The National Basketball Association free agency period starts today, and already the winners and losers are clear before the bell rings for the official start of negotiations at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT.
The big winner is the Brooklyn Nets, who have reportedly signed superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, along with Durant buddy DeAndre Jordan. A playoff team last year, the Nets could be primed for a huge run once Durant spends the next season rehabbing his ruptured Achilles tendon, an injury suffered in the playoffs while with the Golden State Warriors.
Durant will sign a four-year, $164 million deal, while Irving will sign for four years and $141 million. Durant planned to make his formal announcement this afternoon on the Instagram account of The Boardroom, his company’s media network.
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Any deals agreed to must wait until July 6 to be formally signed and completed.
The most coveted free agent since LeBron James, Durant leaves money on the table by not returning o the Golden State Warriors. They could have offered him a five-year, $221 million deal. But Durant grew disenchanted with the team and was said to be angered at the Warriors medical team for allowing him to return from a calf injury that may have led to his Achilles problem, one of the most serious injuries a basketball player can suffer. Now, his future secure, he can rehab with one of the best basketball training staffs in the game.
The big remaining prize in the free agent marketplace is Kawhi Leonard, the forward who led the Toronto Raptors to this year’s NBA title. Leonard is meeting with four teams, with the Los Angeles Clippers the perceived leader, since he’s originally from the area. Toronto will have the last meeting with Leonard, though, in an attempt to sway him back into the fold and defend the title.
While the Nets are big winners, the Los Angeles Lakers may also benefit from the Brooklyn deal. Now that the Nets have Irving and Durant, they will renounce the rights to D’angelo Russell, an all-star guard that the Lakers want to bring back into the fold to team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The biggest loser? Surprisingly, not the Golden State Warriors, who will still have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, with Klay Thompson re-upping with them while he rehabs his serious ACL knee injury.
The New York Knicks may qualify. The team traded star Kristaps Porzingas in February in order to clear salary cap space for two big free agents. With the worst record in the league, the team also had a shot at the No. 1 draft choice, which would be Zion Williamson of Duke, an electrifying college player.
The Knicks slid to No. 3 in the draft, and now have lost out on Durant and Irving. They will have a meeting with Leonard, but are considered a long shot to sign him. That leaves them with slim pickings among free agents and a hope that their younger players continue to develop.
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