The NBA offseason is in full swing, with talk of trades and other player movement starting to bubble up. In addition, free agency will open at 6 p.m. ET on June 30. Keep up on all the latest news, talks and more as the offseason takes flight:
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Ever since Mark Cuban took over as owner of the franchise 19 years ago, the Dallas Mavericks have been a busy squad in free agency. Such appears to be the case again this summer, with Dallas sporting a sizable amount of salary-cap space and several key free agents on Dallas' radar.
Already, the Mavs have been linked in reports to Charlotte Hornets star Kemba Walker and some other free agents appear to be in Dallas' mix as well. Per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News, the Mavericks have interest in LA Clippers guard and defensive ace Patrick Beverley as well as sharp-shooting big man Nikola Mirotic (who split last season between the New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks).
Townsend reports Beverley and the Mavs regard each other as the "perfect fit" (Beverley, in a Q&A with NBA.com, sounded excited about the prospect of playing in Dallas next season). Dallas is expected to meet with Beverley once free agency opens on Sunday, but an appointment between the two has not yet been scheduled, Townsend writes.
As for Mirotic, he is further down on the Mavs' wish list. There have also been talks in the past -- including from the Dallas Morning News -- that Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic may be a target for Dallas. However, Vucevic's steep asking price may keep him from landing there, Townsend writes. Here's more:
Of the top 10 free agents and restricted free agents on most lists, the only ones who have strongly been connected to Dallas are Hornets guard Kemba Walker, Vucevic and restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis, the latter of whom is expected to sign a five-year, $158 million extension to remain a Maverick.
With Vucevic apparently out of the picture, that leaves Walker as the only upper-tier unrestricted free agent widely connected to Dallas -- but it's still early, and the Mavericks have a league-wide reputation for keeping their thinking and maneuvering close to the vest.
-- 7:45 a.m.
Those reports that circulated yesterday via The New York Times' Mark Stein about the Boston Celtics (and others) being interested in Kemba Walker are apparently true. Walker has stated recently -- several times, in fact -- that the incumbent Charlotte Hornets are the first priority in his free agency tour and that he'd be willing to take less than the supermax to stay put.
That is all well and good, but the challenge for Charlotte in re-signing Walker is not in that transaction, but in how doing so would affect the team's ability to build a better squad around their All-Star guard. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer explains how the Hornets would face a sticky situation should Walker re-sign this summer:
The Hornets can by far outbid other teams under NBA rules: They can offer Walker as much as $221 million over five years. No other team can offer more than $140 million over four seasons.
However, concern about the league’s luxury tax will be a factor in any offer the Hornets make. Charlotte already has about $98 million in guaranteed salary for next season, including the rookie-scale contract for first-round pick PJ Washington. That does not include another $3 million in non-guaranteed salary for Dwayne Bacon and Willy Hernangomez, players expected to be back in Charlotte.
In addition to Walker, the Hornets have two free agents — Jeremy lamb and Frank Kaminsky — who were in the rotation last season. Paying Walker a maximum-salary contract would put the Hornets in the vicinity of next season’s tax threshold — about $132 million. Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said twice following the draft that the Hornets do not intend to be a taxpayer in the coming year.
Kupchak can either pursue the trade of a veteran or waive one using the NBA’s “stretch provision” to spread the salary-cap hit for that player’s remaining salary over multiple seasons. The Hornets have three veterans entering the last season on their contracts — Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo — who all make $13 million or more next season.
Team owner Michael Jordan has said he does not want the Hornets to be a luxury-tax payer, Bonnell also writes, unless the team is in immediate contention to advance deep in the playoffs. Since Walker has been on the Hornets, the team has made the playoffs three times (2010, '14 and '16) but has never won more than two games in any playoff run.
-- 7:18 a.m.
Via his agent a week or so ago, Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein made it pretty clear he doesn't want to be back with the team next summer. Cauley-Stein is in the final year of his rookie contract and can become a restricted free agent if the Kings make him a qualifying offer before this Sunday (which would be just under $6.3 million).
If that does happen, things would likely get interesting for both him and the Kings. Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee reports that if that happened, Cauley-Stein would likely reject the offer, which would lead to restricted free agency for Cauley-Stein and some interesting ramifications for both sides. Essentially, the Kings would probably let Cauley-Stein walk if he got a deal from a new team approaching $12 million a season.
However, if the deal is around $8 million to $10 million, the Kings might consider bringing him back, Anderson writes. The Kings have had reported interest in Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic. Additionally, forward Harrison Barnes -- who spent part of last season with the Kings -- is not expected to opt into his deal and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Here's more from Anderson on what might happen next in Sacramento:
The Kings are third in the NBA with about $59 million in salary cap space, according to Spotrac. They could re-sign small forward Harrison Barnes for $20 million, keep Cauley-Stein for $10 million and still have enough money to sign Vucevic for $25 million.
That would make Cauley-Stein a backup.
Imagine a lineup of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Barnes, Marvin Bagley III and Vucevic – or a different topflight center – with guys like Yogi Ferrell, Frank Mason III, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles III and Cauley-Stein coming off the bench.
-- 7:10 a.m.
Not that any of us would forget, but there is a certain former two-time NBA Finals MVP (and Kia MVP winner) that is on the open market this summer: Kevin Durant. Here's a great look at the journey Durant has traveled in the past year leading up to his free-agent moment this summer ..
-- 6:55 a.m.
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