Rockets can’t keep Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons and give Chris Bosh max contract

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Chris Bosh wants he and LeBron James to re-sign with the Heat.

But considering LeBron left his meeting with Pat Riley today without committing to Miami, there’s no guarantee Bosh will have that option. So, the Rockets are trying to poach the power forward, reportedly offering him a max contract.

One problem: Houston can’t easily clear max cap space for Bosh.

As soon as Chandler Parsons officially signs his offer sheet with the Mavericks, the Rockets will have 72 hours to act. If they match Dallas’ offer, Parsons’ cap hold ($2,875,130) will immediately be replaced on the books by his 2014-15 salary, which is at or near the max ($14,746,000).

Obviously, Houston wants to delay that as long as possible. Signing Bosh first with cap space first and then exceeding the cap to re-sign Parsons – something possible only as long as his cap hold remains on the books – is the Rockets’ ideal plan.

However, even if the roster is stripped to just Dwight Howard, James Harden and Parsons’ cap hold, Houston still couldn’t offer Bosh a max contract.

The Rockets could come close, offering $83,088,781 over four years. Bosh’s max with Houston is $88,151,588 over four years.

Maybe Bosh doesn’t care about that $5,062,807 difference. If so, more power to him.

However, he was reportedly dismayed by Miami lowballing him. I’m not sure he’s running to Houston on a discount.

And for the Rockets to offer even that much, they’d have to dump several players – including starters Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones. Bosh would replace Jones at power forward, making that departure less of a big deal.

But Jeremy Lin is already ready set to be moved, and if Beverley is gone too, who plays point guard? Without either, Houston is much less appealing.

Bosh could sacrifice more salary – $6,804,570 total over four years – to give the Rockets room to keep Beverley, but again, that makes their offer less appealing.

If the Rockets let Parsons walk, Houston could could max out Bosh while keeping Beverley (and one of Omri Casspi, Isaiah Canaan, Robert Covington or Josh Powell or Troy Daniels’ qualifying offer). Once more, the Rockets without a key player – Parsons in this case – are much less appealing.

Does Bosh understand all this?

Maybe.

One of two conflicting reports say Bosh is sold on Houston as his backup option if LeBron leaves the Heat.

Chris Broussard and Brian Windhorst of ESPN?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

The Rockets – and therefore Bosh – will soon be on a 72-hour clock to make this work. But as long as Houston wants to keep its two stars, Howard and Harden, and Parsons, a max offer to Bosh is not possible.

If the Rockets let Parsons walk, they could find max cap room for Bosh, but then the timetable wouldn’t matter. There would be no Parsons-related deadline.

Unless Bosh is willing to take less than the max – a possibility – it’s shaking up to be Bosh or Parsons for the Rockets. Or if they gamble wrong and let Parsons walk and LeBron re-signs with the Heat, neither.

It’s just hard to see Houston, again if Bosh truly wants the max, getting both.

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Boston, Philadelphia, Denver? (And some playoff talk)

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Will Kyrie Irving stay in Boston? If not, what is Plan B?

Is Jimmy Butler back in Philadelphia next season? If he is will Tobias Harris be back?

What are the next steps to turn Denver into a contender?

I get into all of those things with the wise Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (and Celtics Blog, and Real GM), we break down those three teams recently turned out of the playoffs. We also start off talking about teams actually in the playoffs, particularly Toronto’s comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals, and how those teams can take advantage against the Warriors with Kevin Durant out.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Nikola Jokic’s All-NBA first-team selection shows his meteoric rise

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Just four years ago, Nikola Jokic was a second-round pick still playing in the Adriatic League. Just three years ago, he was battling a struggling Jusuf Nurkic to be the Nuggets’ main center.

Yesterday, Jokic made the All-NBA first team.

Jokic has risen incredibly quickly. Before this season, he had never even been an All-Star.

That makes Jokic the first non-rookie in NBA history to make an All-NBA first team without a prior All-Star season (including ABA All-Stars).

The No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft, Jokic is just the fourth second-rounder to make an All-NBA first team since the NBA-ABA merger. The others: DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and Marc Price.

For most players not immediately deemed to hold first-round talent, it takes a while to build stature in the NBA. Jokic made the All-NBA first team in just his fourth season. That’s way sooner than Gasol (seventh season), Price (seventh season) and Jordan (eighth season):

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The Nuggets didn’t wait for this honor to make Jokic their franchise player. They gave him a near-max contract last summer, and by leading them into the second round of the playoffs, he triggered incentives to reach a max salary.

Denver has built a young supporting cast – mainly Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – to grow with Jokic. The Nuggets also signed veteran Paul Millsap, whose defense complements Jokic’s offensive-minded game.

So much is coming together so quickly for Denver, and Jokic’s honor is just the latest example.

Report: Trail Blazers sign president Neil Olshey to contract extension

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Just after a rumor emerged about the Wizards trying to hire Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey…

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

It’s nice to be wanted. It always adds leverage in contract negotiations.

Olshey has done well in Portland, building a winner around Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum after LaMarcus Aldridge left. But Olshey’s job will get harder now.

Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless each have another season on the expensive contracts Olshey gave them in the wild summer of 2016. That’ll inhibit flexibility this offseason.

Then, Lillard is set to sign a super-max extension that will take effect in 2021. As great as Lillard is, it’ll be difficult building a contender around someone projected to earn $43 million, $46 million, $50 million and $53 million from ages 31-34. There’s so little margin for error, especially if ownership is less willing to pay the luxury tax than the late Paul Allen was.

But Olshey has earned a chance to handle these dilemmas.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert hits super-max criteria for extension projected to be worth $250 million over five years

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Anthony Davis signed a max rookie-scale contract extension in 2015, between his third and fourth seasons. Based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement at the time, the extension called for him to earn a higher salary if he was twice voted an All-Star starter or made two All-NBA teams during his first four seasons. Davis was voted an All-Star starter and made the All-NBA first team in his third season.

Unfortunately for Davis, he missed both honors his fourth year. The All-NBA and All-Star-starter tracks ran independently. Davis couldn’t qualify for a higher max salary by earning one of each.

That cost him $19,683,908 over the four pre-player-option seasons of his extension, which will end next year.

The current CBA’s more significant adjustments to super-max eligibility – changing the years for qualification, using Defensive Player of the Year instead of All-Star starter – obscured a minor tweak. The tracks now run together. A player can qualify with one Defensive Player of the Year and one All-NBA selection. He needn’t achieve two of one category.

So, Jazz center Rudy Gobert – who won won Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and made All-NBA this year – quietly became eligible to sign a super-max extension in the 2020 offseason. The extension’s highest-allowable value projects to be $250 million over five years. The first four years would follow the structure of the super-max Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers are set to sign.

Newsflash: Gobert isn’t Lillard.

Gobert is elite defensively and underrated offensively. But paying him $50 million per year from ages 30-34 in a league overflowing with good centers? That’s a recipe for disaster for Utah.

But Gobert earned eligibility. That makes it harder for the Jazz to tell him they don’t deem him worthy. That tension is an unintended consequence of the super-max rules.

There is room for negotiation. In this case, Gobert’s designated-veteran-player extension must be for five seasons and have a starting salary between 30% and 35% of the 2021-22 salary cap. But his salary can increase or decrease annually by up to 8% of his first-year salary. The deal can be partially guaranteed.

Still, the lowest possible designated-veteran-player extension for Gobert projects to be $155 million over five years. If fully guaranteed, that’d be expensive for a player of his age. If not fully guaranteed, the Jazz would get savings only by waiving him, and that’d mean dropping the cheaper latter years.

Because he doesn’t have enough experience to qualify, Gobert can’t sign a super-max extension until the 2020 offseason. He met the award criteria, but a player must have seven or eight years of experience. Gobert just finished his sixth year. He’s also under contract for two more seasons – locked into salaries of $24,758,427 next season and $26,275,281 the following year.

So, there’s time to figure this out.

But this is the most uneasy super-max situation so far – unless Gobert just doesn’t insist on the money. Good luck with that.