Monday, August 8, 2022

NBA free agency opens Thursday, begins deal-making season

Let the talk begin. Business, too, and eventually the sign.

Free agency opens Thursday in the NBA, with teams able to start talks at 6 p.m. Eastern with players who are not under contract. Some deals will be completed quickly, others not for weeks, and in almost all circumstances those new contracts will not be signed until July 6 at the earliest.

Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook have already made their decisions; The two could have been free agents this summer and received a combined 84 million reasons not to appear on the open market — $47 million for Westbrook in the final year of his deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, and nearly $37 million for Irving for the Brooklyn Nets. Do the same thing with.

Jalen Brunson would be in demand early, with the hope that he would quickly agree to leave Dallas and become the new point guard in New York. And there will be players who may decide to look elsewhere, or accept bigger deals worth more than $200 million with their current teams – opportunities that present themselves in Chicago with Zach LaVine and Washington with Bradley Beale. are doing.

The biggest deal of the next few days will have nothing to do with the free agent: all signs point to two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic being offered a Supermax extension in the $260 million range by the Denver Nuggets. The only question would be how quickly he finds the pen to put on that paper.

Minnesota could give Karl-Anthony Towns a nearly $210 million Supermax this summer, as could Phoenix with Devin Booker.

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Other players are restricted free agents, meaning their current teams will have the right to match offers from other clubs. The most notable name on that list is Phoenix center Deandre Ayton, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft but others in his draft class got their first extension last summer.

Some players will be free agents in name only. For example, John Wall will receive a $41 million buyout from the Houston Rockets, and has already decided that he wants to play for the Los Angeles Clippers next season. The Clippers are expected to use an exception of $6.4 million to sign Wall, and that figure matches the money Wall gave back to make purchases for the final year of his contract.

“We’ll see what happens as free agency opens up and everything else,” said Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. “I think the sky’s the limit for our team. That’s it, enough now. … And sure, you’ve got to have a little bit of luck to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, which we really like.” will do.”

To find ways to get closer to Larry O’Brien, coming Thursday at 6 p.m. will be everyone’s goal, whether in 2023 or later.

This kind of thinking also applies to the champion Golden State Warriors, who have several rotation players — Kevon Looney, Otto Porter, Gary Peyton II — who enjoyed a parade through San Francisco last week and now have nowhere to go. are free if the opportunity and dollars are right.

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“We still need to surround the team with veterinarians and that’s the plan in free agency,” said Warriors general manager Bob Myers. “It’s easier to get some older players in free agency than younger players. Young players are probably the most in demand in free agency.”

True, and it’s another element of this time of year: young players, and not grabbing them into free agency this year, but keeping them out of free agency in future years.

Jay Morant will be offered maximum rookie extensions by Memphis, starting with the 2023–24 season. Zion Williamson’s position in New Orleans will be interesting, as the Pelicans decide how much to offer — or secure a deal — for a No. 1 pick, who spent most of his first three NBA seasons due to injury issues. missed out on. Miami are planning to give Tyler Herro, sixth man of the year, an extension, though the Heat will have to determine which number matters most to them moving forward.

And, of course, there’s a LeBron James angle: The Los Angeles Lakers were a disaster last season and will be aiming to rev up their roster, as well as give James a two-year extension of nearly $100 million in August. But before he signs off, he has far more pressing concerns.

Officially, it all starts on Thursday. A new season is already here.

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