We’ve covered some of the early NBA free agency speculation already here — and thought about the repercussions for the Raptors, with regards to Kawhi Leonard in particular. Now we’re a few hours away from the true frenzy, and this is the place where we’ll be documenting it all, and letting fly with any and all discussion in the comments. Here’s what has happened since noon today.
First, as reported way earlier by Marc Stein and the like, the Pacers look to be upgrading at the PG position with Ricky Rubio coming over in some sort of deal thought to be in the $15 million a year range.
Ricky Rubio is expected to sign with the Indiana Pacers when free agency begins, per multiple reports.— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) June 30, 2019
There’s a whole drama going on with Al Horford right now. As far as I can tell, Sacramento is making a strong pitch to bring him in. And really, that sounds like a good deal for the Kings — they could use a veteran leader, and a guy who can fit in with whatever lineup combo they can trot out. (It’s got to be something of a bummer for Celtics fans, as Horford definitely did a lot to keep those teams humming in Boston. C’est la vie!)
A confirmed Al Horford suitor at last' The Kings "definitely" have significant interest in Horford, according to sources briefed on Sacramento's thinking -- and have the cap space to pay Al the reported four-year deal worth in excess of $100 million circulating for the past week— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 30, 2019
Hey, cheers to Jonas! Good luck in Memphis big guy!
Once free agency opens at 6 PM ET, center Jonas Valanciunas is expected to commit to a three-year, $45M contract to return to the Memphis Grizzlies, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Not really big news, per se, but the Trail Blazers are about to significantly invest in Damian Lillard, which is, of course, a great idea.
And now we get to the really intriguing case. Read the below tweet.
Jimmy Butler meets with Heat officials at 6:01 PM ET tonight but continues to draw interest from a number of suitors, league sources say, with the Lakers making the latest aggressive bid. Lakers officials, I'm told, are pushing for a pitch meeting with Butler— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 30, 2019
So the Sixers went all-in on their trade for Jimmy Butler and came within a shot (The Shot) of the Eastern Conference Finals. It was a worthwhile gamble — but now it sounds like Philly is about to lose Butler. The question is: where to?
First there were reports that the Houston Rockets were in the mix. Now the Miami Heat have made some strong claims. And apparently the Lakers are getting in the mix too. Butler fills an interesting lane in the NBA right now. He’s not necessarily a no. 1 guy — which he wouldn’t have to be in L.A. or Houston — but he’s definitely a gamer, and a guy to be counted on when the stakes are high. If he signs with Miami, it will be interesting to see how (or if) they can surround him with talent to get the Heat back into high-level playoff contention.
OK, one last thing:
Source: Kevin Durant will announce his free agent decision tonight on his company owned sports business network: https://t.co/ovJCDTOEMz— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
I appreciate that we can count on Durant to do the corniest thing possible. Godspeed young man!
With the Raptors
Meanwhile, true to form, there has been no chatter from Toronto about any of their free agents or their future plans. Kawhi Leonard has said nothing. Patrick McCaw has his qualifying offer in hand but has also done nothing so far. And while Danny Green has come up a few times — mostly linked to the Lakers — nothing solid has emerged.
It will be interesting to see how quickly a deal with Kawhi is reached between the Raptors or some other team. If it drags on, Toronto could get taken out of the Green sweepstakes too, and could find themselves suddenly scrambling for whichever free agents are left to fill the void (on Green or Kawhi). That said, it still feels like the ball is very much in Toronto’s court for both players.
So, that’s where we’re at as of 4pm on June 30th. There are some other minor things happening — chatter about Dewayne Dedmon, JaVale McGee, JR Smith, and the like — but none of that has solidified into anything earth-shattering just yet. We continue our vigil.
The free agency period officially kicks off at 6pm. We’ll have updates as they come. For now, jump in the comments and we’ll see what happens.
Over the last hour, things have ramped up spectacularly. First came the humdrum news that Garrett Temple was due to sign a two-year, $10 million with the Nets. Nice guy, I’m sure, but not exactly someone that drives the NBA world wild.
Free agent guard Garrett Temple is expected to sign a two-year, $10 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets, a source told ESPN's The Undefeated. Team option second year.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 30, 2019
Just before that came the news the Bucks would re-sign Brook Lopez to a big time four-year, $52 million deal so as to keep their championship aspirations alive. (Remember: they’re still waiting to see what Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton will do come 6pm.)
Once free agency opens at 6 PM ET, Brook Lopez is planning to sign a four-year, $52M deal to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
This represents a considerable raise for Lopez, who made just $3.3 million last year after the Lakers comically let him walk for nothing. Will he still annoy the Raptors next season? I’d bet my life on it.
Finally, one of the main events for this year’s free agency is apparently over. As reported by Woj, Kevin Durant is set to become.... a Brooklyn Net.
Kevin Durant is planning to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Sources: Durant will sign a 4-year, $164M deal with the Nets; Irving will sign 4-years, $141M.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Brooklyn is making a clean sweep tonight: Brooklyn will sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Note the addition here: the Nets will also sign DeAndre Jordan, along with Kyrie Irving (as previously reported). That would make them a new power in the East (though I think both Kyrie and DeAndre are a touch overrated), just as soon as Durant is back from his ruptured Achilles.
And with that settled, all eyes really do turn towards Kawhi and the Raptors. We’re 50 minutes away from 6pm as of this writing.
Modest update here. First we get the comical news regarding Terry Rozier:
All three years and $58M will be fully guaranteed for Terry Rozier in Charlotte, league sources said. https://t.co/1DjsUGzHcn— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2019
This contract doesn’t matter to anyone but Terry, so congrats to him and all that money. The Hornets will continue to be terrible and forgettable, and we will all continue to wonder how Michael Jordan could be so good at one thing, and so completely bad at another.
Even more modest update: Rudy Gay... is staying in San Antonio. To which I say: keep it.
And finally, the big news of the last 30 minutes: Khris Middleton is signing a huge deal to return to the Bucks.
Once free agency opens at 6 PM, All-Star Khris Middleton plans to return to the Milwaukee Bucks on a five-year, $178M contract, league sources tell ESPN. The deal is expected to include a player option on final year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
What does this means for Milwaukee? With Brogdon still out there, albeit as a restricted free agent, it definitely appears as though they’ll reassemble the core of the team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. (If you’ll recall, they went up 2-0 against the [checks paper] Toronto Raptors, before losing the next four games in a row.)
We’re now approximately 25 minutes away from the dinner bell — which is hilarious because, well, most of the news has already been reported, and technically speaking, none of these discussions are supposed to take place before 6pm.
Tampering... it’s fantastic!
Well, as you might’ve expected, the hits came fast and furious once the clock struck 6:00 p.m.!
We can confirm (as much as we can until the moratorium is lifted) the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving news; Brooklyn is going to be... interesting!
Meanwhile, JJ Redick is going to play with Zion Williamson in NOLA:
Free agent guard JJ Redick has agreed to a two-year, $26.5M deal to join the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Gotta love the spacing that’ll provide! And, uh, too bad for Philly, I guess?
Derrick Rose is going to play for Dwane Casey.
Free agent guard Derrick Rose has agreed to a two-year, $15M deal to join the Detroit Pistons, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Some Raps-adjacent news: Terrence Ross is sticking in Orlando, and getting paid! Good for Terry:
Free agent Terrence Ross has agreed to a four-year, $54M deal to return to the Orlando Magic, CAA agent Aaron Mintz tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Thaddeus Young is leaving Indiana to go and play for Jim Boylen.
Free agent forward Thaddeus Young has reached an agreement with the Chicago Bulls on a three-year, $41 million deal, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 30, 2019
The hits keep coming: Trevor Ariza is joining the Kings:
Garrett Temple is joining KD and Kyrie in Brooklyn:
Garrett Temple has agreed to a two-year, $10M deal with Brooklyn, agent Mark Bartelstein tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
And finally (for now!) Al-Farouq Aminu is going to the Magic Kingdom:
Free agent Al-Farouq Aminu has agreed to a three-year, $29M deal with the Orlando Magic, league sources tell ESPN. Player option on third year.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
We’ll update more news comes along, including, of course, anything Kawhi Leonard or Raptors-related.
Still a lot of players (and money!) on the move as the first hour of 2019 free agency winds down!
Let’s start with Danuel House and the Houston Rockets:
Danuel House has agreed to a three-year, $11.1M deal to return to the Houston Rockets, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Then we got some news out of... Phoenix? Ricky Rubio!?
We’re still going! Shams and Woj got their second wind! How about some... Jeremy Lamb news!
We are not done with Indiana-related news... not by a long shot! First, on his way OUT of Indiana is Bojan Bogdanovic:
Indiana's Bojan Bogdanovic has agreed to a four-year, $73M deal with the Utah Jazz, league sources tells EPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
And then, in the biggest news since, uh, like 6:20 or so... Malcolm Brogdon is leaving Milwaukee, and going TO the Pacers!
Sources: Restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon has agreed to a deal with Indiana.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2019
This one isn’t a pure signing, as some picks are swapping hands:
Indiana is trading a first-round and two future second round picks to the Milwaukee for Malcolm Brogdon, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
And the numbers are in for Brogdon:
Malcolm Brodgon has agreed to a four-year, $85M deal with Indiana, per sources.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Phew! Let’s catch our breath, shall we?
Are... are things slowing down? We’ve got some, um, Thomas Bryant news for you:
Thomas Bryant has agreed to a three-year, $25M deal to return to the Washington Wizards, agent Todd Ramasar (@tramasar) tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Rodney Hood is sticking around in Portland. That team... has a lot of wings.
Free agent F Rodney Hood has agreed to a two-year, $16M deal to return to the Portland Trail Blazers, CAA agents Ty Sullivan and Austin Brown tell ESPN. Deal includes a player option.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Now that we’ve got a moment, let’s consider what’s happening in the East, shall we? Philly has lost one of its starters (as of 7:00 pm); Milwaukee has also lost a key player, and committed a lot of money to Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton; Boston has swapped Kyrie for Kemba and may still lose Al Horfor; Brooklyn got the stars but KD is out for the year; and Indiana is adding solid pieces in Lamb and Brogdon, to join Victor Oladipo when he comes back, but losing key guys in Young and Bogdanovic.
In other words, the East is wiiiiide open. Doesn’t it make sense for Kawhi Leonard, sitting this one out so far, to run it back with Toronto? Danny Green too? I would definitely like their chances!
Sean here, let me just interject a little in response to the Brogdon news:
Look, it’s still two years until Giannis hits free agency. But man, losing Brogdon seems like one of those things that maybe doesn’t seem so huge in the moment, but could be one of the flash points we look back to if and when Giannis bolts town for a better winning situation in 2021 — perhaps even one managed by a certain inspirational team president. After the playoffs it seems insane that the Bucks paid Bledsoe and no Brogdon. I, however, think it’s brilliant.
Woj went like 25 minutes between tweets, but he made it worth it with this one:
Free agent forward Tobias Harris has agreed to a five-year, $180M contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, his agent and father, Torrel Harris of Unique Sports Management, tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Man, that’s a lot of money for a guy who went 10-of-39 from three in the second round against the Raptors. I joke, sort of. Harris is obviously good, and fits very nicely with Joel Embiid and the coward Ben Simmons. But $36 million a year for him is WILD! We have no clue what this means for Jimmy Butler. All along it’s seemed as though the Sixers were going to try to run the whole thing back. Losing J.J. Redick to New Orleans obviously made that impossible. But they did just bring back Mike Scott for $9.8 million over two years, per Shams. I’m a little scared this Sixers might go Danny Green hunting. More to come!
Hey! An old friend(?) got signed to play with a bunch of other old friends!
Carroll is signing a two-year, $13M deal with the Spurs, league sources said. https://t.co/a6rsjrXKgy— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2019
DeMarre Carroll joins DeMar DeRozan, Marco Belinelli, Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl on the team that now rivals the Memphis Grizzlies in the race to be the official Bizzaro Raptors. Fun!
Reynolds back on the decks, with a trio of late-breaking moves to report here. First up, in the “who cares?” division, the Thunder are going to keep Nerlens Noel.
Nerlens Noel has agreed to a deal to return to the Thunder, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Next, we’ve got the Bucks desperately trying to save face after losing Malcolm Brogdon:
This move is doubly hilarious because Milwaukee’s starting point guard is still Eric Bledsoe, who did more to destroy his team’s chances of going to the Finals than perhaps any other Buck. (Nikola Mirotic didn’t help either — and that dude has already vacated the continent.)
And finally, in the face saving move to top all face saving moves, we present, the Knicks:
Free agent Julius Randle has agreed to a three-year, $63M deal with the New York Knicks, CAA agents Aaron Mintz and Steve Heumann tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Good luck New York!
Good luck New York (cont.)!
Taj Gibson has agreed to a two-year, $20M deal with the Knicks, agent Mark Bartelstein tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
And finally, just to round out the night, an alleged word from the man we’re all waiting for in Toronto:
Kawhi Leonard will not take any meetings with teams today, as he'll ramp up the process over next couple days, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 1, 2019
Sleep well, Toronto. And try to enjoy Canada Day as best you can. We remain, as always, ever vigilant.
There will be no peace! The maniacs down in Miami appear to be in the process of making off with Jimmy Butler — and there are other pieces involved!
Miami is finalizing a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia to acquire Jimmy Butler, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
The deal will include Josh Richardson to the 76ers, league sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/nWFrg00mtm— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
This is cool for Toronto for numerous reasons. First, it confirms — along with the departure of Redick — that the Sixers are no longer as serious contenders in the East as they were a couple weeks ago. Yes, they’ve got Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid, but minus Butler and Redick, they don’t have the juice. Sorry, those are the facts. (And to be clear: the Sixers were terrifying last post-season.) Yes, even in the wake of this deal for Al Horford — who tracks as Embiid insurance for Philly, I guess — I remain unmoved.
Five-time All-Star F/C Al Horford has agreed to a four-year, $109M deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Jason Glushon tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
(An aside here: who is in the backcourt for the 76ers? Has anyone thought about this? It’s just Simmons and Richardson, and... who? T.J. McConnell? They traded away Landry Shamet, they lost Redick, and they’ve got even more big men then they had before. What is going on? How big will James Ennis need to be for them next season too?)
Second, Butler can’t really do a ton to terrorize the Raptors next season because, well, the Heat are still just an OK team. All things being equal, and in the absence of Richardson, Butler gives them an edge they didn’t quite have before; but he doesn’t really solve any of their significant issues — e.g. the aging of Goran Dragic, the uselessness of Hassan Whiteside, the duplication of effort with Justise Winslow, etc. Butler in Miami puts them in the playoffs perhaps, but that’s about as far as they’ll go. Frisky, but not serious.
Third, and this is my favourite part, Butler going to Miami supremely cramps whatever it is the Clippers are trying to do. The sell job for Kawhi to the Clips has always been predicated on the idea they’d get a second star to pair with him. Butler would have definitely fit that bill. Now Steve Ballmer and company — perhaps the most swagless organization we’ve ever seen — have to figure out who is left to fill out their roster in an increasingly desperate attempt to lure Kawhi to Los Angeles.
The answer to that question? Not as much as there was four hours ago.