Joel Anthony

Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Report: Pistons signing Boban Marjanovic to $21 million offer sheet, Spurs signing Dewayne Dedmon for $6 million

3 Comments

Can Boban Marjanovic turn from novelty to contributor?

The Pistons want to find out.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

In the next three years, Marjanovic will earn:

  • $5,628,000
  • $5,881,260
  • $9,490,740

His cap number in Detroit will be $7 million each season if the Spurs don’t match, and they probably won’t, because they’ve found a replacement center: Dewyane Dedmon.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Dedmon is a scrappy big man who protects the rim, rebounds, fouls too much and possesses limited offensive skills. The Spurs could use someone like that with two more finesse bigs — LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol — starting. It sounds like Dedmon will get the room exception, and that’s good value.

But he’s not nearly as intriguing as Marjanovic, who absolutely dominated in limited playing time as a rookie. Marjanovic averaged 21.0 points on 60.3% shooting, 13.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes. The 7-foot-3 center with humungous hands even showed some touch as an outside shooter and passer.

Yet, Marjanovic played just 508 minutes. San Antonio shielded him from quality opponents and tough matchups, of which they’ll be plenty for someone so slow. The risk with Marjanovic is teams running him through pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll until he’s completely exposed.

Marjanovic, who turns 28 next month, is also a year older than Dedmon. Both have more upside than their ages would suggest — Marjanovic due to his late arrival in the NBA, Dedmon due to his late start playing basketball — but age still matters.

How the Pistons create cap room for Marjanovic is a little unclear, though exact salaries for Jon Leuer and Ish Smith are unknown. Joel Anthony will probably be waived. If Detroit feels Marjanovic is ready to contribute, Aron Baynes could be moved.

The Spurs might wish they gave Marjanovic longer than a one-year contract want he signed from Europe last summer, but at least Dedmon is a good fallback option.

The Pistons make the bigger move, likely adding one of the NBA’s fascinating players.

76ers save millions by claiming Sonny Weems off waivers

Getty Images
4 Comments

When the Suns waived Sonny Weems, the 76ers saw their golden ticket.

76ers release:

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today the team has claimed guard-forward Sonny Weems off of waivers.

Why did Philadelphia want the 29-year-old journeyman?

The 76ers were $2,630,651 below the salary floor before the waiver claim. They would have had to pay that amount to their players as punishment for not reaching the floor.

But Weems’ $2,814,000 salary lifts them over the floor, meaning they’ll no longer have to pay the shortfall.

The key for Philadelphia: It must pay only only Weems’ remaining salary – $629,012. Phoenix already paid the rest. The 76ers also must pay a $1,000 waiver fee to drop Christian Wood and clear a roster spot for Weems.

In simplest terms, Philadelphia is spending $630,012 to erase a $2,630,651 bill. That’s a profit of $2,000,639.

Not bad.

The 76ers did something similar with Thomas Robinson last year. It appeared Joel Anthony – acquired with a second-round pick – would serve a similar role this year, but the Pistons voided the three-way trade involving the Rockets, keeping Philadelphia below the floor.

So, the 76ers were waiting for someone like Weems – whose salary nearly matched their room below the floor – to come on the waiver wire.

Can he help them on the court? That’s the wrong question.

He has already made a multi-million impact where it counts.

Report: Pistons voiding Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets, 76ers

Getty Images
4 Comments

With the Donatas Motiejunas trade and Joel Anthony trade wrapped into a single transaction involving the Pistons, Rockets and 76ers, Detroit asked for more time to evaluate Motiejunas’ back injury.

The writing was on the wall, and confirmation of a failed physical is sure to disappoint the Rockets and 76ers.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The effects of negating this trade are wide-reaching.

With Motiejunas and Thornton returning to Houston, the Rockets are back above the luxury-tax line. They’re now projected to pay $4,841,505 in taxes – and no longer receive the share of taxes typically distributed to non-taxpaying teams.

The 76ers, who lost JaKarr Sampson to the Nuggets after waiving him to create a roster spot for Anthony, fall $2,630,651 below the salary floor. Watch for them to claim a waived player who makes about that amount, count his full-season salary toward the floor and pay only the prorated portion of the remaining salary (about 30%). Teams with a superfluous player making that amount could even waive him knowing Philadelphia might take that guaranteed salary off their hands. A candidate: Joel Anthony, who’s now back with Detroit (though the Pistons, as non-taxpayers, have less of a need to shed salary).

The Rockets would surely love to trim that amount, but they have no contracts so easily expendable that the 76ers would claim. The biggest incentive for Houston to make this trade was the first-round pick the Pistons were sending. The Rockets didn’t want just to dump Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton. Houston now has both players to help with a playoff push, but that doesn’t mean so much to the Rockets.

Ethically, this decision should focus only on player heath – and it might have. Motiejunas’ bad back is scary, and it was somewhat surprising the Pistons surrendered such a valuable pick for the pending free agent in the first place. But it’s worth wondering whether Detroit, 0-2 since the trade deadline and facing increased playoff competition with the Wizards (Markieff Morris) and Hornets (Courtney Lee) upgrading before the deadline, made this decision with ulterior motives.

The Pistons also traded for Tobias Harris, and they might have determined they’d face more difficulty than expected integrating its newcomers. That could lead to the top-eight-protected pick they dealt Houston more likely landing in the lottery. At that point, they could’ve re-thought the deal designed to acquire two players more helpful this season than Joel Anthony. Now, Detroit can keep its first-round pick and still pursue Motiejunas as a restricted free agent.

Other teams might hesitate to deal with the Pistons after this, so the onus is on Stan Van Gundy to defend his reputation. I think he’ll do that, but the questions must be asked first. At minimum, the Pistons avoid what all along appeared to be too risky of a trade. Detroit still has plenty of flexibility to build from here – again, including the possibility of trying to sign Motiejunas this summer.

With the trade deadline past, Houston and Philadelphia are much more stuck.

Report: Nuggets signing JaKarr Sampson to two-year contract

Getty Images
2 Comments

The 76ers waived JaKarr Sampson to clear a roster spot for a trade that might not even happen.

Philadelphia originally planned to acquire Joel Anthony in the Donatas Motiejunas deal with the Pistons and Rockets, waive Anthony and then sign another player – maybe even Sampson. The sequence would have netted the 76ers an extra second-round pick and saved them money by meeting the salary floor while paying only the remaining amount of Anthony’s salary.

But with the trade still pending, the Nuggets might have interrupted part of those plans.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

JaKarr Sampson is finalizing a two-year contract with the Denver Nuggets, Sampson’s agent, Seth Cohen, confirmed to The Vertical.

Sampson’s deal with Denver will be non-guaranteed in the second year.

Sampson is like many 76ers – young and talented enough to potentially become a rotation player on a good team, but not ready to help a team win. He’s a nice addition for Denver, which also isn’t ready to win.

Philadelphia might feel a little scorned if it lost Sampson for nothing, but the chance at the pick and savings justified the move. Trades are just so rarely voided. And the 76ers can turn to their deep crop of similar players without Sampson.

Daryl Morey on Rockets: “We feel good about our roster”

1 Comment

Some media members trying to grade out the trade deadline — myself included — had the Rockets in the losers category for the trade deadline. The logic goes like this: the Rockets had a disappointing team with dysfunctional chemistry with Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Ty Lawson. Firing the coach didn’t fix things. So at the deadline GM Daryl Morey tried to repair the roster by shopping Howard and Lawson hard, but nothing came of it (because Howard wants to be a free agent this summer and would not opt-in to the final year of his deal). They are the same dysfunctional team they were before, and good luck to J.B. Bickerstaff trying to get that group to play as a unit now.

That said, this wasn’t a disaster for the Rockets. First, they didn’t make any stupid, panic trades that set the franchise back. Second, the one deadline deal they did make — Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton to the Pistons for a top-eight protected 2016 first-round pick (and Joel Anthony, who the Rockets flipped in another deal) — is a good one for them.

Morey went on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski after the deadline and defended the moves they made.

“We’re not feeling good about how we’re playing, but we feel good about our roster. It’s the group that made the Western Conference finals last year….

“James and Dwight together have made the Western Conference finals, have won more than two-thirds of their games. This is a group that we would be very reluctant to split up. Obviously there was a lot of interest in (Howard) — I think there was a lot of noise about that — but that was something we were going to be very reluctant to break up. As part of my job, I do have to listen to everything, but nothing got close and we weren’t going to split that up unless it was something significant.”

The buzz is the Rockets were asking a high price for Howard, and some teams might have paid it because he still has real value on the court, but they weren’t going to spend those assets for a rental. They wanted him to say he would opt-in to the final year of his contract. Howard wouldn’t do that, he intends to be a free agent.

So the Rocket will ride this roster into the playoffs, where as it stands they are the eight seed and would get Golden State in the first round. Maybe the Rockets get on a little run, and they could face the Spurs or the Thunder in the first round. They have the talent on the roster Morey likes to create some matchup challenges for any of those teams. But they are not going to get out of the first round.

Then this summer in Houston will be interesting.