Ryan Knaus

The Numbers Game

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NBA News Roundup

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The playoffs have overshadowed all other NBA news since mid-April, with good reason, but elite teams aren't the only story -- a lot has transpired for teams who didn't make the cut. Today's column recaps the biggest news from the past month, and as such it's a departure from the usual 'Numbers Game' style, but it should prove useful as a a one-stop refresher on key injuries, free agency updates, and general team developments.


If you're looking for playoff-specific content, we've got that too. Click here for Dr. A's latest Daily Dose examining a thrilling Game 5 between the Spurs and Rockets, or check out Mike Gallagher's column about the Warriors' defense and LeBron's super-clutch play over the years. If you like that last part, be sure to listen to this Monday's podcast in which Mike and I discuss various tools to measure efficiency and fantasy value -- True Shooting percentage, usage rates without turnovers, and much more. Rotoworld is also running a series of NBA draft preview columns by Ed Isaacson and Brian Patrick...you can find all of them archived here!


The news roundup below is broken into three sections: Injuries, General News, and Free Agency. Let’s get started.




Tony Parker (left quad) had surgery to repair a rupture and he could miss "at least" eight months, according to an independent orthopedist. Parker is owed a guaranteed $15.5 million in the final year of his contract next season. The Spurs are already cautious with him, and he'll almost certainly have severe restrictions whenever he gets back on the court.


Blake Griffin (right big toe) is out indefinitely after surgery to repair his plantar plate, ending his postseason prematurely. The injury isn't expected to deter the Clippers from offering him a long-term max contract this summer.


Andre Drummond had surgery to repair a deviated septum. He said he had trouble breathing this season, due to the deviated septum as well as allergies. He'll be fully recovered in a month.


George Hill's left big toe injury will not require surgery, he said, adding that it was a "freak accident" which shouldn't impact his appeal in free agency. Hill missed large chunks of the season and simply couldn't shake the ailment, which forced him to sit out the final three games of Utah's loss to the Warriors, but a summer of rest and rehab should do the trick.


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Jabari Parker (ACL surgery) could return by the All-Star break, at the earliest, according to Bucks GM John Hammond.


Jamal Murray (groin) had surgery to repair a "couple" injuries related to his core muscles. He'll be ready for camp.


Allen Crabbe (left foot) had surgery to repair a stress reaction, which could sideline him for a few months. No official timetable has been given for Crabbe, whose mediocre season didn’t live up to the $75 million deal he signed last summer.


Rodney Hood (sprained right knee) said that he should be fully healed in about a month.


Derrick Favors claimed to be "100 percent" heading into the offseason, after a season in which he missed 32 games despite averaging just 23.7 minutes per game. A left knee bone bruise was the primary culprit, but he also finished the season with lower back soreness -- in four playoff games vs. the Warriors, Favors averaged 3.3 points in 10.3 minutes. Favors is heading into a contract year, so the 25-year-old will have no lack of motivation to get his body into top shape. That said, he'd need an astounding offseason to rebuild his fantasy appeal after a horrendous 2016-17.


Luol Deng had surgery to repair his right pectoral muscle. He's expected to be fully cleared prior to training camp. The 32-year-old is owed a guaranteed $54 million through the 2019-20 season.


Joakim Noah (right shoulder) is out roughly five months after surgery in late April to repair his rotator cuff. The Knicks' decision to sign him for $72 million last summer looks worse than ever.


Robert Covington (right knee) had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in mid-April. He described it as a "baby tear" and was optimistic that he'd beat his 4-6 week timetable.


Justise Winslow (right shoulder) is "way ahead of schedule" after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in early January, according to Pat Riley. He began "very light rehab" during the All-Star break and all signs point to his being fully recovered prior to training camp.


Jusuf Nurkic (right leg) expects to be fully recovered in 2-3 months. He's dealing with a non-displaced fibular fracture that limited him to just 17 minutes in one postseason appearance.


Seth Curry (left shoulder) is hoping to avoid surgery this summer. "I mean, [surgery] is a possibility still, but I don’t think that’s necessary at this point," Curry said.


Nene's postseason ended due to a left thigh tear. The Rockets intentionally limited his minutes to protect him all year, and it was a particularly rough injury with free agency looming for the 34-year-old center.


Steve Kerr had surgery to repair a spinal cord leak, and Warriors owner Joe Lacob said he could return to the sidelines this postseason. Here's wishing him a speedy recovery from a scary ailment.


Miles Plumlee (right knee) had a debridement procedure that will sideline him for 6-8 weeks. He signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Bucks last summer, which is now owed him by the Hornets after a mid-season trade.



General News


Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview with the Knicks, apparently because he was upset about the drama swirling around the team (and its treatment of Carmelo Anthony). The move prompted “several” teams to inquire about a trade for KP, but there's no indication that New York was receptive. Porzingis also said that his Twitter account was hacked in early May, after it posted "L.A. Clippers" with three smiley faces.


Stan Van Gundy vowed to get Boban Marjanovic more involved offensively next season. This makes sense on multiple levels, especially since SVG has said repeatedly that he doesn't expect to retain probable free agent Aron Baynes. Boban averaged just 8.6 minutes in 34 appearances last season, but he did have a healthy usage rate of 27.6%.


Dennis Schroder wants the Hawks to get Dwight Howard more looks offensively next season. Howard had a 19.1% usage rate this season, which dipped to just 15.0% in the playoffs. That's hardly better than the 18.7% usage he saw with Houston last season, which he publicly complained about on multiple occasions.


Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said his team needs a "culture reset" after being swept by the Cavaliers in the semifinals. That's a particularly interesting quote since Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson are all heading into unrestricted free agency, but it sounds like this is more about coach Dwane Casey. “The style of play is something that we need to change, and I’ve made it clear,” Ujiri said. “And coach has acknowledged it and he’s already thought about it. Just some of the things that we do, it’s not working anymore." Regardless of their offseason moves, the Raptors are going to be fascinating to watch during training camp and the preseason.


Larry Bird stepped down as the Pacers' team president, with Kevin Pritchard taking over his duties.


The Magic fired GM Rob Hennigan one day after the regular season ended. It wasn't a surprising move considering the questionable moves he's made in recent years, including the ill-fated deal for Serge Ibaka.


The Hawks shook up their front office with GM Wes Wilcox stepping down and coach Mike Budenholzer relinquishing his duties as team president.



Free Agency

Kyle Lowry confirmed that he'll decline his player option in favor of unrestricted free agency, setting him up for a massive payday.


Rudy Gay plans to test free agency this summer, declining a $14.3 million option to chase a long-term deal. He's coming off Achilles surgery which makes this a bit risky, but given the rise of the salary cap and his age (30), it's a calculated gamble. He might also be thinking about the four-year, $70 million deal Wes Matthews landed six months after Achilles surgery.


The Mavericks reportedly have "little concern" that restricted free agent Nerlens Noel will sign elsewhere this summer. The theory is that Noel likes playing in Rick Carlisle's system, and the Mavs are willing to pay him a hefty sum, so they should reach a deal without Noel bringing them an offer sheet from another team.


The Clippers may not have the cap space to retain UFA J.J. Redick, especially since they're expected to lavish max deals on both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.


Marreese Speights will decline his $1.4 million player option, making him an unrestricted FA.


Will Barton won't sign an extension this summer, setting him up for free agency in 2018. He's on a bargain contract, with Denver paying their super-sub $3.5 million in 2017-18.


Dante Cunningham will decline his $3.1 million option in favor of free agency.


The Blazers are declining their team option for Festus Ezeli, who missed the 2016-17 season due to knee problems that culminated in surgery.


Free agents often offer more-or-less meaningless lip-service about their desire to remain with their current team, and this year is no exception. We haven't even reached the Conference Finals in the playoffs, but the list already includes Kevin Durant, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Zach Randolph, Taj Gibson, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Willie Reed, Tim Hardaway Jr., Derrick Rose, JaMychal Green, Tony Allen, Andre Iguodala, Joe Ingles, P.J. Tucker, Patrick Patterson, Andre Roberson, Mike Muscala, Wayne Ellington, and ol’ reliable Udonis Haslem.


Blanket assurances are a two-way street, however, and plenty of teams have vowed to retain or extend their own players. Examples include the Raptors (UFA Kyle Lowry), Hawks (UFA Paul Millsap, RFA Tim Hardaway Jr.) Bucks (RFA Tony Snell, Jabari Parker extension), Bulls (RFA Nikola Mirotic, not buying out Rajon Rondo), Thunder (RFA Andre Roberson, Russell Westbrook extension), Nuggets (UFA Danilo Gallinari, RFA Mason Plumlee, Gary Harris extension), Pistons (RFA Kentavious Caldwell-Pope), Heat (UFA Dion Waiters, UFA James Johnson), Knicks (UFA Derrick Rose), and the Kings (UFA Rudy Gay, RFA Ben McLemore).


So far, the only teams going in the other direction are the Knicks (with Carmelo Anthony) and the Lakers (who told Metta World Peace that they're unlikely to re-sign him).


Dirk Nowitzki will play in 2017-18 and perhaps longer, Vince Carter plans to play two more seasons, and Jose Calderon, Sergio Rodriguez, Devin Harris and Nick Collison all hope to earn another NBA contract. We’ll end on that note. The news stream never ceases, so I’ll return with another all-encompassing update after the Finals. Enjoy the playoffs!

Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.
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