Latest NBA Free-Agency Intel: Buzz on Dame Lillard, Jalen Brunson, Malik Monk, More
After a weekend in which Damian Lillard appeared to court Kevin Durant via Instagram, the Blazers roster is starting to take shape amid an offseason where Portland has focused on supplementing Lillard with veteran talent.
Having landed Lillard's one-time Team USA running mate Jerami Grant from Detroit before the NBA draft, Portland is now expected to offer the All-NBA guard a two-year contract extension that will exceed over $100 million, sources told B/R.
Starting center Jusuf Nurkic appears destined to be a part of the Blazers' future, with a belief among league personnel he will sign a four-year deal worth roughly $17 million in average annual value.
Anfernee Simons also seems like he'll be headed back to Portland. Rival teams expect Simons' agreement to be for four seasons, beginning at $80 million, plus room for incentives.
Meanwhile, Joe Ingles has spent a portion of his rehab in Portland, sources said. There's a belief the veteran guard could return to the Trail Blazers following his trade-deadline move to Portland, although Ingles appears to have plenty of interest from other teams.
Jalen Brunson and the Knicks
From the instant New York offloaded Kemba Walker to Detroit on draft night, all momentum seemed to rapidly swing from Jalen Brunson staying put with the Mavs to fleeing for Madison Square Garden.
Walker stood as New York's most difficult salary to shed. There was always plenty of trade interest in Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks, and the Knicks only needed to pay Detroit two second-round picks and $6 million in cash to take two serviceable rotation pieces.
Brunson's salary is now expected to exceed $25 million in average annual value, sources told B/R, and could total upwards of $110 million. The Knicks can offer him a four-year deal.
There's still room for Dallas to get creative with Brunson's exit. If the point guard were to join New York by sign-and-trade and Dallas did not take any players back, the Mavericks would create a traded player exception worth half of Brunson's new salary with New York.
The Knicks have 11 first-round picks at their disposal. Don't be surprised if New York continues to be aggressive in addition to its expected coup of Brunson.
The Knicks are also gauging the market for Evan Fournier and Cam Reddish takers. On Tuesday night, Dejounte Murray started to be mentioned by league personnel as the next New York target alongside Brunson, as first reported by Marc Stein. However, that would seem to run counterintuitive to the Knicks' pitch of Brunson running his own team.
It's believed Mitchell Robinson will return to New York on a four-year deal that nears $60 million in total earnings.
Who Will Pay Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges?
Detroit had been frequently linked as the bogeyman to lob a maximum offer at one of Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges, but either outcome now seems off the board. After a series of transactions, Detroit might be left with under $10 million in cap space.
The Pistons' willingness to splurge on Ayton seemed to fly out the window following Detroit's draft-night acquisition of center Jalen Duren. And after acquiring Noel and Burks on Tuesday night, the Pistons' roughly $40 million in cap space for Bridges shrunk in half.
Even further, Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III is expected to return to Detroit on a deal north of $10 million in average annual value, potentially in a structure similar to Kelly Oubre Jr.'s two-year agreement with Charlotte last summer.
The Pacers have mulled over making Bridges an offer, sources told B/R, but it's unclear whether Indiana will actually be willing to add such an expensive piece into their rebuild.
League executives have long painted Memphis as a sleeper candidate to make a bid for Bridges, where he could join his Spartans teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. However, that rumored Grizzlies interest has been repeatedly shot down by league figures with knowledge of the situation.
Charlotte has also signaled it will match any offer for Bridges. So any interested suitor would be incentivized to throw the 24-year-old forward his four-year maximum in order to force the Hornets' hand. If an offer sheet never comes, Charlotte will be in a pretty position to bring Bridges back under $30 million annually.
With Phoenix, there's far less belief the Suns will ultimately match whatever offer Ayton can draw. The relationships between him and Phoenix's other primary actors—most notably head coach Monty Williams and point guard Chris Paul—seem untenable for an Ayton return. But there aren't many looming possibilities for him to find the maximum contract he is said to desire.
San Antonio, with its Murray conversations, appears willing to steer more towards a rebuild than offer a hefty salary. Perhaps the Raptors are the team that presents Deandre Ayton with the lucrative deal he covets, but Toronto could only afford such a contract by swinging a sign-and-trade for Ayton. Toronto continues to monitor the availability of several elite centers, sources said, including Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert.
Bradley Beal and the Wizards
All-Star guard Bradley Beal is widely expected to decline his player option to re-sign with Washington for a five-year deal that could reach upwards of $248 million. Wizards personnel have long operated with confidence that Beal would return to the one franchise he's known.
The other consistent word surrounding Washington had been the Wizards' active pursuit to find a veteran point guard to pair with Beal in the backcourt. Throughout Washington’s efforts, rival teams repeatedly mentioned that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma were available for trade. The Wizards were ultimately able to send Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to Denver on Wednesday in order to land Monte Morris and Will Barton from the Nuggets.
Denver has been linked to Caldwell-Pope in the past, and the Nuggets, sources said, have been operating with a goal of shedding salary to avoid luxury tax concerns. This move saved Denver roughly $5 million. Morris and Barton were also widely considered available for trade in lead-up to the 2022 NBA Draft.
This deal would also seem to rule out Washington as a landing spot for Tyus Jones. Minnesota is expected to have interest in Jones, but Washington was the one rival team most often connected with the Grizzlies' point guard. Jones is said to be seeking a multi-year deal above the non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $10.1 million for the '22-23 season.
Malcolm Brogdon still appears to be a viable trade candidate across the league, although the Wizards and Knicks never truly considered sending the No. 10 or No. 11 pick, respectively in last week's draft for the Indiana point guard.
The Wizards are one of the teams that inquired about Dejounte Murray in San Antonio, sources said, but Washington didn’t seem to have an offer capable of landing the Spurs' All-Star.
Delon Wright has been mentioned as a reserve guard also on Washington's radar.
Latest on Dejounte Murray Trade Talks
The Hawks are still engaging with San Antonio on a deal that would bring Murray to Atlanta, sources told B/R. It appears the Hawks have competition, and those negotiations have been quite fluid.
The talks began back at the February trade deadline, sources said, with the Hawks' outgoing package centered around John Collins. That deal structure seemed to be revisited ahead of the NBA draft, only for the word to spread on Monday of a new framework that would have sent Danilo Gallinari and three first-round picks to San Antonio for Murray, sources said.
Atlanta has been in conversation about increasing Gallinari's $5 million partial guarantee for the 2022-23 season. Bringing him to $10.4 million would allow his cap number to match Murray's roughly $17 million salary.
It's unclear what is needed to get Murray-to-Atlanta over the finish line. One league source said Collins was back on the table come Tuesday, and the Spurs have started to tell teams Murray's asking price stands as high as four-first round picks, sources said.
Outside of San Antonio, there doesn't appear to be any serious active trade conversation surrounding Collins. Sacramento, Portland, Boston and Brooklyn all registered some level of interest in Collins around the draft, but none of those teams appear far along with Atlanta on Collins deals at this juncture.
Latest Warriors Intel
The reigning-champion Warriors are expected to retain Kevon Looney, as first reported by Michael Scotto at HoopsHype. Rivals believe his salary will be approximately $10 million over a multi-year deal. Golden State is hopeful to retain Gary Payton II, sources said, but a suitor that offers the full mid-level could pry him free. Otto Porter Jr. is expected to receive multiple offers for the taxpayer mid-level, putting his future with the Warriors in doubt.
Tyler Herro's Extension Coming into Focus
Early indications are Tyler Herro's extension with Miami will settle around $25 million in average annual value. Victor Oladipo is not expected to return to the Heat and is said to have interest from Washington, Denver and Detroit, in the salary range of the taxpayer MLE.
Mega Pay-Day for Fred VanVleet Expected
Toronto and Fred VanVleet appear headed towards a contract extension that could approach four years and over $110 million, sources told B/R. Thaddeus Young is expected to find a two-year agreement worth at least $10 million to rejoin Toronto.
Malik Monk Curveball in LA?
The Lakers would like to retain Malik Monk at their taxpayer mid-level, but Monk is also searching for more lucrative deals, sources said, despite telling Jovan Buha of The Athletic he'd be willing to return to Los Angeles on a discount.
Celtics Eyeing Wings?
Boston appears focused on high-scoring, small-ball forwards for the Celtics' mid-level. They have been linked to Danillo Gallinari and T.J. Warren, among others. Gallinari is also expected to draw interest from Miami should it lose P.J. Tucker.
Philly Exploring Trade Possibilities?
Philadelphia continues to be mentioned as the leader to land Tucker on a widely-discussed deal that could reach as high as three years and $30 million. In addition to James Harden sacrificing some annual dollars, it's believed the Sixers are still exploring various trade options to free financial flexibility, as well as upgrade their roster with premium veteran talent. The two teams most often mentioned as Matisse Thybulle suitors have been Portland and Dallas.
Clippers Names on the Move
With John Wall likely heading to the Clippers at the taxpayer mid-level, that could leave Isaiah Hartenstein with more lucrative offers, like the non-taxpayer mid-level from Chicago. The Bulls have been linked to various rim-protecting centers, but Chicago is expected to preserve room and not offer the full $10.1 million.
And while Hartenstein has been increasingly linked to the Magic, the 24-year-old could theoretically stick around with Los Angeles on the cheap and be rewarded later. Nicolas Batum, for example, is believed to be headed towards a three-year, $30 million deal to stay with the Clippers.
Mo Bamba's Market
Mo Bamba appears to have interest from the Bulls and Raptors, among other teams in search of rim protection. After Paolo Banchero's selection at No. 1, there's also motivation on both sides for Bamba and the Magic to agree to terms on a new deal, sources said.
Latest on Cavs Backcourt Targets
League figures have long indicated a possible return of Ricky Rubio to Cleveland. Collin Sexton could feasibly return to the Cavaliers as well. But while Sexton is believed to covet upwards of $20 million on the open market, Cleveland presented a deal closer to Jordan Clarkson's three-year, $51 million back during early extension conversations, sources told B/R.
- Bobby Portis seems destined to return to Milwaukee on a four-year deal north of $40 million.
- Rivals believe Nic Claxton will return to Brooklyn around the full mid-level.
- Oklahoma City is still looking to absorb salary for draft picks before the new league calendar begins, sources said.
- Lonnie Walker, sources said, is not expected to return to the Spurs.