hayward might have some lingering loyalty toward the Jazz. Danny Ainge doesn’t. Even if Hayward tried to engineer a sign-and-trade, good luck getting the Celtics president on board.

If it wants Crowder, Bradley or Smart, Utah will almost certainly have to offer more than all 28 other teams.

But there is a narrow window for a logical sign-and-trade, as pointed out by Ryan Bernardoni of Celtics Hub.

Boston renouncing all its free agents, waiving unguaranteed Jordan Mickey, convincing Guerschon Yabusele to remain overseas another year and trading Terry Rozier and Demetrius Jackson for no return wouldn’t create enough cap room to sign Hayward to a max salary. But if they take those first steps and include Rozier and Jackson in a sign-and-trade, the Celtics could receive Hayward on a max salary.

The difference: The sign-and-trade would allow Boston to go from 10 players and two cap holds to nine players and three cap holds. Dumping Rozier and Jackson then signing Hayward would mean fitting him in with eight players and four cap holds. That single cap hold makes the difference in paying the full max.

Now, perhaps Ainge prefers to keep Rozier and whatever return he gets for Smart, Crowder or Bradley. But maybe the Jazz would send an asset to get Rozier, even with the expense of also taking Jackson. And maybe the sign-and-trade threat could improve offers for Smart, Crowder and Bradley. I’d think just having 29 teams bidding against each other would be enough, but this wouldn’t hurt.

Report: Celtics shopping Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart to clear room for Gordon Hayward

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
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The Celtics can renounce all their free agents – including Kelly Olynyk, whose qualifying offer they already pulled – waive unguaranteed Jordan Mickey, convince Guerschon Yabusele to remain overseas another year and trade Terry Rozier and Demetrius Jackson.

Boston still wouldn’t have enough cap space to give Gordon Hayward the max contract he intends to sign.

That always left three potential trade candidates: Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. Which will the Celtics deal?

Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Boston Celtics have been aggressively trying to create enough salary-cap room to give Gordon Hayward the four-year, $128 million maximum contract he agreed upon by discussing trades involving Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley, sources told ESPN.

The Celtics are wise to shop all three rather than picking one to dump. The right choice depends on the return each would generate.

Crowder is the most valuable of the three. Turning 27 tomorrow, he’s locked into an absurdly cheap contract that pays him just $21,917,475 over the next three years. Crowder is a versatile and fiercely competitive defender who shoots 3-pointers efficiently, an awesome combination in the modern NBA. Even though he said he wanted to stay in Boston, Crowder seemed to know the Celtics signing Hayward could signal his exit. That’s even more likely after Boston drafted Jayson Tatum to join Jaylen Brown at forward.

Bradley is entering a contract year at age 26. He’s a lockdown perimeter defender who can make 3-pointers and has become increasingly adept as a penetrator. The only problem: He’s in line for a massive raise next summer (or a lucrative renegotiation-and-extension this summer if he lands on a team with sufficient cap space).

Smart is also entering the final year of his contract, eligible for a rookie-scale extension this offseason. He’s an aggressive defender who can handle point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. His offense remains a work in progress, and it’s unclear whether can eventually settle in as a lead guard on that end. His spotty outside shooting leaves plenty to be desired off the ball.

Again, it just depends how much other teams offer for each player. Then, Boston can pick the best net return – and sign Hayward.

Richard Jefferson says he’ll return to Cavaliers rather than retire

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Richard Jefferson said he was undecided on retirement, but the Cavaliers forward has apparently made up his mind.

Jefferson on Road Trippin’ with R.J. & Channing, as transcribed by Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal:

“I will be starting my 17th season next year, I am not retiring,” Jefferson said

Jefferson is locked up for $2.5 million next season. He remains a helpful contributor, ridiculously athletic for a 37-year-old. He’s the type of combo forward the Cavs need to match up with the Warriors.

Cleveland should be especially thrilled to be handed one spot of roster stability right now, even if Jefferson’s age presents the risk of a major drop-off at any time. Without a general manager, it’s unclear how the Cavaliers would’ve replaced Jefferson.

And good for Jefferson staying in good enough shape to continue his career. Players, even ones as dedicated as Jefferson, have only short windows to play in the NBA. Jefferson will almost certainly never draw a salary like this post-retirement, and playing with LeBron James opens doors – for championship contention and exposure, which contributed to the podcast on which Jefferson announced his decision.

Jefferson hastily announced his retirement after Cleveland’s 2016 title only to backtrack a few days later. It seems he thoughtfully considered all factors this time and reached a good decision for himself.