NBA free agency live updates (2024)

NBA free agency's first week is now over. Here's the latest on everything that happened.

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Shams Charania, John Hollinger and more

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The Athletic NBA Staff

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The dust is beginning to settle on the first week of the NBA offseason. Here were the big items:

  • LeBron James agreed to a two-year maximum contract with the Lakers, with a player option and no trade clause.
  • Paul George is leaving LA to go to the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • Klay Thompson is ending his 13-year Warriors tenure to sign with the Dallas Mavericks. Here's why he chose Dallas.
  • Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers agreed on a 3-year, $150.3 million extension. It's a huge win for Cleveland.
  • DeMar DeRozan will join the Kings in a sign-and-trade deal.
  • The Boston Celtics are for sale.
  • Chris Paul will sign with the San Antonio Spurs, where he'll pair with Victor Wembanyama.

Here are John Hollinger's winners and losers so far.

July 8, 2024 at 2:54 PM EDTLaw Murray·Staff Writer, Clippers

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Paul George confirms he was close to being traded to Warriors

Despite Paul George being happy about going to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he will wear number 8 as a tribute to late Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, George confirmed that he was interested in a possible opt in and trade to the Golden State Warriors. The Clippers acknowledged in a statement following the parting of ways with George that they "explored an opt-in and trade scenario, but it would have left us in a similar position under the new CBA, with very little asset value to justify the restrictions."

George opting out of his deal canceled Golden State's chances of landing him, but George was interested in potentially joining four-time champions Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

"That was a real thing that was close to being done," George said on his podcast of a possible trade to Golden State. "It was very intriguing and it was still an opportunity to stay close to home, stay on the West Coast, and it was a win-win. I think Steph (Curry) is a unicorn, one of one player, and Joel (Embiid's) a unicorn… So it was kind of like a good situation to be in the middle of, but ultimately the deal didn't go through. I think the Clippers didn't want a certain trade deal that the Warriors were willing to give … but it was close. It’d been dope, man."

Read more of what George said on his podcast here.

GO FURTHERPaul George dishes on ‘disrespectful’ year of Clippers negotiations, allure to 76ers

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July 8, 2024 at 2:30 PM EDTZach Harper·Staff Writer, NBA

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In defense of the Kings' DeMar DeRozan move

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I’ve seen plenty of people questioning why the Kings would do a sign-and-trade for DeMar DeRozan when it doesn't make them contenders. They might ask: "What does this deal actually accomplish?"

These are the things I'd remind people:

  • The West is running roughly 13 teams deep next season. I'm assuming Portland and Utah won't be competitive, and I'm giving Victor Wembanyama the benefit of the doubt for the rest of time.
  • Oklahoma City, Dallas, Golden State and New Orleans got better. Denver and the Clippers might've gotten worse, but one has Nikola Jokić and the other added depth in the departure of a star.
  • The Lakers, Minnesota and Phoenix are all in the same area as last year, and that area was better than Sacramento. Houston and Memphis will be back, too.
  • The Kings also got better here! And isn’t that the point of offseason moves?

The Kings were the No. 3 seed in 2022-23 with a 48-34 record and snapped the longest playoff drought in NBA history (16 seasons). They got bounced in the first round after Steph Curry had a 50-point Game 7. This past season, the Kings went 46-36 (almost the exact same record), finished ninth in the West, won a Play-In Tournament game to end the Warriors' season and then lost to New Orleans with a chance for the No. 8 seed. What changed between those two seasons? The West was just crazy good! Two fewer wins wasn’t some indictment of a Kings team that dealt with injuries at the end of last season. The issue was the West just got better, so the Kings decided they needed to get better, too.

They’ll have the improvement of 23-year-old Keegan Murray in his third season, as well as three elite playmakers with DeRozan, De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis in the mix. Sacramento should have enough shooting on the roster to balance out playing Sabonis and DeRozan together. And most importantly, again, they got better!

Sign up to receive The Bounce, The Athletic's NBA newsletter.

GO FURTHERWhy the Kings swung for a big name to wrap NBA free agency. Plus, 5 pre-Olympic takes

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DeMar DeRozan — and Bulls fans — both deserved better from the organization

Three seasons and one playoff appearance do not constitute an era, but there's no arguing that DeMar DeRozan was a wonderful player for the Chicago Bulls.

He made two All-Star teams, averaged 25.5 points on 49.6 percent shooting and played in all but 17 games over three seasons. He was basically Jimmy Butler without the defense and the drama.

DeRozan was a star, a mentor, a leader and in a more competent organization, a consistent winner. He helped the Bulls out of the rebuilding muck and into the bottom tier of respectability.

Mostly, he made Bulls basketball fun again. On some nights, anyway.

Everything is past tense because DeRozan is gone now, joining Alex Caruso as beloved ex-Bulls off to hopefully greener pastures in the Western Conference.

They both deserved better from the Bulls. So do Bulls fans.

Read the rest of my column here.

GO FURTHERDeMar DeRozan was a great player on forgettable Bulls teams and that’s his legacy here
July 8, 2024 at 1:40 PM EDTDavid Aldridge·Senior Columnist, NBA

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Haywood Highsmith returning to Heat

A league source confirms free-agent forward Haywood Highsmith has signed a two-year, $11 million deal to return to the Miami Heat. The deal is fully guaranteed and does not include any options.

July 8, 2024 at 1:15 PM EDTEric Koreen·Staff Writer, Raptors

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Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri was asked about the status of Sasha Vezenkov, who was acquired in a draft-day trade with the Sacramento Kings. Ujiri said many words that can be summed up with "We'll see."

There have been reports from overseas that Vezenkov has agreed to play for Olympiacos, but he is under contract in the NBA (and has a team option for next year). So, we'll see.

My read on this: Vezenkov can't sign another contract to play for another team, obviously. More to the point, his salary ($6.7 million next season and a team option for just under $7 million in 2025-26) could be very useful in trades. Unless Vezenkov wants to give. like, all of his money back, there isn't much incentive for Raps to "buy him out."

July 8, 2024 at 1:03 PM EDTMike Vorkunov·Staff Writer, NBA and Basketball Business writer

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Nets GM explains why team traded Mikal Bridges

The Brooklyn Nets are in a rebuild, and Nets general manager Sean Marks talked Monday about the new way forward for the organization. While he delicately stepped around a question about whether the franchise had tried to trade for a star alongside Mikal Bridges last season, Marks said the deal the Knicks offered was simply good to pass up. Bridges, Marks said, did not ask for a trade.

"This pathway affords us the ability for, really, that sustainable success we talked about," Marks said. "An offer like this from a team — we're not going to turn that down."

Brooklyn got five future first round picks (four from New York, one from Milwaukee) and one pick swap from the Knicks in the deal that sent Bridges across the Brooklyn Bridge. It gives the Nets the draft assets to be the biggest mover in the trade market east of Oklahoma City, even if it may come amid a rather dull 2024-25 season. The 2025 draft is expected to be loads better than the 2024 class and the Nets could have a high pick there, along with future picks from the Knicks, Bucks, 76ers and Suns.

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July 8, 2024 at 11:52 AM EDTKelly Iko·Staff Writer

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Free agent center Daniel Theis will sign a one-year, $3 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources tell The Athletic.

Theis played a combined 60 games last season with the Pacers and Clippers, averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds.

July 8, 2024 at 11:49 AM EDTLaw Murray·Staff Writer, Clippers

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Paul George says Clippers' in-season contract extension offer was 'disrespectful'

New Philadelphia 76ers star Paul George said a "disrespectful" initial contract offer and the lack of a no-trade clause were among the reasons he left his hometown LA Clippers after five seasons.

George, who signed a four-year, $212 million contract to join the 76ers last week, said the Clippers initially offered him two years and $60 million last fall during in-season negotiations that he eventually tabled in February.

"I'm like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," George said on his podcast, "Podcast P." "Two years, 60? That's crazy! I'm not signing that."

When negotiations resumed after the season, George wanted a no-trade clause to go with a 3-year, $150 million offer from the Clippers. But he said LA didn't want to include a no-trade clause or a fourth season on the deal, leading to his decision to team up with NBA MVP center Joel Embiid and 2024 Most Improved Player recipient Tyrese Maxey in Philadelphia.

The NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, which introduced the heavily punitive second apron, played a large role in the Clippers offers, the team said in a statement. LA signed Leonard to a three-year, $153 million contract extension in January, and re-signed James Harden — who they acquired in a November trade with the 76ers — to a two-year, $70 million deal at the start of free agency last week.

George said he was interested in a similar deal to Leonard's, but says the Clippers offered less to George before he tabled negotiations in February until the offseason.

"We came here together, we want to finish this s— together. I’ll take what Kawhi got, I was cool with that and we were still taking less. Kawhi took less, so if Kawhi takes less, I'm not going," he said.

"It's not about me being paid more than him. 'I'm going to take what he got.' They didn't want to do that … Let me get to the end of this year and we'll discuss this again."

Read more here.

July 8, 2024 at 11:30 AM EDTWilliam Guillory·Staff Writer, Pelicans

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Hawks weren't interested in Brandon Ingram: Sources

New Orleans made a big trade before the start of free agency by acquiring Dejounte Murray from the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks were one of the main teams linked with the Pelicans in Brandon Ingram trade rumors since the end of the season for two reasons. First, Ingram made sense as a potential Murray replacement next to Trae Young. Secondly, the Hawks seemed motivated to break up the Murray/Young backcourt and featured several centers who could alleviate the Pels' needs up front with Jonas Valančiūnas leaving in free agency.

As it turned out, Atlanta didn’t have much interest in giving Ingram his next contract or moving either of its top two centers (Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu), according to league sources.

So the Pelicans nabbed a new starting point guard — a priority going into the offseason — without giving up any substantial present talent in return. But including Larry Nance Jr. and Cody Zeller in that deal made the need for a center (or two) to complement Zion Williamson even more prominent and the questions about Ingram's future even tougher to answer.

Read my roundup of the Pelicans' current Ingram dilemma here.

GO FURTHERWith trade options dwindling, can Pelicans find a Brandon Ingram solution that makes sense?
July 8, 2024 at 11:00 AM EDTFred Katz·Staff Writer, Knicks

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Knicks' Jalen Brunson could sign contract extension this summer: Sources

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Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

On July 12, exactly two years after Jalen Brunson first signed in New York, the Knicks can offer their All-Star point guard a long-term extension. Because of rules in the collective bargaining agreement, the deal would not be as lucrative as one he could receive if he were to wait until 2025 free agency to re-sign. Thus, the original assumption was that Brunson, the franchise's cornerstone, would wait until next summer to re-up with the only organization for which he wants to play.

Of course, you know what they say about assumptions …

There is a world where, instead of gunning for a max contract, Brunson signs the extension for cheaper than his market value.

Since the Knicks' season ended with a Game 7, second-round loss to the Indiana Pacers, Brunson has mulled over whether he should wait until free agency for the bigger contract or take the money now. The Knicks can't make their official offer until Friday, but he knows it's coming. And to this point, according to a league source, signing the extension is still under consideration.

If Brunson were to take it, cementing a deal that would promise him nine figures less than one he could receive as a free agent a year from now, it would do wonders for the Knicks — and not because it places extra dollars in James Dolan’s pockets.

Read more here.

GO FURTHERKnicks’ Jalen Brunson is eligible for an extension, but should he re-sign now or wait?
July 8, 2024 at 10:32 AM EDTSam Amick·Senior Writer, NBA

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Steph Curry elaborates on phone call to say goodbye to Klay Thompson

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LAS VEGAS — Of course, there were tears.

This was Steph Curry on the phone with Klay Thompson, the legendary "Splash Brothers" connecting one last time as Golden State Warriors teammates and the best backcourt the game had ever seen, for a 15-minute discussion about their divergent paths that neither envisioned nor wanted. It was June 28, one day before the official start of NBA free agency, and No. 11 dialed No. 30 to let him know that it was over.

"It's one of those things where you never think you’d ever have that conversation," Curry told The Athletic on Sunday while at Team USA training camp. "Even to the 11th hour, when I knew all the signs were pointing towards (Thompson and the Warriors) not finding a resolution on the contract, you're thinking, 'Maybe it'll be one of those things where he'd come out and say, 'Oh, we got it done.'

So with everything you two have been through together, and done together, what was that goodbye like?

"I haven't seen him in person (since his decision), so there hasn't been the official send-off that our history and our experience deserves. I'll be on this (Olympics journey with Team USA) for the next six weeks, but I hope that before he's over in Dallas that there's a time when we can just sit down and chop it up and reminisce on all the good times. I definitely want to leave on a great note. There's no bitterness. There's no ill will or anything. I just want him to be happy and have a good time playing basketball like he deserves. That's why right now, still, like I know it's real and I know we're moving on, but there are still more steps to take.

(The phone call) was more so just me making sure that he knew (how I felt). I didn't want him carrying any weight of (him thinking I believed) he was making a bad decision or a wrong decision, or whatever the case was, because it was his decision. It's a matter of him feeling like he's doing what's in the best interest of him and getting a fresh start that he needed. I just pray it works out, and that he, again, just has fun playing basketball, because he'd had a rough two years."

Read the rest of my conversation with Curry.

GO FURTHERSteph Curry opens up on Klay Thompson’s difficult Warriors departure: ‘I just want him to be happy’

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July 8, 2024 at 9:20 AM EDTShams Charania·Senior Insider, NBA

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Kings rookie Devin Carter to undergo shoulder surgery: Sources

Sacramento Kings No. 13 pick Devin Carter is expected to undergo left shoulder surgery next week, league sources tell The Athletic. Carter's status at the start of next season is in question, but he is fully expected to make a full recovery with no long-term issues.

The Kings acquired DeMar DeRozan and reached a deal with point guard Jordan McLaughlin to shore up the backcourt in recent days. Sacramento dealt with a similar shoulder procedure for Kevin Huerter near the end of last season, and timelines can vary based on rehab and recovery.

July 7, 2024 at 3:00 PM EDTLaw Murray·Staff Writer, Clippers

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Paul George pays tribute to Kobe Bryant with new number

Paul George announced on his podcast that his new number with the Philadelphia 76ers will be No. 8. George began his NBA career with the Indiana Pacers wearing 24 as a Kobe Bryant tribute before changing it to No. 13 a decade ago, a nod to the Motion Picture Association film rating system. George kept 13 after joining the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017 and the LA Clippers in 2019.

But with 13 (Wilt Chamberlain) and 24 (Bobby Jones) both retired by the 76ers, George is going back to a Kobe Bryant tribute by wearing Bryant's original number in the area where Bryant grew up.

July 7, 2024 at 2:30 PM EDTJohn Hollinger·Senior Writer, NBA

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Why Spurs snuck into DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade

The Spurs had to include a second-round pick in a separate trade with Charlotte just to pull this off, dumping Devonte' Graham’s partial guarantee so they could fit Harrison Barnes into their cap sheet. San Antonio received a potentially valuable swap in 2031, but it's six years away and might end up not worth anything. For the Spurs, this is basically a bet on Victor Wembanyama being both awesome and healthy, and the Kings being the Kangz.

The Spurs also smartly parked this swap in 2031 — they already have two swaps in 2030, an unfortunate circ*mstance of Minnesota having nothing else to trade them on draft night, and additional swaps have diminishing value because you can only swap your own draft pick once.

San Antonio may also be able to double-dip on this trade later if it can get a good year out of Barnes, who tailed off in 2023-24 but is 32 and shoots 37.9 percent career from 3. (This is notable since the Spurs actually started attempting 3s last year; they just couldn't make any.) Twelve months from now, one season of Barnes at $19 million (if he waives his trade kicker) might look like a different value proposition.

Still, taking on a pick swap to take on undesired money is one way to play the cap room game … but the Spurs also could have signed a player into that room. Even if it was a veteran, the Spurs could potentially have reaped much more than a pick swap by signing a player and trading him later.

Of course, that route is filled with unknowns, and the Barnes trade is a known. Other teams in their position have had trouble using cap space effectively this summer (witness the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz); the Spurs, if nothing else, gave themselves home-run upside with the unprotected swap.

Read the rest of my analysis here.

GO FURTHERKings’ DeMar DeRozan trade adds up, but don’t expect rings soon
July 7, 2024 at 2:00 PM EDTJoe Vardon·Senior Writer, NBA

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Steve Kerr on Klay Thompson's departure: 'Sometimes in life, we all need a shift'

It became clear early in free agency that Klay Thompson and the Warriors would not find a path to a new contract that would keep him in the Bay, something Steve Kerr said hasn't "hit" him yet.

"These things rarely go like you want…where everybody goes out together," Kerr said Saturday during a group interview following Team USA's first practice in Las Vegas. "We were hoping that could happen, but it didn't. And, we wish Klay well, but we love him."

Kerr said he spoke with Thompson as the player and team were splitting, and Thompson gave Kerr a "really good description of his frame of mind."

"I completely understand," Kerr said. "Sometimes in life, we all need a shift, just a fresh start, whatever it is, no matter what profession. Sometimes you just need a change. I think that's it, that's the easiest way to describe why Klay is leaving."

Read more here.

GO FURTHERSteve Kerr thanks Klay Thompson for ‘10 incredible years,’ says ex-Warrior needed ‘a shift’
July 7, 2024 at 1:30 PM EDTJohn Hollinger·Senior Writer, NBA

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Bulls took too long to pivot to rebuild, but at least they did it

For Chicago, the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade is too little, too late. The Bulls could have received much more for DeRozan had they not waited until he became a free agent, or if they had positioned themselves to receive toxic money themselves instead of having the Spurs get paid to do it. Alas, the chase for the elusive eighth seed proved too magnetic for them to resist. Chicago missed its moment to max out the return on its veterans and now must settle for scraps.

At least give the Bulls credit for their belated pivot to a youth movement, having moved on from DeRozan and Alex Caruso. Surely Nikola Vučević and Zach LaVine will be next the instant another team signifies any willingness whatsoever to take on their contracts without being paid in draft picks to do it.

Chicago’s roster now has youth up and down: Coby White, Josh Giddey, Ayo Dosunmu, a re-signed Patrick Williams (yay?), free-agent pickup Jalen Smith and rookie lottery pick Matas Buzelis. Perhaps more importantly, this shift let the Bulls greatly increase their chances of keeping a top-10 protected 2025 first-round pick that is otherwise owed to the Spurs, with a commensurate increase in their odds of landing one of the top spots in a highly anticipated 2025 lottery featuring a loaded draft class.

Chicago will receive two seconds for eating the $5.8 million left on Chris Duarte’s deal and will generate an exception worth the difference between DeRozan’s salary and Duarte’s — likely about $17.7 million. One pedantic side note: Chicago could have included Torrey Craig in this trade and increased its trade exception by another $5.8 million; in the Bulls’ situation, that would strike me as more valuable than another season of Craig, so I'm a bit bewildered they didn't do it.

Read the rest of my analysis here.

GO FURTHERKings’ DeMar DeRozan trade adds up, but don’t expect rings soon

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July 7, 2024 at 1:15 PM EDTAnthony Slater·Senior Writer, Warriors

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De'Aaron Fox actively recruited DeMar DeRozan to Kings: Sources

Before agreeing to a deal with the Kings, even with the sign-and-trade teams in place, DeMar DeRozan wanted to visit the city and facility. Assistant coach Jay Triano brought him in late Saturday morning, and DeRozan spent much of the day hanging out with head coach Mike Brown, assistant coach Luke Loucks and Triano. They toured the practice gym, weight room and arena. They chatted basketball.

DeRozan watched De'Aaron Fox go through one of his offseason workouts with Loucks, then Fox and DeRozan went to lunch. Fox was a crucial part of the recruitment process, league sources said, and an advocate of the move. That’s an important note considering Fox's own contract situation. He has two seasons left on his current deal but has opted not to sign an extension this summer (as The Athletic reported), in part, because he’d like to see how the roster and future take shape.

DeRozan enjoyed his visit enough to agree to the deal later in the day.

Read more here.

GO FURTHERKings lock down DeMar DeRozan after in-person recruitment and touch of familiarity
July 7, 2024 at 1:00 PM EDTDarnell Mayberry·Senior Writer, Bulls

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DeMar DeRozan's departure gives Bulls a chance to move forward

DeMar DeRozan's professionalism might have been all that topped his durability and fourth-quarter dominance the past three seasons in Chicago. He brought leadership to the Bulls as a legend many of his teammates watched as they were growing up. In January 2021, DeRozan drove to then-rookie Ayo Dosummu's jersey retirement at the University of Illinois. DeRozan also graciously and giddily invited younger teammates like Patrick Williams and Dalen Terry to work out with him each summer.

Meanwhile, the sentiment in Chicago could be described as one of relief. Had the Bulls re-signed DeRozan, who repeatedly expressed his desire to return, it would have represented a safe route toward respectability. Chicago could have been penciled in for 40 wins and a third straight season in the Play-in Tournament. Bulls chief basketball executive Artūras Karnišovas promised changes to a roster that had maxed out, and DeRozan's seven-day wait carried critical questions for the Bulls' direction.

When the Bulls traded Alex Caruso to the Thunder the week before the NBA Draft, DeRozan's fate was sealed. Chicago chose to chart a new course by acquiring 21-year-old point guard Josh Giddey, the sixth pick in the 2021 draft. Chris Duarte, the 6-foot-6 swingman with 3-and-D potential who heads to the Bulls from the Kings, was the 13th selection that year.

After the Bulls agreed to sign Williams to a five-year, $90 million contract on the eve of free agency, DeRozan would have had to take a massive pay cut to remain in Chicago — where he'd be playing on a rebuilding team. The deal gives the Bulls a chance to reset while allowing DeRozan a chance to return to deep playoff contention.

Read more here.

GO FURTHERBulls close book on DeMar DeRozan era, acquire Chris Duarte in sign-and-trade deal
July 7, 2024 at 12:30 PM EDTAnthony Slater·Senior Writer, Warriors

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Kings pivoted to DeMar DeRozan after Jazz rejected Lauri Markkanen trade offer: Sources

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Alex Goodlett / Getty Images

The Kings went hard after the Utah Jazz's Lauri Markkanen earlier in the week, protecting Keegan Murray in the discussions but putting on the table what they believe was a substantial enough picks-based offer, team sources said. But they put a deadline to their side of the deal, needing an answer quickly considering the urgency of the dissolving market.

Utah didn't meet it. There's growing skepticism leaguewide that Jazz executive Danny Ainge will actually move on any Markkanen deal.

So the Kings pivoted quickly to DeRozan, getting wind he'd actually have interest and then hitting the gas pedal. They had several veteran players and assistant coach Leandro Barbosa, who played two seasons with DeRozan in Toronto, call and give their pitch.

In the meantime, considering their salary-cap constraints, the Kings front office had to map a creative path to make it work. DeRozan was searching for more than $20 million per season, and the Bulls weren't interested in taking much money back in a sign-and-trade. So they found the San Antonio Spurs, flexible financially and interested in adding a veteran wing like Harrison Barnes as they look to surround Victor Wembanyama with more professionals in his second season.

But San Antonio had a price. To close the deal, the Kings had to give up an unprotected 2031 first-round pick swap, according to ESPN, a risky move considering the expected rise of Wembanyama. But Sacramento has been thirsty to upgrade in the present after finishing on the outside of so many recent deals. The Kings also sent Chris Duarte and two second-rounders to Chicago, allowing them to give DeRozan a three-year, $74 million deal, league sources said. The third season is partially guaranteed.

Read more here.

GO FURTHERKings lock down DeMar DeRozan after in-person recruitment and touch of familiarity

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