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: Celtics trade Jabari Bird, cash to Hawks

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Jabari Bird is facing domestic-violence charges (complicated by his own mental-health issues) and has been away from the Celtics all season.

Meanwhile, he was counting toward Boston’s team salary and occupying a roster spot.

The Celtics changed that today.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

Boston surely paid the Hawks Bird’s $480,289 remaining salary plus extra cash for their trouble. If they waived Bird themselves, the Celtics would have had his full-season salary ($1,349,383) count toward the luxury tax. Now, Bird won’t count at all toward the Celtics’ luxury tax.

With a roster spot now open, expect Boston to be active on the buyout market. The Celtics still have their mid-level exception available. This set of moves might not even be a cost-cutter.

But it’ll at least be cheaper trading Bird than waiving him would have been.

Report: 76ers trade former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz to Magic

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Markelle Fultz‘s career has been derailed by a mysterious combination of injuries and mental blocks. The former No. 1 pick can’t shoot, an overwhelming limitation. It has been sad to watch him fight through whatever ails him.

He’ll get a chance to steady himself in Orlando.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The Magic are buying low on Fultz, and they have a pathway for him to succeed. D.J. Augustin is a reasonable starting point guard right now, but playing time is available behind him. Fultz could build confidence, develop and eventually overtake the veteran for the starting job.

But Fultz has so far to go.

His agent said in December that Fultz would play again this season. I’m skeptical. A change of scenery could help, but Fultz’s problems run deeper. That alone will not fix everything.

The 76ers get a decent return for someone incapable of helping them win now, maybe ever. The Thunder first-rounder is top-20 protected in 2020. If it doesn’t land 21-30 that year, it’ll become two second-rounders. Jonathon Simmons has struggled this season, but maybe he’ll return to form and provide depth in Philadelphia. At least he’s guaranteed just $1 million of his $5.7 million salary next season. That’s far less than the $9,745,200 Fultz was due.

Report: Clippers trade Avery Bradley to Grizzlies for JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple

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The Clippers will enter the offseason with the wildest of fantasies in reach. Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis could each be in play. L.A. will have the cap space, desirable players (Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams) and draft picks (highlighted by the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder) to credibly chase multiple stars.

Now, the Clippers’ position has gotten even stronger.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Avery Bradley has $2 million of his $12.96 million salary for next season guaranteed. Getting that off the books will help the Clippers’ flexibility.

JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple are on expiring contracts. Frankly, they should also help L.A. win more this season. Even after trading Tobias Harris and waiving Marcin Gortat to open a roster spot for this deal, the Clippers remain in the playoff race. Stars are more attracted to winning teams.

So, why did the Grizzlies do this? After the Marc Gasol trade, they would have been over the luxury-tax line this season. Obviously paying the tax this year was a non-starter. Plus, Bradley might help them tank while keeping the veneer of competitiveness.

The Shelvin Mack trade was similarly about reducing this year’s payroll.

Report: Rockets drop below luxury-tax line by trading Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin, second-rounder to Pacers

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
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The Rockets did it!

No, not beating the Warriors. The team that once was fearlessly and openly obsessed with toppling the Golden State behemoth has ceded ground in that fight. Houston’s big victory:

Dropping below the luxury-tax line.

The Rockets started shedding salary this offseason, and they continued with multiple trades this week. The latest – dumping Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin – will get Houston out of the tax.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

All this salary-dumping has come at a significant cost. The Rockets are down a first-rounder, two second-rounders, James Ennis and De'Anthony Melton. Houston also exchanged second-rounders with the 76ers and agreed to a second-round swap with the 76ers, both of which work in the other teams’ favor.

Those picks and positive-value players could have helped bolster the team on the court. Instead, they went to saving Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta money. To be fair, he said he’d pay the tax to reach the NBA Finals and not otherwise. This doesn’t look like a Finals team. He’s a man of his word. Sometimes.

At least Houston got Iman Shumpert in the string of transactions. He should contribute on the court. The Rockets also opened a couple roster spots to use on post-buyout players. But the Rockets can’t sign anyone immediately, or they’ll go back over the tax line. How appealing will delaying be to free agents?

Houston might make some noise about delaying the repeater clock, but that’s mostly bunk. Even if they paid the tax this season, the Rockets wouldn’t pay the repeater tax until at least 2022. And that’s only if they spent every season between now and then in the tax.

This was about Houston cutting costs this season and receiving the portion of luxury-tax distribution paid to non-tax teams. Nothing more. And it came at the expense of winning for a team that has its championship-contention window open.