NBA free agency opened with the usual flurry of moves, but several of the top players on the market are still available after the first day. And one player who isn’t a free agent at all overshadowed everything.
The free agency moratorium opened Thursday at 6 p.m. ET, the negotiating period during which free agents and teams can begin discussing and agreeing on contracts. While teams cannot officially sign players to new deals until 12:01 p.m. ET on July 6, that didn’t stop them from agreeing to shell out several hundred million dollars
Many of the biggest deals Thursday were for players returning to their original teams: Bradley Beal to Washington (five years, $251 million), Anfernee Simons to Portland (four years, $100 million), Lu Dort to Oklahoma City (five years, $87.5 million), Bobby Portis to Milwaukee (four years, $49 million).
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There were still a few notable splashes. Highly-coveted guard Jalen Brunson agreed with the New York Knicks on a four-year, $104 million contract, and defensive whiz P.J. Tucker agreed with the Philadelphia 76ers on a three-year, $33.2 million deal.
As the calendar flips to July 1 on Friday, several notable names are still available, Zach LaVine, James Harden, Deandre Ayton, Miles Bridges and Collin Sexton among them.
All of the moves Thursday paled to the news that Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets just hours before free agency opened. The bombshell sent shockwaves around the league as Durant becoming available could significantly alter the free agency landscape.
If you missed any of Thursday’s moves, USA TODAY Sports’ NBA crew recapped the first night of free agency with notes on all the contracts agreed to:
Once the clock passed midnight ET to July 1, several star players reached deals on the massive contract extensions for which they were eligible.
Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic came to terms with Denver on a five-year, $270 supermax extension, a person familiar with contract negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the contact is signed. The deal, which is the largest in NBA history, starts in the 2023-24 seasons, and adding the $33 million he is due to earn in 2022-23, Jokic will be paid $303 million over the next six seasons.
Minnesota All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns plans to sign a four-year, $224 million extension with the Timberwolves, his agent told ESPN. This keeps the improving Wolves on their path to build around Towns and Anthony Edwards.
Devin Booker and Phoenix reached a deal on a four-year, $224 million extension, his agents told ESPN. Booker is a three-time All-Star and one of the league’s best scorers. CAA agent Jessica Holtz represents Booker and Towns. It was quite an evening for her.
Memphis’ Ja Morant will sign a five-year, $193 million designated rookie extension to remain with the Grizzlies, his agent Jim Tanner of Tandem Sports + Entertainment said. The deal could increase to $231 million if Morant makes one of the league’s All-NBA teams next season.
Mo Bamba has reached a two-year, $21 million deal to return to the Orlando Magic, according to multiple reports. Bamba started to find his footing with the Magic last season, playing 71 games and averaging 10.6 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Juan Toscano-Anderson is leaving the defending-champion Golden State Warriors for the Los Angeles Lakers, according to multiple reports. Toscano-Anderson appeared in 73 games for Golden State last season and 14 during the playoffs. He spent the last three seasons with the Warriors after making their G League team through a local tryout. Prior to that, he went undrafted after four years at Marquette and spent three years playing professionally in Mexico.
Veteran center Andre Drummond has agree to terms on a two-year, $6.6 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, according to multiple reports. Drummond started last season with the Philadelphia 76ers before he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the James Harden-Ben Simmons deal. Still only 28, Drummond remains one of the game’s better rebounders.
In a surprise to no one, guard Jalen Brunson has reached agreement on a four-year, $104 million deal with the New York Knicks, his agents told ESPN. Brunson was one of the most coveted players on the market, and the Knicks made their plans apparent by clearing the necessary salary cap space in the days leading up to free agency. They also hired Brunson’s father to the coaching staff.
Brunson was due for a significant raise after his best season in which he averaged career highs with 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. Brunson then upped his scoring production to 21.6 points in the playoffs to help the Dallas Mavericks reach the Western Conference finals.
Delon Wright is committing to the Washington Wizards on a two-year, $16 million deal, a person with direct knowledge of negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the deal is official. Wright, a career 35.4% shooter from 3-point range, has played for seven teams during his six NBA seasons.
Veteran center JaVale McGee has agreed on a three-year, $20.1 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks, according to The Athletic. McGee appeared in 34 games for Dallas during the 2015-16 season. Since then, he’s been a vital backup for multiple title contenders and won three championships — two with the Golden State Warriors in 2017-18 and one with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.
Kyle Anderson has agreed with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a two-year, $18 million deal, according to multiple reports. Anderson spent the last four seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies after four with the San Antonio Spurs.
Gary Harris plans to re-sign with the Orlando Magic on a two-year, $26 million deal, a person with direct knowledge of negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the deal is official. Harris just finished his first full season with the Magic after being acquired from the Nuggets at the 2021 trade deadline in the deal that sent Aaron Gordon to Denver.
The Los Angeles Lakers have made their first move of the offseason, agreeing with Lonnie Walker IV on a one-year, $6.5 million contract, according to HoopsHype. HoopsHype is part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group. Walker played his first four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 12.1 points per game on 40.7% shooting last season in 70 games.
As expected the Detroit Pistons move quickly to lock up their lone restricted free agent, agreeing with Marvin Bagley III on a three-year, $37.5 million contract, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Free Press is part of the USA TODAY Network.
Veteran guard Patty Mills is returning to the Brooklyn Nets with a slight raise. A day after declining his $6.2 million player option, Mills has agreed with Brooklyn on a two-years, $14.5 million contract, his agent, told ESPN.
Joe Ingles has agreed on a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Yahoo Sports. Ingles tore the ACL in his left knee in February when he was with the Utah Jazz and missed the rest of the season. Shortly after, he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of a three-team deal. Ingles’ wife Renae also confirmed the news on Twitter:
The Toronto Raptors will bring back Thaddeuus Young on a two-year, $16 million deal, his agents Jim Tanner and Max Wiepking of Tandem Sports + Entertainment, confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
As many expected, All-Star guard Bradley Beal will return to the Washington Wizards on a five-year max deal worth about $251 million, a person familiar with negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the deal is official.
Beal has spent his entire 10-year career with the Wizards and had long insisted that he intended to be back on a long-term contract. He was limited by injuries to 40 games last season, but averaged over 30 points per game in each of the previous two years.
Several notable second-tier free agents agreed on new contracts in the early hours of free agency:
♦ Gary Payton II is set to the leave the defending champion Golden State Warriors to sign a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, The Athletic reported.
♦ Tyus Jones plans to return to the Memphis Grizzlies on a two-year, $30 million deal, his agent Kevin Bradbury said.
♦ The Miami Heat plan to re-sign Victor Oladipo to a one-year, $11 million contract, The Athletic reported.
♦ Chris Boucher plans to return to the Toronto Raptors on a three-year, $35 million deal.
♦ Isaiah Hartenstein has reached a two-year deal with the New York Knicks, according to multiple reports.
♦ The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed with Jevon Carter on a two-year deal and with Wesley Matthews on one-year deal, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Journal Sentinel is part of the USA TODAY Network.
♦ Amir Coffee is expected to sign a three-year, $11 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.
♦ Nic Batum and the Los Angeles Clippers reached a deal on a two-year, $22 million contract, per multiple reports.
♦ Dewayne Dedmon reached a deal on a two-year, $9 million contract to return to the Miami Heat.
Highly-sought forward P.J. Tucker is heading to Philadelphia after agreeing to terms on three-year, $33.2 million deal with the Sixers, his agent Andre Buck told USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt. The Sixers will be Tucker’s fourth team in four seasons. Tucker played in Houston from 2017-18 to 2020-21 when current Sixers GM Daryl Morey ran the Rockets. Tucker was teammates for three-plus seasons with James Harden, who is expected to re-sign with the Sixers after declining his player option Wednesday.
Defensive whiz Lu Dort reportedly has an agreement on a five-year, $87.5 million extension with the Thunder, according to ESPN.
Anfrenee Simons has agreed on a four-year, $100 million contract to return to the Portland Trail Blazers, his agent Bill Duffy confirmed to USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt. Simons is a restricted free agent and could have signed an offer sheet with any other team, but Portland would have retained the right to match and keep Simons. The four-year guard is coming off his best season as a pro in which he upped his scoring average from 7.8 to 17.3 points per game.
Reserve guard Malik Monk has agreed on a two-year, $20 million contract with the Sacramento Kings after playing one season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Monk, the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft spent his first four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets.
Bobby Portis is getting the big contract he hoped for when he declined his player option for 2022-23. Portis has agreed to re-sign with the Milwaukee Bucks on a four-year, $49 million deal. He declined his $4.6 million option Wednesday in the hopes of landing a lucrative long-term deal, and the bet on himself paid off. The 6-10 forward has been a key rotation player for the Bucks the past two seasons, including during their run to the 2021 championship.
Kevin Durant sent shockwaves around the NBA in the hours leading up to free agency when he requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. The request opens up the possibility for a team to make a major move for Durant, which could yield a significant return on assets for the Nets.
Phoenix and Miami are two of Durant’s preferred destinations, according to Yahoo and ESPN.
FULL STORY: Kevin Durant requests trade from Brooklyn Nets
Who are the top free agents available?
1. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (unrestricted): One of the game’s elite shooters and scorers, LaVine is in line for a max deal of five years and about $212 million from the Bulls or four years and about $157 million from other teams.
2. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers (unrestricted): Harden was expected to exercise his $47.3 million player option but elected to decline it to reportedly work on a new deal with the Sixers that would give the team more financial flexibility.
3. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (unrestricted): Beal declined his $36.4 million player option in a move widely expected to clear the three-time All-Star to re-sign with the Wizards on a five-year max deal. But could he finally change his mind and look to play elsewhere?
4. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (restricted): The situation appears to have soured in Phoenix after the Suns elected not to extend Ayton last offseason when they had the chance. Still only 23, Ayton will have suitors, but the Suns can still match any offer.
5. Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets (restricted): Coming off a career year, Bridges is set for a substantial raise after he and the Hornets couldn’t reach terms on an extension before last season.
6. Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (unrestricted): Brunson is also set for a big pay raise after a breakout season, and the Knicks are expected to make a big offer. But look for the Mavs to made every effort to re-sign Brunson.
FULL LIST: Best free agents available in 2022 offseason
Player option decisions impact free agency landscape
On the eve of NBA free agency, a pair of superstars declined the player options on the final years of their contracts to become unrestricted free agents.
However, teams with money to spend probably shouldn’t get their hopes up about signing James Harden or Bradley Beal to a big, splashy contract once free agency opens. Both appear likely to return to their old teams.
Wednesday was the deadline for Harden, Beal and others to make decisions on their player options ahead of free agency. Harden declined his $47.3 million option to reportedly work with the Sixers on a new deal that would give the team more financial flexibility to make improvements to the roster this offseason. Beal declined his $36.4 million player option in a move widely expected to clear the three-time All-Star to re-sign with the Wizards on a five-year max deal.
FULL STORY: What Harden and Beal decision mean for free agency
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