Tuesday, July 10, 2018

2018 NBA Offseason Round Up, Part 2

We're just 10 days into July yet there's already been a ton of movement. Since Part 1 of this round up has already gotten too large, the rest of this summer's moves will be recapped here. There isn't a ton of cap space left out there, but as of this writing, I have the Hawks as the leaders with up to $24.2 million, the Bulls with up to $20.6, the Kings with $19.5, and the Nets with up to $12.1. And that's pretty much it, with those teams more likely to keep some of their non-guaranteed guys and/or hoard their room for trades. Other franchises just have some of their exceptions to use, so it's definitely a tough market out there.

Luc Mbah a Moute signs with the Clippers: 1 year, $4.3 million (Woj)
Luc Mbah a Moute

The rest of the MLE that's being split with Mike Scott.

Bryn Forbes re-signs with the Spurs: 2 years (Shams)
Bryn Forbes

I'm assuming the minimum for now.

Davis Bertans re-signs with the Spurs: 2 years, $14.5 million (Shams)
Davis Bertans

James Ennis signs with the Rockets: 2 years, minimum contract (Feigen)
James Ennis

Wayne Ellington re-signs with the Heat: 1 year, $6.27 million (Haynes)
Wayne Ellington

Isaiah Thomas signs with the Nuggets: 1 year, minimum contract (Woj)
Isaiah Thomas

Man, it’s pretty sad to see how far Isaiah has fallen after everything over this past year. His minimum as a 7 year vet is $2,029,463. Not quite the brinks truck he was hoping for.

Jeremy Lin salary dumped on the Hawks (Woj)
Hawks receive:
Jeremy Lin
Right to swap 2023 2nd round picks
2025 2nd round pick

Nets receive:
Rights to Isaia Cordinier (44th pick in 2016)
Portland’s 2020 2nd round pick, protected 31-55

Nuggets avoid the luxury tax thanks to the Nets (Woj)
Nets receive:
Kenneth Faried
Darrell Arthur
2019 1st round pick, protected 1-12
2020 2nd

Nuggets receive:

Isaiah Whitehead

Sunday, July 1, 2018

2018 NBA Offseason Round Up, Part 1

Can you believe it's already July 1st? If 2018 seems like it's flying by too fast to keep up with all of the NBA news, I've got you covered with everything that went down in the last week with my draft recap. Now, the real fun begins with free agency already going wild just 24 hours in, and I'll try to recap every bit of movement. I probably won't have as many live updates as what I did last year in two parts, but this will be a one stop shop for all the news with guesses at the contract structures. My estimations have been pretty close, but if exact numbers are unknown, they’ll be in bold italics while player options, team options, and non-guaranteed years will be colored as such.

Kevin Durant to re-sign with the Warriors: 1 year, $30 million with a player option (Stein)
Kevin Durant

I’ve talked a lot before about the options Durant had, and it’s not too dissimilar to last year. Although going with another 1+1 deal through Non-Bird rights limits him to a 20% raise on last season’s $25 million salary, it provides him leverage with some financial security, and next year as he turns 31, he will finally have full Bird rights to lock in a 5 year deal at the max should he so choose. I’m sure Golden State would’ve preferred giving him his full max now instead of leaving the possibility that he could leave next year, but on the bright side, this saves them at least $23 million or so between salary and luxury tax payments. The $5.65 million difference between Durant’s max salary this year and what he chose more than covers the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception of $5.34 million, so they may be more inclined to use it now despite the tax implications. After all, there are other ways of saving salary like keeping an open roster spot for much of the season so that they don’t have another situation where they have to cut Omri Casspi to convert Quinn Cook’s two-way contract.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 NBA Draft Week Review

Draft day is here! Like last year, I'm going to recap all of the wheeling and dealing going on this week. I'll start with the trades that have already happened, and then go team by team with a summary of what they did tonight. As usual, all salary data is from BasketballInsiders.com. 

The Howard-Mozgov salary swap

Nets receive:

Dwight Howard$23,819,725

Hornets receive:

Timofey Mozgov$16,000,000$16,720,000
#45 pick
Nets' 2021 2nd round pick
Undisclosed cash considerations 

Like many others, my first thought when I saw the news was that Howard is finally a Net after the "Dwightmare" six years ago, but alas, the union won't last long. As Tim Bontemps speculated yesterday, Brooklyn will likely buyout the last year of the enigmatic big man's deal to put the exclamation point on this salary dump. With Mozgov's money off the books, the Nets are now in position to have enough cap room for two max contracts a year from now and still keep the cap holds of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Spencer Dinwiddie. They also still have the 40th pick tonight, lessening the blow of sacrificing the second rounders. Because the difference in salary is more than the amount of cap space they have right now, this deal can't become official until the new league year starts on July 6th. They'll have to renounce the cap holds of some of their free agents, but they can still keep Joe Harris' rights and have around $5.8 million in room left.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

TSFJ Posts: June Round Up

Since I've been contributing to The Sports Fan Journal more frequently, I will occasionally be posting links to my works here for easy access. My latest from this month:

I take a look around the NBA to see who actually has significant cap space.

The Financials Are Clear: Kyler Murray Is Right To Choose Baseball
An examination of the financial choice the A's first round pick and Oklahoma quarterback faced.

A breakdown of where the Cavaliers roster would stand in a post-LeBron world from a cap perspective.

I make the case for which rookie wide receivers might help their teams right away based on a specific set of criteria.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Kawhi Leonard's 3 Main Options for His Next Contract

By now you probably know the details about the rift between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs. If not, Kevin O’Connor sums up the situation well, but basically neither side has a ton of trust right now after Leonard sat out essentially the whole season with a quad injury that San Antonio thought he could play through. With the San Antonio Express-News breaking the news that a trade request was made and Yahoo! and ESPN simultaneously reporting the same, a divorce seems imminent. As a Southern California native, the Lakers are apparently his preferred destination, but with the Clippers, 76ers, and Celtics also in the running, the Spurs have no obligation to send him anywhere than the franchise that provides the best trade package. In any case, any team he plays for this season will have an eye towards his next contract since he is all but guaranteed to decline his undervalued $21,329,752 player option next summer, so let’s take a look at what his options are for a new deal as his 27th birthday approaches this month.

#1: Stay with San Antonio for the most money

This seems like the least likely choice given all of the new developments, but Leonard has reportedly yet to have his expected meeting coach Gregg Popovich. There’s still a chance that relationships could be repaired, and the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is convinced to stay like LaMarcus Aldridge was last year. If everything is smoothed over, the Spurs can offer him the Designated Veteran Extension since he was named All-NBA in both 2016 and 2017. Commonly referred to as the “supermax,” this simply allows Leonard to tack on five years to his contract with a starting salary at 35% of the salary cap as opposed to the 30% he’d normally be eligible for based on his seven years of experience. With a projected salary cap of $108 million next year, he’s looking at a five year, $219,240,000 extension on top of this season’s $20,099,189 for a six year total of $239,339,189.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

2018 NFL Draft Live Blog

At long last, it's draft day in the NFL! After re-watching Kevin Costner's amazingly entertaining Draft Day (featuring Chadwich Boseman just in time for Avengers: Infinity War!), I am so ready for all the trades tonight. It's sure to be one of my wildest 1st rounds in recent memory thanks to the range of opinions on the quarterbacks, and I might not have been creative enough with my mock draft last week. As you can see there, I've begun contributing to TheSportsFanJournal.com, where I also wrote about three running back sleepers after the 1st round (in addition to tackling the NBA ROY debate), and that's why there hasn't been anything recent on this site. That changes tonight -- obviously, since you're reading this -- as I'll be continually updating this with analysis throughout the round just like last year.

My excitement/relief about today's arrival is probably nothing compared to all of those involved after so much scrutiny they've gone through, and this time of year there's so much misinformation out there. The fact that there are so many conflicting reports out there about what Cleveland is going to do at #1 is amazing, especially with reports that GM John Dorsey has kept Mr. 1-31 aka coach Hue Jackson out of the loop until just recently. It's hilarious that so many reporters suddenly feel most certain about Baker Mayfield being the guy. You know, right around the time that Jackson was told the pick...

4:53 PM PST: Since they have their choice of players at the top, it may seem silly to have "smokescreens" out there about who they'll take, but I think it makes some sense to keep people guessing and create chaos around trade talks for other teams since they're picking again at #4. I hope that Dorsey just told Jackson that Mayfield is the guy just to throw off the scent because he knows how close he is to the media, but IF the former Sooner does end up going #1, that would certainly change up how I see the top of the draft going. Sam Darnold appears to be the only one the Giants appear to be set on ahead of Saquon Barkley, and with the Jets likely to take the next best quarterback, Josh Rosen, that could suddenly create a ton of demand for #4. That could be where Buffalo or Arizona trades up to, but I'll stick with Bradley Chubb to Cleveland for now. Then the Broncos, Colts, or Buccaneers could suddenly be gifted Barkley to fill their running back hole, or they could make that trade down, with Denver potentially taking Josh Allen themselves.

4:58: Almost showtime! Call me crazy, but I still believe it'll be Darnold until I see definitely otherwise. One last what-if thought exercise, though:
1. Mayfield
2. Darnold
3. Rosen
4. Chubb
5. Barkley
6. Allen (Buffalo trade)
7. Derwin James (it's a real coin flip after I had Minkah Fitzpatrick here in my mock)
8. Quenton Nelson
9. Fitzpatrick
10. Roquan Smith (though he could go 6 if Indy isn't who makes the trade)

5:05: Bringing out Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Jason Witten with him didn't stop Roger Goodell from getting booed!

5:14: They're really using up the whole 10 minutes even though they've been on the clock since the season ended...But Mayfield is on the phone apparently! Looks like he really is getting the draft call.

5:17: And it's official: The reigning Heisman winner who was originally a walk on at Texas Tech is the #1 overall pick. I really didn't expect that since Dorsey is known as a "measurables guy" and Mayfield only came in at 6’0⅝”, 215 lbs at the combine (6’0⅜”, 216 lbs at the Senior Bowl, oddly), but apparently Scott McCloughlan really has his ear.

5:20: Troy Aikman is the first to bring up the Johnny Manziel comparison! I've had that sort of feeling for a while, and it'll only grow stronger now that Mayfield is also a Brown. He has kind of won me over, but I still have Darnold and Rosen as better prospects. For what it's worth, the Pro Football Focus has had Mayfield as the top guy going back to October.

5:22: The Giants stuck with Barkley after all. I can understand it more than most running backs thanks to his impact in the passing game, but man, when will they have the opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback again? Eli Manning is 37.

5:28: Jets pick up Darnold and probably rejoice. Rich Eisen points out that he's only 20 years old (turning 21 in six weeks), and that two year edge on Mayfield shouldn't go unnoticed. Being so young when drafted is yet another similarity he has to Jameis Winston, who was also better as a redshirt freshman than in his draft season. They're also similar in size, play more athletically than they tested, have slightly funky deliveries, and can be turnover prone. That wouldn't be too shabby compared to how the last USC quarterback the Jets took ended up turning out, even if they did overpay to move up to this spot weeks ago.

5:36: Another Cleveland stunner: Denzel Ward at #4! I can't knock it since I view him as the best pure outside corner in the draft, but I didn't think they'd prioritize the position since they added E.J. Gaines, T.J. Carrie, and Terrance Mitchell as veterans already. Seems like they tried trading down but were asking for too much and just took their guy higher than expected. With Denver supposedly smitten with him, ideally after a trade down, they must be a bit disappointed.

5:43: I remember Peter King mentioned that Denver loved Bradley Chubb but never thought he'd be there at #5. I'm not sure how great he'll transition to a 3-4 defense, but that might not matter since nickel defense is basically the new base. They'll probably still look for that third corner as Aqib Talib's replacement in the next round or two. My question is if this means they might shop Shane Ray or Shaq Barrett, who just recently signed his 2nd round restricted free agency tender.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Addressing the 49ers' Needs

NFL free agency begins next week, and now that the draft combine and franchise tag deadline are in the rear view, it's the perfect time to look at the outlook for one of 2018's most interesting teams, the San Francisco 49ers. Depending on the sportsbook, Vegas has given them around 20-1 odds to win the Super Bowl next year after finishing last season on a five game winning streak with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback, and the former Patriot has already been re-signed at the highest annual salary in the league (at least until Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, and Aaron Rodgers reset the market). A 6-10 team that started 0-9 being within the top ten favorites may seem ambitious, but this franchise has some precedent for quick turnarounds: the 49ers' first Super Bowl winner in 1981 went 13-3 after being 6-10 and 2-14 the previous two years. Their record before coach Kyle Shanahan arrived this past season? 2-14.

I'm not saying this team is ready to win it all this year, but they might not be as far away as the casual fan might think if they can make some key additions. Quarterback is often considered the most important position in sports for a reason, and the turnaround under Garoppolo is an example why, as the offense went from being ranked in the bottom half of the league in yards, yards per play, and points before he took over to being in the top five in each. Furthermore, the defense experienced a similar improvement to the top 10 in those same categories, and although that can partly be attributed to rookie defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and a lineup filled with young players getting more comfortable as the season progressed, the offense no longer put them in disadvantageous situations. With the fifth most salary cap space per OverTheCap.com and nine draft picks (selections 9, 59, 70, 74, 128, 143, 184, 227, and 240) at the disposal of John Lynch and the front office, here are their biggest needs and some options to fill them to at least make them playoff contenders.
This coach-QB pairing is cause for celebration.
Cornerback: 3rd round round pick Ahkello Witherspoon came on strong down the stretch, starting the final nine games and earning an 81.1 grade from Pro Football Focus, but even if he grows into more than a solid starter, there's still a massive hole across from him with Dontae Johnson often struggling and not expected back in free agency. K'Waun Williams made a strong enough first impression to earn the first extension under the new regime early in the season, but at just 5'9" he is limited to nickel duties, especially in Saleh's Cover 3 scheme from Seattle that prefers more length on the outside. That role still put him on the field for 56.18% of the team's defensive snaps despite missing two games, though, showing that you can never have enough corners in today's pass happy NFL. You can expect them to add at least one veteran capable of starting on the outside (as evidenced by their reported interest in Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis, and David Amerson already) and draft another corner early, ideally with one of them able to also playing in the slot to provide competition and depth for Williams.

Free agent options
  • Being just under 5'10", Malcolm Butler may not be a perfect fit, but he has shown over the past three years that he is a high-level starter and only just turned 28. He's played a variety of roles in New England with their game plan specific schemes, so strange Super Bowl benching that arguably cost them this year's championship notwithstanding, I'm not concerned about his ability to play zone in the Cover 3 or shadow man-to-man. 
  • Trumaine Johnson is the other corner considered among the best free agents and often mentioned with the 49ers due to his hometown of Stockton, CA and great length at 6'2" with 33.25" arms, but I'm not convinced he'll be worth the huge contract he'll get based on his inconsistency over the years.
  • Kyle Fuller's combination of production, size, and youth might be the most intriguing of all the options, but Chicago placed the transition tag on him so that they can match any offer sheet he signs. With their other starting corner a free agent on this list, I don't think the Bears are going to let their former 1st round pick get away.
  • Given more of a mid-tier price range, Aaron Colvin is probably my favorite option based on him only being 26, his ability to play in the slot, and the connection to Saleh, who was on the Jacksonville coaching staff the previous three seasons and runs essentially the same scheme. With Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye starring on the outside, Colvin was limited to nickelback, but I think he's talented enough to excel in a larger role, somewhat in a similar way to how Casey Hayward has become a star as a Charger after an up-and-down tenure in Green Bay.
  • Prince Amukamara also overlapped with Saleh in Jacksonville, and although he never became the star expected when picked 19th overall in 2011, he has been a reliable starter on the outside. His 81.2 PFF grade in Chicago this season actually wasn't far behind his teammate Fuller, but with his 29th birthday months away, I don't expect a price tag nearly as high.
  • I hadn't put a lot of thought to Rashaan Melvin after he finished his breakout season on injured reserve, but after the Better Rivals podcast made the case for him as a late bloomer with standout athleticism, I realized that he could be this year's A.J. Bouye without as expensive of a salary commitment. According to DraftScout.com's pro day numbers, he put together a 4.42 40 yard dash, 10'6" broad jump, and 38" vertical at just under 6'2" and 192 pounds, so together with the success he found this season, he might be the best lottery ticket of the bunch since the new regime seems to place an emphasis on athleticism. Like Amukamara, Melvin will be 29 this year, so I could see him getting a nice payday that's only a short term deal while a prospect is drafted in the first three rounds to develop.