It’s still very early in NBA free agency, but players are already committing to sign contracts with teams — some old, some new. Some of these deals make a lot of sense, while others are headscratchers, even with many of the offseason dominoes yet to fall.
Here are five of the best and worst deals of free agency in the NBA so far — and remember, none of these contracts can become official until July 6, so things are subject to change.
5) Nuggets to sign Will Barton to four-year, $54 million deal
Keeping their core intact is a big deal for the Nuggets, who are also set to ink Nikola Jokic long-term in the week ahead as well. It’s a great deal for Barton, who gets a lot of guaranteed money, and the Nuggets get to keep a player who became very valuable to them. He’s a 37 percent three-point shooter and a threat on the perimeter coveted by many teams. It’s a deal that works for both sides.
4) Bucks to sign Ersan Ilyasova to three-year, $21 million deal
Ilyasova knows Milwaukee well, and he does a lot of things that will help a team. He’s a competent defender who can stretch the floor and shoot from the perimeter, and the Sixers even employed him as a small-ball center at times, opening up a new possible route for his game. It’s not hard to envision him paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo in a smaller lineup causing some havoc. The three year deal is a risk for Milwaukee, but a big win for Ilyasova, who should fit in nicely and rather affordably in Milwaukee.
3) Nets to sign Ed Davis to one-year, $4.4 million deal
Davis seems perpetually underused and underpaid, and here he is again on a rather cheap deal, but one that could pay dividends for Brooklyn. Davis isn’t a starter, but he can come off the bench and grab you rebounds and score you some points in stretches. Players like that are very valuable, and it’s even better if you can get them on low-risk contracts such as this one. Worst-case scenario? He becomes a nice little trade chip in February.
2) Mavericks to sign DeAndre Jordan to one-year, $24 million deal
It’s a low-risk, high-reward move for both sides. The Mavericks aren’t contenders, but getting a year of Jordan ensures that they have a quality player that they’re not married to long-term if things don’t work out. Jordan gets a nice payday and the opportunity to rebuild some value. He’s still an offensive weapon, though some concerns began to arise about his defense last season. If he answers those, he could either opt to make his stay long-term or get one more big contract somewhere else next summer.
George isn’t just staying short-term either. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, George is signing a four-year, $137 million contract with a player option
OKC has well over $100 million tied up to George, Westbrook, Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony entering next season. Anthony will be completely overpaid, but at least the Thunder will be able to field a compelling team. And once Anthony’s contract expires, they will likely try to supplement their formidable core.
Oklahoma City’s big gamble last offseason appears to have paid off.
Paul George has committed to sign with the Thunder, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The news comes as no surprise considering that there were reports saying PG was in OKC for Russell Westbrook’s party and that the Thunder’s front office would be there too.
The Thunder took a risk last offseason by acquiring George from the Indiana Pacers despite his insistence that he would sign with the Lakers this summer. He apparently liked his time in OKC and feels he has unfinished business with Westbrook and his Thunder teammates.
I’m being told Paul George is on stage with Russell Westbrook at the party. “I’m here to stay,” George said. “We can bring it home.”
The Thunder are in a tough spot with the salary cap as they already had $81 million committed for the upcoming season before George. They will be deep in the luxury tax for the upcoming year, but they’ll be pleased to put a quality product on the court once again.
George is set to be a free agent, and he is said to be considering the Los Angeles Lakers and Thunder. If he attends a party thrown by Westbrook in OKC on the eve of free agency, that would be a strong indication that he will remain with the Thunder, which is something he has shown an openness towards.
Now the conflicting information comes from a poster advertising George’s anticipated presence at a charity event in Los Angeles on Saturday.
If you’re into basketball, tune into The Ace family’s YouTube channel at 8:30pm EST to watch JuJu ball out again people like Paul George aka PG13 In the charity basketball event! pic.twitter.com/Rgr5Jccsh2
The NBA is on fire right now, and it’s been undefeated since a for-the-ages 2017 offseason. In addition to a flurry of open-market transactions, a number of stars changed teams via trade, fundamentally shifting the league’s power dynamics.
Indiana shipped Paul George to Oklahoma City. The Clippers sent Chris Paul to Houston. Chicago traded disgruntled Jimmy Butler to Minnesota.
Which stars could be on the move this offseason? Here is our perspective on 10 who could change uniforms.
10. Markelle Fultz
The 2017 No. 1 overall pick had an up-and-down rookie season. After struggling with a shoulder injury and re-learning how to shoot (for a good breakdown of that strange situation, read this piece from PhillyVoice), he played in 14 games and showed glimpses of brilliance. He averaged 7.1 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.1 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game. The 20-year-old flashed the uncanny speed, change of pace, and athleticism that wowed draft scouts. His stock is low at the moment, but his upside is huge. He could be a central figure in Philly’s efforts to acquire Kawhi Leonard.
With Friday’s deadline looming, Paul George is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That does not, however, mean he has ruled out returning to the team next season.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that George has informed Thunder officials he will opt out, but the star swingman is “seriously interested” in re-signing with the team. George is also planning to strongly consider the Los Angeles Lakers.
While it seems like a two-horse race for George, Wojnarowski notes that the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets also have interest in him. George is eligible to sign a five-year, $176 million contract with the Thunder, but he may prefer a short-term deal that would allow him to opt out after next season. In 2020, George will have 10 years of service in the NBA and be eligible for a four-year, $169 million deal.
The Thunder knew they were taking a risk by trading for George last offseason, as the 28-year-old grew up in L.A. and told the Indiana Pacers he planned to sign with the Lakers during the 2018 offseason. However, some recent comments George made indicate he could be leaning toward remaining in OKC for at least another year.
Many have assumed for years that Paul George is destined to end up with the Los Angeles Lakers, and that could very well come to fruition this summer. But based on everything George has said to this point, Oklahoma City Thunder fans should not give up hope.
ESPN aired Part 1 of a three-part documentary series entitled “Paul George: My Journey” on Tuesday, and in it George made it clear that he intends to opt out of the final year of his contract. He also spoke very highly of the Thunder and their front office group, and at one point he indicated he feels inclined to reward them for taking a chance by trading for him.
“Here they have made a huge risk in trading for me, knowing I have one year on my deal,” George said, as transcribed by Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. “But I felt I didn’t finish as strong as I could have. Just knowing you left something on the table, even to this point now, it weighs on me.”
George did not make as big of an impact as expected in his first season with the Thunder, and his last game of the year was arguably his worst. George scored just five points on 2-of-16 shooting in a Game 6 playoff loss to the Utah Jazz, and OKC failed to advance past the first round for the second straight season.
George’s sister, Teiosha George, said the Thunder “really wowed us” when Paul arrived in Oklahoma City. George said he is considering a lot of factors in making his free agency decision, describing the process as “overwhelming.”
“It’s a lot of things that go into it — trying to find the right fit, what’s the best place for me to raise my kids,” he said. “A lot is playing into this, so it’s a bit overwhelming.”
It seems fairly obvious that George’s decision has come down to staying in OKC or signing with the Lakers. Perhaps he is waiting for the biggest story of the NBA offseason to unfold, as it could be the deciding factor in which team he chooses.
The Los Angeles Lakers may be the heavy gambling favorite to sign LeBron James this offseason, but it sounds like Paul George has the ability to change the odds in a big way.
Like LeBron, George has until Friday to decide if he will opt out of the final year of his contract. While it makes sense financially for him to go that route, there has been some talk that George could re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder on a short-term deal to see if things improve next season. According to one report, LeBron is a lot less likely to sign with the Lakers if George remains in OKC.
If LeBron opts out it means Cleveland actually has less competition for him. I’ve always thought the list of teams is a lot shorter than what’s reported. Talking to league sources, Paul George feels like the key to this. If George stays in OKC, I don’t see LeBron going to LA solo
LeBron may be ready to live the L.A. lifestyle full-time, but he’s at a point in his career where he probably doesn’t want to do that at the expense of contending for championships. If you add LeBron to the current Lakers and not much else, that hardly seems like enough to compete with the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets in the Western Conference.
The decision got a pretty strong reaction out of George, who took to Instagram just minutes later to shade the Pacers. The five time All-Star forward posted a screenshot of the news and wrote, “Wow and I was the bad guy huh?! In this business you do what’s right for YOU! #PacerLegend”
George and Stephenson entered the league together, having both been drafted by the Pacers in 2010. They were teammates in Indiana for a total of five seasons, which included multiple deep playoff runs with each other.
While often times volatile and unpredictable, the 27-year-old Stephenson had become a Pacers fan favorite over the years with his impassioned play and his dedication to the team. It looks like that ultimately got him nowhere though, and George, who had his own disagreements with Indiana, can empathize.
We’ve been hearing about potential Paul George-LeBron James alliances for quite a while now, but with free agency only weeks away, that possibility is looking less likely than ever.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, James’ camp is becoming increasingly pessimistic about the chances of playing with George, as optimism is growing in the Oklahoma City Thunder camp about their chances of retaining the star forward.
George is said to love the environment in Oklahoma City and has a good relationship with both coach Billy Donovan and star guard Russell Westbrook, making it seem less likely that he’ll want to leave.
George has fueled James-related speculation before, but it does sound like it’s growing unlikely that he’ll leave. If he does, the conventional wisdom would still favor the Los Angeles Lakers as the team with the best chance of prying him away.