Welcome to the Front-Office Perspective.
Every Monday, The Vertical Insider Bobby Marks, a former longtime assistant general manager with the Nets, will examine the weekly thought processes of NBA teams and offer a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday grind of putting a team together.
We'll also look at roster decisions teams will face during the week, start to focus on under-the-radar college prospects, take a sneak peek toward free agency and dive into salary cap terminology.
With the trade deadline nearing, we’ll also look at the early preparations teams will set in motion as Feb. 18 nears.
THE MINDSET OF THE FRONT OFFICE: TWO WEEKS AWAY
Trade dialogue picks up
As general managers gather their scouts and top lieutenants to start the trade process, questions will be bounced around the room focused on the current status and future of the team.
Personnel scouts, who are the foot soldiers of the basketball department, will be relied on heavily. A combination of scouting reports, player background, team needs and short- and long-term cap implications will all come into play when discussions take place.
Trade patterns studied
General managers will continue to study the patterns of their counterparts because it's valuable knowing how far you can push a team into making a deal.
Buyers vs. sellers identified
With playoff positions in the East and West still in flux, there are only a handful of potential sellers right now. The teams that should be selling still think they have a realistic chance of making the playoffs while potential buyers are having second thoughts.
For a team like the Chicago Bulls, who have been hampered by injuries, the question management will ask is: Will health cure everything? If so, can the team tread water until reinforcements arrive, hoping not to get lapped in the process?
The question many teams, such as Atlanta, will face is: Does moving back in the playoff race prove beneficial for the long-term health of the organization? Or is there a deal to be made with a team looking just to get into the playoffs, where a future pick or young player can be obtained?
THE 10-DAY CONTRACTS
Teams with open roster spots are eligible to sign a player for 10 days. Teams are only permitted to sign a player to two 10-day contracts.
Teams with players on 10-day contracts:
Denver: Sean Kilpatrick’s second 10-day contract expires on Feb. 1.
L.A. Clippers: Jeff Ayres’ first 10-day contract expires Feb. 1. He will sign a second 10-day Tuesday.
Memphis: Ryan Hollins’ second 10-day contract expires Feb. 10.
New Orleans: Bryce Dejean-Jones’ second 10-day contract expires Feb. 10.
New York: Thanasis Antetokounmpo’s first 10-day contract expires Feb. 7.
Orlando: Keith Appling’s second 10-day contract expires on Feb. 7.
Phoenix: Cory Jefferson’s first 10-day contract will expire Jan. 30.
Phoenix: Jordan McRae’s first 10-day contract will expire Feb. 7.
Utah: Erick Green’s first 10-day contract will expire Feb. 4.
TRADED PLAYER EXCEPTION
There are eight trade exceptions that will expire at the deadline, led by Oklahoma City’s for $2.2 million and Houston’s for $1.6 million.
Minnesota and Houston both have smaller trade exceptions of $816,482 that will expire on Feb. 10 and 19, respectively.
DISABLED PLAYER EXCEPTION
Four teams, Brooklyn ($3.1 million), Denver ($5.2 million), New Orleans ($1.7 million) and Washington ($2.8 million) have disabled player exceptions.
The exception will expire March 10 and can only be used to sign, acquire or claim a player in the last year of his contract.
TEAMS WITH ROSTER SPOTS
Cleveland and Phoenix are the only teams with an open roster spot.
FREE AGENT ON TEAMS’ JULY WISH LISTS
The restricted free agent has had a breakout year for the young Trail Blazers. The 23-year-old has seen his minutes double from last year and has been a key rotational player for Portland. Once thought of as a developmental project, he’s now turned into a possible Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Crabbe will have full Bird rights this summer with Portland having the ability to match any offer sheet that comes his way.
WHAT NBA SCOUTS ARE SAYING ABOUT …
The freshmen at USC
From a Western Conference scout:
“Chimezie Metu is one of those kids that gets better each time. Metu is an elite athlete with big-time physical skills but still very raw. Saw him go off for 21 points and eight rebounds vs. UCLA and followed it up with five points vs. Oregon. Metu is still a work in progress with a potential to become a big-time prospect. Not sure if he realizes how good of a player he can be.
“Bennie Boatright is one of those rare fours that all teams in the NBA covet. A bit under the radar, has that NBA look to him. Is not just a standstill shooter but has shown the ability to shoot off the dribble. Boatright is not a post-up player, strictly plays on the perimeter.”
SALARY-CAP TERM OF THE WEEK
A salary-cap exception given to a free agent whose previous contract covered three or more seasons. Teams can exceed the salary cap to sign their own free agent with Bird rights if he qualifies. Bird rights also mean a team can sign its own free agent for a salary up to the maximum salary allowed.
A free agent also qualifies for Bird rights if he has changed teams during the course of his contract. The Memphis Grizzlies’ Jeff Green signed a contract with the Celtics before the 2012-13 season. Green, who was eventually traded last season to the Grizzlies, will still qualify as a player with full Bird rights this summer.
Teams have an advantage because they can offer more years and a larger percentage to sign their own free agents.
Some examples of players with Bird rights are Kevin Durant and Mike Conley.
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