This is a new weekly post I’ve been meaning to do called Cap Talk. It’s going to a bit of a deep dive into the minutiae of the transactions, (legitimate) rumors, and whatever has caught my eye from the past week. It’ll be posted regularly every Tuesday based on the week prior. We start out with a week filled with transactions and drama. Lets get to it.
Extension: Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks
Terms: 2 years, $46 million including $1.5 million in likely and $500 thousand in unlikely bonuses.
This extension locks Capela into Atlanta for the next four years for over $84 million, or roughly between 16%-18% of the cap annually. He's coming off a career year, averaging 15.2 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game while flirting with All NBA recognition, gaining six Third Team votes. He played a pivotal role in the surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals by the Hawks and proved to be a great pick and roll partner for Trae Young.
This looks to be the Atlanta Hawks locking into this core for the foreseeable future. As it currently stands, they are sitting on ~$109 million in salary for the 2023/2024 season between six players: Trae Young, John Collins, Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Onyeka Okongwu, and Jalen Johnson, putting them ~$41 million below the tax line. They have upcoming decisions to make on rookie scale extensions with Kevin Huerter this summer and De'Andre Hunter + Cam Reddish in the future that could very easily push them past the luxury tax line for multiple years.
The Hawks could try to parlay their bevy of solid, young players into a bonafide star. With uncertainty surrounding the futures of players like Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and Ben Simmons, the Hawks could be a dark horse contender to land Trae Young a co-star in Atlanta. Johnson, Okongwu, Hunter, Reddish, Huerter and Collins are all intriguing in their own ways. Any deals built around any combination of those players plus draft picks and salary filler would be tough to beat in the open market for any current or future disgruntled stars. They can put together really any preferred package depending on the future path of the recipient team. You want good role players who can contribute right away? Here's Huerter + Collins. You want to completely tear it down and go for upside? Here's Johnson + Okongwu. You want a mix of both? Reddish + Hunter. Not to mention they own all their future 1sts.
Trade: Cavaliers receive Lauri Markkanen (signed to 4 year, $67 million); Trail Blazers Receive Larry Nance Jr; Bulls receive Derrick Jones Jr + POR 2022 1st (lottery protected), DEN 2023 2nd
I like this deal all the way around for everyone. The Cavs are only giving Markkanen around ~14% of the cap annually, with only a third of the contract guaranteed in the fourth year. Meanwhile he gives them a floor spacing big that's not Kevin Love with potential to become more. A good gamble to take for a bad team looking to stack young talent. Cleveland is now hard-capped since they received a player that was signed-and-traded, however they are sitting comfortably below the tax.
Portland gets a real rotation player that can help shore up the defense in Nance Jr, who is on a great contract. He will potentially start at the 4 or be first man off the bench. He strengthens a frontcourt that has been shaky behind Jusuf Nurkic in years past. Giving up a first for Nance seems a bit steep at first glance, but given the circumstances in Portland, it is understandable. Now, will Nance Jr, Ben McLemore, Tony Snell, and Cody Zeller be enough to keep Dame content in Portland? Not a chance. It would seem evident that the Blazers would be the landing spot for a Ben Simmons trade, given their desperation to appease their franchise superstar and Philly's desperation to get off Simmons, but only time will tell.
Chicago was the big winner of the deal. They were able to turn a free agent that did not want to be a Bull into a first round pick and a solid bench wing in Derrick Jones Jr. He's going to have to be able to play real minutes at the backup four, as their roster is thin in the frontcourt. Bagging another first round pick was big, as they are out one more from the Vucevic trade and another from the Derozan trade. Chicago still has work to do to fill out their roster, but this was a good bit of business for Arturas Karnisovas
Trade: Grizzlies receive Kris Dunn, Carsen Edwards + 2026 2nd swap; Celtics receive Juancho Hernangomez
The Grizzlies are certainly making a lot of transactions this offseason. They also keep adding guaranteed contracts. As it stands, they currently have 19 guaranteed contracts on the books. Say newly drafted Santi Aldama is stashed overseas and they waive Daniel Oturu, that still leaves 2 more contracts to clear. Maybe they try to move Dunn again to someone willing to take him on into cap space or an exception, I'm sure OKC would take the call. However, I'm not really sure I agree they are better off than if they would have just kept Eric Bledsoe on the roster. Take a look at all the transactions stemming from Bledsoe below:
Crudely done I know, I did it in Excel in three minutes. Nonetheless, it shows my point. They turned Bledsoe into Oturu, Culver, Dunn, Rondo, who they bought out, and Edwards + a 2026 2nd. There's a chance none of these guys even make the roster given the numbers crunch in Memphis. Maybe they are in on Culver as a second draft guy, but not a lot of promise was shown in Minnesota. I know Bledsoe looked rough last year, but he still has on-court value. He was on the books for an extra year, but only at a light guarantee. Maybe he didn't want to be in Memphis, but was he in a place where he could be making demands? We will see where the Grizzlies go from here, as they are almost assuredly not done transacting.
As for Boston, I don't mind the deal. Neither Dunn nor Edwards were going to crack the rotation, and they will actually need Hernangomez' shooting off the bench. He will compete with Grant Williams and Jabari Parker for bench rotation minutes, and that's a battle I would predict he wins. The bench is still iffy for the Celtics, but it should be better than last year.
Trade: Pistons receive DeAndre Jordan (bought out) + four future 2nds, $5.78 million in cash; Nets receive Sekou Dombouya, Jahlil Okafor
This deal is one near and dear to the Ducking The Tax brand, as its sole purpose was to lessen the tax blow in Brooklyn. For the Nets, this deal was an absolute must. Jordan was their only wart on a clean cap sheet, and had become unplayable this past season in the playoffs. They get to take a look at an intriguing Sekou Dombouya who is raw but has potential. More importantly, they shaved off $47 million in salary and tax, while acquiring a $6.3 million trade exception.
I get this deal for Detroit, but it seemed to me that they didn't have to sell so low on Dombouya. I know he wasn't drafted by the current front office and there is a logjam in the frontcourt for minutes (Grant, Cunningham, Bey, Lyles, Jackson, Livers), but Sekou was only 20. Nonetheless, they got a good haul for taking on Jordan in 4 future seconds and cash. Getting Jordan to give up $4 million in the buyout was a bit of good business as well, as that amount plus the cash received in the trade made up the entire last year of Jordan's contract, effectively meaning the Pistons are only on the hook cash-wise for this year's salary. Their roster currently sits at 14 players, so they could still take a gamble on a guy like Frank Ntilikina or Dante Exum.
Signing: Cleveland Cavaliers sign Tacko Fall to 1 year, minimum non-guaranteed deal
After seeing Boban's contribution in Dallas in the playoffs, I can see where a team would want to give Fall a chance, but Boban is just a lot better than Tacko. Not sure why they just didn't bring back Isaiah Hartenstein, as he was actually pretty good for them last year.
Signing: Brooklyn Nets sign LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap to 1 year, minimum deal
After seeing him retire due to a pretty serious health scare, it is a bit concerning to see him coming back to play. But, I am sure he was overly cautious getting medically cleared to come back, and I hope he can contribute on a stacked Nets team. Millsap was a pivotal signing for Brooklyn, sliding into the Jeff Green role for the team. He will play a crucial role come playoff time.
Signing: Los Angeles Lakers sign Rajon Rondo and DeAndre Jordan to 1 year, minimum deals
The Lakers brought in two more vets to a team full of them. Rondo was legitimately good when he was with the Lakers last in the Bubble, although I'm skeptical he will be able to have the same impact and will just steal minutes from Kendrick Nunn/Malik Monk. The Jordan signing is a bit of a head scratcher, given they already have Marc Gasol and Dwight Howard, unless Gasol does retire before the season begins.
Signing: Toronto Raptors sign Svi Mikhailiuk to 2 year, minimum deal with player option in the second year
Good signing for Toronto to take a chance on a young shooter like Svi. I'm surprised there wasn't a better deal out there for him and that OKC had zero interest in a return.
Signing: Chicago Bulls sign Stanley Johnson and Alize Johnson, Stanley - 1 year minimum, Alize - 2 years, minimum
Both Johnsons were good value pickups for Chicago. The team is shallow at the four, so both will battle for rotation minutes.
Agency Change: Zach Lavine signs with Klutch Sports
Not a transaction, but a key moment in a future one. By switching to Klutch, Lavine seems to be signaling that he will be playing hardball in contract negotiations next offseason. He's going to want a max deal to the tune of 5 years $207 million, and Chicago may have no choice in the matter if he continues his play from last year to this year. That puts them in tax territory for the 2022/2023 season and onward.
Waived: San Antonio Spurs waive Chandler Hutchison
The Spurs took on Hutchison from the Wizards so that Washington could Duck The Tax™ and received a second round pick for their troubles. San Antonio had a roster crunch even before they received Hutchison, so he was never going to be a Spur.
Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers are Done With Each Other
The ongoing saga between Ben Simmons and the Sixers seems to have reached its apex on the drama meter. Word coming out of Simmons camp is signaling that he will not be reporting to camp and wants to be dealt immediately. Hard to blame him with how active Philly has been in trying to move him, as well as the comments made by Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers, his own teammate and coach, after their early playoff exit.
Then again, it is hard to blame the franchise for trying to move Simmons. He all but disappeared in the fourth quarters of the Hawks series and has underwhelmed in his growth as a shooter throughout his career. The talent he possesses just could never overcome the fit alongside franchise star Joel Embiid. It is a shame, too, because of just how talented Simmons is. He's one of the best five defenders in the league and a great facilitator on offense. All parties are at partial fault as to why the Simmons/Embiid pairing never worked out to how everyone thought, but its up to Daryl Morey on where to go from here.
There's been plenty of discussion on potential landing spots for Simmons, places like Portland, Sacramento, Minnesota and Golden State come to mind, but not a lot of traction on deals being reported. It is fair to say that Simmons' value is depressed based on his most recent play and that he won't get anywhere near the most recent star trades in Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee and James Harden to Brooklyn. I just don't think any contender believes that they are a Ben Simmons away from a title, resulting in less than thrilling offers for Morey to decide from. It may take a leap of faith by a team that could talk themselves into Simmons being the missing link that could launch them into either title or playoff contention. I'd like to flesh out some deals that could possibly fit that category.
As I mentioned previously, I could see Atlanta as a darkhorse landing spot for Simmons. They have the depth and pieces to really make a deal happen. Here's the way I could see it go down:
PHI receives: John Collins, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish
ATL receives: Ben Simmons, Isaiah Joe
Atlanta is able to consolidate some of their role players into a legit All-NBA player in Simmons, meanwhile Philly gets some complementary pieces to surround Embiid with in Collins + Huerter and could still flip Reddish to bring in more veteran talent.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
I could see the Spurs getting into the mix as well. They have a bevy of good but not great players and could look to make a move to bring in Simmons. A potential deal could look like this:
PHI receives: Derrick White, Thaddeus Young + 2 firsts
SAS receives: Ben Simmons
Philly gets a good combo guard in Derrick White who can play on and off-ball. They also receive Thad Young, who's coming off a couple of great years in Chicago and could be a solid two-way fill in at the four spot. Meanwhile, the Spurs can pair Ben Simmons with Dejounte Murray and play at one of the fastest paces in the league while being downright scary defensively.
One team that I think should enter the Ben Simmons sweepstakes is the Grizzlies. They have a bevy of role players and picks that they can make a real run at a Simmons trade. The opportunity to add an All-NBA talent doesn't come around to often, and the Grizzlies should jump at the chance. Here is how I envision the deal going down:
MEM receives: Ben Simmons, Isaiah Joe
PHI receives: Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, De'Anthony Melton + 2 firsts
Philly gets competent role players and 2 firsts as ammo for more trades. Meanwhile, Memphis brings in Simmons alongside the electric Ja Morant. The floor spacing from Jaren Jackson Jr could be the dynamic that could fully unlock Simmons potential and could give Memphis a trio to be reckoned with in the future.
Nick Thoreson is a young professional working in finance who is passionate about the NBA and especially all things salary cap related.