2018 Free Agency Buzz: July 2 roundup

NBA.com Global on Jul 02, 2018 10:19 AM
2018 Free Agency Buzz: July 2 roundup
FILE - PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 17: Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic goes to the basket against the Phoenix Suns on March 17, 2017 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

As NBA free agency rolls along, keep up on all the latest news and reports from around the league ...

* * *

Report: JaVale McGee to join Lakers migration

After playing a key role in Golden State's championship run, JaVale McGee will reportedly join forces with the Warriors' latest threat. On the same night LeBron James and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope committed to the Lakers, the seven-foot center has also reportedly come to terms with Los Angeles. Per ESPN's Chris Haynes:

In his last two seasons with Golden State, McGee has developed into an effective role player in limited minutes. During the 2018 NBA Finals, the 10-year NBA veteran averaged 8.0 points and 1.3 blocks per contest.

-- 11:11 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Elfrid Payton headed home to Pelicans

Fresh off an inspiring playoff run, New Orleans will reportedly inject some available youth into its backcourt. According to multiple reports, Louisiana native Elfrid Payton will sign a one-year deal to join the Pelicans. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:

A former top-10 pick, Payton was traded from Orlando to Phoenix last season in exchange for a future second-round pick. The 6'4" point guard has career averages of 11.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest.

-- 11:04 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Lance Stephenson to join LeBron on Lakers

On a busy night in Hollywood, Lance Stephenson has reportedly agreed to join his long-time nemesis. According to multiple reports, the eight-year pro will sign with the Lakers once the free agent moratorium lifts. Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania was first with the story, tweeting:

ESPN's Chris Haynes adds that Stephenson's deal will be for one year at $4.5 million. Stephenson enjoyed a resurgent season with the surprising Indiana Pacers, averaging 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per contest.

Stephenson's history with LeBron James, who announced his intentions to sign with the Lakers earlier on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), is an entertaining factor. The two faced off in the playoffs on numerous occasions, with their rivalry highlighted by Stephenson blowing in James' ear in an effort to distract the then-Miami superstar during Game 5 of the 2014 Eastern Conference finals.

-- 10:33 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Aaron Gordon to re-sign with Magic

After letting one top-five pick get away in free agency, Orlando wasn't about to let it happen again.

The Magic are reportedly planning to re-sign former fourth overall pick Aaron Gordon to a four-year deal worth north of $80 million. According to TNT's David Aldridge:

Gordon is coming off a career year in which he averaged 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals per contest. The 22-year-old forward was originally drafted by Orlando in 2014.

-- 10:00 am (PHL time)

* * *

Report: Mario Hezonja to sign with Knicks

Three years after selecting Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall, the Knicks will reportedly sign the player taken one pick later.

Former fifth overall pick Mario Hezonja has reportedly agreed to sign with New York, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Croatian swingman is coming off a career year in which he averaged 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting 44.2 percent from the field. Per Wojnarowski:

New York adds Hezonja to a core that includes Porzingis (recovering from ACL surgery) and Kevin Knox, who was taken ninth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. Hezonja didn't waste any time introducing himself to Knicks fans, tweeting:

-- 9:31 am (PHL time)

* * *

LeBron James headed to Lakers, Leonard hopes to do the same

After years of high draft picks and fruitless free agency pursuits, the Los Angeles Lakers landed the biggest name of them all.

Klutch Sports Group announced that LeBron James will sign a four-year max deal with the Lakers. The four-time Kia MVP's decision comes less than 24 hours after free agency negotiations opened at 12:01 a.m. (12:01pm, Sunday, PHL time) James' agency made the announcement via Twitter:

The Lakers will be the third team for which LeBron will play as he enters his 16th NBA season. It will also be the first time he will play outside the Eastern Conference, where his teams have advanced to the Finals for eight consecutive years.

On his Instagram story, James posted a black-and-white photo from the Cavaliers' 2016 championship parade with the message: "Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible 4 seasons. This will always be home."

James now joins a Lakers team that could change drastically as it shifts to win now. After the star forward's decision was made public, reports immediately surfaced via ESPN reporters that Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard remains intent on being traded to Los Angeles. Adrian Wojnarowski tweets:

As things stand now, the Lakers have continued their historical trend of acquiring star players. James joins Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal in a tradition of superstars who have chosen Los Angeles during their respective primes. Though James (33) is older than any of his predecessors, the 27.5 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds he averaged last season -- and the rest of Hall-of-Fame credentials -- more than put him in the same company.

-- 9:08 am (PHL time)

* * *

Report: Noel considering Wizards, Lakers, Thunder, Pelicans

Former sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel, an unrestricted free agent after playing out his qualifying offer last season, is reportedly ready to jumpstart his career with a new team. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reports that the 6-foot-11 center has narrowed down his preferred destinations as follows:

Noel had hoped being traded from a crowded Philadelphia frontcourt to Dallas in 2017. He was never able to mesh with the Mavericks, however, and ultimately played just 30 games in the 2017-18 season. His best season occurred in 2015-16, when Noel averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per contest.

-- 8:55 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Caldwell-Pope returning to Lakers on one-year deal

Minutes after LeBron James announced he would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, reports surfaced that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would do the same. Per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The fifth-year guard averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 38.3 percent from three-point range last year for the Lakers. His contract would limit how much money Los Angeles could further spend via free agency. One of the hallmarks of James' previous teams, however, was their ability to attract role players willing to take on less money for a chance to win an NBA championship.

* * *

Report: Spurs set price for Leonard with Sixers

The price for Kawhi Leonard for the Philadelphia 76ers could be two players and three future first-round picks according to a report by Yahoo! Sports Jordan Schultz (via Twitter):

-- 7:03 am (PHL time)

* * *

Report: Sixers look to move on from Bayless

In an effort to clear salary cap space, the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly interested buying out the final year of guard Jarryd Bayless' contract according to a report by Yahoo! Sports Jordan Schultz (via Twitter):

Philly.com reporter Keith Pompey confirmed the report and added (via Twitter):

-- 5:05 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Mejri to return to Mavericks

Center Salah Mejri is staying with the Dallas Mavericks according to the three-year veteran's management agency (via Twitter) and reported by Marc Stein (via Twitter):

-- 4:01 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Several teams pursue big man Booker

Veteran forward Trevor Booker is drawing interest from several teams in free agency, reports Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune and Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.com. The Utah Jazz -- whom Booker played for from 2014-16 -- are among the teams in pursuit of him, writes Jones (via Twitter):

Aside from Utah, the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves (among others) have interest in Booker, too, reports Kennedy:

-- 2:49 am (PHL time)

* * *

Report: Mavs likely to re-sign Nowitzki with remaining cap space

The Dallas Mavericks opened free agency by reportedly reaching a deal with former All-Star center DeAndre Jordan. To make room for that agreement to work out, Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki and the team mutually agreed to him opting out of his contract.

There's no need for Mavs fans to fret, however, about Nowitzki going anywhere this summer. Per Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania (via Twitter), the Mavs are expected to use their remaining salary cap space to get Nowitzki back under contract:

If Nowitzki does return, he would become the first player to spend all 21 seasons with the same NBA franchise.

The Nowitzki opt-out was designed to create more room under the salary cap, as were decisions to rescind qualifying offers to shooting guard Doug McDermott and center Salah Mejri, making both unrestricted free agents. McDermott reportedly reached an agreement on a deal with the Indiana Pacers overnight.

-- 2:31 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Robinson III, Pistons reach deal

Former Slam Dunk Contest winner Glenn Robinson III of the Indiana Pacers has reached a deal with the Detroit Pistons. According to both ESPN's Marc J. Spears and Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania, Robinson III has agreed to a two-year deal:

Free agent Glenn Robinson III has agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal with the Pistons with a team option on the second year, a source told @TheUndefeated

Robinson confirmed the move on Twitter:

-- 2:08 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Jennings deal still not guaranteed

It was previously reported that the Milwaukee Bucks had guaranteed guard Brandon Jennings' contract for 2018-19. That appears to not be the case now and his contract remains a non-guaranteed deal.

Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel and ESPN's Marc J. Spears both report that the guarantee date for Jennings' contract is next month:

-- 1:16 am (PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Knicks reach deal with Kornet

The New York Knicks don't have much salary cap room after Enes Kanter opted into his deal for 2018-19. However, they will be bringing one of their young big men back next season (according to multiple reports).

Center Luke Kornet, who appeared in 20 games and averaged 6.7 points per game, has agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.6 million deal. Here's more from Marc Berman of the New York Post on Kornet's deal:

The Post has learned the Knicks have agreed to terms on a one-year deal for $1.6 million for Kornet, who was a restricted free agent. The $1.6 million stands as more than his minimum, as the Knicks dished out his non-Bird exception.

Kornet, the 3-point-shooting former Vanderbilt star, was on a two-way deal with the Knicks last season after going undrafted. He played in 20 games, mostly late in the season, and shot 35 percent from 3-point range.

...

Kornet wasn’t certain how long the free-agent process would take, and sources said a couple of teams expressed preliminary interest entering Sunday’s first full day of free agency. The Knicks also drafted project center Mitchell Robinson in the second round, making Kornet a further question mark.

-- 11:29 pm (Sunday, PHL time)

* * *

Aldridge: Four teams in mix for McGee

JaVale McGee has two championship rings to his name, earning them as a backup center for the Golden State Warriors the last two seasons. The big man is a free agent this summer and, after proving to be a valued piece of the Warriors' rotation, has drawn interest from several teams on the open market.

Per our David Aldridge (via Twitter), the Warriors and three other squads are in the mix for McGee:

Mark Medina of The Mercury News reports it is unclear if McGee will return to Oakland or seek a big free-agent deal elsewhere:

The Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans are among the teams that expressed interest in McGee, league sources said. Though McGee recently told Bay Area News Group he would consider returning to the Warriors on a veteran minimum’s deal, he would also like to see what offers he receives. Meanwhile, the Warriors are prioritizing bolstering their wing depth and adding young players to complement their top-heavy talent.

How this turns out could become as unpredictable as McGee’s role with the Warriors in the 2017-18 season. Although McGee has attracted interest from Golden State, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles and New Orleans so far, any partnership with any of those teams partly hinge on what other moves they make with their roster.

In 65 games last season, McGee averaged 4.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 9.5 minutes per game.

-- 11:02 pm (Sunday, PHL time)

* * *
Reports: VanVleet returning to Raptors

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has apparently gotten his summer payday. According to both Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania and The Athletic's Michael Scotto, VanVleet has agreed to return to the Raptors on a two-year, $18 million deal.

The deal was also reported via Twitter by Turner Sports' David Aldridge.

Last season, VanVleet averaged 8.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game -- all of which were career highs -- as he emerged as one of the top backup guards in the NBA.

-- 10:39 pm (Sunday, PHL time)

* * *

Report: Knicks reach out to Johnson

Veteran big man Amir Johnson could be on the New York Knicks' free-agency radar. New York does not have much salary cap room this summer after center Enes Kanter opted in. But per Ian Begley of ESPN (via Twitter), Johnson could be a name New York pursues to round out its frontcourt for 2018-19 ...

The Knicks may not be the only ones after Johnson, though. Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports via Twitter that L.A.'s two teams have interest in Johnson as well:

-- 8:43 pm (Sunday, PHL time)

* * *

Warriors reportedly reach out to Looney

Reserve forward Kevon Looney is perhaps one of the under-the-radar free agents to watch this summer. According to a recent report, thought, the incumbent Golden State Warriors let Looney know they'd like him to stay with them going forward.

Per Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group, the Warriors got in touch with Looney shortly after free agency officially opened:

The Warriors contacted Looney shortly after free agency began on Saturday to express interest in retaining him, league sources told Bay Area News Group. But just as the Warriors had feared after declining to make his $2.3 million contract for next season guaranteed, Looney is expected to field interest elsewhere.

The Warriors and Looney would both like to extend their partnership together after the third-year, 22-year-old forward achieved a potential turning point in his young NBA career. After playing only a combined 58 games through his first two seasons because of overlapping hip injuries that required surgery, Looney posted career-highs in points (4.4), shooting percentage (58.0), rebounds (3.3), minutes (13.8) and games played (66). But Looney had missed only one game attributed to an ailment (flu-like symptoms).

Yet, both the Warriors and Looney have their own reasons for possibly parting ways.

The Warriors can only pay Looney up to $2.3 million per year, while Looney would like to entertain what offers he might receive elsewhere. Looney would like to return to the Warriors because of the team’s championship culture, and how he has developed under coach Steve Kerr and his All-Star teammates. The Warriors would like Looney to return because of his defense, work ethic and knowledge of NBA personnel. While the Warriors hope he does not attract too much outside interest because of his limited offensive game, the 22-year-old Looney would like long-term security and a chance to grow his role.

-- 7:20 pm (Sunday, PHL time)

* * *

Reports: Stauskas, Blazers reach deal

Guard Nik Stauskas, who shot a career-best 40.4 percent on three-pointers last season, is apparently headed back to the Western Conference.

According to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian and ESPN's Chris Haynes, Stauskas has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. Last season, the Blazers saw their three-point shooting take a significant downturn in the playoffs -- making just 33.1 percent of their attempts (second-worst in the playoffs) after ranking 11th in that category (36.6 percent) during the season.

Here's more from Freeman on the deal with Stauskas:

The Blazers on Saturday agreed to a 1-year deal with unrestricted free agent Nik Stauskas, according to agent Mark Bartelstein, adding the 6-foot-6 former lottery pick to a bench that will look significantly different next season.

Stauskas, who was drafted with the No. 8 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, has averaged 7.0 points and 2.1 rebounds during a four-year NBA career that has also included stops in Philadelphia and Brooklyn.

He last played for the Nets, who acquired him in a multi-player deal before the 2018 trade deadline but elected not to tender him a qualifying offer after the season.

Stauskas' best season came with the 76ers in 2016-17, when he averaged 9.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists -- all career-highs -- while shooting 37 percent from three-point range. He played in 80 games, including 27 starts, that season.

-- 6:55 pm (Sunday, PHL time)

 

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