The NBA free agency period began at 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday, and the wait for LeBron James to decide where he will play next season officially began. But not everyone was interested in waiting around.
Reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors will reportedly continue their successful partnership, agreeing to a two-year deal with a player option for the second year late Saturday night.
According to multiple reports, Durant will make $30 million in 2018-19 and have a $31.5 million option for the following season. While he declined his $26.2 million option for next season to become a free agent, Durant had said all along he wanted to stay in Golden State.
Durant, 29, averaged 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 68 regular-season games in 2017-18, missing time due to a rib cartilage fracture.
In the postseason, Durant contributed 29 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 21 games, guiding Golden State past the San Antonio Spurs, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
—ESPN reported that James’ agent, Rich Paul, is meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers’ brass in Los Angeles, adding that James is not expected to attend the meeting despite being in Southern California.
76ers coach Brett Brown was said to be on hand with owners to lead the meeting, likely pointing to the assemblage of young stars like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid they could surround James with.
Cleveland Cavaliers GM Koby Altman also spoke to both James and Paul in a phone call right after free agency opened at 12:01 a.m., according to the network.
James, 33, would have made $35.6 million in the 2018-19 season had he exercised his option with the Cavs. According to ESPN, James could still fetch as much as $207 million over five years from the Cavaliers, while other teams can offer a max of $152 million over four years. James has been linked to multiple teams in free agency, most notably the Los Angeles Lakers and 76ers.
—At the stroke of midnight, Paul tweeted that he has “unfinished business” in Houston. At that same time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the star point guard is poised to sign a four-year, $160 million max contract to stay with the Rockets.
With Paul running the offense, the Rockets surged to the best record in the NBA’s regular season at 65-17. But Houston lost to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games in the Western Conference finals, losing the final two games with Paul out because of a hamstring injury.
The Rockets also will bring back swingman Gerald Green on a one-year minimum salary contract worth $2.4 million, according to multiple reports, while starting swingman Trevor Ariza is reportedly heading to Phoenix on a one-year, $15 million deal.
—George committed to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder with a four-year, $137 million max contract, multiple outlets reported late Saturday night.
George was actually in town Saturday night, as star teammate Russell Westbrook reportedly threw a big party. TheHoopCentral tweeted a video of George, standing next to Westbrook, announcing, “If y’all didn’t quite get it, let me say it again: I’m here to stay. I’m here to stay.”
George, who would have been among the top prizes available in free agency, was traded to the Thunder last summer from the Indiana Pacers, giving Oklahoma City a season to try to work out a longer-term relationship. George declined to exercise his player option for 2018-19, making him an unrestricted free agent as of midnight.
The Thunder also re-signed forward Jerami Grant to a three-year, $27 million deal, according to ESPN. Per the report, the third year of the deal is a player option.
—Jordan, who declined his player option with the Los Angeles Clippers last week, agreed to a one-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks, according to multiple reports.
The center’s salary with the Mavericks will approach the $24.1 million that he would have earned with the Clippers had he exercised his option, according to the New York Times.
Jordan has a bit of history regarding offseason talks with both the Mavericks and the Clippers. In July 2015, he verbally agreed to join the Mavs on a four-year, $80 million contract during the moratorium period before contracts could be officially signed. After having second thoughts and getting recruited by his Los Angeles teammates to re-sign, he reneged and signed a four-year, $88 million deal to stay with the Clippers.
—The Denver Nuggets and restricted free agent center Jokic agreed on a five-year max contract, according to multiple media reports.
The deal reportedly is worth $148 million and does not include a player option for the fifth year, as many similar deals do. The Nuggets reportedly sought the lack of a player option in exchange for previously declining Jokic’s $1.6 million option for 2018-19.
Jokic, 23, led the Nuggets in three offensive categories last season when he averaged 18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists. He also shot 39.6 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the free-throw line.
—The New Orleans Pelicans and Lakers each called center DeMarcus Cousins after free agency began and Cousins is expected to schedule meetings with both teams, according to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that Cousins would be an “increasingly likely target” for the Lakers on a short-term, max-level contract.
** Houston will reportedly meet with restricted free agent center Clint Capela and his representatives in Los Angeles on Sunday after agreeing to terms with Paul and Green.
Capela is coming off a career year with the Rockets in which he averaged 13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds while making a league-best 65.2 percent of his field goal attempts.
—Guard Will Barton is reportedly expected to re-sign with the Nuggets on a four-year contract reportedly worth more than $50 million and containing a player option in the fourth year.
—Former Dallas Mavericks forward Doug McDermott will join the Indiana Pacers on a three-year contract that, according to ESPN, is worth $22 million and fully guaranteed.
—The Brooklyn Nets kept their best long-range shooter, guard Joe Harris, and also picked up frontcourt depth with well-traveled Ed Davis, most recently of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Harris is expected to get a two-year, $16 million contract while Davis reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4.4 million contract.
—Stein reported that Minnesota plans to offer guard Jimmy Butler the maximum extension, four years for around $110 million, once he is eligible to sign on July 9.
However, Butler is not expected to be interested in an extention this offseason, as he could sign a five-year deal for $187 million or become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Wojnarowski reported that free agent guard Derrick Rose agreed to a one-year deal to remain with the club.
—Big man Ersan Ilyasova, who began his 10-year career with the Bucks, is returning to Milwaukee, according to ESPN.
Ilyasova reportedly agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract. The third year of the deal is reportedly not guaranteed.
—The Toronto Raptors have reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with restricted free agent Fred VanVleet, a finalist for Sixth Man of the Year last season.
The deal is worth $18 million, according to a report by Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania.
—The Boston Celtics are retaining unrestricted free agent center Aron Baynes with a two-year, $11 million contract, according to multiple reports.
He averaged 6.0 points and posted career highs in rebounds (5.4) and assists (1.1) per game in 81 appearances (67 starts) in his first season with Boston.
—The San Antonio Spurs are keeping forward Rudy Gay and re-adding swingman Marco Belinelli, according to multiple reports.
Earlier this month, Gay opted out of his contract with San Antonio that would have paid him $8.8 million in 2018-19. Instead, he will make $10 million next season on a one-year deal, according to multiple reports.
Belinelli, 32, will sign a two-year, $12 million contract, according to Wojnarowski.
—The Memphis Grizzlies reached an agreement on a one-year deal with forward Omri Casspi, according to ESPN.
Terms were not available, but the Grizzlies are limited to smaller moves unless they can unload Chandler Parsons, who has $49 million owed to him over the next two seasons.
—The Portland Trail Blazers opened free agency by reaching a one-year deal with guard Nik Stauskas, ESPN reported.
Terms were not announced, but the deal is likely for the league minimum given the Blazers’ salary cap constraints. Stauskas, 24, was the eighth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in 2014, but has been limited to 7.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 267 career games.
—Field Level Media