Kawhi in NBA Free Agency Limbo, What Will Happen?
Players and teams began agreeing to terms on new deals Sunday even though no contracts can be signed until next Saturday. Kawhi, who led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title last month, was expected to meet with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers and the Raptors this week before making a decision on where to sign a new deal.
The Raptors are trying to keep together their championship squad while the Clippers, in Leonard’s home town, have a similar young team that would offer him a starring role.
Kawhi Leonard will not take any meetings with teams today, as he'll ramp up the process over next couple days, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 1, 2019
The Lakers, who have cleared $32 million in salary cap space, could offer the two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player a chance to form a super-team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But so many other top free agents have already reportedly signed elsewhere, the club would have trouble spending their money if Leonard turns them down.
Among the other players the Lakers were reportedly looking at was D’Angelo Russell, who went to the Golden State Warriors for four years at $117 million after the club traded Andre Iguodala to Memphis to free up money under NBA salary cap rules.
Russell would partner Steph Curry in the Warriors’ backcourt until Klay Thompson, set to sign a new maximum deal, returns from a torn knee ligament next season.
Also reportedly waiting on Leonard’s decision is Toronto guard Danny Green, who is being wooed by Dallas.
In the biggest reported deals on day one of free agency, Brooklyn secured two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who ruptured an Achilles tendon as Golden State lost in the NBA finals, and Kyrie Irving from Boston. Each accepted contracts below the maximum, allowing the Nets to also grab center DeAndre Jordan, who played for Dallas last season.
Durant will miss next season while recovering, but Irving and Jordan will spark a Nets squad that made the playoffs last season.
Philadelphia also made significant moves, landing Dominican big man Al Horford from Boston and trading with Miami for Josh Richardson, in a deal that cost them guard Jimmy Butler, while re-signing Tobias Harris. The 76ers already boast Australian playmaker Ben Simmons and Cameroonian front-line force Joel Embiid.
Milwaukee, which won an NBA-best 60 games last season before falling to Toronto in the Eastern Conference final, kept Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez and figure to remain a contender next season.
Seth Curry Joins Dallas
The Western Conference, won by the Warriors the past five seasons, is up for grabs with a host of teams improving in the first 24 hours of free agency.
New Orleans agreed to a two-year deal worth $8 million with Italy’s Nicolo Melli, the EuroLeague Finals top scorer last season for Turkish club Fenerbahce, and also signed former 76ers guard J.J. Redick.
Utah added Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic for $73 million over four years from Sacramento plus center Ed Davis and playmaker Mike Conley.
Dallas, who are led by Slovenian guard Luka Doncic, gave a maximum five-year deal worth $158 million to their Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis, re-signed Canadian big man Dwight Powell and added another Slovenian guard in Goran Dragic from Miami.
On Monday, the Mavericks reached terms on a four-year deal worth $32 million with guard Seth Curry from Portland, ESPN reported.