Kevin Durant

Warriors Notes: Russell, Durant, Lee, Adams

While there has been heavy speculation that D’Angelo Russell will have a short run with the Warriors, GM Bob Myers insists he didn’t agree to a sign-and-trade with the Nets simply to flip him, ESPN’s Nick Friedell writes. Myers admits he’s not sure how Russell fits into the team’s long-term plans, particularly once Klay Thompson returns from knee surgery. But he wants to see how Russell, who entered the summer as a restricted free agent, will mesh with Stephen Curry in the backcourt.

“We didn’t sign him with the intention of just trading him,” Myers said. “We haven’t even seen him play in our uniform yet. And a lot of people have us already trading him. That’s not how we’re viewing it. Let’s just see what we have. Let’s see what he is. Let’s see how he fits.”

Russell signed a four-year, $117MM contract.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • Myers said the organization did its best to convince Kevin Durant to stay put but the All-Star forward was looking for a change, Friedell reports in the same story. “He just felt like it was something inside of him, in his heart, that he wanted to try something different,” Myers said. “Nothing wrong with that. I have a peace about it personally. I hope our fans can, too.”
  • Damion Lee is a candidate for the Warriors’ second two-way contract, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. A decision will be made in the next few days. The shooting guard appeared in 39 games with Golden State last season, averaging 4.9 PPG in 11.7 MPG. Lee was one of the team’s two-way players and received a qualifying offer in June, making him a restricted free agent. Small forward Julian Washburn currently has the other two-year deal.
  • Assistant coach Ron Adams will travel less next season and the staff will have reconfigured roles, Slater reports in another tweet. Adams, who recently turned down an offer to join the Lakers’ staff, will prioritize player development for an increasingly younger team.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Ennis, Durant, Nets

When Kelly Oubre struck a deal with the Suns late on Wednesday night, he represented the last of the players on our list of 2019’s top 50 free agents to reach a contract agreement with a team. However, two of those agreements are in flux.

As we previously relayed, Reggie Bullock and the Knicks are attempting to rework a two-year, $21MM deal that fell apart due to an issue with Bullock’s physical, and Marcus Morris is re-evaluating his two-year, $19MM deal with the Spurs now that New York may have cap room again.

As of Thursday morning, there’s still mutual interest between Bullock and the Knicks in finding a new deal that works, per Ian Begley of Begley notes that a source told him earlier this week that the Knicks are hopeful of landing Morris, whose veteran presence and toughness intrigues the club. Steve Popper of Newsday adds (via Twitter) that he has heard from people inside and outside the Knicks’ organization who think that Morris will end up in New York.

As we wait for resolution on those two free agents, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Atlantic…

  • After agreeing to a new deal with the Sixers as a free agent, forward James Ennis expressed major confidence in the team’s outlook for 2019/20, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “We had a good chance last year. Kawhi (Leonard) is gone. He went to the West,” Ennis said. “So we are going to walk to the Finals in the East.”
  • Kevin Durant initially “balked” at the idea of being signed-and-traded to the Nets straight up for D’Angelo Russell, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN. As Windhorst explains, Durant didn’t believe it was a fair deal, presumably because he could have signed outright with Brooklyn using the team’s cap room. The Warriors ultimately ended up including a heavily protected first-rounder in the swap not just to satisfy the Nets, but to satisfy KD, says Windhorst.
  • Sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post that the Nets‘ newly-added star power could increase Barclays Center revenues by about $40MM through “increased sponsorships, merchandising, and ticket sales.”

Details On Contracts For Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant

After word broke last week that the Nets had reach agreements to sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, maximum-salary contracts, a follow-up report indicated that the two stars would take less than the max to accommodate DeAndre Jordan‘s four-year, $40MM contract with Brooklyn.

That’s still the case, but turning the acquisition of Durant into a sign-and-trade deal helped allow the Nets to give both of its new stars deals that could still be worth up to the max, via incentives. ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks have the specific details on those contracts, explaining that each player has about $1MM annually in incentives. Irving’s are considered “unlikely” and don’t current count toward his cap hit, while Durant’s are viewed as “likely” and are included in his current cap charge.

Irving’s contract, which has a fourth-year player option, as previously reported, has a base value of of $31,720,000 in year one, according to ESPN, which is $1MM shy of Kyrie’s max. The deal features eight separate incentives worth $125K apiece — they’ll be worth slightly more in each of his future seasons as the value of the contract increases.

He can earn $125K bonuses in 2019/20 for meeting the following benchmarks, for up to $1MM in total:

  1. Appear in 70 or more regular season games.
  2. Commit fewer than 2.4 turnovers per game (must appear in 60+ regular season games).
  3. Attempt at least 4.6 free throws per game (must appear in 60+ regular season games).
  4. Shoot at least 88.5% from the free throw line.
  5. Make at least 2.8 three-pointers per game.
  6. Commit fewer than 2.1 fouls per game.
  7. Nets score at least 114 points per 100 possessions with Irving on the floor in the regular season.
  8. Nets allow fewer than 106 points per 100 possessions with Irving on the floor in the regular season.

For more details on the odds of Irving (and the Nets) reaching those marks, be sure to check out ESPN’s breakdown.

As for Durant, his contract – which also features a fourth-year option, as previously noted – features simpler incentives.

KD’s likely $1MM bonus will be earned if any one of the following four criteria are met, according to ESPN:

  1. The Nets make the playoffs.
  2. The Nets win at least 43 games.
  3. Durant appears in at least 50 games.
  4. Durant makes the All-Star team.

Durant is expected to miss the entire 2019/20 season, so the last two benchmarks won’t be possible, but the first two are very realistic possibilities.

Depending on whether Irving and Durant reach their incentives this season, this year’s cap hits could be retroactively adjusted. Future cap hits could also be altered, depending on whether those incentives are still considered likely or unlikely after 2019/20.

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Westbrook, Nets, Durant

Frank Ntilikina‘s name has come up increasingly frequently in trade rumors in recent months, with Ian Begley of writing that the Knicks talked to at least one team prior to the draft about trading the former No. 8 overall selection in a deal for an early second-round pick. The Knicks have also discussed moving Ntilkina for a late first-round pick, Begley adds.

Still, Ntilkina remains under contract in New York for now, and told reporters – including Begley – this week that that’s just fine with him.

“I’m happy to be a Knick,” Ntilikina said. “I still take as much as I can get from every situation that I can. I’m in their jersey. I’m happy to be a Knick. I’m happy to be here. I’ll work very hard to make this situation successful.”

Assuming the Knicks don’t move Ntilikina before the season begins, he’ll once again face plenty of competition at the point guard spot in 2019/20. Dennis Smith and Kadeem Allen will be back, with Elfrid Payton entering the picture as well. Head coach David Fizdale had Ntilikina play minutes at the two last season, so we’ll if the team tries that again next year.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York franchises:

  • Russell Westbrook isn’t currently on the Knicks‘ radar, a person familiar with the situation tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. If Westbrook remains on the trade block on December 15, when New York’s offseason signees become trade-eligible, the Knicks could explore that avenue, but the team doesn’t plan on doing so for now, says Berman.
  • In an interesting piece for Sports Illustrated, Chris Mannix offers some behind-the-scenes details on the Nets‘ pursuit of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. According to Mannix, the Nets’ medical staff did all the research they could on Durant’s Achilles tear, but had limited information from afar. Days before free agency, GM Sean Marks gathered them and asked for a show of hands on who would be in favor of committing to Durant on a four-year, maximum-salary deal. Every hand went up, per Mannix.
  • After signing a new two-year contract with the Nets, Theo Pinson is making his case for a regular-season roster spot, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Pinson’s new deal has a second-year team option, notes Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link).

And-Ones: Durant, Westbrook, Stoudemire

Many assume that Kevin Durant will miss the entire 2019/20 season, but it appears that’s not a given quite yet. GM Sean Marks said it’s “too early” to make a definitive timeline on Durant’s Nets debut.

 “A timeline will be given in due time, but as of now, we’re certainly not going to comment on when or if and make any sort of hypotheticals. It’s too early,” Marks said (via Nets Daily).

Durant is familiar with the medical staff in Brooklyn. Dr. Martin O’Malley, a foot and ankle specialist who is the team’s orthopaedic surgeon, performed the surgery to repair Durant’s Achilles. Despite the connection, the former MVP’s decision to join the Nets caught many in the basketball world by surprise, including some within Brooklyn’s front office.

“The Instagram post that he put up [announcing he’d sign with the Nets], we were all sitting in the office. We all got that in real time with you guys. We weren’t even sure if we were getting a meeting that night or if it was going to be a telephone conversation,” Marks said of finding out about Durant’s decision. The GM added that he hadn’t even spoken to Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman yet.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Magic are unlikely to have interest in Russell Westbrook, Josh Robbins of The Athletic relays (Twitter link). The long-time Thunder point guard is reportedly open to a trade.
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer believes Marvin Williams is the veteran on the Hornets‘ roster most likely to be traded. Williams is making $15MM next season and Bonnell thinks the power forward’s game would mesh well with nearly every roster in the league.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire, who worked out in front of a number of teams this week, is serious about returning to the NBA. “I was never really done,’’ Stoudemire said, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. “I took kind of a sabbatical leave and I went to go learn over in Israel for two and a half years or so. So I went there and when I was still learning, I was able to also play basketball and keep myself in shape. I always stayed in top shape. I didn’t really remove myself too far from being in basketball shape.”

Atlantic Contract Notes: Durant, Jordan, Claxton, Milton, Brazdeikis

Kevin Durant‘s max contract with the Nets includes $4.3MM in likely bonuses, according to Jeff Siegel of It’s not clear how those bonuses can be earned but if they’re based on individual statistics, he can’t reach them next season due to his Achilles injury. His deal also includes a full 15% trade kicker. DeAndre Jordan‘s salary with Brooklyn starts at 9.9MM, rises 5% in the second year, dips back down to 9.9MM, then drops slightly in the fourth year for a total of 40MM, Siegel adds (Twitter links).

We have more contractual news from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The timeline of the Nets’ moves in free agency – signing Kyrie Irving and Jordan to free agent deals using salary-cap room and then acting like a team over the cap to pull off the Durant sign-and-trade with Golden State — also allowed them to give Nicolas Claxton a three-year contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Without room, Claxton’s fully guaranteed deal would have been limited to two years. The University of Georgia big man was the first pick of the second round.
  • Shake Milton‘s four-year minimum contract with the Sixers includes a team option in the final year and is otherwise fully guaranteed, Siegel tweets. The shooting guard played last season on a two-way contract, splitting his time between the Sixers and their G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.
  • Knicks rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis received a three-year minimum deal, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Brazdeikis will make approximately $900K as a rookie, $1.5MM in his second year and $1.8MM in his third season (team option).
  • The Celtics have been exploring a variety of contract terms with second-round pick Carsen Edwards, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. The negotiations with the Purdue guard include guaranteed amounts.

Nets, Warriors Complete Durant, Russell Sign-And-Trade

JULY 8: The first-round pick going to Brooklyn in the deal is the Warriors’ 2020 pick, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic, who tweets that it will be top-20 protected. If it falls in that range – and it very well could, given Golden State’s roster changes – the Nets would instead receive the Warriors’ 2025 second-round pick, per Scotto.

JULY 7: The Nets and Warriors have officially completed the sign-and-trade deal that sends Kevin Durant and a protected 2020 first-round pick to Brooklyn in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, Treveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier, the two teams announced in a pair of press releases.

“Kevin is a champion, perennial All-Star and one of the great players of this, or any, generation,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “Adding a player of Kevin’s caliber to our organization elevates our ability to compete with the elite teams in this league. His tremendous abilities and dedication to his craft have made him as talented an offensive player our game has ever seen and we, as well as all of Brooklyn, are thrilled to welcome Kevin and his family to the Nets.”

Durant initially agreed to sign with the Nets outright using their cap room, but the Warriors engaged them in discussions last Sunday night and eventually agreed to a deal that would include a pair of sign-and-trades — Durant to Brooklyn and D’Angelo Russell to Golden State. Russell, a restricted free agent, became expendable when the Nets finalized agreements with Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“We’re excited to add a player of D’Angelo’s ability to our roster,” Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said in his team’s announcement. “He’s coming off an All-Star season with the Nets and we feel, at the age of 23, his best basketball is certainly ahead of him in regards to his career trajectory.”

In order to incentivize the Nets to accommodate the Russell sign-and-trade, the Warriors sent a future draft pick to Brooklyn, and will also take on Graham and Napier — those two players will be flipped to Minnesota in a subsequent deal.

Durant, who is recovering from a torn Achilles, isn’t expected to be ready to return until the 2020/21 season, but the Nets have him the long-term — he reportedly agreed to a four-year contract (with a fourth-year player option) that will be worth the maximum salary, or possibly slightly below it to accommodate DeAndre Jordan‘s deal with the club.

Meanwhile, the Warriors will be hard-capped at $138.9MM as a result of acquiring Russell via sign-and-trade, which will limit their ability to make roster moves during the 2019/20 league year. The club already had to send Andre Iguodala and his $17MM+ salary to Memphis in a cost-cutting measure.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Paul George Trade Roundup: Kawhi, Davis, Trade Request, Durant

In a shocking move early Saturday morning, the Thunder agreed to trade one of their two superstars, Paul George, to the Clippers. The move facilitated the Clippers pairing George with Kawhi Leonard, who agreed to a four-year pact with the organization earlier in the morning.

The landscape of the league has been altered with the Clippers and their crosscourt rival Lakers expected to dominate headlines this forthcoming season. The process that led to the Clippers becoming one of the NBA’s powerhouses included a lot of moving parts, a lot of communication and a heavily involved Leonard.

Before George to L.A. became a possibility, Leonard had reached out to Kevin Durant about the possibility of the duo teaming up with the Clippers, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Leonard told Durant he “admired him, and had tremendous respect for him as a competitor,” according to Shelburne. While Durant appreciated the recruitment from Leonard, he was already set on pairing with Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan in Brooklyn.

Therefore, the process moved on and Leonard set his sights on pairing with another superstar: Paul George.

Here are some more tidbits on George being traded to the Clippers:

  • In Shelburne’s report, she noted that Leonard’s camp attempted to delay the consummation of the Anthony Davis to the Lakers trade until “as late as Sunday.” No reason was provided to the Lakers, only that the request be honored if the organization wanted to stay in the running for his services. We had relayed that Leonard’s free agency decision was holding up a series of moves, the Davis trade being one of them.
  • Shelburne also noted that Leonard, who is known for his quiet demeanor both on and off the court, took an active, engaging role during free agency. “For a quiet guy, he’s a hell of a recruiter,” one source told her. Sam Amick of The Athletic heard a similar account of Leonard’s activity during free agency: “Kawhi recruited the hell out of him,” one source told Amick. “He did a number on Paul.”
  • The Thunder organization was blindsided by George’s trade request, ESPN’s Royce Young writes. It was just one year ago when George decided to forego free agency and re-sign with OKC on a long-term pact. The Palmdale, California, native had long been rumored to want to play for his hometown Lakers; now he will return home but will suit up for the Clippers.
  • With George gone, the Thunder secured quite the haul their now-former superstar. While OKC had planned to compete next season, led by George and Russell Westbrook, the focus is now on a rebuild. Brett Dawson of The Athletic examined how and why the trade went down and which directions are available to the Thunder. Whether it’s dealing Westbrook and going full rebuild or trying to build a roster more suited toward their MVP’s style, OKC has a lot of decisions to make.

Atlantic Notes: Payton, Raptors, Robinson, Jordan

Elfrid Payton will be given every opportunity to become the Knicks’ starting point guard next season, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Payton agreed to a two-year, $16MM deal with a team option for the second season. Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina are the other candidates for the starting role, though the team has shopped Ntilikina, Begley continues. It’s unclear whether the Knicks would consider a backcourt pairing of Payton and Smith, who started at the point after being acquired from the Mavericks last season.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors have to make more roster moves, regardless of whether Kawhi Leonard stays or goes, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes. They currently have 10 players under standard NBA contracts, one on a two-way and another on an Exhibit 10 deal. With the Raptors’ needs in mind, Murphy takes a deep dive into the options still on the free agent market at each position.
  • Knicks second-year center Mitchell Robinson has been invited to join the Select Team at USA Basketball’s training camp, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps tweets. Robinson averaged 7.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 2.4 BPG in his rookie campaign.
  • The competition between centers Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan will be the biggest preseason battle in Nets’ camp, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Allen, 21, is seemingly a core piece for the franchise but the presence of Jordan, a close friend of Kevin Durant who agreed to a four-year, $40MM contract, creates a potential dilemma. Jordan may have lost a step, Lewis notes, but he’s been a starter throughout his career.

Free Agency Notes: Durant, Knicks, Cousins

Kevin Durant‘s decision to go to the Nets was not an easy one to make. Golden State, New York, and Brooklyn were reportedly in contention, but it’s beginning to sound like the two Atlantic Division teams were always the frontrunners, as Mark Berman of The New York Post writes.

There were people in Durant’s camp that wanted him to go to the Knicks, according to Jay Williams (former NBA player and friend of Durant’s). Williams also said that the Knicks trading away Kristaps Porzingis was not a factor in KD’s decision.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • There’s pretty much no chance that the Wizards add DeMarcus Cousins, The Athletic’s Fred Katz writes. Washington brought back Thomas Bryant in free agency and the team is committed to developing him.
  • Tim Bontemps of examines the Knicks strategy this offseason and makes the case that they made the moves possible given that no stars were coming in free agency. New York will have cap flexibility next summer and the team will likely get one more chance to land a top pick in the lottery.
  • The Cavaliers didn’t have the flexibility to make major free-agent signings this offseason, but next summer, the team projects to have the ability to make a big splash, Joe Vardon of The Athletic relays. Cleveland will have upwards of $55MM in cap room, assuming they don’t add any long-term salary before then.