Curry, George deals tip off free agency player moves
By Agence France-Presse
All-Star forward Paul George will join NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder while Stephen Curry has agreed to a rich new deal to stay with Golden State.
Those reported deals set the tone as NBA free agency dealmaking began Saturday, when the league announced each team’s salary cap was $99.093 million (86.7 million euros) for the 2017-18 season.
While clubs can make deals and negotiate terms, no contracts can be signed until Thursday under league free agency rules, leaving only reports of moves until things can be finalized.
Two-time NBA MVP Curry reached terms on what his agent told ESPN was a five-year deal worth $201 million, what would be the richest contract in NBA history.
Curry, who received a congratulatory tweet from Cleveland star LeBron James, had taken less money this season to help finance the talent around him, including NBAFinals MVP Kevin Durant, who helped lead the Warriors over Cleveland to win his first title.
Durant has opted out of his contract with the Warriors but is expected to re-sign once Golden State works out deals for other players, notably top reserves Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.
Livingston reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Warriors while Iguodala is set to meet with San Antonio and ESPN reported Golden State would look at free agent Rudy Gay if Iguodala goes elsewhere.
Durant left Oklahoma City a year ago for the Warriors and Westbrook last season became only the second player in NBA history to average a triple double of points, rebounds and assists for a full season. He had 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game.
Now Westbrook will welcome George, who had told the Indiana Pacers he would not stay beyond the end of his contract next season and had spoken of wanting to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pacers, according to ESPN, sent him to Oklahoma City for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis. That gave the Pacers something for losing George, when they would have received nothing had he stayed through next season and played out his contract.
– Griffin stays, Rubio to Utah –
The pressure now upon Oklahoma City is that Westbrook and George both are set to play next season in the final year of their contracts. While the Thunder have pitched a long-term deal to Westbrook, and now shown they are willing to bring in more talent to help build a winner, he might wait to see what George will do before deciding his own future.
Cleveland and Boston were among the clubs making pitches to try and land George, but the Pacers reportedly did not want to deal him to another Eastern Conference club.
The Celtics are expected to try and make a run at Utah’s Gordon Hayward.
Los Angeles Clippers standout Blake Griffin agreed to terms on a five-year deal worth $173 million to stay with the club, the Los Angeles Times and ESPN reported.
The Clippers saw star point guard Chris Paul leave Wednesday for the Houston Rockets after opting out of his contract, joining star guard James Harden to form one of the most formidable backcourts in the league.
Minnesota traded Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz for a 2018 first-round NBA Draft pick, which is likely to push George Hill to leave the Jazz.
The Timberwolves, according to multiple reports, reached a three-year deal worth $57 million with free agent point guard Jeff Teague, formerly of Indiana, to replace Rubio. Minnesota had already added swingman Jimmy Butler in a trade with Chicago.
San Antonio agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth $50 million for Australian reserve guard Patty Mills.
Another Aussie, center Andrew Bogut, is on the free agency market after suffering a broken left leg in his debut with Cleveland last season. He is expected to return to full workout activities by mid-July.