On the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast, host Michael Scotto is joined by Yossi Gozlan, HoopsHype’s salary cap expert. Gozlan and Scotto previewed the offseason for the Portland Trail Blazers. Scotto shared intel on Jason Kidd and the coaching search for the Orlando Magic. The pair also touched briefly on the Lakers and the free agencies of Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond.
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2:00 Portland Trail Blazers offseason preview
Gozlan: This team is going to get even more expensive as we go forward. The Blazers are about $21 million below the luxury tax. If they re-sign Norman Powell, they’re going to be right at that tax with about nine players under contract. Going forward, things are going to get even more expensive if they want to keep the team because Robert Convington and Jusuf Nurkic are going to be expiring this (upcoming) season, and they’re going to be due for raises as well. If you’re Portland, does ownership really have the appetite to spend on these starters and this team? Could they potentially make it to the Western Conference Finals? Potentially. I think a lot has to go their way. I just have some doubts they’re going to want to get really deep into the luxury tax two years from now even if this team could go to the second round.
Scotto: I remember one executive I had spoken to who said he thought they could use a good shot-blocking center around the paint to help them balance out that offensive firepower they have.
Scotto: Yossi, you touched on a few guys in your preview like Nerlens Noel, Robin Lopez, and Daniel Theis as guys that could make sense. With those guys in mind, I can tell you someone I know around Nerlens told me that he’s enjoyed his time in New York and clicked with coach Tom Thibodeau, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He’s expected to draw a lot of interest on the free-agent market this summer. It’s going to be interesting to see where his value is. I don’t have a specific number yet, but he’s certainly due a pay raise from what he was making ($5 million).
As we touched on previously, Theis – from talking with people around the league – the expected value I’ve heard from him is that he can command interest from teams above the mid-level exception in free agency.
Gozlan: One other factor is there’s Derrick Jones Jr., who has a player option to decide on. I think it’s a pretty good bet he’ll exercise it. I’m not sure he’ll get close to what it is, $9.7 million on the open market.
12:50 Jusuf Nurkic’s future in Portland
Scotto: (Jusuf) Nurkic hasn’t been happy with his role there. He was asked at the end of their season if he wanted to be back next season and he replied, “In the right situation, yes.” The follow-up to that was what’s the right situation? He said, “We’ll see. I don’t know yet because this is not it.” He has a non-guaranteed $12 million salary next season and people around Nurkic think Portland is going to keep him at that salary.
Gozlan: That contract (Nurkic) signed in 2018, he’s outplayed it significantly. He probably realized that early on when he changed agencies (to Klutch Sports) one year after signing that contract. Maybe that’s still lingering. Maybe that’s a reason he could be a little unhappy. The Blazers are going to have to make a decision with him soon largely because he’s expiring (after next season), and he has an extension they can offer him, but I get the feeling that it’s too low. The maximum extension they can offer him is about $16 million annually in the next four years. I think he can get a little more than that.
17:15 Jason Kidd and Orlando Magic coaching updates
Scotto: In talking to people that are around Jason Kidd, and one source, in particular, had mentioned to me that Orlando reminds Kidd a lot of when he took over in Milwaukee. Kidd loves to teach and develop guys, and he enjoys those challenges. One source close to Kidd felt he’d be excited about potentially being in the mix for the Orlando Magic job. Time will tell on that. As I had reported on the podcast last time, some guys to keep an eye on are Ime Udoka and Kenny Atkinson.
Kidd has worked with John Hammond in Milwaukee. John’s now the GM in Orlando with Jeff Weltman as president there. Some wondered if they’d want to work together again. John previously called Kidd, “A relentless worker. If you ask me, would I work with him again? My answer would be yes. Because I want to win.”
Scotto: From Orlando’s perspective, I’m told they’re looking at all options for the head coaching position. There’s no specific qualification whether it’s a young coach, first-year coach, veteran coach, minority, or not. They’re conducting a wide-open search.
24:50 Lakers free agents: Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond, and LeBron James tweeting to Lonzo Ball
Gozlan on Drummond’s market: When the Warriors were doing really well, the market for wing players was really strong while the market for big men was pretty low. A lot of backup big men were getting the room mid-level and taxpayer mid-level. When the Lakers won the championship last year, you had a lot of big men getting the full mid-level. Now, I’m afraid that trend is going to go back to the premium going to the wing players again and some of the backup big men getting less than the mid-level.
Gozlan: Talen Horton-Tucker I see getting close to the full mid-level (exception).