Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

The chase to beat the Boston Celtics — or, for a lot of teams, the chase toward respectability — got serious on Sunday with the official start of NBA free agency (and a busy trade window).

Not every team waited that long — the Knicks pushed themselves into contention by trading for Mikal Bridges before the NBA Draft.

Teams officially were allowed to start talking to free agents Sunday (although, in the NBA world of tampering, many of these discussions are already done or at least well along). In this tracker we will give you all the latest signings, trades, rumors and reports all in one place (all in order of when they happened, with the most recent news on top). This is a short synopsis with first-blush thoughts on any deals; follow the links to see a more detailed analysis.
Kelly Oubre Jr. to stay in Philadelphia at two years, $16.3 million

Kelly Oubre Jr. found a groove in Nick Nurse’s offense as a baseline cutter, a guy out fast in transition and someone not afraid to take a 3. He’s also become a good on-ball defender. He’s the kind of guy the 76ers need around their big three (once Paul George comes on board as expected. Which is why the 76ers locked him up at a fair price.

Mavericks rumored to be front runners to land Klay Thompson

Dallas’ offense sputtered in the NBA Finals. Boston’s defense had something to do with that, but the Mavericks’ struggles to create and knock down good 3-point looks was a big part of that. Klay Thompson knows a little about hitting 3s and winning championships.

Dallas has emerged as the frontrunner to land Thompson, reports Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report/TNT. There had been rumors that Thompson would take less to play in Los Angeles with the Lakers or Clippers — and LeBron James reportedly called Thompson at the start of free agency — but that never made a lot of sense. Thompson felt disrespected by the Warriors offers during the season that were rumored to be around $20 million a year, so he was going to leave to play for $12.7 million?

Dallas can put together a sign-and-trade that involves Josh Green and Maxi Kleber, who together make $23.6 million — Thompson’s salary would have to match that. The Mavericks also would likely have to throw in a pick. This trade would also hard cap the Mavericks at the first apron ($171.3 million).

Losing Derrick Jones Jr. and replacing him with Thompson is a defensive downgrade, but the Mavericks need shooting and while this version of Thompson is not the 2015 peak version, he can still knock down shots.

Kevin Porter Jr. returning to NBA, signs 1+1 deal with Los Angeles Clippers

Former Rocket Kevin Porter Jr., who played last season in Greece, is returning to the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers on a two-year contract where the second year is a player option, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Porter Jr., a 6’4″ guard out of USC, averaged 19.2 points and 5.7 assists a game with the Rockets two seasons ago, but was held away from the team and soon out of the league through all of last season after an arrest for domestic violence. As Charania reports: “Porter previously reached a plea agreement of a third-degree reckless assault misdemeanor in January. He is in the process of completing a court-ordered program, and once completed his plea will move to not-guilty with no criminal record.”

Naji Marshall headed to Dallas on three-year, $27 million contract

He’s not going to replace Derrick Jones Jr. — he’s not able to defend guards — but he is a plus defender and a solid rotation player.

The Dallas Mavericks added to their rotation picking up forward Naji Marshall from New Orleans with a three-year, $27 million deal.


Clippers poach Derrick Jones Jr. from Mavericks with three-year, $30 million deal

Dallas GM Nico Harrison was clear from the moment the NBA Finals ended that the franchise’s No. 1 priority this offseason was re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. However, the Mavericks have been focused on wooing and negotiating a trade for Klay Thompson, and then they poached Naji Marshall from the Pelicans. With that, it became a lot tougher to re-sign Jones Jr.

So the Clippers stepped in and picked up the athletic defensive wing, reports Shams Charania at The Athletic.

This is a good fit for the Clippers, who need a two-way forward like Jones to replace the minutes lost with Paul George leaving the team — Jones is no PG13, but he is a solid, two way wing and switchable defender. He also brings more athleticism to the roster. However, by using the mid-level exception, the Clippers have hard capped themselves at the first apron, $171.3 million (Jones didn’t use the full MLE, giving the Clippers a little flexibility, but the hard cap still applies).

It’s also a real blow for Dallas on the defensive end — Jones was their best defender of guards. Mashall and Thompson cannot fill that role.

Jonas Valanciunas headed to Washington on three-year, $30 million contract

If recent history is any indication, Jonas Valanciunas is going to get traded to a Finals team in the next couple of years — the starting centers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals this year, Dallas’ Daniel Gafford and Boston’s Kristaps Porzingis, were both Wizards centers within a year of the Finals.

The Pelicans were ready to move on from Valanciunas and he is headed to Washington, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Valanciunas becomes the mentor for just drafted Alex Sarr — the talented but raw 7-footer out of France — plus he becomes the steady veteran on a young, rebuilding team in the nation’s capital.

Cade Cunningham, Pistons agree to max contract extension

This was expected and it’s a bet on Cade Cunningham’s development as a franchise cornerstone (and that new coach J.B. Bickerstaff can put him in a better position to thrive).

Cunningham will sign a max rookie contract extension with the Pistons, five years, $226 million, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. Last season, Cunningham averaged 22.7 points and 7.5 assists a game, and his 3-point shooting improved to 35.5% a game — on a team that has been the worst in the NBA the past two seasons, he has been the brightest hope for the future. (Cunningham will play out the $13.9 million of the final year of his rookie deal next season, then the extension kicks in for the 2025-26 season.)

When he has played Cunningham has been fantastic, but he has never played more than 64 games in a season due to injury. This contract is also a bet on his health.

Eric Gordon reaches deal to join Philadelphia 76ers

It’s not official yet, but it looks like the 76ers have their big three of Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey (who will sign a max extension with the team this summer), and soon Paul George. However, if watching Boston and Denver win the crown the past two years has taught us anything, it’s that depth matters more than just big star names at the top of the board.

Enter Eric Gordon, a solid rotation guard who is going to Philly, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. Gordon, 35, averaged 11 points a game last season for the Suns, shooting 37.8% from 3.

Chris Paul to sign with San Antonio Spurs

Chris Paul is going to be feeding the rock to Victor Wembanyama.

After what we can safely say was a disastrous Jeremy Sochan at the point experiment last season (good player, not a point guard), the San Antonio Spurs were known to be in the market for traditional point guards, someone who could play with Wembanyama as the young star continues to grow into his game. They drafted Stephon Castle out of UConn in one of the great fits of draft night. Now they add Chris Paul and his high-IQ game, another fantastic fit — he can mentor Castle and Wembanyama.

The Spurs were known to have interest in CP3 from the moment teams realized it was likely CP3 could hit the free agent market. Golden State waived Paul Sunday, not wanting to pay his $30 million salary for next season. The Warriors and Paul had agreed to push back that deadline to be waived a couple of days trying to work out a trade with the Clippers for Paul George, but nothing came together.

The Spurs got their man, a story broken by Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT.

This is a one-year, $11 million contract according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Clippers bow out of Paul George chase after talk with agent

Paul George appears headed to Philadelphia.

The 76ers have said from the start they were set to offer George the max — four years, $212 million — to fit him between Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid. The Orlando Magic bowed out when they agreed to give three years, $66 million to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. George’s agent called the Clippers and according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Clippers did not come off their number (which was always three years at less than the max).

Soon after the Clippers released a statement that George would sign his next contract with another team.

“Heading into the offseason, our roster was constructed of three great players 33 and over, two of whom could become free agents. We wanted to retain them on contracts that would allow us, under the constraints of the new CBA, to continue building the team. We negotiated for months with Paul and his representatives on a contract that would make sense for both sides, and we were left far apart. The gap was significant. We understand and respect Paul’s decision to look elsewhere for his next contract.”

That leaves the 76ers as the team left standing in the PG 13 sweepstakes.

George loved playing in Los Angeles and having his family at games — and the Clippers gave up a lot to get George five years ago — but this is a business and money talks. George also wanted to go somewhere he can contend, and Philadelphia is that — the 76er are a threat to win the East if they can get George, 34, and Embiid to the finish line healthy.
Andre Drummond signs with 76ers to back up Embiid

The Philadelphia 76ers are starting to round out their roster while still working to land Paul George as a free agent. That includes finding a backup center for Joel Embiid.

Andre Drummond has agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract with the 76ers, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. Drummond spent last season in Chicago coming off the bench behind Nikola Vucevic, playing 17 minutes a night and averaging 8.4 points and 9 rebounds a game. He remains one of the best rebounders in the league and will be solid for Nick Nurse in the role asked of him.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope signing with Orlando Magic for three years, $66 million

The Orlando Magic needed more shooting, a veteran presence in a young locker room, and someone who could fit their defensive mentality.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope checks every box on that list and he is headed to Orlando on a three-year, $66 million contract (with a player option in the third year). At age 31, KCP was looking for years, not just money. The news was broken by one of the best guys in the business, Jeff Zillgitt of The USA Today.

Caldwell-Pope was a key part of the Nuggets championship run two seasons ago and a huge loss for them now (he was also on the Lakers’ 2020 title team in the bubble, again in a key role). Denver is stuck in the situation a lot of successful teams will start to find themselves in, it will be hard to hold a team together because they won’t be able to pay a market-rate salary for good role players without going deep into a highly punitive second-apron tax. Denver now has access to the $5.8 million tax-payer mid-level exception. This also means Christian Braun is going to get a chance to start and play heavy minutes.

Last season Caldwell-Pope averaged 10.1 points a a game, shooting 40.6% from 3. This makes the up-and-coming Magic that much more dangerous.

It will take the Magic out of the running for Paul George, although they were a longshot in that race.
Celtics bring back bigs Luke Kornet, Neemias Queta

Some bench big men notes on the defending champion Celtics, they have reached deals to bring back Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta. Kornet is on a one-year deal at the league minimum. Queta is on a multi-year contract, although how much of that is guaranteed we don’t currently know (probably not that much). The Celtics aren’t making any changes this offseason because, why should they?

Clippers reportedly trying to find Russell Westbrook trade

From the moment Russell Westbrook picked up his $4 million player option, the word in league circles was not to expect him back with the Clippers next season. Now comes a report from Jake Fischer at Yahoo (and quickly confirmed by others) that the Clippers are looking to trade Westbrook and are testing the market.

Denver is a potential landing spot, with there reportedly being mutual interest.

Westbrook provided a spark of energy off the bench for the Clippers last season — he still plays as hard as anyone in the league — but he’s inconsistent and is a defensive liability (even if he improved on that end). Westbrook averaged 11.1 points, 5 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game last season but with a 51.4 true shooting percentage that is well below the league average. He can help the right team off the bench, but the Clippers are ready to move on.
Kings pursuing trade for Brandon Ingram

This isn’t new news, but it’s a reminder of what is out there. The Kings want a roster upgrade this offseason, ideally a wing scorer, to put between De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, and they have been targeting Brandon Ingram. The well-connected Sean Cunningham of Fox40 (KTXL) in Sacramento reports that the Kings are still pursuing that trade.

The trade offer reportedly is Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter and a first-round pick. New Orleans would be wise to wait out the Paul George decision then see if the losers in that race come calling with a better offer. Still, the Kings might be at the front of the line.
Kevin Love returning to Heat for two years, $8 million

Kevin Love has become something the Heat always seem to have on the roster: Veteran leader who can still contribute on the court but may give them more off it. Last season, the 35-year-old Love averaged 8.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a game while throwing great look-ahead passes in his almost 17 minutes a night. That’s enough for the Heat to keep him around for a little more than the veteran minimum.

Warriors officially waive Chris Paul, making him a free agent

This was expected: The Golden State Warriors have waived Chris Paul.

As much as the team liked him with the second unit, the Golden State Warriors were not bringing Chris Paul back at $30 million a season. The sides pushed the guarantee date back a couple of days to try and make the Paul George trade work, but the Clippers always were going to ask for a massive, oversized haul to send George to a division rival, and no deal came together.

There will be plenty of suitors, but at the top of the list the Lakers and Spurs reportedly have interest, likely for the veteran minimum (the Spurs could offer more if they wanted, they have the cap space).
James Harden returning to Clippers on two-year, $70 million contract

James Harden is going to be there to help open the Clippers new Intuit Dome arena.

He has agreed to a two-year, $70 million contract, with Harden having a player option on the second year (which is essentially a no-trade clause, the CBA sees this as a one-year contract and he can veto a trade for Bird rights reasons). Shams Charania of The Athletic was first.

Harden stays home in Los Angeles — with Kawhi Leonard — on another short-term deal for less than the maximum (although per-year this was in the ballpark of what Harden was expected to get). He seemed comfortable playing back in Los Angeles and was working out at the team facilities this offseason. He also liked being with other LA guys in Leonard, Russell Westbrook (who picked up his $4 million option to stay with the team, although he could still be traded or waived) and Paul George. Of course, George may not be back.

Harden played more of a facilitator role for the Clippers last season, something they desperately needed. He finished the season averaging 16.6 points and 8.5 assists a game, shooting 38.1% from 3. Depending on what happens with George, Harden could be asked to score more next season.
76ers reportedly trying to land both Paul George and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

The biggest takeaway from watching Boston hold up the Larry O’Brien trophy this season and Denver a year ago might be this: It’s not the teams with the biggest collection of stars that wins, it’s the team with enough depth to roll out 7 good players and not have holes in their roster to cover.

Philadelphia GM Daryl Morey is going big game hunting chasing Paul George, but he was paying attention to the need for depth and wants to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as well, reports Marc Stein. That’s a big ask, especially in the tax apron era, but Philly is all-in on winning. So is Joel Embiid.

No trade market for Zach LaVine?

Interesting note from ESPN’s salary cap guru (and former Nets front office member) Bobby Marks: There remains no market for Zach LaVine. The Bulls are looking at attaching a first-round pick to LaVine to see if that can get teams interested. It’s a little strange because, while LaVine’s game is flawed (not much defense, concerns about how he contributes to winning outside of scoring) he averaged 19.5 points a game last season and is a career 38.2% shooter from 3.

It will be interesting once Paul George signs/is traded somewhere, then Brandon Ingram is traded and DeMar DeRozan signs, will the teams that miss out take a fresh look at LaVine?
NBA official salary cap numbers are out

The NBA announced the official salary cap numbers for the 2024-25 season, and they are just a little lower than expected. The official numbers are:

• Team minimum salary $126.529 million
• The NBA salary cap is $140.588 million
• NBA luxury tax line is $170.814 million
• The first tax apron is $178.132 million
• The second tax apron is $188.931 million

What does that mean for your team (if you’re a Suns fan and wonder why being above the second apron hamstrings your team), Keith Smith has this cheat sheet that should help.

Also of note, the 22 teams under the salary tax line last year got a nearly $12 million payout each from the eight teams over the line.

Max Christie agrees to re-sign with Lakers for four years, $32 million

If Max Christie is the rotation player the Lakers think he is — and he’s penciled in as a rotation player for next season — this is a good deal for both sides. Christie agreed to a four-year, $32 million contract with the Lakers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Just a reminder that Christie is just 21 years old — he’s two years younger than just drafted Dalton Knecht. Last season he was playing 14 minutes a game, but the Lakers hope to see that number go up under J.J. Redick, Christie has shot 37.8% on 3-pointers in his two NBA seasons and the Lakers are going to be launching from deep more next season.

Would Klay Thompson really take a huge discount to be in Los Angeles?

Negotiations between the Warriors and Klay Thompson have fallen apart — they have not spoken in weeks and there is no offer currently on the table — but when they talked, the Warriors reportedly were offering a couple of years (maybe a team option on a third) at around $20 million a year. Thompson found that insulting enough to want to leave the team he has been with for 13 years and won a title with.

Now comes an interesting report from Jake Fischer at Yahoo Sports that Thompson might be open to taking the mid-level exception — $12.7 million a season — to play in Los Angeles with the Lakers or Clippers.

That would be some real spite toward the Warriors.

LeBron James opting out of his $51.4 million player option (along with some smaller moves) means the Lakers can offer that full mid-level, it means LeBron would take about a $16 million pay cut but he is reportedly open to it if it lands Thompson (or DeMar DeRozan). Whether the Clippers can offer the MLE depends on what happens with Paul George (keep reading below) and James Harden.

The Mavericks, Lakers and Clippers are all reportedly talking to the Warriors about a sign-and-trade deal that could get Thompson more money (salaries would have to match in a trade). The challenge for all three teams is that any sign-and-trade or use of the mid-level exception hard caps them at the first tax apron ($178.7 million), a number all three teams were expected to exceed that number.

Paul George remains the lynchpin of free agency

There will be a flurry of action the second NBA free agency opens — not that there’s any tampering in the NBA, how could you say such a thing? — but the biggest move will likely be on hold for a bit.

That’s because a lot of things will be on hold until Paul George makes a decision.

Paul George to Philadephia rumors are heating up, according to Chris Hanes at Bleacher Report in their live stream. The 76ers will offer George the four-year max ($212 million from them) the Clippers would not (reportedly only three years at around $150 million, the discounted amount Kawhi Leonard signed for to stay home in Southern California).

George will reportedly go old school and take a free agent meeting with the 76ers, Orlando Magic and Clippers, then make his decision.

DeMar DeRozan is going to wait to decide on his free agency until after George makes his call — and he could end up with the Clippers if George leaves. The Lakers are also interested if DeRozan wants to play in his home city.

Any trade of Brandon Ingram also would likely be on hold until George makes a call. There are other moves that would be dominoes to fall after that, but it’s all waiting on George.


Signing: Obi Topin agrees to four-year, $60 million to stay with Pacers

Obi Topin is as good a lob finisher as there is in the NBA. Tyrese Haliburton is as good a lob passer as the league has right now.

Indiana wisely wants to keep them together and struck a deal to do so.

This is a fair deal for a solid rotation player, in a couple of years that will basically be the mid-level exception or a little lower.

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