Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (July 2): Latest NBA Summer League and free agency news

NBA.com Staff

Latest NBA headlines and free-agency news:

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Magic’s Isaac overcomes nerves in summer league debut — Jonathan Isaac knew there would be pressure when he made his summer league debut for the Orlando Magic. But the new face of the franchise still had to get over the butterflies that accompanied his first true steps as a pro, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details:

Jonathan Isaac walked into Jeff Weltman’s office a few minutes before noon Saturday for a life-changing moment. As Isaac’s mom, Jackie Allen, and Orlando Magic executives looked on, Isaac sat at a circular table and signed his first professional contract. He’ll earn $4.2 million in the season ahead.

One hour later, Isaac stood on the Magic practice court to experience yet another milestone: his summer-league debut. Butterflies churned inside Isaac’s stomach as referee Curtis Blair tossed the basketball skyward for the tipoff. Isaac tried his best to focus on the game, but it was difficult at first.

“All emotions at once,” Isaac recalled later. “You’re nervous. Everybody’s there just excited for you. You’re excited. You’re anxious. And then you’ve got to five minutes later step out and play a game.”

Welcome to the pros, rookie.

As Isaac discovered Saturday, events unfurl at lightning speed in the NBA. A first-year player can either adapt to the pace or he can get left behind. So perhaps his whirlwind pro debut will help him in the long run; it gave him a jarring taste of the hectic, rough-and-tumble season to come.

The Magic’s 85-74 exhibition loss to the Indiana Pacers confirmed what everyone already expected: Despite his smarts and his physical gifts, Isaac has plenty of work to do to adjust to the league’s physicality, speed and emotional roller coaster.

In 22 minutes, he scored seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. He also collected eight rebounds and blocked two shots.

Isaac offered a few tantalizing glimpses of the potential that prompted the Magic to select him sixth overall last months.

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With a core full of promising young talent already in place, Denver felt like adding one of the most-wanted veteran free agents to the mix. The Nuggets did so by reportedly coming to terms with Paul Millsap, who was an All-Star in each of his last four seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.

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Lowry pens intention on staying in Toronto — Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry wrote in the Players Tribune his decision to remain in Toronto.

When I had to make my free-agency decision, there was a lot going through my head, a lot of roads my mind was traveling down. Family, first and foremost, and what’s going to make them happy, and give them the best life. Basketball, of course, and where I’d like to play for these next several years. And then there was also the gut-check aspect — just what I was feeling in my heart.

But for me, at the end of the day, this was an easy decision. And all of those roads … they all led me back to the same place: home.

They all led me back to Toronto.

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Report: Kings offer restricted free agent Porter max deal: The Sacramento Kings are testing the Washington Wizards with their intentions of matching any deal for restricted free agent Otto Porter. The Kings offered the small forward a maximum contract according to a report in ESPN.com.

It has been made abundantly clear by Porter’s representation that in order to have a legitimate shot at claiming the versatile small forward, a max offer sheet was required.

A max offer for Porter would be in the range of four years and approximately $106.5 million.

Porter has not made a decision yet, as he is meeting with two more teams before he’ll decide which offer sheet to sign, sources say.

The Wizards, according to sources, are adamant that they will match all offers to retain their starting wing. There is some thinking within league circles that the Wizards could ultimately be bluffing in an attempt to discourage potential suitors from presenting an offer sheet.

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Report: Raptors, Ibaka agree to three-year deal — Veteran big man Serge Ibaka is reportedly headed back to Toronto, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, agreeing to three-year, $65 million deal:

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Report: Cavaliers, Korver agree to three-year deal — The Cleveland Cavaliers are putting the band back together with veteran Kyle Korver agreeing to a three-year, $22 million deal, according to The Vertical.

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Report: Rockets, Nene agree to deal, again — Nene is going back to Houston after all. The veteran center has agreed to his second deal since free agency began, this time a three-year, $11 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

His first deal, a four-year, $15 million deal, had to be rescinded because it violated the over-38 rule.

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Reports: Wolves agree to 2-year deal with Gibson — Tom Thibodeau’s Chicago reunion tour in Minnesota continues with the Timberwolves reportedly agreeing on a two-year, $28 million deal with free agent big man Taj Gibson.

Thibodeau traded for Jimmy Butler, adding the All-Star swingman and former Bulls star, to a core group led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Gibson would join veteran point guard Jeff Teague as key free agent additions Thibodeau has reportedly added to improve the Timberwolves’ playoff hopes.

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Report: Grizzlies reach deal with guard McLemore: Memphis reach a deal with Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore.

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Bulls, Holiday reach deal: Free agent point guard Justin Holiday reach a deal with the Chicago Bulls.

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Report: Wizards agree to deal with Meeks — The Washington Wizards have tabbed Jodie Meeks to help fill out their rotation, agreeing to a two-year, $7 million deal with the veteran shooting guard, per David Aldridge of NBA.com and Shams Charania of The Vertical:

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Report: Clippers plan to meet with Gay, GallinariThe Los Angeles Clippers remain interested in free agent forwards Rudy Gay and Danilo Gallinari as they continue to rebuild the roster in the wake of the departures of Chris Paul and JJ Redick. The Clippers have plans to meet with both Gay and Gallinari in the next two days, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

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Reports: Iguodala get Warriors to pay up — The days of the Golden State Warriors getting by without paying top dollar to win championships are apparently over. Steph Curry’s price tag goes up dramatically with his reported new deal and his backup, Shaun Livingston, is also reportedly getting a shiny new deal. But the real kicker this summer is the deal they’ve reportedly agreed to with 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, who played free agency like a fiddle, per Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group:

Leave it to Andre Iguodala. Or Andre Igga-DOLLA.

As is his duty, if not his calling, he was determined to make sure “the man” pays. And in the end, he made the Warriors paid in a way few thought he could.

He announced on Twitter he was returning to the Bay. He is doing so in a three year, $48 million deal from the Warriors. He went from an overture of about $12 million a year, with a partially guaranteed third year … to a three-year, $45 million guaranteed offer … to $48 million guaranteed. And it seems he did it all without a better offer on the table.

Insert golf clap here. Well played by Andre.

How’d he do it? Sheer stubbornness and an understanding of his worth. And other free agents can take note.

Iguodala bet on his value, and the value of players, and his role in what the Warriors have built. Meetings with San Antonio and Houston — and rumors of the Kings offering him two years, $54 million — created the reality that he could leave. He forced the Warriors to fester with the idea of their run ending too soon, made them put a price on what they’ve built. No doubt, they thought about moving on, I’m told, and letting Iguodala go swim in his new major deal elsewhere.

In the end, the Warriors decided to reward him and keep it going — which is the right move. Iguodala is worth every penny. Will he be overpaid at age 35? Perhaps. But he was a key figure in the Warriors win two championships the last three years, and he took less money each year in the process. He earned this, individually.

But it wasn’t JUST about Iguodala, though. The Warriors won the 2014-15 championship, and the subsequent profits, with a $72 million payroll, per Basketball Insiders, which was middle of the pack. They raked in piles of the cash, as my colleague Tim Kawakami has documented, during their 73-win season and near championship from last year with a $95 million payroll. They won the 2016-17 championship for $100 million, the 14th highest payroll in the league. It’s only evening out if they have to spend market value for the production they get.

In the end, the Warriors, smartly, opted to reward Iguodala and keep the formula for raking in more money going. We don’t know what Houston’s offer was. Sam Amick from USA Today is reporting that Sacramento was offering Iguodala two years at about $20 million less than the rumors suggested. But while the Warriors were wise for just eating the costs, the credit goes to Iguodala for making them.

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Report: Jazz big move involves Ingles, not Hayward (yet) — The splash the Utah Jazz hope to make in free agency this summer involves keeping their own All-Star Gordon Hayward. They also made Joe Ingles a priority, and reportedly got that business done first with a new four-year deal for the veteran forward, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Three years ago, Joe Ingles came to the Utah Jazz, acquired from the scrap heap. He was cut by the Los Angeles Clippers, with coach Doc Rivers choosing to keep Jared Cunningham. And when the Jazz acquired him, it was assumed he was on the roster because of his relationship with then-rookie Dante Exum.

Three years later, Ingles is perhaps Utah’s most important role player. On Saturday, the Jazz made sure he’ll get paid like it.

Ingles — a restricted free agent — has finalized a four-year, $52 million deal to return to the Jazz, his agent Mark Bartelstein told The Tribune. The deal is fully guaranteed, and doesn’t contain an option. Ingles has repeatedly expressed his desire to return to Utah. The Jazz were able to get the deal done without Ingles having to go on the market and return with an offer sheet from another team.

“We are really happy for Joe and the Jazz,” Bartelstein said. “The Jazz stepped up big time, and to see Joe rewarded for his play and to see his journey is thrilling.”

Ingles ended last season as Utah’s starting shooting guard, but is normally the sixth man for the Jazz. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

His value is in his shooting, defense and versatility. Ingles became one of the best shooters in the league last season, draining 44 percent from 3-point range. He can play — and guard — four positions. He’s a very good passer and playmaker. He’s one of the Jazz players on the roster who plays with an edge.

Ingles is also a close friend of star small forward Gordon Hayward, who is currently an unrestricted free agent. The two share Bartelstein as an agent and have forged a bond over the past few years.

Hayward met with the Miami Heat on Saturday. He will meet with the Boston Celtics on Sunday and the Jazz on Monday, before taking time to make his final decision.

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Nuggets need to save face, need Millsap in the worst way — Chasing big names in free agency is risky business for franchises trying to make the leap from the lottery to true playoff contender. The Denver Nuggets are finding out the hard way and they need to salvage this summer, according to Mark Kizla of the Denver Post, with Paul Millsap:

Paul Millsap needs a basketball team. The Nuggets need to save face.

This is an NBA marriage of convenience. Nobody said free agency was going to be pretty.

Millsap provides the last best chance for somebody to make Denver feel loved. And maybe an undersized power forward that had to work hard on both ends of the floor for Atlanta to earn four trips to the All-Star Game is somebody who can relate to the Nuggets’ insecurity complex. It helped that he was undoubtedly feeling a little disrespected, with the Hawks preferring to tear down their team rather than give him a max deal, and free-agent suitors such as Phoenix and Minnesota balking at the price to acquire Millsap.

Oh, Millsap can make the Nuggets better. He should get Denver to the playoffs, although it’s probably folly to think Millsap can prevent a first-round blowout against Golden State, Houston or San Antonio.

So why are the Nuggets so interested? Well, they had to do something other than be the butt of jokes. During the last 48 hours alone, our local NBA franchise has been clowned in so many ways it hurts to laugh.

George, the 27-year-old forward itching to move to the beach in sunny Southern California, decided to rent for a year in Oklahoma City of all places, after reportedly telling the Nuggets months ago that Denver held no appeal. Desperate for Love, Denver tried acquiring the reliable scorer from Cleveland in a three-team trade at least twice during June, only to see its best efforts flushed down the drain by the lowly Indiana Pacers. And ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt mocked Denver management on live television at the outset of free agency, by telling the Nuggets to quit bugging NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on his cellphone.

Here’s the problem. Try as the Nuggets might — team executives Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas do try really, really hard — Denver is a nowhere town on the NBA map, stuck somewhere along that lonely road between Sacramento and Charlotte.

The Nuggets have been saving all their nickels for this year’s period of free-agent shopping madness, and they are having trouble even getting their foot in the door to throw a chunk of the Kroenke family fortune on the counter.

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No help from LeBron in free agency? — The best summer recruiter in recent NBA history is reportedly sitting the festivities out this year. That’s right, LeBron James is allowing the process to roll along without his input for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a stark departure from free agent summer’s past. Dave McMenamin of ESPN explains the King’s absence:

While the NBA’s free-agency frenzy kicked off Friday night, signaling the start of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ mission to return to a championship level, the team’s biggest star is remaining hands-off as he watches the action unfold.

LeBron James is not actively recruiting free agents on behalf of the Cavs as the franchise zeros in on its targets, a league source told ESPN on Saturday.

James was scheduled to spend the weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, according to AL.com, attending the wedding of Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe. James and Bledsoe share an agent in Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul is also attending the wedding, as are Bledsoe’s fellow Kentucky Wildcats alumni John Wall of the Washington Wizards, who also is a Klutch client, and DeMarcus Cousins of the New Orleans Pelicans, among others.

The choice by James to be a bystander comes at a fragile time for the team, which is navigating free agency without a general manager in place after parting ways with David Griffin nearly two weeks ago. Assistant GM Koby Altman has been elevated to de facto interim GM while Cleveland continues to negotiate with Chauncey Billups to accept a position to run the front office.

A prominent agent told ESPN that he has been communicating with both Altman and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert as the free-agency process plays out.

Billups, it would appear, is in no rush to finalize anything. He has agreed to play for the Killer 3s and makes his debut in the BIG3 League on Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

James’ approach is a departure from his conduct in the past. He has actively pitched players on coming to play in Cleveland, including his pivotal poolside meeting with Kevin Love in Los Angeles in the summer of 2015 that led to Love’s re-signing and James’ calls to veterans such as Mike Miller and James Jones that were instrumental in those players’ wanting to join the Cavs at a discount.

On Saturday, the team reached an agreement with point guard Jose Calderon, his agency, Priority Sports, announced. A Cavs source told ESPN that Calderon will sign a one-year, $2.3 million deal for the veterans minimum.

Calderon was one of two veterans the team had been targeting to be backups for next season, along with power forward Zach Randolph, multiple league sources confirmed to ESPN. Randolph has a score of other suitors who can pay him more than Cleveland can afford, including the Sacramento Kings, coached by Dave Joerger, who previously coached Randolph in Memphis.

In theory, a call from James to Randolph could influence the former All-Star big man to play for the Cavs and leave money on the table. It is unclear whether James’ decision has anything to do with the manner in which Cleveland parted ways with Griffin after he helped guide the team to three straight Eastern Conference titles, including the NBA championship in 2016.

James has been jokingly referred to as the Cavs’ real GM the past several seasons because of his involvement in team decisions, but now that Cleveland doesn’t have anyone filling that position, he appears content to observe from afar.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Who had a better weekend than J.J. Redick, who clearly trusts the process? … They are already talking back-up plans in Boston, should things not pan out with Gordon Hayward … Iman Shumpert could be on the move after a championship stint in Cleveland … P.J. Tucker is all set to join the party in Houston … The Hornets are adding some Rookie of the Year insurance at point guard

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