2019 Free Agency
NBA Offseason 2019: June 26 roundup
From NBA Twitter and media reports
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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The Knicks’ grandiose free agent plans have a backup plan, per Marc Stein of The New York Times. The long-time reporter tweeted that if New York misses out on signing injured superstar Kevin Durant, the franchise could very well shift its attention to one of Durant’s teammates: DeMarcus Cousins.
The Knicks are weighing the prospect of extending a considerable one-year offer to Warriors free-agent big man DeMarcus Cousins if they miss out on top target Kevin Durant, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 27, 2019
Cousins is coming off his first year with Golden State in which he played just 30 regular season games and eight postseason appearances. His sporadic availability was due to the fact that he intially arrived while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. The former All-Star center then suffered a torn quad muscle during the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Cousins returned from each injury and provided sparks of his former self, including a double-double performance in Game 2 of the Finals against Toronto.
It appears New York is eager to bring in some big-name free agent talent to join No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett. The Knicks have not made the playoffs since 2012-13.
New Orleans is reportedly ready to move on from Stanley Johnson four years after Detroit drafted him eighth overall. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the Pelicans will not extend a qualifying offer to the 23-year-old small forward, a move that makes him an unrestricted free agent.
Sources: The Pelicans have declined to extend a qualifying offer to forward Stanley Johnson, making him an unrestricted free agent. Johnson, 23, is a strong defender and will receive interest from several teams. Allows Pelicans to now have upwards of $28M in open space.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 27, 2019
— 9:00 p.m.
In a free agent market flush with big men, Enes Kanter could be a bargain option for would-be contenders. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that Portland, Los Angeles and Boston will all express interest in the veteran big man when free agency negotiations commence next week.
Free agent center Enes Kanter is expected to receive interest from the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics on June 30, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 26, 2019
Kanter is coming off a surprisingly effective playoff run with the Blazers in which eh averaged 11.4 points and 9.7 rebounds during Portland’s Western Conference finals run.
— 8:45 p.m.
With so many teams pursuing the top-level free agents, the LA Clippers have reportedly already begun setting up their backup plan. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Clippers “should express interest” in Tobias Harris if they fail to land Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard.
Harris, of course, was traded by the same Clippers franchise to Philadelphia just four months ago. That transaction, according to Charania, appears to have done little to no damage to Harris’ regard for the up-and-coming Clippers.
— 8:22 p.m.
Looking to acquire Jimmy Butler from the 76ers in a sign-and-trade, the Rockets have offered Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker individually to teams with cap space, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
The Rockets are hoping to team Butler with Chris Paul and James Harden in hopes of making a deeper postseason run in 2019-20. But as Wojnarowski points out, Philadelphia remains optimistic it can re-sign both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris.
Philadelphia has been privately expressing confidence around NBA that it can re-sign Butler and Tobias Harris, but Houston remains on case of selling Butler/76ers with a sign-and-trade scenario once free agency starts on Sunday.
One Houston player is hoping the team doesn’t make any drastic changes this offseason, reports ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
— 3:26 p.m.
Kevin Durant reportedly declined his option for 2019-20 with the Golden State Warriors earlier today. Last week, Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard did likewise. That makes both players unrestricted free agents with calendars that are sure to fill up with free-agent meetings once the gates open at 6:01 p.m. on July 1.
Earlier today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the New York Knicks are expected to be among the teams pursuing Durant. The same has been said about the Knicks and Leonard, too. The Athletic’s Frank Isola reported today that the Knicks are expecting to get meetings with both Durant and Leonard once free agency opens. Once that takes place, the Knicks are expected to then meet with second-tier free agents in Los Angeles.
Additionally, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports the Knicks indeed have interest in Leonard and could be interested in pairing him with another big name on the market: Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler. Per Begley, multiple teams have expressed interest in pairing Leonard and Butler together as well.
However, it is worth noting that the Raptors and Sixers can offer Leonard and Butler, respectively, contracts of greater value than any other team can.
— 2:50 p.m.
NBA teams have until July 29 to make qualifying offers to their own free agents and several have apparently gotten done today.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Phoenix Suns have made a qualifying offer to Kelly Oubre Jr., which will make him a restricted free agent this summer. Oubre Jr. was dealt to the Suns at mideseason and played well there, averaging 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 29.5 minutes per game.
Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Grizzlies have extended a qualifying offer to Delon Wright, which will make him a restricted free agent this summer.
Wright saw a much bigger role and increased playing time in Memphis, averaging 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.6 steals in 30.8 minutes per game. Along with second-year forward Jaren Jackson Jr. and rookie guard Ja Morant, Wright is one of the key youngsters Memphis is building around. The Grizzlies also potentially freed up significant minutes for Wright with their reported trade of starting point guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz last week.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Wolves have given a qualifying offer to Tyus Jones, making him a restricted free agent this summer. The move was also reported by Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.
Last season, Jones averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game in 68 games (with 23 starts). Those stats (save for the games played) were all career bests as Jones continued to develop after being selected 24th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 draft.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that the Knicks will not extend a qualifying offer to Emmanuel Mudiay, the seventh overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. The 23-year-old point guard averaged a career-high 24.8 points, 3.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 59 games for New York last season. Haynes adds that the Knicks made the decision with the goal of opening up more cap space but still hope to re-sign Mudiay before their offseason is done.
— 2:47 p.m.
Free agency’s opening bell has yet to sound, yet the Dallas Mavericks find themselves in reported links with several key players. From Kemba Walker to Patrick Beverley to Nikola Mirotic and more, the Mavs’ name has been bandied about as a potential landing spot for those standouts and others.
Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News spoke with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who cautioned against fans and media reading too much into talks of reported meetings. Here’s more from Cuban via Townsend:
This was Cuban’s response when I asked whether the Mavericks have their player-meeting itinerary set for Sunday:
“No. There’s some that we know we’re going to talk to. But the reality is, the deals typically aren’t made the first night. There’s some players that want a presentation and they want the dog and pony show. And there’s some players, they don’t care. They have a feel and they just want to ask some questions and you don’t really have to have a meeting to do that.
“Others want the dog and pony show. Others want to sit down with the coach and just talk about the basketball side. Others want to talk about the business side.
“It really depends on the players. I can give you a long list of players we didn’t have meetings with that we signed, and a lot of teams that didn’t have meetings and they signed people. There’s not a lot of secrets. It’s not like all of a sudden you’re going to say something they didn’t know.”
— 1:47 p.m.
Omer Asik, who was sidelined by injuries for many years after a promising start to his career, is apparently done in Chicago.
The Bulls were due to pay Asik the remaining $3 million on his contract next season, but that has been taken off the books via career-ending injury and illness, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. In doing so, the Bulls now have upwards of $23 million in salary cap space to pursue free agents with this summer.
Asik signed a five-year, $58 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans in the summer of 2015 (after spending two seasons with the Houston Rockets), but struggled to stay on the court due to a variety of injuries. The Bulls re-acquired Asik — who played for Chicago from 2010-12 — in the trade that sent Nikola Mirotic to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2018.
— 1:04 p.m.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have watched as guard Tyus Jones has steadily grown as a contributor for them over the past four seasons. As Jones enters free agency this summer, the Wolves are taking the first step toward potentially keeping him around even longer.
In the 2018-19 season, Jones averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game in 68 games (with 23 starts). Those stats (save for the games played) were all career bests as Jones continued to develop after being selected 24th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 draft.
— 12:55 p.m.
One of the biggest fish in the 2019 free-agent pond is reportedly opting out of his deal.
Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant has declined his option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Durant and his business manager, Rich Kleiman, are in New York and are evaluating Durant’s free agency options, Wojnarowski reports, and the process has remained private.
— 11:56 a.m.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and just about every other big-name free agent this summer is rumored to be on the New York Knicks’ shopping list. Whether or not they get any of them, of course, is another story. If New York should happen to miss out on any of them, it could shift to signing players to short-term deals and pushing its cap space into next summer.
Should that scenario come to pass, Ian Bagley of SNY.tv has some players who could be prime candidates for those types of contracts. The two biggest names that jump out? Vince Carter and former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Here’s more from Bagley on the chances of either player landing in the Big Apple come 2019-20:
Carter, 42, has said that he plans to play one more season and then will retire. Could those plans include signing with the Knicks this summer?
Carter has spoken highly of Knicks head coach David Fizdale, and gave signing with New York serious consideration last summer, per SNY sources. Carter chose to sign with the young Hawks instead.
There were several factors in his decision, but one of them was the idea that he’d be in close proximity to NBA TV because he has a desire to pursue a career in media when he’s done playing. This is worth noting because it’s fair to assume he could find media opportunities in New York as well.
Let’s get this out of the way at the top: things can always change, but most executives monitoring Anthony’s free agency see the Lakers as the most likely destination for the 10-time All Star.
There may have been interest from New York in a reunion with Anthony if they had a roster with multiple stars ready to win immediately. But with Durant injured and the odds against the Knicks building that kind of team this summer, bringing Anthony back is not currently part of the team’s thinking.
Again, that may be irrelevant because of the Lakers’ interest. But Anthony would have interest in signing with the Knicks and finishing his career in New York, despite how his Knicks tenure ended. It’s worth noting that Anthony handled the spotlight of New York incredibly well during the team’s success and failures while he was here. Given that, he’d be a strong mentor for younger Knicks like Barrett, Knox, Robinson and Trier, who are learning to navigate the attention that comes with playing in New York.
— 10:06 a.m.
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.
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