Everything You Need to Know About Crazy Day 1 of 2015 NBA Free Agency

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 2, 2015

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Just as it does every year, NBA free-agency madness began at midnight.

While the world slept, free agents and front-office decision-makers met to discuss branding opportunities, how to use one another as leverage and, if the opportunity presented itself, basketball.

As day broke, the talks continued, yielding results that dramatically changed the league in a matter of hours.

There are many more deals to come, but before we get into what's already done and what's coming soon, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, it seems the rising salary cap has, for now, rendered bad contracts extinct.

Paying $15 million per year for a non-star feels crazy with the cap around $67 million, but those types of deals will be bargains in 2017 when the cap zooms past the $100 million mark.

So that's the first thing: We live in an age of salary-cap relativism. Get used to it.

Second thing: It's OK to be scared, disoriented and/or nauseous. If it feels like the room is spinning, it's only because we're all stuck in a free-agency hurricane. It'll all be over in a couple of weeks.

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Here's what's happened so far.

Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard to the Max

April 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23, center) shoots a layup against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23, left) and center Andrew Bogut (12) during the second half in game two of the first round of
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans boldly maxed out Anthony Davis, the guy whose age-21 season featured the highest-ever player efficiency rating by a player not named LeBron James, Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain. 

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports pegged the terms at five years and $145 million.

Damian Lillard is also nearing a max rookie extension with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, though his five-year contract is currently estimated to be worth $120-130 million because he hasn't yet triggered the Derrick Rose Rule that would allow him to make more than 25 percent of his team's total cap figure.

Lillard can get a raise of up to as much as 30 percent of the Blazers' cap if he makes an All-NBA team in the 2015-16 season.

Senior Editor/Power Forward Kevin Love Makes $110 Million

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 23:  Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 23, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

In an announcement posted on the Players' Tribune, senior editor Kevin Love revealed his plans to continue playing power forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. It's too early to tell if he'll have time to continue sussing out dangling participles and tightening up ledes in his other job.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst had the specifics:

Shortly beforehand, the Cavs pumped their power forward payroll up another $80 million by signing Tristan Thompson to a five-year deal.

Windhorst and Stein joined forces to break that news:

Then Wojnarowski tagged in, revealing Iman Shumpert's four-year, $40 million deal to return to Cleveland. That move pushed the Cavs' total financial commitments on Day 1 of free agency to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

As a whole, the league spent big, per Rob Mahoney's calculations:

Whoa.

San Antonio Spurs Reloading In Style

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28:  Head coach Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs confer as they play the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Five of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Gregg Popovich, negotiating mastermind, made sure his San Antonio Spurs wouldn't come off desperate in one of the most important offseasons in their recent history.

"I'm not calling anyone at midnight," he told the San Antonio Express-News. "I'll be in bed. And if that’s the difference in someone coming or not coming, then I don't want them.”

Genius, Gregg. That's how you play hard to get.

And it worked!

Kawhi Leonard quietly (of course) agreed in principle to a five-year, $90 million contract, per Wojnarowski, and then Danny Green decided to stay with the Spurs on a four-year extension worth just $45 million, as reported by ESPN's Chris Broussard.

It's hard to know which represents the better bargain. Leonard is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and a likely MVP candidate going forward. Green is arguably the best three-and-D wing on the market, and he signed a contract that would be an absolute steal if the cap weren't about to skyrocket.

Considering some of the big spending teams did on less-proven wings (we'll get to them), Green made a major sacrifice, as Tom Ziller of SB Nation noted:

Either Popovich played this exactly right, or there's something appealing about two decades of perfect culture and unparalleled success.

 

LaMarcus Aldridge Is and Isn't Impressed

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Spurs may not be done winning the offseason, as their free-agent presentation reportedly impressed LaMarcus Aldridge, while the Los Angeles Lakers' did not.

According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Aldridge "was actually turned off by the lack of analytics on the basketball side of their presentation." Bryant's involvement, which included him saying "he envisioned Aldridge working with him the same way Pau Gasol did," fell flat.

But as proof that you can't believe anything in free agency, we've got a report from David Aldridge directly conflicting with Bresnahan:

Aldridge has also met with the Blazers, Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns, and he'll meet with the New York Knicks before making a decision, per Sam Amick of USA Today.

Draymond Green Locks in With the Dubs

Go ahead and celebrate...again.
Go ahead and celebrate...again.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Wojnarowski reported early Wednesday that restricted free agent Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors couldn't agree on terms.

So much for that.

Green announced his return to the Dubs in an Uninterrupted video:

Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears had the details of the deal:

Lowe reported that the contract is for $82 million. But what's $3 million here or there, really?

Green made $900,000 last year, so he's got to be feeling pretty good. And the Warriors assured themselves their second-most important player will be around through his entire prime.

At five years and $82 million, Green's contract falls just short of the $93.1 million max the Warriors could have offered him, according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. Just as they did with Klay Thompson, the Warriors reeled in a max-quality player without quite reaching the max-payment threshold.

That's one way to ensure you're a contender for a very long time.

Jimmy Butler, Paul Millsap and Other Free Agents Staying Put

Apparently, the Bulls' unprecedented decision to offer the max qualifying offer paid off, and they'll now be paying Jimmy Butler $95 million over the next five years (Butler has a player option for the fifth), per Wojnarowski:

Though there was some speculation that Butler would take the $4.4 million one-year qualifying offer in order to hit unrestricted free agency next summer, it seems that extra guaranteed $90 million was too much to pass up.

He seems happy about staying home:

Paul Millsap also agreed to return to his team, coming to terms with the Atlanta Hawks on a three-year deal worth $59 million, according to Broussard. Here's a rundown of some other notables:

Notable Re-Signings
PlayerTeamContract
Goran DragicMiami Heat5 years, $90 million
Brandon KnightPhoenix Suns5 years, $70 million
Khris MiddletonMilwaukee Bucks5 years, $70 million
Brook LopezBrooklyn Nets3 years, $60 million
Omer AsikNew Orleans Pelicans5 years, $60 million
Thaddeus YoungBrooklyn Nets4 years, $50 million
Jae CrowderBoston Celtics5 years, $35 million
Mike DunleavyChicago Bulls3 years, $15 million
Kyle SinglerOklahoma City Thunder5 years, $25 million
Alexis AjincaNew Orleans Pelicans4 years, $20 million
Various sources

On-the-Move Crew

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

It's rapid-fire time for guys who'll be wearing different uniforms next year.

Tyson Chandler will play for the Suns, thanks to a four-year, $52 million pact, according to Stein.

DeMarre Carroll signed on with the Toronto Raptors for four years and $60 million, per Amick.

Al-Farouq Aminu agreed to terms with the Blazers on a four-year, $30 million contract, as reported by Wojnarowski.

Steal of the day alert: Brandan Wright inked a three-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies for just $18 million, reported Wojnarowski. Grantland's Zach Lowe thought it was a great move:

Amir Johnson joined the Boston Celtics for two years and $24 million, according to Wojnarowski. The second year of Johnson's contract is non-guaranteed, per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. Stay flexible, Celtics. Stay flexible.

Wojnarowski also reported that Tiago Splitter was traded to the Hawks in a cap-clearing move that could allow the Spurs more flexibility in their Aldridge pursuits. Atlanta gets a heck of a player for nothing in this exchange.

Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers Reunited

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Washington Wizards waves to fans as he leaves the court following the Wizards 94-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center on May 15, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Dan Woike of the Orange County Register broke the news that Paul Pierce, who opted out of the final year of his deal with the Washington Wizards, will sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. NBA.com's David Aldridge reported the terms of the three-year, $10 million contract—the taxpayer's mid-level exception.

Having sent Matt Barnes away while bringing in the volatile Lance Stephenson, the Clips needed a veteran on the wing who could knock down a shot. Pierce has been in the league since 1998, but he can still give the Clippers what they need—albeit in limited minutes.

The Kings Are Doing…Something

The Sacramento Kings cleared around $20 million in cap room by sending Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to some of Philly's draft-and-stash players overseas, according to Wojnarowski.

Lowe reported the deal also includes Sacramento sending Philly one future first-round pick and two first-round pick swaps.

What are the Kings going to do with all that cap room? It's anybody's guess.

Rajon Rondo? Wesley Matthews? Both?

Monta Ellis? Yeah, maybe him too, says Woj.

Never a dull moment with these Kings.

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors

Joe Skipper/Associated Press

We've hit the things that actually happened on the first day of free agency, but this period in the NBA offseason is as much about rumors as it is about consummated transactions.

What follow are the more intriguing suspicions, whispers and possibilities that floated to the surface on a wild day.

David West isn't interested in the New York Knicks because they are the New York Knicks, per Bob Kravitz of WTHR TV:

Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat are getting closer to ironing things out, per Wojnarowski:

Ellis and the Indiana Pacers might have a future together, according to Wojnarowski.

Greg Monroe could be Aldridge's replacement in Portland, per Wojnarowski:

Rodney Stuckey to the Washington Wizards, perhaps? J. Michael of CSN Washington reports it could happen:

Stein reports the Raptors and Mavericks are gunning for Matthews.

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.

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