While $400 million may seem like a lot for new additions in a summer where far fewer players will hit free agency than last summer, it will be an absolutely brutal market for players who want to make more than $10 million. As recently as January, I projected eight teams would use cap space this summer and amazingly that number is actually even lower now. While a few other franchises could clear functional space if desired, only seven look like they will use cap space this summer: the Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Heat, Suns, Hornets and Trail Blazers, a group that could easily shrink if Phoenix chooses to retain Dario Saric or Portland keeps Trevor Ariza’s $12.8 million.
However, that is only the start of what must be giving agents cold sweats. There are no double max teams and only the Hawks, Knicks and Pistons look likely to have enough wiggle room to sign a 7-9 year player to a 30 percent max contract, though the Heat and possibly Hornets could join them with smaller moves. That gets even more treacherous because Pat Riley has made it abundantly clear that he prioritizes 2021 cap space, meaning Miami will presumably not use its money to sign players for more than one season unless it is an incredibly team-friendly contract. The same could be true for the Knicks and potentially anyone other than the Trail Blazers, since extensions for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in 2021 makes their space use it or lose it.
The Portland Trail Blazers have completed the two-way transfers of center Moses Brown and forward Jaylen Hoard to the Texas Legends of the NBA G League, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Brown, 20, has played in nine games for the Trail Blazers this season, averaging 1.2 points (40.0% FG, 37.5% FT) and 1.6 rebounds. In 22 games with the Legends, Brown (7-1, 245) has averaged 14.9 points (63.8% FG, 49.2% FT), 7.6 rebounds and 1.41 blocks.
Despite putting up potent and efficient offensive numbers, Booker was not originally voted in as an All-Star reserve by the NBA’s coaches. But Damian Lillard injured his groin last Wednesday night, hours before Booker was scheduled to go “off the grid” on vacation. He received a wake-up call from commissioner Adam Silver early Thursday that he was the injury-replacement choice and, after briefly going back to sleep, celebrated with his family in his Phoenix home. The family affair continued throughout a weekend during which Booker, by design, did not partake in many public appearances beyond the league-mandated requirements for every All-Star participant.
Storyline: All-Star Selections
In their first home game since his passing, the Lakers held countless video tributes before James addressed fans with a passionate impromptu speech. Though the Lakers lost that game to Portland, they played with the kind of passion they have sought to replicate all season. Other NBA stars and young players credited Bryant for playing through a tough stretch, knowing that he consistently excelled even when he faced injuries or personal strife. Before Sunday’s game, Chris Paul recalled talking to Russell Westbrook about how Bryant still maintained his intensity in All-Star Games, which resulted in tying Bob Pettit for a league-record four All-Star MVP awards. “We definitely felt his presence,” Celtics guard Kemba Walker said. “Growing up, watching Kobe in those games, I felt like he was always competitive. He was kind of the one who got the game going. I think we kept that going tonight. I think he definitely would have loved to watch the way we went out there and competed tonight.”