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).
All while Morey is sorting this out, his top free agent target – Chris Bosh – decided to re-sign with the Heat on a max contract.
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.
Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:
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.
|$6,274,822 if signed next year PLUS the amount of his buyout. Since buyouts typically fall or remain constant during the life of a contract, I figure Houston can fit the 2015-16 amount into its $625,000 allotment for international buyouts next season.
Both sides have leverage here, which makes this somewhat-minor dispute all the more compelling.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley released a statement on LeBron James leaving to return home to Cleveland:
While I am disappointed by LeBron’s decision to leave Miami, no one can fault another person for wanting to return home. The last four years have been an incredible run for South Florida, HEAT fans, our organization and for all of the players who were a part of it. LeBron is a fantastic leader, athlete, teammate and person, and we are all sorry to see him go.
Over the last 19yrs, since Micky and I teamed together, The Miami HEAT has always been a championship organization; we’ve won multiple championships and competed for many others. Micky, Erik and I remain committed to doing whatever it takes to win and compete for championships for many years to come. We’ve proven that we can do it and we’ll do it again.
There have been reports all day that the Heat were largely blindsided by this decision (LeBron did call Riley and Arison before the story went public, he learned that lesson the hard way). The Heat have handled this about as well as can be expected, at least publicly. Better than some Heat fans.
The Heat on the court are going to be a version of what they were — small ball. They are bringing back Chris Bosh on a max deal and will play Josh McRoberts at the four. They are working on a deal to bring Dwyane Wade back and while Chicago has reached out it’s hard to imagine Wade bolting Miami, too. With that the Heat should make the playoffs in the East (plus they are going hard at Luol Deng, which makes them very interesting).
But it’s not near the same without LeBron. Riley understands that.
After losing LeBron James to the Cavaliers, Pat Riley quickly undertook a plan to ensure he didn’t lose his entire big three.
1. Offer Chris Bosh a max contract. (Check)
2. Convince Bosh to stay with the Heat.
3. Convince Dwyane Wade to re-sign, too.
Now Riley can check off step 2 as well and move onto step three.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Bosh’s exact max is $118,705,300. I bet he gets every penny.
But with Bosh, Wade and plenty of cap room to upgrade the supporting cast, Miami should be a playoff team next season. As long as Riley doesn’t lowball Wade, the Heat are in good shape.The Heat face competition from Chicago, but I can’t see them losing Wade now. Obviously, though, how much they’re willing to pay Wade will play a huge factor.
The Rockets, who’ve already traded Jeremy Lin to the Lakers and agreed to trade Omer Asik to the Pelicans (a deal will actually might happen), will still have cap room to pursue free agents until they must match Chandler Parsons’ offer sheet Sunday. Or they’ll have plenty of cap room beyond Sunday if they let Parsons go to Dallas.
Either way, Houston isn’t done yet. Bosh isn’t coming, and Carmelo Anthony is reportedly deciding between the Knicks and Bulls, so the top targets are off the market. But the Rockets could still push for other free agents like Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza or even restricted free agents like Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe.
Still, I wonder, does Daryl Morey regret using a first rounder to dump Lin when it didn’t even result in Bosh?
LeBron James signing with the Cavaliers opened the door for Chris Bosh’s departure.
The Rockets are interested in the power forward, and their roster fits well around him. They’d immediately become one of the NBA’s strongest championship contenders.
But they can’t offer a max contract, at least not while keeping Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons. And if they want to keep any other players, including point guard Patrick Beverley, they’d have to further cut Bosh’s salary.
That gives Pat Riley ammunition to persuade Bosh to re-sign with the LeBron-less Heat.
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Bosh could make $118,705,300 over five years in Miami.
If the Rockets plan keep Howard, Harden and Parsons, they could pay Bosh just $83,088,781 over four years. Does he want to keep Beverley? Lower that offer to $76,284,211.
That’s a lot of money to give up – and getting that much is contingent on Houston dealing everyone else. Jeremy Lin is already gone, and the Omer Asik trade seems to be coming together. But Terrence Jones,
|Donatas Motiejunas and Isaiah Canaan also have guaranteed contracts. Moving those three might not be too hard, but it must be done or Bosh’s offer falls even further below Miami’s.
Of course, the Heat don’t offer just money. If Dwyane Wade rejects the Bulls and returns, they should make the playoffs. Without LeBron, they’ll also have cap room to upgrade the supporting cast beyond adding just Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.
If Bosh is going to pick the Rockets – unless they’re willing to let Parsons join Dallas just to stay alive in the Bosh race – he must do so by Sunday. Because of all the moving pieces, maybe Houston set a sooner deadline, which would explain why Bosh is deciding today. Otherwise, I don’t see why he couldn’t take until Sunday.