Scotty Hopson

It’s official: Kings trade Jason Terry to Rockets for Alonzo Gee, Scotty Hopson

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There is no surprise here, this had been expected for weeks, but it took some time for the sides to hammer out the final details and wait for other things to clear up. Now it’s done and official.

Veteran Jason Terry has been traded to the Rockets, along with two second round picks, for Alonzo Gee, Scotty Hopson and a trade exception. The Kings and Rockets have announced the move.

Terry is the biggest name in the deal. He helped the Mavericks to a ring in 2011, but there are questions about what he can contribute at this point in Houston. Last season Terry came to the Kings from Brooklyn (Marcus Thornton deal), and once there he rehabbed his injury while the Kings played their youngsters. While in Brooklyn Terry didn’t do much — 4.5 points a game on 36.2 percent shooting in 35 games.

Terry is in the last year of a $5.8 million deal, which means it’s not a terrible gamble for the Rockets, but Houston fans may not want to get their hopes too high about what he brings at this point.

Gee and Hopson are some nice players the Kings can try to develop.

However the thing to watch is the Kings have a $5.85 million trade exception out of this deal (via the USA Today’s Sam Amick). Already very active trade partners, this gives the Kings the ability to absorb a salary without sending any out, although with them flirting with the luxury tax line currently that may be moot at the February trade deadline. However, the exception is good for a year so next summer they have another tool to use.

Report: Rockets and Ramon Sessions interested in sign-and-trade with Bucks

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Despite the unraveling of their depth this offseason, the Rockets are likely to make the playoffs next season.

Dwight Howard and James Harden are stars. Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverley and Trevor Ariza are solid starters.

It’s the bench that could really use work, including point guard. Houston downgraded from Jeremy Lin at backup one to recently signed Ish Smith and unproven Isaiah Canaan, neither of whom are proven rotation players.

How about Ramon Sessions, one of the best unrestricted free agents left on the market?

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:

I get why Houston is interested in Sessions. He’s a pick-and-roll ace who can both get to the rim and distribute, though his defense is lacking.

But there are several small hurdles, which collectively add up to a decently sized impediment.

For one, there’s reaching a deal with Sessions. At this point, I figured a team could steal Sessions for a minimum contract, but if that were the case, Houston would just sign him outright. The Rockets have the bi-annual exception, which should be enough for Sessions, but they likely want to keep that available next summer. Hence, the sign-and-trade possibility – always a more-complicated option.

Houston is also over the regular-season roster limit of 15. Even if they waive the unguaranteed contracts of Alonzo Gee, Scotty Hopson and Josh Powell and the partially guaranteed contract of Robert Covington, the Rockets would have 15 players before Sessions.

That could be another reason a sign-and-trade makes sense, but the Bucks have 15 guaranteed contracts plus the desirable Kendall Marshall and expendable Chris Wright, both of whom have unguaranteed contracts. So, Milwaukee can’t mindlessly take back an extra player in a trade.

It’s tough to see all three sides making this work, but it’s easy to see why they’re trying. The Rockets could use a better backup point guard. The market has mostly dried up for Sessions. And the Bucks, who no longer have a place for Sessions, would love to get return for him. There’s definitely a chance for a deal to be reached.

Cavaliers reportedly trading Alonzo Gee to Pelicans, which could lead to Omer Asik trade

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LeBron James signing with the Cavaliers might push Chris Bosh to the Rockets.

And not just for the reason you think.

Of course, LeBron leaving the Heat gives Bosh more reason to move on. He outwardly enjoyed playing with LeBron in Miami, and that’s no longer an option.

But for the Rockets to make Bosh a credible contract offer – not a max deal, mind you – they must trade Omer Asik.

As we’ve covered, the previously reported Asik-to-the-New Orleans trade won’t work without the Pelicans stretching Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson or Eric Gordon (likely not an option) or another team helping them.

The Cavaliers, their plans set with LeBron, might be that other team.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gee was originally headed to Charlotte for Brendan Hayward in a trade agreed upon draft night, but the Hornets might not mind altering the deal. Gee has has an unguaranteed contract, according to ShamSports.com, and I suspect Charlotte might have just waived him. However, the Hornets might have wanted Gee for his value in a trade, and if so, they’ll probably want some compensation for not getting him.

To the Cavaliers, it makes little difference where Gee goes. They still get Brendan Haywood, who has a low $2,213,688 salary this year and then has a fully unguaranteed $10,522,500 salary for the following season. In a year, he’ll be a very valuable trade chip if Cleveland is willing to add salary.

So why would Cleveland go the trouble of trading Gee to the Pelicans rather than the Hornets?

New Orleans must be sending the Cavaliers an asset for Gee. The Pelicans would want Gee to facilitate the Asik trade.

A simple way would be trading Austin Rivers or Alexis Ajinca, both on guaranteed contracts, to the Cavaliers. Cleveland could accept either and still have room to give LeBron the max.

The Cavaliers might not value either Rivers or Ajinca, though, so New Orleans might have to go another route.

Instead of creating enough cap room to absorb Asik, the Pelicans could aggregate enough salary to trade for him. In this salary range, teams can receive 150 percent plus $100,000 of outgoing salary in a trade.

New Orleans already has Melvin Ely, Luke Babbitt and Jeff Withey on unguaranteed contracts. Add Gee in a trade package, and that’s almost enough to get Asik.

Cleveland has two other players on fully unguaranteed contracts too – Scotty Hopson and Matthew Dellavedova. Adding either to New Orleans’ trade package for Asik would make the deal work. So, I strongly suspect the Cavaliers will send Hopson or Dellavedova to the Pelicans, too.

Then, New Orleans can make the Asik trade. Technically, it would be structured as three-way trade with Cleveland, New Orleans and Houston, because Gee and Hopson/Dellavedova couldn’t be immediately aggregated in another large deal. Maybe the Hornets get involved to make it a four-way trade and clear everything up at once, but that’s not as essential.

One more catch: Ely can’t be traded with other players until Sunday. But if everything is lined up in advance, the Rockets could complete this trade and still have time to sign Bosh and then match Chandler Parsons’ offer sheet.

There’s a lot are a lot of moving pieces in this Gee trade, but here’s the simple reality: LeBron going to Cleveland makes it easier for the Rockets to unload salary and pay Bosh.

Reports: LeBron James’ agent has Cavaliers believing they can sign LeBron

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LeBron James has remained in the background of free agency, not getting personally involved yet.

All the while, LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, has been meeting with teams. Presumably, that was just to lay the groundwork in case something went awry in Miami.

Perhaps, a little more is afoot now.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

At the urging of LeBron James’ agent, the Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing a maximum contract salary slot to bring back the free-agent superstar, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Rich Paul, the president of Klutch Sports, has been funneling belief into the organization that the Cavaliers are in strong position to lure James from the Miami Heat, sources told Yahoo Sports.

For years, Paul has confided to people that bringing back James to Cleveland has been something of a mission for him, and he’s encouraging Cavaliers officials to offer no restraint in the recruitment of James, sources said.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

James’ agent, Rich Paul, has already sat down with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert in what is regarded as the first formal step toward trying to shrink the gulf between James and Gilbert after the ocean of hard feelings stemming from James’ departure from Cleveland in 2010 to sign with the Heat.

Sources say that the Cavs’ pitch made to Paul last week — which they also hope to make this week to James in their own face-to-face meeting — revolves around Kyrie Irving and the other young prospects they have, in addition to the numerous options Cleveland possesses to add to the roster over the next year.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

That is a heck of a lot of smoke for there to be no fire, but I’m not really convinced.

For one, it’s quite possible – maybe even verging on likely – Wojnarowski, Windhorst and Broussard share the same sources. A small number of people could be controlling the echo chamber.

As Wojnarowski reports, Paul – also an Ohio native – might be the most committed to bringing LeBron back to Cleveland. Until LeBron himself gets involved, only so much can be read into this.

Then there’s the little matter of cap space.

Even if they renounce all their free agents and waive the unguaranteed contracts of Scotty Hopson and Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers are $6,666,564 shy of offering LeBron a max contract. It wouldn’t be that difficult to trim the necessary payroll, but the cost of doing so would likely make Cleveland less desirable.

Wojnarowski:

The Cavaliers have found a landing spot for Jack and his $6.2 million annual salary in the Brooklyn Nets, but only if the Cavs can find a third team to take on Brooklyn’s Marcus Thornton, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Cleveland is offering Thornton and future draft considerations as incentive to absorb his $8.7 million expiring contract, sources said. The Cavaliers need to unload more contracts and have made 2013 first-round pick Sergey Karasev, among others, available in deals, sources said.

Thornton ($8,575,000) will actually make more money than Jack next season. If the Cavaliers attach a good enough draft pick to Thornton, they can trade him. That’s true of any player. But it should be telling that after shopping Jack around the league, the best they could draw was Thornton. Swapping one nearly immovable piece for another isn’t progress toward cap room.

Still, there are many other ways Cleveland could clear cap space. Just $4 million of Varejao’s $9,704,545 2014-15 salary is guaranteed – though removing the last LeBron-era holdover from the roster, as Wojnarowski reported, is probably a non-starter. Varejao can still contribute to a win-now team, and whether or not they land LeBron, the Cavaliers hold aspirations for quick success.

Clearing a few mid-level salaries – the combination of Anthony Bennett, Tyler Zeller andSergey Karasev for example – would work and probably net the Cavaliers picks in the process, though they’d be selling low on those players. Cleveland has all its own future first-round picks and incoming ones from the Grizzlies and Heat if needed to grease the wheels of a trade.

Then there’s the biggest issue: Dan Gilbert.

Gilbert’s heinous letter when LeBron left hangs like a raincloud over all this. Maybe LeBron has forgiven the Cavaliers owner, but the letter was personal and cut deep. I wouldn’t blame LeBron for holding a grudge.

Even if those two can patch up their personal differences, there are still professional issues to solve.

Without LeBron keeping him afloat, Gilbert has made several missteps as meddling owner. The Cavaliers went 33-49 last season, easily their best record since LeBron left.

Gilbert and general manager David Griffin must convince LeBron they could assemble and maintain a championship roster at least as well as Pat Riley can, hardly an easy sell. Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins offer a bright future, but it would take more tinkering in coming years to fulfill the potential dynasty LeBron would offer.

Getting the No. 1 pick every year is not a sustainable plan.

Soon, LeBron will meet with Riley, and I believe these reports mostly serve as a way for the NBA’s biggest star to apply pressure beforehand. But if Riley has struck out on upgrading the Heat’s roster around LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Cavaliers’ challenge – proving they can outdo Riley – gets a lot easier.

Report: Cavaliers, wary of Jazz matching, reluctant to offer Gordon Hayward max contract

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The Cavaliers are considering signing Gordon Hayward to a max-contract offer sheet.

The Jazz would get three days to match what projects to be a four-year, $63,011,880 contract. They’ve threatened to match any offer for Hayward, and that has Cleveland concerned.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is how the process works.

Now, the Cavaliers engage Utah about a sign-and-trade.

The Jazz might be amenable, because Hayward on a max contract is not a fantastic asset. Sure, he would still hold value – which is why Utah would probably match – but not as much as on the smaller contract the Jazz offered in the fall. If Cleveland offered enough in a sign-and-trade, that might change the equation toward Utah parting with Hayward.

The Cavaliers must also weight what assets they’d part with to ensure Hayward joins them.

If the teams reach an impasse, Cleveland then must decide about offering a max contract to Hayward anyway. Maybe, the Jazz are bluffing and wouldn’t match. At minimum, the Cavaliers must count on Utah taking three days – leaving Cleveland in a bind with Hayward absorbing so much cap room – before deciding.

The burden for the Cavaliers specifically could be even greater.

To create max room below the projected salary cap, Cleveland would need to waive Anderson Varejao, whose 2014-15 salary is guaranteed for just $4 million of $9,704,545. Varejao is still a productive player who could be valuable on the court to the Cavaliers or another team – or in a trade for a team intent on trimming salary.

By just waiving the fully unguaranteed contracts of Scotty Hopson and Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers would come close to creating enough room for Hayward’s max, though. If the cap is a little higher than projected the projected $63.2 million – at least $64,196,487 to be exact – they could offer Hayward the max without waiving Varejao.

The exact cap will be set before it’s possible to sign Hayward to an official offer sheet, so the Cavaliers know what they’re getting into. But if they waive Varejao and Utah matches, they’d lose both players.

Meanwhile, the Jazz hope Cleveland just moves along to other targets. That way, Utah has a better chance of keeping Hayward for less than the max. It’s the whole point of the Jazz’s threats to match.

However, Utah will face other threats from  the Suns and Celtics.

Any team could offer Hayward a max offer sheet just to ensure the Jazz must pay him a high amount, limiting Utah’s ability to sign other players in the future. The downside is only the team that signs Hayward will have its cap tied up for three days, and the upside helps every team in the NBA outside the Jazz. It’s a free-rider problem.

At this point, the dalliance between the Cavs, Jazz and Hayward – and maybe Suns and Celtics – becomes an elaborate game of bluffing and posturing.