Out of the three players the Bulls got back in June’s Jimmy Butler trade, Zach LaVine is the one with the greatest potential to make or break their future. Despite his limited skill set, his improved shooting and explosive athleticism give him clear star potential. Combined with his age (22), it’s clear he’s going to be a part of the Bulls’ plan for years to come as they undertake a full rebuild.But unlike Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen, LaVine doesn’t come with years of team control on a cheap rookie contract. He’ll make $3.2 million this coming season, his fourth, before hitting restricted free agency in July 2018. Depending on how this season goes, LaVine could be in line for a huge payday — north of $20 million annually, in all likelihood. The biggest variable in the amount of money LaVine could make is his health. He suffered a torn left ACL on Feb. 4, which has the potential to affect his explosiveness going forward. All signs have been positive when it comes to LaVine’s rehab from the injury, but there is no clear timetable for when he’ll be back on the court. All signs are that the Bulls will be conservative in their approach. “I’m feeling really good,” LaVine said in June, at the Bulls’ press conference following the Butler trade. “I’m wholesale nba jerseys attacking this injury like I do everything in life, working my butt off for it every day, in the gym and doing as much as possible. There’s always that base timeline of nine to 12 months with it. I feel like with my ability, I’m able to come back early. But I really haven’t set a timetable for that. I’m very confident that I’ll come back better. This has given me time to work on my mental game, my strength and learn the game more. I have no fear at all coming back from this.” LaVine has since said that he expects to be ready to play when training camp begins in late September. It’s a nice thought, but in a rebuilding year, the Bulls have no reason to let him play that early in the calendar. Don’t expect him back before January at the earliest, and even then he’ll almost definitely be on a minutes limit, and probably not playing on back-to-backs, either. The Bulls aren’t expecting to win games next year, and LaVine is too important to their long-term future to not be cautious with his health. All of which is going to make for an interesting decision for the Bulls and for LaVine before the Oct. 15 rookie extension deadline. Depending on where the salary cap lands, LaVine will be eligible for an extension somewhere above $100 million over four years, the same as the max offer sheet he can sign with another team next summer. Given his talent and upside, it seems likely on the surface that if he hits free agency, another team will throw big money at him, like the Brooklyn Nets did with Otto Porter, the best restricted free agent on the market this summer. (Porter signed a four-year, $106 million offer sheet with the Nets, which the Wizards matched.) If LaVine signs an offer sheet with another team, there’s virtually no scenario in which the Bulls wouldn’t match it, even if it’s for close to the max. It could hurt their cap sheet to pay LaVine that much, but it will hurt more if they let the centerpiece of the Butler trade walk over a few million dollars. If LaVine isn’t willing to take anything less than the max, it makes sense to wait until next summer. But holding out for the absolute most money is a gamble for LaVine, one that could wind up costing him if he and his agent misread the market. It’s no guarantee that he will get a huge deal next summer, especially with his current uncertain health status. The market this summer hasn’t been strong for restricted free agents. Porter and Tim Hardaway, Jr. got paid, but it’s been a tough climate for everyone else. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year deal with the Lakers after Detroit pulled his qualifying offer, and Washington’s Bojan Bogdanovic signed a disappointing two-year, $21 million deal with the Pacers. Dallas’ Nerlens Noel and Memphis’ JaMychal Green are still unsigned, and the Bulls themselves are currently locked in a contract stalemate with Nikola Mirotic, who hasn’t been able to get leverage from other offers. It’s not going to get better next summer. According to a recent story from ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon and Bobby Marks, executives and agents around the league are expecting a “nuclear winter” when it comes to the size of free-agent deals next year, a market correction from the spending frenzy that was 2016 free agency. If LaVine has a setback in his injury rehab, or isn’t the same player coming back that he was before the injury, there may not be a team out there willing to toss him the kind of offer sheet that might make the Bulls think twice about matching. He might find himself in Mirotic’s position, going into free agency hoping for a huge deal and inevitably being forced to sign a smaller one (as Mirotic is expected to do by the start of the season). Signing an extension before the October deadline might make the most sense both for LaVine and for the Bulls. Given how hesitant teams have been to sign long-term deals this summer, LaVine may be willing to take a discount off his max (say, a four-year deal worth between $70 and $80 million, rather than $100-plus) in exchange for four guaranteed years. If he hits the market after anything less than a stellar year, he might be stuck choosing between shorter-term deals or taking a smaller deal from the Bulls. In the best-case scenario, LaVine comes back fully healthy from the knee injury and proves himself to be worthy of a max contract the Bulls will be more than happy to pay him. But there are a lot of variables that could prevent this from being the case, from his health to an uncertain free-agent landscape. How LaVine and the Bulls navigate it between now and October will be worth keeping an eye on as the team positions LaVine as a core piece of its future.
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In our series of season outlooks for the players on the 2017-18 Detroit Pistons roster, we’ll run through expectations for each. Next up is Stanley Johnson.Of all the Detroit Pistons who had seasons they won’t remember fondly, Stanley Johnson might be near the top of the list. After an inspiring rookie season, he hit the summer circuit last year with a re-worked jump shot and the promise of an Orlando Summer League in which he was consistently the best player on the floor in spite of coaching restrictions hindering the use of his right hand. He tore up summer league, the Drew League, Drake’s OVO league and just about every competition he found himself in, but when training camp began everything started off poorly. Johnson missed time due to foot pain from his shoes, and his stubborn tendencies clashed with Stan Van Gundy and the duo struggled to get on the same page most of the season. Johnson didn’t see 20-plus minutes of playing time for the fourth time until December 11th, by which time he had already had three DNP-CD’s and a one-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules. In spite of this, and the fact that somehow his shot ended up more broken than in his rookie season (he had an effective field goal percentage of 42.8 in his rookie season and it dropped to 41.5 percent last year), the Pistons were generally better when he was on the floor than off. Some of that is due to the fact that much of his playing time came against second units, but he had great chemistry with Ish Smith, Tobias Harris and Aron Baynes and his defense was generally excellent. This quartet (which earned the nickname of “Voltron”, coined by Rod Beard of the Detroit News) thrived all season, but particularly in February when they led all non-Golden State Warriors four-man combos in the NBA in net rating with a glittering +25.9. The only better four-man unit that month was Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Johnson’s performance will be vital to the Pistons this season. With the trade of Marcus Morris to the Boston Celtics for Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson has been forced up the pecking order in the forward rotation. Instead of backing up Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last season out of position at shooting guard, where 45 percent of his minutes were played, he’ll be playing in his more natural small forward spot, with the possibility of some small-ball power forward minutes. In some starting lineup projections, Johnson would start for the Detroit Pistons at the three, cheap jerseys authentic although Stan Van Gundy may take a more patient approach installing him into the starting lineup. Without a doubt, he is much better positioned to make an impact playing his physical style of defense this season. In addition, an offensive approach that is more focused on cutting off ball and slashing to the rim than spotting up can only benefit him, and playing at the three will aid that.
The Los Angeles Lakers have nearly filled out their roster for this upcoming season, but they appear to be looking well past this year.The new front office of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka has not been shy about its desire to make a massive splash to bring the Lakers back to prominence. Whether cheap jerseys nba that be through free agency or the trade market, the brass is determined to bring star power back to Tinsel Town. With that in mind, let us take a look at the most recent developments in Los Angeles’ rebuild. The move to bring Paul George from the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder was the most high-profile transaction of the NBA offseason, and it appears the Lakers were in the mix to land the All Star forward. Per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles offered up a pretty strong package for George despite him being a free agent in a year. “In June, the Lakers offered [Jordan] Clarkson or fourth-year forward Julius Randle and their No. 27 and 28 picks to Indiana for Paul George,” Medina wrote (via the Orange County Register). “The Pacers declined before trading him to Oklahoma City for guard Victor Oladipo and center Domantas Sabonis.” Clarkson and Randle are valuable young assets who seemingly could have provided Indiana with a better return than an average starter in Oladipo and an unproven player in Sabonis, who averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 20.1 minutes a night as a rookie. Clarkson, 25, is a slasher who can contribute in other areas offensively. He put up 14.7 points per game to go with 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game last offseason. With the Los Angeles backcourt starting fill up with the additions of Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it is no surprise that Clarkson often hears his name in trade rumors. Still, he is doing his best to ignore the buzz, per Medina. “The only thing I can worry about in terms of stuff like that and trade rumors is myself and continue to work,” Clarkson said. “If I were to be traded, I just have to be ready to play. But I’m here in L.A. and am ready for the season. I’m excited.” Meanwhile, Randle, only 22, is a strong post player, averaging a double-double just two seasons ago and missing out on one last season by 1.4 rebounds per game. It seems odd that the Lakers would also make him available in a trade offer for a player with one year left on his contract, but the front office is desperate to add superstars. Pelinka affirmed the notion Thursday that the team’s plan is to land such a player within the next year, per The Dan Patrick Show: George has been linked to the Lakers as a free-agent destination for quite some time, so he may land there regardless. If that is the case, then Los Angeles is lucky Indiana passed on its offer. It allows the team’s young foundation to remain in place while still having cap space for 2018 free agency. The Lakers now also still have solid pieces in place in the event that George opts to spurn Los Angeles and sign elsewhere.
With the NBA playoffs behind us, the 2017 off–season is here and many teams must make massive decisions. CBA expert Danny Leroux breaks down the major challenges and opportunities for the Detroit Pistons in The Crossover’s NBA Summer Preview series.The Pistons are in an unenviable position to start the summer. While they have a talented roster, they are a rare non-playoff team with very little flexibility. Spending up to the salary cap line and then giving Andre Drummond a big raise last off-season was a reasonable use of resources since that cap space was going away as soon as Drummond re-signed but it functionally locked in their team for another few years. That decision by coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy did not bear out in the 2016-17 season, as Detroit fell short of the playoffs with a 37-45 record. Now their salary situation gets even more challenging as shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will receive his raise with the team’s other principals already under contract. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: The 24-year old restricted free agent will likely get a serious contract offer due to his ability to defend, hit open threes (35% this season) and play a scarce position. Van Gundy can either analyze the decision on Caldwell-Pope’s offer sheet in isolation or in the greater context of the Pistons’ substantial salary obligations. Additionally, the two sides could attempt to come to an agreement on a deal outside of the restricted free agency process, as the Magic did with Evan Fournier last season. #12 pick: One silver lining to Detroit’s disappointing season is that they have the chance to draft a talented prospect who could also provide some cost-controlled value on an expensive team. There has been reporting that Van Gundy could move this choice for a veteran and while there are certainly some who would provide a meaningful upgrade, those decisions often hurt teams down the road. Furthermore, while some feel the 12th pick may be just after a potential drop-off point in this draft class, it would only take one or two reaches to change that cheap jerseys China dynamic and open up a great opportunity. Luxury tax avoidance: If Caldwell-Pope ends up close to his maximum salary (about $25 million for 2017-18), the Pistons will be over the luxury tax line even before using their Mid-Level exception. Aron Baynes will likely factor into the resolution of that because he can decline his player option worth $6.5 million or he can pick it up and Detroit can trade him to a team more interested in a backup center on a one-year contract than the free agents on the market. If free agents Reggie Bullock and Beno Udrih are headed elsewhere, the Pistons will still need to clear about $4 million more to get under the tax, not including any new salary signed during the off-season. Fortunately, the front office has more time to get it done because teams only need to get below the line by the end of the regular season, making the trade deadline another opportunity to shed salary.