Report: Raptors trade Greg Monroe, second-rounder to Nets

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The Raptors traded three players (Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles) for Marc Gasol. Toronto traded Malachi Richardson without getting a player in return.

Apparently wanting to trim the roster even further, the Raptors are unloading Greg Monroe.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Teams are required to carry at least 14 players on standard contracts during the regular season. They can drop below that for two weeks at a time. So, the Raptors will fill their roster soon enough.

They just didn’t value Monroe on it.

Gasol replaces Valanciunas as Toronto’s top traditional center. Serge Ibaka will also continue to play plenty of center. So, Monroe’s spot on the depth chart didn’t really change.

But perhaps the Raptors believe they can upgrade on the buyout market. Several bigs should be available.

By trading rather than waiving Monroe, Toronto will get his entire salary removed from the luxury-tax computation. The cost is the second-round pick.

I’m not sure whether the Nets will keep Monroe. They could slot him behind Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis. But the prize was the second-round pick.

Report: Rockets trading James Ennis to 76ers

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The Rockets downgraded from Trevor Ariza to the cheaper James Ennis last offseason.

But even Ennis’ minimum salary has proven too costly to the Rockets.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

This puts the Rockets in line to save $3,009,236 – $2,432,123 in luxury tax and $577,114 in Ennis’ remaining salary. Now just $2,669,057 over the tax line, Houston could try to dodge the tax altogether.

More likely: The Rockets will remain in the tax and sign bought-out players. Unloading Ennis via trade rather than releasing him just makes opening the roster spot cheaper.

Ennis has been OK for the Rockets, but their trade for Iman Shumpertprimarily about cutting costs – made Ennis expendable. He’s more likely to contribute in Philadelphia.

The 76ers already made their big move by trading for Tobias Harris. They also added Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott in that deal. But Philadelphia badly needed depth, and Ennis – a versatile forward – adds more.

Philadelphia will likely waive Malachi Richardson, who was just acquired with a second-round pick in a Raptors salary dump.

Report: Raptors trade Malachi Richardson to 76ers

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There’s little evidence the Raptors ever valued Malachi Richardson as a player.

They traded for him last season to save money. Now, they’re trading him to save money.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

Toronto reduces its pending luxury-tax bill by $5,100,420, is off the hook for the remaining $567,452 of Richardson’s salary and apparently gets cash from the 76ers. But the Raptors must sign someone else within two weeks, so that will reduce their savings.

Richardson hasn’t shown much with the Kings, who got him with the No. 22 pick in the 2016 draft, or Raptors. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent after the season. He could provide deep depth in Philadelphia, but the shooting guard faces an uphill battle to get his NBA career on track.

Rockets’ Marquese Chriss, 76ers’ Furkan Korkmaz, Nuggets’ Tyler Lydon, Thunder’s Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot also have options declined

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The Rockets tried to sell that their trade with the Suns wasn’t just about financial relief, that they truly believe Marquese Chriss would thrive in their system.

But forced to put their money where their mouth is, the Rockets buckled.

Houston declined Chriss’ $4,078,236 team option for next season.

That was the right call. Chriss is too far from being a productive NBA player to guarantee him that much. He’s just 21 and still possesses the raw tools that got him drafted No. 8 just two years ago, but NBA play is too complex for him right now. This is just more evidence the Rockets’ offseason was primarily driven by limiting costs.

We already knew of four other declined rookie-scale team options – Suns’ Dragan Bender, Timberwolves’ Justin Patton, Pistons’ Henry Ellenson and Raptors’ Malachi Richardson. (How rookie-scale contracts work.) But in addition to Chriss, three other players had their declined options revealed shortly before last night’s deadline. Those three with option salaries:

76ers’ Furkan Korkmaz ($2,033,160)

The 76ers badly want another star, and next summer might be their last good chance to sign one in free agency. It’ll be the last offseason Ben Simmons is still on his relatively cheap rookie-scale contract before he joins Joel Embiid on a max deal. So, I can see why Philadelphia maximized its flexibility by declining Korkmaz’s option.

But I would have exercised it. Korkmaz is athletic and skilled, and though he must get stronger, that isn’t disqualifying for a 21-year-old. Though Korkmaz was drafted No. 26 in 2016, this is actually his third-year option, because he waited a year to sign. So, exercising this option would have come with the chance to keep Korkmaz yet another year at a potentially cheap price if he develops.

The clearer failure probably was not trading Korkmaz to a team that would have exercised his option. Maybe that’s what happens when you go through the offseason without a general manager.

Now, it’ll be tougher to find suitors, because any team that trades for him and ends the season with him will be limited to paying him a starting salary of $2,033,160 in free agency. If he breaks out, that wouldn’t be enough.

Nuggets’ Tyler Lydon ($2,190,720)

The Nuggets have gotten plenty of grief for trading down from the No. 13 pick – which the Jazz used on rising star Donovan Mitchell – in last year’s draft.

This won’t help.

In the deal with Utah, Denver received Trey Lyles (nice) and No. 24 pick Tyler Lydon (not so nice). Lydon just hasn’t looked on track to stick in the NBA, in part due to injury. He was good enough in the NBA’s minor league that I probably would have exercised this third-year option, but the Nuggets could face a luxury-tax crunch next season. It’s a close call.

That said, the Nuggets did this knowing this would make their already-panned draft-day trade look even worse. That says something.

Thunder’s Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot ($2,529,684)

The Thunder love to take fliers on athletic wings – including Luwawu-Cabarrot, who was acquired from the 76ers in the Carmelo AnthonyDennis Schroder trade. But Luwawu-Cabarrot hasn’t developed even a niche, so declining his fourth-year option makes sense. Especially considering Oklahoma City faces repeater-rate tax concerns for next season.

Report: Raptors declining Malachi Richardson’s fourth-year option

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The Raptors, based on their current impending luxury-tax bill, saved $705,439 by trading Bruno Caboclo for Malachi Richardson rather than letting Caboclo’s contract expire and replacing him with a minimum-salary free agent. If Toronto sheds salary to lower its luxury-tax rate, the savings would be even greater.

And that’s probably where Richardson’s impact with the Raptors will end.

Michael Scotto of The Athletic:

It’s far too soon to close the book on Richardson’s NBA career. He’s just 22, and the league is starving for wings.

The Raptors could even re-sign him, though they can offer a starting salary up to only Richardson’s team-option amount ($2,581,597).

But declining the option shows what Toronto thinks of him. He just doesn’t stand out enough on this exceptionally deep team, especially because the Raptors could face the luxury tax next season if Kawhi Leonard re-signs.