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While the potential impact of NBA free agency often outshines the actual process, the 2019 version seems it will live up to the hype.
The supply of available superstars is rich. The demand for said stars from teams with one or more max-contract slots is even more abundant.
The rumor mill is every bit as active as you would expect, and we are here to help you stay on top of it.
Stay locked here for Thursday’s updates of legitimate information, smokescreens and everything in between. B/R’s crew of NBA experts will pass along all the latest buzz and, more importantly, analyze what it actually means.
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Darron Cummings/Associated Press
It feels like the idea of Kyrie Irving joining the Brooklyn Nets has been solidifying for weeks. There have been occasional distractions, but the rumors always seem to steer Kyrie back to Brooklyn.
On Thursday, we got, at the very least, another distraction.
“Kyrie Irving remains as much a target for the Lakers as Kawhi Leonard, league sources say, now that the Lakers are sure they can open maximum cap space,” the New York Times‘ Marc Stein tweeted. “They are swinging for the fences despite all of the signals that have pointed Irving to Brooklyn.”
This is, of course, a report on the Lakers’ thinking. There’s no indication here that the interest is reciprocal. And despite some midseason mea culpas from Kyrie to LeBron James over their time together with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the idea of those two reuniting still feels like a long shot.
Kyrie seems to know he needs superstar help. But he’s been down that road with LeBron before. And the Kevin Durant rumors aren’t going away till we have concrete answers post-July 1.
“I’m pretty much hearing it’s done,” Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN Radio (h/t FanDuel). “Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are going to Brooklyn.”
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Tony Avelar/Associated Press
File this one away in the “long shot that depends on a hypothetical” folder.
“Sources: If the Warriors don’t offer guard Klay Thompson a max $190 million deal on Sunday when free agency opens, he will listen to both LA teams, the Lakers and Clippers,” the Los Angeles Times‘ Brad Turner reported. “Lakers back in the runnings because they now have max slot of $32 million after today’s trade.”
The Golden State Warriors allowing Thompson to walk almost feels like an impossibility. He’s one half of the Splash Brothers, second in franchise history in threes and top-10 in points and win shares. Oh, and there’s the whole “integral part of three championship teams” thing.
Thursday on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith said the “deal’s already done” when asked whether the Warriors shooting guard would return to Golden State.
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Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
“There are some in the [New York Knicks] organization who wouldn’t regard [Terry] Rozier as too far a step down from Kyrie Irving because of his age—25,” the New York Post‘s Marc Berman wrote. “Rozier, who went to Louisville, also knows Kentucky’s Kevin Knox.”
This probably isn’t necessary, but let’s put that thinking to the test. Here are Kyrie and Scary Terry’s numbers over the last two seasons, adjusted for pace and playing time:
- Irving: 27.1 points, 6.8 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 threes and 1.5 steals per 75 possessions, with a 60.0 true shooting percentage and a 6.3 box plus/minus
- Rozier: 15.4 points, 4.4 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 2.6 threes and 1.4 steals per 75 possessions, with a 51.1 true shooting percentage and a 0.6 box plus/minus
Look, this really isn’t a fair comparison. In terms of on-court production, Rozier isn’t close to Kyrie’s level.
But if New York whiffs on all the big-name free agents like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker and Kyrie, it’ll have to talk itself into a less glamorous outcome.
And with reports that Kemba could sign with Boston, Rozier might become that outcome.
“If Walker flees Charlotte for Boston, there are reports the Celtics could renounce the rights to backup point guard Terry Rozier, who has long been an apple of Knicks GM Scott Perry’s eye,” Berman wrote.
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Ben Margot/Associated Press
The Raptors have already reaped the rewards of their gamble on Kawhi Leonard with the organization’s first-ever NBA title.
But they’re now coming face-to-face with the risks.
Leonard, a Southern California native, intends to meet with both the Lakers and Clippers when free agency opens on Sunday, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. Leonard plans to meet with “a handful of teams” including the Raptors, with whom he is “seriously considering re-signing.”
Toronto can offer him a longer, richer contract than anyone—five years, $190 million in all. It also just shared the experience of capturing a championship with him and earned high marks for him for its health maintenance strategy.
Still, the threat of L.A. is significant, and it’s coming from both clubs. The Lakers just opened a max-contract slot, and they felt they were in the running long before that. The Clippers could create space for two max deals, and they’re mulling trying to fill them with Leonard and Jimmy Butler, a potential pairing believed to interest Leonard, per The Athletic’s Sam Amick.
This could be at least a three-team race, which has to worry the Raptors. While they should be commended for staying in the discussion, there’s still a significant chance Leonard leaves and the team radically transforms without him.
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Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers’ exceptionalism is real, and it’s spectacular.
Over the last 12 months, the Lakers have added two all-galaxy superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. On Thursday, they opened a path to adding a possible third star, which would grant them pole position in the 2019-20 title race.
The Lakers found their necessary trade partner to expand the Anthony Davis deal and will send Moe Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Washington Wizards, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. Davis also waived his $4 million trade kicker, per Wojnarowski, which means L.A. now has $32 million to spend in free agency.
Could Kyrie Irving reunite with James? Is Kemba Walker coming? Does this get the Lakers in the running for Southern California native Kawhi Leonard? Maybe former Laker D’Angelo Russell is in line for a return?
Or how about Jimmy Butler? A Western Conference executive told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher that Butler “has interest in being the third star with the Los Angeles Lakers, even if it means accepting slightly less than a maximum salary.”
If the Lakers sign any of these notable names, they’ll have next to nothing left to spend on their supporting cast. But when the foundation features James, Davis and insert-third-star-here, that’s a championship-caliber nucleus regardless of how the rest of the roster looks.
James, meanwhile, is already trying to make sure Davis is as comfortable as possible in his new digs. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported James is “gifting…his No. 23” to Davis. It’s the only number Davis has worn during his NBA career. It’s unclear which number James will don next season. He’s worn No. 23 with the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers, and he wore No. 6 with the Miami Heat.
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Teams in need of another big man—here’s looking at you, Celtics and Sixers—should pay attention: Nerlens Noel is headed for the open market.
It’s no surprise to see the No. 6 pick from 2013 turn down his $1.9 million player option to enter free agency, as Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Thursday. Noel once reportedly declined a $70 million offer from the Dallas Mavericks. Even if the market has humbled him since, he wasn’t going to accept a minimum salary out of the gate.
Regardless of where he lands, he won’t blow up his bank account. He settled for a minimum one-plus-one pact last July and then averaged a career-low 13.7 minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Besides, the market for non-shooting bigs isn’t exactly booming.
With that said, he can add length, athleticism and energy to any second-unit frontcourt. His per-36-minute career averages include 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.2 steals. Boston should give the Massachusetts native a look with Al Horford heading out, and Philadelphia should consider a reunion since it needs a reliable reserve behind Joel Embiid.
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For all the focus on the point guards potentially joining or leaving the Boston Celtics, center Al Horford‘s exit could be the most significant development.
He’s been the connective tissue of this team. He does all the things an elite glue guy should. He defends all over, sets strong screens, keeps the ball moving and hits open shots. Without him, the Celtics will struggle to keep their championship window open.
While a source close to Horford says no final decision has been made, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, a league source insists “Horford’s time in Boston is over.”
If the Celtics have reservations about meeting the big man’s asking price, that’s understandable. He is believed to have a four-year offer worth roughly $112 million waiting for him in free agency, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.
That said, his departure would create a massive void on Boston’s interior, and filling it would be tricky if the Celtics throw major money at a point guard. In addition to Kemba Walker, Himmelsbach reported Boston could have interest in D’Angelo Russell depending on how free agency shakes out.
If the C’s don’t budget for a high-level big man, their title dreams may be dashed.
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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
A major pay raise seems imminent for defense-first point guard Patrick Beverley.
After making just over $5 million this past season, the 30-year-old is reportedly seeking “a deal in the three-year, $40 million-plus range,” per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
If that seems steep for a point guard with career averages of 3.5 assists and 41.2 percent shooting, think again. The Mavericks, Lakers, Bulls and Clippers are all interested.
What Beverley lacks in shot-creation, he compensates for with suffocating on-ball defense, a trusty three-point shot (career 38.0 percent) and playoff experience. He’s a two-time All-Defensive team selection and offers impressive versatility at that end despite standing only 6’1″ (just ask Kevin Durant).
As Beverley’s list of suitors shows, he can fit as either a plug-and-play support piece for a contender or a tone-setter for a younger team.
This seems like it could go any way. His low-maintenance style would seamlessly fit with LeBron James in L.A. or Luka Doncic in Dallas. He has two years of familiarity with the Clippers. He’s also a Chicago native, and his hometown team could use a veteran place holder while it grooms No. 7 pick Coby White.
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For eight seasons now, the Warriors have seen firsthand the impact of Klay Thompson’s lethal long-range shooting and defensive versatility.
They should know exactly what they think he’s worth and whether his ACL tear in the NBA Finals changed that perception.
If they deem him worthy of the full five-year, $189.7 million max and offer it at the start of free agency, his market might close as soon as it opens. But if they hesitate at all, The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported Thompson could look elsewhere, starting with the Clippers.
“[Warriors owner Joe] Lacob has shared his love for Thompson publicly at every turn, but a source with knowledge of Thompson’s situation said his private handling of the matter has still left the door out of The Bay open every so slightly—at least for now,” Amick wrote.
Maybe something unexpected is happening behind closed doors, but this should be straightforward.
Thompson has been a critical component of three championship runs and might be the perfect backcourt mate for Stephen Curry. Unless Golden State is suddenly pinching pennies, a max for Thompson feels like a no-brainer.
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Chris Szagola/Associated Press
The situation could be a little more nuanced than this, but Kawhi Leonard’s free agency seems like a two-team race between the Clippers and Raptors.
Toronto’s pitch speaks for itself. The club spent the past year proving its strength to the superstar swingman, managing his workload, improving the roster and ultimately taking home the franchise’s first world title.
L.A.’s strongest argument has tended to exist off the court. Leonard is a Southern California native, and he can’t get his hometown comfort or climate elsewhere.
The Clippers could strengthen their on-court appeal by adding a second star to the mix—after a bit of money maneuvering—and might have a particular player in mind, as Amick reported:
“There are many scenarios seemingly in play, but sources say one in particular looks increasingly possible: [Jimmy] Butler teaming up with Leonard on the Clippers. There are strong indications that Leonard is interested in having Butler as a running mate, and it’s the sort of powerful pairing that would certainly vault the Clippers into contention.”
Leonard and Butler would immediately form one of the league’s top defensive tandems. They have nine All-Defensive team selections between them. Each can also run offense at a consistently high level, as the pair has seven combined seasons with a scoring average of 20-plus points per game.
If Leonard needed basketball reasons to consider going home, a partnership with Butler could be as convincing as they come.
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John Hefti/Associated Press
For the last three years, Golden State has rostered one of the planet’s best players. In a week or two, that may no longer be the case.
Losing Kevin Durant would be a crushing blow to any franchise, even one that had a championship nucleus in place before his arrival. But if the Warriors are forced to confront that fate, they’d like to soften the sting a bit by getting something in return.
“The Warriors are wide open to considering sign-and-trade scenarios,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on Thursday’s Get Up.
To be clear, Durant has not signaled his intentions one way or the other. Wojnarowski’s latest report had the superstar swingman mulling over several options, including a return to Golden State, which can make him a longer, richer offer than any other suitor.
But if Durant goes, the cash-strapped Warriors would love to collect anything they can. Windhorst raised the possibility of a $35 million trade exception, which would allow Golden State to add to its roster despite having no real cap space. However, Windhorst added no team would be incentivized to help the Warriors, so maybe this goes nowhere.
Still, add this to the growing list of possible outcomes to Durant’s hugely anticipated free agency.
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Chuck Burton/Associated Press
Are the Celtics about to go from one All-Star point guard to the next? The possibility has never seemed more likely.
Wojnarowski reported the Shamrocks “have emerged as the front-runner” for Walker, who has been an All-Star each of the last three seasons. This #WojBomb comes on the heels of an update from Charania that stated Walker and the Hornets “have sizable gaps and [a] stalemate in talks so far.”
While Walker and his current club have publicly prioritized each other, that commitment has always seemed fair to scrutinize. They have only made two playoff trips over his eight-year tenure, and this overpaid, underperforming supporting cast will only become harder to build once the point guard gets paid like the star he has become.
To that end, Wojnarowski added Hornets owner Michael Jordan is “no longer determined to extend far enough financially to re-sign his franchise player.” The Celtics, on the other hand, are expected to have a four-year, $141 million offer ready when the market opens Sunday.
Boston might be one of multiple suitors—New York and Dallas are among the others, per Charania—but its status as the favorite makes sense. The Celtics seemingly need a Kyrie Irving replacement, and plugging in the 29-year-old Walker could allow the club to maximize its competitiveness without him.
Could Boston still contend without Irving and, perhaps more importantly, Al Horford? That’s debatable. Could the Celtics give Walker an exponentially greater chance of winning than the Hornets? Without question.
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John Raoux/Associated Press
The likelihood of realizing that dream is unclear, but the Knicks must ensure they maintain the necessary wiggle room to pull it off. The need for maximum flexibility is apparently preventing Emmanuel Mudiay from getting a qualifying offer.
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported the Knicks will not extend a qualifying offer to Mudiay for financial reasons. Haynes added there is “mutual interest” in the point guard’s return.
The seventh overall pick in 2015, Mudiay’s first full season in New York saw him set several career bests, including 14.8 points per game and 44.6 percent shooting. At 23 years old, he should still have ample room to grow.
It would not be a shock to see him stick in the Big Apple, but it could depend on the franchise’s free-agency fortune. If the Knicks add Irving or Kemba Walker, that could spell the end of Mudiay’s tenure. If not, he could rejoin Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina in the Knicks’ lead-guard rotation.
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The Clippers increased their spending power—and added to their asset collection—by trading then-leading scorer Tobias Harris to the 76ers at the trade deadline.
L.A. now has the ability to create two max-contract slots, and the added flexibility could lead the Clippers…back to Harris?
“One team that should express interest in Harris should they miss out on Kawhi Leonard: the Clippers,” Charania reported. “Harris and the Clippers had a good relationship, and Harris had an All-Star-caliber season before the trade to the 76ers in February.”
At the time of the transaction, Harris, 26, was averaging 20.9 points per game and flirting with a 50/40/90 slash (49.6/43.4/87.7). He might be a tick below the elites the Clippers are hoping to add, but he would be quite the consolation prize.
That said, Philly has prioritized keeping Harris, and at least seven other teams are expected to have interest. Odds are against a return.
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When the New York Knicks cleared the deck with the Kristaps Porzingis trade, fans had visions of Kevin Durant hooping in their heads.
Reality may not be quite as appealing.
“The Knicks are weighing the prospect of extending a considerable one-year offer to Warriors free-agent big man DeMarcus Cousins if they miss out on top target Kevin Durant,” the New York Times‘ Marc Stein tweeted.
If New York ends up with DeMarcus Cousins and other lower-tier free agents, the Porzingis deal is going to be re-analyzed ad nauseam.
Cousins may yet have something left in the tank, but he’s a far cry from Durant. And he’s not just coming off a torn Achilles; there’s also the torn quad to think about now.
Sure, he came back from both those injuries, but that’s significantly more wear and tear than most soon-to-be 29-year-old NBA players have on their bodies. And at 6’11”, 270 pounds, he’s carrying more weight than most.
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Theoretically, Stanley Johnson makes perfect sense for the modern NBA. At 6’7″, 245 pounds, he has that multi-positional frame that lends itself to switching on defense. He has, on occasion, shown some decent playmaking chops with 10 career games of five or more assists.
But offensive consistency has generally eluded him. The league-average true shooting percentage over the course of Johnson’s career is 55.2. And among the 163 players who took as many shots over that span, Johnson’s true shooting percentage of 46.7 ranks 163rd.
Now, Johnson is about to enter unrestricted free agency with that “theory vs. production” conundrum.
“Sources: The Pelicans have declined to extend a qualifying offer to forward Stanley Johnson, making him an unrestricted free agent,” Stadium and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported. “Johnson, 23, is a strong defender and will receive interest from several teams. Allows Pelicans to now have upwards of $28M in open space.”
Johnson may be worth a flier for a team that thinks it might be able to teach him how to shoot. As Charania pointed out, there is some defensive talent here.
From the Pelicans’ perspective, wanting the extra cap space makes sense. They can now chase max-level players with no more than six years of experience. That bunch can get up to 25 percent of the projected $109 million cap ($27.3 million) as a starting salary.
They could also position themselves as a landing spot for an unwanted big salary from another team. The incentive there is the chance for more asset accumulation. Taking on bad money is probably worthwhile if it comes with a future first-round pick.
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Derrick Favors is under contract with the Utah Jazz during the 2019-20 season for $16.9 million. But if the team waives him before July 7, it wouldn’t be on the hook for any of that money.
And with the Jazz reportedly interested in other power forwards, they may go that route. “Nikola [Mirotic] is a possibility for the jazz,” The Athletic’s Tony Jones tweeted in response to a follower’s question.
If Utah hangs onto Favors for next season, it would only have minimums and the $4.7 million room exception to use in free agency. Mirotic will almost certainly cost more than that.
Favors and his camp presumably know all of this.
“Utah Jazz forward/center Derrick Favors will enter the free-agency period fielding calls from interested teams as if he will be an unrestricted free agent,” Stadium and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported. “Favors…will have a robust market as a free agent with several teams pursuing big men.”
Even if Utah ultimately decides to keep Favors, exploring the market now makes sense for the big man. In the event he is waived, more information certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
And it looks like he may have turned things around just in time. As Kanter enters unrestricted free agency, multiple teams may pursue him.
“Free agent center Enes Kanter is expected to receive interest from the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics on June 30,” Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes tweeted.
Portland already has some idea of how Kanter fits after acquiring him in the middle of 2018-19. After Jusuf Nurkic went down, Kanter stepped into the starting center role for the postseason. And in those games, the Blazers’ net rating (net points per 100 possessions) was 3.3 points better with him on the floor.
For the Lakers, the fit may not be quite as seamless. Anthony Davis is best suited to play the 5 in today’s NBA, and L.A. needs to be looking to surround its top two of AD and LeBron James with three-point shooting. For his career, Kanter is 42-of-143 (29.4 percent) from three.
As for the Celtics, they’ll likely need a center to replace Al Horford, but they may go after bigger names like Nikola Vucevic at the outset.
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Chris Szagola/Associated Press
Two years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Kyle Kuzma and Brook Lopez.
“D’Angelo is an excellent player,” then-Lakers executive Magic Johnson said at the time of the deal, per ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes. “He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with.”
Well, Magic was right about one thing. Russell did have the talent to be an All-Star. And he made the All-Star team with the Nets in 2019.
And now, as Brooklyn potentially stands on the verge of signing Kyrie Irving, Russell finds himself available again. And Magic’s old team might be looking at a reunion.
“The Lakers have serious interest in Nets restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell, L.A.’s former No. 2 overall pick and former starting point guard, league sources said,” Stadium and The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote. “The Lakers’ interest in Russell is real, and has been described as something that the organization has had partly due to their familiarity with Russell.”
There’s still some murkiness about just how much cap space the Lakers will take to free agency, but if Russell is willing to play for less than the max, this could be an intriguing fit.
Alongside LeBron, Russell would almost certainly have to expect fewer possessions on the ball, but he did average 1.13 points per spot-up possession in 2018-19. The spot-ups accounted for less than 12 percent of the possessions Russell used, but his efficiency did put him in the 81st percentile.
If he’s flanking pick-and-rolls between LeBron and Anthony Davis, defenses won’t be able to load up quite as intensely on the primary action. And of course, Russell can run plenty of plays himself, especially when LeBron is off the floor.
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LM Otero/Associated Press
The Dallas Mavericks appear ready to commit to a long-term pairing of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
“Restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavericks will meet at the beginning of free agency on Sunday,” Charania wrote, “and there is momentum for the sides to work toward a full five-year, $158 million maximum contract, league sources said.”
Theoretically, this is a duo that makes loads of sense. Doncic showed the potential to be a dynamic pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop creator during his Rookie of the Year campaign. And the 7’3″ Porzingis shot 39.5 percent from three in 2017-18, when he last played in an NBA game.
A max contract for the big man could come with a bit of concern, though. If you factor in his missing all of 2018-19, Porzingis has averaged fewer than 50 appearances per season in the NBA. And durability has to be at least a small factor when doling out a contract this big.
The other concern may be Porzingis’ actual production living up to the promise he’s shown or reputation he’s earned. A 0.0 box plus/minus is supposed to be representative of an average NBA player. For his career, KP’s box plus/minus season average is minus-0.1.
Still, if he lives up to that promise—a center with above-average size, guard skills on the perimeter and an ability to protect the rim—that contract would age fine.
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Kevin Hagen/Associated Press
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson looked well on his way to a long career as a rotation player after the 2017-18 season. He averaged 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals in just 28.2 minutes per game. And he was a sneaky decent option in the post, where his points per possession ranked in the 64th percentile.
Then, in 2018-19, just about everything fell off a cliff. His points and assists per minute fell, he was in the 20th percentile from the post and he posted a career-worst minus-3.0 box plus/minus. A minus-2.0 box plus/minus represents a replacement-level player.
As he enters free agency for the first time in his career, it appears at least some teams are more interested in his 2017-18 than they are in his 2018-19.
“Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is expected to receive interest from several teams as an unrestricted free agent,” Charania wrote, “including the Suns, Timberwolves and Rockets, league sources said.”
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Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press
Julius Randle is coming off his best season in the NBA. He posted career highs in points (21.4), rebounds (8.7) and box plus/minus (1.4).
It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise when he opted out of the $9.1 million he was owed in 2019-20. He should command a starting annual salary higher than that this summer.
And now, we’re starting to get some indication of which team might pay it.
“The Bulls are expected to express early interest in free-agent forward Julius Randle, league sources said,” Charania wrote. “Randle is expected to receive interest from several teams, including the Knicks and Nets, according to sources.”
Chicago could have a relatively crowded frontcourt with Randle there. It already has Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. on the roster. Randle could be in for a situation similar to the one he had in New Orleans, where he came off the bench for around a third of his appearances.
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On Wednesday, starting center Marc Gasol of the reigning champion Toronto Raptors made a decision that should make fans of The North happy.
“Gasol is exercising his $25.6M player option for next season,” Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted. “… Gasol could’ve entered free agency.”
During the regular season, Toronto’s net rating was 19.4 points higher when Gasol was on the floor, which was in the 99th percentile of swings, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The playmaking (3.9 assists per game) and outside shooting (44.2 percent from three-point range) Gasol added made the Raptors offense more dynamic. And his instincts and IQ were critical on the other end.
Now, the next step for the Raptors is to secure the return of Kawhi Leonard. If those two are back, Toronto should have a great shot at a successful title defense.
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Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kelly Oubre Jr. has received a qualifying offer from the Phoenix Suns and is a restricted free agent.
Oubre has a $9.6 million cap hold, according to Early Bird Rights, and should garner plenty of interest.
The Suns will have the first right of refusal on Oubre, who they acquired in a December trade with the Washington Wizards. He averaged 16.9 points on 45.3 percent shooting—both of which would be career-high marks for a season—in 40 games for Phoenix.
But considering their personnel, what’s the Suns’ spending limit?
Already this offseason, they’ve agreed to trade for Dario Saric and drafted Cameron Johnson. That duo will join returning forwards Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges. Phoenix agreed to ship T.J. Warren to the Indiana Pacers, but there aren’t a ton of minutes available.
If the Suns view Oubre as a legitimate need for playoff contention, they’ll be justified in matching a reasonable offer sheet. But the recent additions suggest Phoenix is preparing for Plan B.
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Ben Margot/Associated Press
Kevin Durant will be an unrestricted free agent come June 30.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the 30-year-old has declined the $31.5 million player option on his contract with the Golden State Warriors. This was the expected course all along for Durant, who is recovering from a ruptured right Achilles.
Anthony Slater of The Athletic noted Durant “intends to demand” a supermax contract in free agency after two years of taking discounted deals. While the Warriors can offer five years and $221 million, the rest of the league is limited to $164 million over four years.
Woj added Durant is in New York on Wednesday with business manager Rich Kleiman and is evaluating options. Both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are expected to pursue Durant.
But his Achilles injury may complicate this decision.
Perhaps KD will make a complete recovery, yet history has generally been unkind to players with Achilles tears. The five-year contract Golden State can provide is suddenly a bit more appealing compared to the four-year terms from Brooklyn or New York.
Durant is weighing long-term financial gain against a desire to create his own legacy, away from the star-studded Warriors.
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
While acquiring a superstar is most critical, the Toronto Raptors showed the value of a deep bench in the NBA Finals. Tyus Jones will probably never be an All-NBA contender, but he’s an important member of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ second unit.
And they’re hoping to keep him there.
Wojarnowski reported Minnesota has extended a qualifying offer to Jones, who is now a restricted free agent. If he signs an offer sheet elsewhere, the Wolves have the opportunity to match it.
Considering his efficiency last season, Jones is an attractive role player. He averaged 6.9 points and 4.8 assists while committing just 0.7 turnovers per game. Jones also ranked in the 19th among point guards in ESPN’s real plus-minus.
What prevents Jones from earning more praise is a 31.7 three-point percentage last season and a career 33.3 percent mark. That’s a clear negative in today’s space-driven league.
Minnesota understands his value and should attempt to keep him, but his offers could vary substantially.
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Bill Baptist/Getty Images
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets will try to acquire Butler via a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers: “Butler would be eligible to sign a four-year, $140 million contract on the way to the Rockets, but Houston likely would need to include two of these players—center Clint Capela, guard Eric Gordon and power forward PJ Tucker—to make the financial deal work.”
Wojnarowski later reported the Rockets are offering each member of that trio individually to teams with the ability to take on their contract, hoping to add a first-rounder for a trade with Philly.
The Sixers can offer five years and $190 million to Butler, who averaged 18.2 points after an early-season trade from Minnesota. So, it’s possible he’ll prefer to re-sign anyway.
Philly, though, probably doesn’t want Capela.
Since both Tobias Harris and JJ Redick are unrestricted free agents, the Sixers need all the money possible. Taking back Capela would reduce financial flexibility, and he’s an unnecessary piece because they already have a cornerstone center in Joel Embiid.
If this transaction is to happen, the most likely result is a third team receives Capela. Finding that suitor will be the challenge.
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Given the Achilles injury to Kevin Durant, no 2019 free agent is more impactful than Kawhi Leonard. After propelling the Toronto Raptors to their first championship, the two-time NBA Finals MVP is deciding whether to re-sign or head elsewhere.
And by elsewhere, we basically mean Los Angeles.
Frank Isola of The Athletic noted a meeting between Kawhi and the Clippers is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. Marc Stein of the New York Times said the Lakers “have believed for weeks” they’ll factor into Leonard’s final decision.
Toronto’s appeal is obvious, while the Clippers have a roster seemingly ready to contend with a final superstar piece. Soon, the Lakers will officially have Anthony Davis alongside LeBron James.
All three destinations are logical, but any projection about Kawhi’s landing spot is a pure guess. He doesn’t, and won’t, say much.
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While the Charlotte Hornets work to keep All-Star guard Kemba Walker, the identities of his free-agent suitors are becoming clear.
Stein reports the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks are “at the front of the line” to chase Walker.
The three-time All-Star is eligible for a supermax extension, though he’s previously said he would accept less to help Charlotte build a title contender. The Hornets might not actually offer that max deal, but he’ll be an expensive signing regardless.
Because the Celtics are bracing to lose Kyrie Irving, pursuing Walker is sensible. The question B/R’s Sean Highkin explored is whether it’s a good decision: “He has a sterling reputation as a teammate and locker-room presence, has gotten better every year of his career and is a relentless competitor. He’ll also turn 33 before the end of his next long-term contract, which isn’t in line with the age curve of the rest of the Celtics’ mainstays.”
Dallas owns plenty of cap space and is likely looking at a future with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (restricted free agent), although Walker is also not on the same timeline as Dallas. Still, adding him would provide the Mavs a legitimate Big Three.
But they’ll need to convince Walker to leave Charlotte first.