Tag: Ognjen Kuzmic

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

Warriors pull Ognjen Kuzmic’s qualifying offer


I don’t know what’s more surprising – that the Warriors extended Ognjen Kuzmic a $1,147,276 qualifying offer or that he didn’t immediately accept it.

Now, it’s too late for Kuzmic.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

This is the last day teams can unilaterally rescind qualifying offers.

Kuzmic now becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The Warriors still hold his Early Bird Rights, which allow them to exceed the cap to sign him. Given their luxury-tax issues, I wouldn’t expect them to offer more than a minimum salary ($947,276). Then again, I didn’t expect them to extend a qualifying offer.

Kuzmic can pursue a deal with other NBA teams, who might be more willing to offer now that Golden State doesn’t have a right to match. Still, it’s tough to see much of a market for Kuzmic.

The No. 52 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, has played just 164 minutes in two NBA seasons. He’s 7-foot-1 and fairly athletic, but there just isn’t much to go on.

If the Warriors don’t re-sign him, they could look for another big man to play behind Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights. They have the minimum-salary exception and a portion of the taxpayer mid-level exception about equal to a minimum salary.

Warriors could save $48 million with David Lee-Gerald Wallace trade

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets

The Warriors agreed to trade David Lee to the Celtics for Gerald Wallace.

The deal is essentially a salary dump for Golden State. Lee lost his starting job and most of his playing time. Wallace, who turns 33 this summer, looks done as a functional NBA player.

Just how much will the Warriors save?

It’s far more than the difference in salaries between Lee ($15,493,680) and Wallace ($10,105,855). That’s because Golden State projects to be far above the progressive luxury tax.

Let’s start with a few reasonable assumptions:

The Warriors could save even more if they stretch Wallace, which would spread his remaining salary evenly over twice the remaining years plus one (three).

On one hand, stretching Wallace makes sense for owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob financially. Golden State is almost guaranteed to pay the tax next season, but with the salary cap and luxury-tax lines skyrocketing in coming years, it’s unlikely for the following seasons.

On the other hand, stretching Wallace wouldn’t give the Warriors any more immediate roster-building flexibility. Plus, that would close the opportunity to use his salary in a trade. If they stretch him, he’d also eat into their potential cap room in 2016 – when they reportedly plan to pursue Kevin Durant – and 2017.

Here’s Golden State’s outlook before the trade, after the trade and if they use the stretch provision on Wallace:


  • Salary: $104,896,878
  • Luxury tax: $52,113,291
  • Total: $157,010,169


  • Salary: $99,509,053
  • Luxury tax: $33,654,421
  • Total: $133,163,474

With stretch

  • Salary: $92,771,816
  • Luxury tax: $15,850,678
  • Total: $108,622,494

That’s a saving of about $24 million with the trade. By stretching Wallace, Golden State could increase those savings to about $48 million this season. (Wallace would still make $3,368,618 each of the next two seasons).

The luxury tax is determined on the last day of the regular season, so the Warriors still have a chance to adjust their payroll. But they positioned themselves today to save a lot of money.

2015 NBA Finals: No bigs allowed

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

As David Blatt fought off questions about his use of 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov, Steve Kerr put it succinctly:

“It’s not a series for bigs.”

The Warriors and Cavaliers have combined to give players 6-foot-9 and taller just 12% of the minutes in the 2015 NBA Finals. That’s the lowest mark in the last 44 Finals and second-lowest for years Basketball-Reference.com has minutes data for the Finals (1955, 1957-2015):


And it’s not just one team dragging down the average.

This is the first NBA Finals in the sample where both teams are under 19%. The Cavaliers are at 11% and the Warriors 13%:


Game 5 took small ball to another level.

Mozgov played just nine minutes for the Cavaliers. Kendrick Perkins (6-foot-10) and Brendan Haywood (7-foot) didn’t get off the bench, and of course, neither did the injured Kevin Love (6-foot-10) and Anderson Varejao (6-foot-10).

The Warriors didn’t go big much more often. David Lee (6-foot-9) played nine minutes as a reserve, and Festus Ezeli (6-foot-11) got three. After starting every playoff game and nearly all his regular-season games to this point, Andrew Bogut (7-foot) didn’t play at all. James Michael McAdoo (6-foot-9) and Ognjen Kuzmic (7-foot) got their usual DNPs.

Single-game minutes data in the Finals goes back to only 1982 (though Game 1 in 1984 is missing). But that’s still a 34-year span.

In Game 5, Cleveland and Golden State posted the No. 1 and No. 2 lowest percentage of minutes given to players 6-foot-9 and taller. In fact, the 2015 Finals has produced the seven lowest scores in the sample:


Going small is a weapon Golden State and Cleveland have deployed this season. They’re both comfortable playing this way.

The Warriors kicked up a notch by starting Game 4 small, and the Cavaliers responded in Game 5 by going small more often. It resulted in a loss, but Blatt sounds as if he might stick with the strategy.

Will anything stop this arms race toward tininess?

David Lee out, Andrew Bogut ill vs. Kings

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors

I wanted Steve Kerr – who was leaning toward bringing Andre Iguodala off the bench for Harrison Barnes – to stick with the same starting lineup as last season.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut were just so darn effective last season.

But the new coach won’t even have the option of maintaining that continuity when the Warriors open their season against the Kings tonight.

Rusty Simmons of SFGate:

Draymond Green will start Wednesday night’s season-opener against the Kings as power forward David Lee continues to deal with a left hamstring strain, according to Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

Green meshed well with the other starters last year, but if only Golden State had all of them available.

Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:



Well that leaves the Warriors awfully thin up front. A limited Festus Ezeli and Ognjen Kuzmic are probably overmatched.

DeMarcus Cousins should be licking his chops.

Lance Stephenson is the Pacers’ fork in the road

Miami fans

If the Pacers re-sign Lance Stephenson, they’ll have $5,305,000 to sign a free agent.

If the Pacers don’t re-sign Lance Stephenson… they’ll have $5,305,000 to sign a free agent.

Indiana will be over the cap even if Stephenson walks, meaning there’s minimal advantage to letting him leave – unless losing Stephenson is an advantage itself, which maybe.

Stephenson spent the Eastern Conference Finals trying to tweak LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra. Instead, he just ended up bothering his president and coach.

It reached the point the Pacers’ top player, Paul George, doesn’t sound certain he even wants Stephenson back. And Stephenson had already gotten on the bad side of a couple other teammates.

So what should Indiana do?

The Pacers can’t trade Stephenson before free agency begins, and then it can only be in a sign-and-trade. That would require Stephenson wanting to join a team that lacks the cap room to sign him outright, that team wanting Stephenson, that team negotiating a trade with Indiana and Indiana accepting. A sign-and-trade could be great – potentially the answer to all the Pacers’ problems – but there so many hurdles to that transaction, they can’t make a plan counting on it.

Without a first-round pick, Indiana has few means to better its roster otherwise.

The simple answer is just to re-sign Stephenson and hope for the best.

But another, though more complicated, option exists.

It involves creating cap room.

Stephenson has a hidden value, but the Pacers aren’t positioned to take advantage of it.

All free agents continue to count against the cap until signed or renounced. How much a free agent counts against the cap is based on the terms of his previous contract, but he always counts at a number higher than his previously salary. So, usually, that free agent amount is cumbersome to the team.

However, when a player was drastically underpaid before becoming a free agent, his cap hold can become a tool. That’s the case with Stephenson, who was still playing on the contract he signed four years ago as a second-round pick. Stephenson will count just $1,909,500 against the cap this summer until signed.

Let’s say Stephenson’s starting salary in his next contract is $9 million. That means Indiana can leverage an extra $7,090,500 in flexibility (the difference between his actual starting salary and cap hold).

But that $7,090,500 only matters if it contributes to already-existing cap space. E.g., a team at the cap line has no more ability to sign a free agent than a team $7,090,500 over the cap line. Both can use just the mid-level exception – exactly where the Pacers tand now.

So, how can they get below the cap?

Using the latest salary-cap projections and salary data from ShamSports.com, here’s an example of a two-trade plan that would net Indiana its desired cap room:

Trade 1: Roy Hibbert to the Trail Blazers for Robin Lopez, Joel Freeland and Will Barton

Portland nearly signed Hibbert two years ago and only didn’t because it was clear the Pacers would match. The Trail Blazers clearly like him. Hibbert had a rough finish to the season, but he’s still an All-Star an All-Star and one of the NBA’s best defensive players.

Lopez fit well into Portland’s system, and he’s a solid starting center. But the Trail Blazers struggled defensively for most of the season, and in Hibbert, they’d get a chance at an upgrade without surrendering much in the trade. All they’d have to do is pay Hibbert’s salary, but they were already willing to do that once, and he’s progressed extremely well overall since 2012.

Trade 2 (and 3*): George Hill, Ian Mahinmi and Chris Copeland to the Warriors for Marreese Speights, Festus Ezeli, Nemanja Nedovic and Ognjen Kuzmic

In Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford, Golden State has searched for a backup point guard who would allow Stephen Curry to play off the ball. Hill is a high-end version of that player – and probably better than whomever the Warriors could sign with the mid-level exception. (Depending on how they feel about the luxury tax, they could still use the mid-level exception too).

Though he won’t push David Lee to the bench, Copeland is the stretch four Kerr desires. And Mahinmi is a ready-to-go backup center.

Golden State would add salary in the deal, but the talent upgrade should outweigh that penalty.

Perhaps most importantly, these bigger contracts might even make a trade for Kevin Love easier to maneuver. Mahinmi, Copeland and/or even Hill could make salaries match with Minnesota.

 *Technically, these would need to be structured as two separate transactions – Hill into the Richard Jefferson trade exception as its own deal. But that’s only a formality.

The Pacers would then waive Luis Scola ($940,946 guaranteed), Donald Sloan and Barton and renounce all their free agents besides Stephenson.

That would leave Indiana $12,695,605 in cap room ($13,876,155 if Paul George doesn’t make an All-NBA team) to pursue Kyle Lowry or Eric Bledsoe, a restricted free agent.

After signing a free agent with that near-max-level cap room, the Pacers could then go over the cap to re-sign Stephenson and use the room mid-level exception ($2,732,000) to fill out the roster.

What’s preferable, Indiana’s current starting lineup or this?

  • Kyle Lowry or Eric Bledsoe
  • Lance Stephenson
  • Paul George
  • David West
  • Robin Lopez

Of course, there’s no guarantee the Pacers could sign Lowry or Bledsoe. The best fallback point guards would be Mario Chalmers or Patty Mills – steep dropoffs who would mean Indiana takes a step back.

But at least the Pacers, without Hibbert (two years and $30,412,969 remaining on his contract) and Hill (three years and $24 million), would be leaner going forward. David West (two years and $24.6 million) could be jettisoned for space in other versions of this plan. Either way, coming offseasons would present new opportunities to upgrade.

Sticking with the status quo wouldn’t be so bad, and it seems that’s what the Pacers will do.

But if Larry Bird decides this roster needs an overhaul, Stephenson’s ridiculously low cap hold gives him the perfect excuse to do it.