When a free agent agrees to join an NBA team, his tentative deal with the club is generally reported before he officially signs his contract. Often, word of an agreement between a player and team breaks minutes or hours – or perhaps a day or two – before the deal is formally finalized. But there are instances when it takes longer for the two sides to complete the contract, and there are even some examples of deals falling through altogether.
The most memorable instance of a tentative free agent agreement falling apart probably came during the 2015 offseason, when DeAndre Jordan agreed to sign with the Mavericks during the July moratorium, only to change his mind several days later and re-sign with the Clippers instead. It’s not uncommon for this to happen a few times each summer on a smaller scale.
In 2019, for instance, Marcus Morris agreed to terms with the Spurs before changing course and singing with the Knicks instead. Alec Burks committed to the Thunder before the team entered rebuilding mode — after trading Paul George, Oklahoma City allowed Burks to look for a new deal and he ultimately decided to sign with the Warriors. Undrafted rookie Kris Wilkes and the Knicks were on track to complete a two-way contract before health issues derailed the deal.
The most recent example of a contract agreement falling through happened last week, when Joe Johnson agreed to sign with the Pistons. Multiple reports at the time of the signing indicated that Michael Beasley would be waived to make room on the roster for Johnson, but Beasley never actually signed a contract with Detroit after agreeing to a deal with the club in August. The Pistons will just sign Johnson in place of Beasley rather than waiving anyone.
Our roster count tool tracks the free agent agreements that have been reported but haven’t yet been made official, and there are currently several names worth keeping an eye on there. Most of those tentative deals will eventually be completed, but a couple may follow the Pistons’ example with Beasley and just never get done.
Here are a few of the reported agreements that aren’t yet finalized:
- Hawks/Vince Carter: There’s a simple explanation for why Carter has yet to put pen to paper with the Hawks after committing to the team way back on August 5: Atlanta is the only team that still has any real cap room available. Signing Carter would cut into that room by about $1.62MM, so the club is presumably scouring the trade market to see if it can maximize its cap flexibility before having to give up some of that flexibility.
- Pistons/Joe Johnson: After the Pistons’ deal with Beasley was scuttled, it’s extremely unlikely that the same thing will happen with Iso Joe. Still, it’s worth noting that even though the two sides reached a deal on Thursday, it’s not officially done yet.
- Timberwolves/Tyus Battle: A report surfaced shortly after the draft ended in June indicating that the Wolves would sign Battle to an Exhibit 10 contract. Agreements reported in June – before the new league year begins – are the ones most frequently uncompleted. In some cases, a team or player will decide to go in a new direction; in other cases the team simply intended to bring the player to Summer League rather than to training camp and the deal was misreported. In Battle’s case, the fact that his deal was specifically reported as an Exhibit 10 pact means it should still happen in the coming weeks.
- Hornets/Kobi Simmons and Celtics/Kaiser Gates: It has been 12 days since Simmons’ deal was reported and 10 days since we heard Gates would sign with Boston. Neither agreement appears to be in any jeopardy though. In fact, Charlotte’s G League affiliate recently acquired Simmons’ NBAGL rights and Boston’s affiliate did the same for Gates. That’s a signal that both players will ultimately end up in the G League — by signing Exhibit 10 contracts with those NBA teams, they’ll be eligible to receive $50K bonuses as a result of their time in the NBAGL.