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NBA free agency is upon us. And, just a few hours in, it is already absolutely insane. Heck, even before it officially began, it was off the rails. Earth-shaking trades have gone down. Rumors are flying. Meetings are happening. Tampering has undoubtedly occurred, and has been customarily ignored. Some agreements are in place. Others are close.
To help you keep track of it all, we’ll be documenting and analyzing the biggest stories of each day until the chaos subsides. We’ll have everything from the Paul George trades to the Cristiano Felicio signings, from the Blake Griffin contract to the latest J.J. Redick reports, and much, much more. And we’ll dole out quick-hitting analysis and grades on all the significant moves.
Here’s what occurred on Friday night, which bled into Saturday morning and into the official opening of free agency’s doors:
GRADING FRIDAY’S DEALS
Pacers trade Paul George to Thunder: This was stunning. Completely stunning. And it’s a coup for Sam Presti and Oklahoma City. At best, a modest package of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis yields a dynamic duo of Paul George and Russell Westbrook for years to come. At worst, George walks after next season, and it turns into a cheeky, even if expensive, salary dump — Oladipo is in the first year of a four-year, $84 million contract; he makes more than George.
From Indy’s perspective, it’s puzzling. Completely puzzling. Surely the Pacers had better offers on the table, or had had better offers tossed their way in the past. At the very least, they could have held out for a more enticing package from Boston in a week. If, as some have suggested, Indiana took a lesser package to get George out of the Eastern Conference, that is mind-numbingly stupid.
Oklahoma City grade: B+ Indiana Grade: D-
Blake Griffin re-signs with Clippers: Griffin had meetings scheduled with the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets. He planned to explore his options. Then he reportedly walked down memory lane, “into a Blake Griffin museum.” When he exited his conference with Doc Rivers, Jerry West and Clippers brass, he cancelled the other meetings and signed with L.A. for five years and $173 million.
That’s right: the Clippers gave a five-year max contract to a player who hasn’t played 70 games in a season since 2013-14, and who hasn’t been an All-Star since 2014-15. Griffin is a top-15 player in the NBA when healthy, and maybe he burgeons into more now that he’s out from under Chris Paul’s shadow. But the numbers don’t necessarily back up that line of thinking, nor does his injury history.
The Clippers, in the end, had to do this to stay relevant. But that doesn’t mean it’s a smart basketball move. Nor does it vault the Clippers into contention for anything more than a second-round playoff exit.
Clippers grade: C+
Steph Curry re-signs with Warriors: As expected, the Golden State Warriors gave Curry the “super-max” Designated Veteran Player Extension — five years, $201 million. He’s now the highest-paid NBA player ever, and he has the highest annual salary in the history of major American professional sports.
Warriors grade: A+ Curry grade: A+
Wolves trade Ricky Rubio to Jazz: At the 11th hour, the Utah Jazz, seemingly resigned to losing starting point guard George Hill, took Rubio into their soon-to-expire cap space at the price of a lottery-protected 2018 first-round draft pick. The Minnesota Timberwolves, who have been looking to move its Spanish point guard for some time, got the pick, plus more cap room to spend on Rubio’s replacement (whom they locked down in the early moments of free agency on Saturday morning).
The value of the deal for both sides depends (or depended) on subsequent moves. If Rubio is enough to lure Gordon Hayward back to Utah, this is an A+. If not, it’s a C at best. The Wolves needed to find a significant upgrade, such as Toronto Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry, if the trade was to ultimately pay off for them. They didn’t get Lowry.
Minnesota Grade: B- Utah Grade: C+
Jeff Teague signs with Minnesota: The Wolves think they’ve upgraded by importing the former Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers point guard. That’s debatable. What they probably have done is found a slightly better fit to partner with wings Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins. But the extent to which that fit is better is also debatable.
Maybe Minnesota did its due diligence and heard that Lowry wasn’t going to be available. It feels like they should have made a stronger push, though.
Minnesota Grade: B-
Patty Mills re-signs with Spurs: With point guard demand low and supply relatively high, Mills always seemed likely to re-up in San Antonio. That’s exactly what he did, agreeing to a four-year, $50 million deal to stay put. It’s a decent price for the Spurs, and clearly a good fit for both parties.
San Antonio Grade: B+
Shaun Livingston re-signs with Warriors: The Warriors and Livingston moved unexpectedly quickly here, agreeing to a three-year, $24 million deal that’s reportedly only partially guaranteed in the final season. By acting fast, the defending champs were able to lock up one of their two key bench pieces. But the more important one is still testing the waters …
Golden State Grade: B
Bulls waive Rajon Rondo: This was not entirely surprising, and not entirely consequential. Rondo is now a free agent. The Chicago Bulls are plummeting toward the league’s cellar. As has been the case since Chicago sent Butler to the Wolves at the 2017 NBA draft, veteran star Dwyane Wade (set to earn $23.8 million next season on a team embarking on a rebuild) has seemed like a logical buyout candidate. For now, though, the Bulls seem committed to keeping him around.
Chicago Grade: N/A
FRIDAY’S RUMORS AND REPORTS
Wizards offer John Wall extension: As anticipated, Washington is dangling a four-year, $168 million super-max offer in front of its franchise centerpiece. As anticipated, Wall will mull it over while the Wizards try to improve a roster that came one win short of the Eastern Conference finals.
Paul Millsap’s top suitors … are reportedly the Denver Nuggets and Wolves, with the Suns and Sacramento Kings also in play. The Wolves would have to engage in some salary-cap gymnastics to make space for the All-Star power forward.
Could Andre Iguodala really leave Golden State? — He reportedly has no plans to meet with the Warriors. He is meeting with the Spurs. And the Kings. And the Rockets. He has talked with the Lakers. This could get interesting.
If Iggy does leave the Bay Area? According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Warriors’ backup plan is Rudy Gay.
The Wizards and Otto Porter met … but adjourned without an agreement in place, and the forward will visit with other teams over the weekend. Porter is a restricted free agent, though, so the Wizards can (and say they will) match whatever offer he gets — and he will likely get the max.
What’s the market for J.J. Redick?: The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets have been established as suitors, and Redick reportedly met with Philadelphia soon after midnight. But Redick is also reportedly interested in joining the Rockets, and partnering back up with former Clippers running buddy Chris Paul. That, however, would require some Daryl Morey wizardry or a willingness on Redick’s part to take a below-market contract.
LOOKING AHEAD TO SATURDAY
Jrue Holiday and New Orleans: The Pelicans are in a lose-lose situation. Paying Holiday around $25 million per year is probably not a good idea. But as detailed in our Northwest Division free-agent shopping list, letting him walk, and being left with only around $13 million in cap space to build around DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, is definitely not a good idea. The expectation is that New Orleans will therefore be forced to pony up for Holiday. Will that get done before other teams come knocking? Holiday reportedly met with New Orleans late Friday night and left with a big offer. However, according to another report, he’s also considering Indiana.
(UPDATE: Holiday agreed to a five-year, $126 million deal with the Pelicans early Saturday morning. Grades to come in our Saturday roundup)
Which point guard signs next?: Will it be Holiday? (Update: yes) Who will follow Teague and jump at an offer? Lowry is the obvious candidate, but it’s unclear what the market for him is. Toronto has been awfully quiet.
Hill is another candidate. According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Hill ended discussions with the Spurs, who re-signed Patty Mills, but has also spoken with the Nuggets and New York Knicks.
Russell Westbrook’s extension: Oklahoma City will almost undoubtedly offer him a five-year, $200 million extension similar to Curry’s. They probably already have. With the George trade done, is Westbrook all-in for the long haul? Or will he take his time and sit on the decision?
TOP 10 BEST AVAILABLE (via The Vertical’s Fab 50 Free Agents)
1. Kevin Durant, SF
2. Gordon Hayward, SF
3. Paul Millsap, PF
4. Kyle Lowry, PG
5. Serge Ibaka, PF/C
6. George Hill, PG
7. Jrue Holiday, PG
8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
9. Otto Porter, SF
10. Andre Iguodala, SF
More NBA free agency from Yahoo Sports:
• Dan Wetzel: Confusion and disbelief over the Paul George trade
• Steph Curry’s salary now the highest in U.S. sports
• Why the Pelicans gave Jrue Holiday such a lucrative deal
• Free agency tracker: Follow every move live