NBA Free Agency

Free Agent Roundup: All the latest news from the Trail Blazers

Free Agent Roundup: All the latest news from the Trail Blazers

Rookie Contracts. Two-way deals. The Supermax. Big time trades. Surprise signings.

A lot has happened for the Trail Blazers over the first few days of free agency. In case you missed any of it, we got you covered. 

Check out the links below to all the latest free agent news:

Did Enes Kanter REALLY have six minutes to decide his future in Portland?

REPORT: Sign and trade deal sends Jake Layman to Minnesota

Mario Hezonja has plenty to prove after signing with the Trail Blazers

Report: Anthony Tolliver agrees to one-year deal with Portland

Trail Blazers announce 2019 NBA Summer League roster

Social media reacts as the headband and The Hammer head to South Beach 

Hassan Whiteside’s enthusiasm to be in Portland cannot be contained… “We got shooters! Let’s go!”

Trail Blazers reportedly trading Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard for Hassan Whiteside

Enes Kanter is reportedly heading to Boston 

Meyers Leonard shows love for Rip City one last time

Trail Blazers officially sign Jaylen Hoard to two-way contract 

REPORT: Seth Curry agrees to deal with Dallas 

The Portland Trail Blazers officially sign Nassir Little 

Blazers finalize coaching staff for 2019-20 season

Scoop Journal: Dame 196M DOLLAs, a Chiefly farewell, and a Hood's embrace 

UPDATE: Trail Blazers pulled off a coup by retaining playoff hero Rodney Hood; add Hezonja 

Super Mario to Rip City? Mario Hezonja has reportedly agreed to deal with Blazers 

Twitter reacts to the Blazers signing Hood and Hezonja

REPORT: Al-Farouq Aminu agrees to deal with Magic

Rodney Hood is reportedly returning to Portland 

REPORT: Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers agree on supermax contract extension 

Scoop Journal: Dame 196M DOLLAs, a Chiefly farewell, and a Hood's embrace

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USA Today Images

Scoop Journal: Dame 196M DOLLAs, a Chiefly farewell, and a Hood's embrace

Welcome to The Scoop Journal brought to you by Toyota of Portland, where every week I empty my notebook of wide ranging Trail Blazer thoughts, observations, and randomness. I hope you enjoy this light-hearted weekly blog...

June 30th, 2019

 

Dear Scoop Journal,

It’s the first day of NBA Free Agency 2019, and that means it’s been a crazy and busy day.  

Even before free agency tipped off, the reports swirled that the Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard have agreed on a 4-year, $196 million supermax contract extension.

With the supermax on the brain and all the happenings surrounding NBA free agency, I think it’s time to jot down my latest random thoughts on the Blazers and all around the league:

*A supermax deal should always go to a player who is loyal and deserving of the highest paid contract in the league. Damian Lillard encompasses loyalty and deserves every penny. With this new deal it will mean Lillard will be a Trail Blazer through at least the 2024-25 season.

*Former and current Trail Blazer players have been congratulating Dame on social media all day:

*As CJ McCollum gave congrats to his running mate on his supermax on his IG story, he also had o say good-bye to another teammate.  

*With free agent forward Al-Farqou Aminu reportedly agreeing to a three-year deal worth $29 million with the Orlando Magic, it reminds everyone that the NBA is a business.

*All around Rip City, fans were quick to thank Aminu for the memories and wish him luck in all his future endeavors, and this is why I believe Blazers fans are the best: 

*Sitting down with Chief for The Scoop Podcast was one of my favorite podcasts this season, talking about being a prince and a new father.

*And, last but not least -- the Moda Center will still be pumping out ‘Where the Hood at’ for all Blazer fans to continue to sing with Portland reportedly re-signing Rodney Hood to a two year-deal.

*And the late night deal with the Blazers reportedly agreeing to a deal with Mario Hezonja, who could just be looking for the right fit.

*Since it’s a wrap on day one of free agency, I’m gonna continue singing… ‘where the Hood, where the Hood, where the Hood at!?’  

Most-likely Trail Blazer free-agent target: Enes Kanter

Most-likely Trail Blazer free-agent target: Enes Kanter

Free agency opens in the NBA Sunday afternoon and the Portland Trail Blazers, already into the luxury tax and with just the $5.7 million taxpayer mid-level to spend, are taking a knife into a gunfight.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars in cap space and exceptions out there, including 17 max-contract slots and really only about 10 top-tier free agents to fill them. Just like the summer of 2016, there are likely to be a lot of players overpaid this time around.

That doesn’t bode well for the Trail Blazers.

But keep in mind, just a couple of weeks ago, Portland had the 25th pick in the draft and Evan Turner. Since then, the Blazers have drafted Nassir Little, a consensus lottery pick, and traded Turner for Kent Bazemore, a defender with three-point shooting skill. So the summer is already off to a successful start.

It makes sense that while the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Knicks, Celtics and Raptors are fighting over the big names Sunday, the Trail Blazers will be going about their business trying to tie up one of their own free agents for that $5.7 million slot. Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood are much more likely to sign with the Blazers than most other free agents because they had a taste of Portland last season. They were comfortable with the system, their teammates, the culture of the franchise and the winning that they experienced last year.

Of those two, the most likely Portland target would be Kanter, who was originally acquired to be a backup center to Jusuf Nurkic, but became a solid starting center through the team’s run to the Western Conference finals. Kanter spoke highly of his time with the Blazers and he is shaping up as the team’s No. 1 target in free agency, to continue to fill Nurkic's spot. Hood would have been a top target until Bazemore was obtained, but there is a duplication of skills there with Bazemore.

That would leave the team’s expiring contracts free to be used later in a deal for a more high-profile player.

The Blazers will also need a minimum salary player to fill out the roster and Neil Olshey usually has that player identified early. Last year, you remember, he signed Nik Stauskas July 5 and added Seth Curry July 6.

Here’s a look at free-agent scenarios for the Trail Blazers:

BEST CASE: Enes Kanter doesn’t get some extravagant offer out of the gate from another team. If it’s close, I think there’s a good chance he’d choose Portland. But asking him to turn down big money over multiple seasons would not be fair. Best case – the popular center from Turkey will be back. With the team already in the luxury tax, I would expect Al-Farouq Aminu to be gone, with his market value somewhere around $10 million a year. Second-year guard Anfernee Simons is scheduled to move up into Seth Curry’s spot in the rotation and with Curry’s price going up, he will not be back, either. That leaves restricted free agent Jake Layman and the best-case scenario is that he doesn’t get an offer above $3-$4 million a year, and the team would probably match and bring him back.

WORST CASE: Kanter gets an offer of $40 million over four years from somebody and accepts it, leaving Portland to search for another center to hold down the fort for Nurkic. Then Aminu doesn’t find an offer at his asking price and the team re-signs him – which would probably end up with him starting again this season, effectively blocking Zach Collins from a starting role. I don’t expect that to happen, but it is the worst-case scenario long-term, for this team. Then Portland ends up having to fight teams with a lot more money for a free agent to fill that taxpayer mid-level slot. The end result of that would probably be having to pay a $3 million player $5.7 million to sign here.

NBA free agency: Big names still out there

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USA Today Img.

NBA free agency: Big names still out there

LeBron to Los Angeles, Vinsanity off to Atlanta, Kawhi to the North... who are some of the big names still available in NBA free agency?

Full list and descriptions written by Kurt Helin of NBC Sports found here.

1. Clint Capela (restricted): The Houston Rockets big man under the basket complimented the dynamic guard play of James Harden and Chris Paul. But rumors have it that he will reamin a Rocket next season, it is only a matter of money and time.

2. Rodney Hood (restricted): What started off as a promising year for the Utah Jazz turned into a struggling ending in Cleveland. 

3. Jamal Crawford: the 38-year-old veteran doesn't seem to show any quit in him. Does Crawford have what a young Blazers team needs? 

4. Greg Monroe: a compliment to Jusuf Nurkic down low, how dominant would these two be under the hoop? The 6' 11", 265-pound big man is a force down low.

5. Dwayne Wade: Wade can go in several different directions here. He can stay with Miami and sign an extension, play one more season and complete a fairwell tour, sign with another team, or head off overseas to China? So many possibilities. 

6. Trevor Booker: Played for the Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Indiana last season. "...and it’s a bit of a surprise a team has not picked up a solid rotation player at the four or five. Most of his shots come within 10 feet of the bucket, but he is efficient on those."

7. Nick Young: Swaggy P brings just that... the swag as well as a decent three-point shot. With the world champion Golden State Warriors, he averaged 17 minutes and shot 41% from deep.

LINKS:

Read: As deadline passes, Trail Blazers don't use that trade exception -- surprised?

 

 

 

Kyrie Irving's demands are taking disloyalty to an obscene new level

Kyrie Irving's demands are taking disloyalty to an obscene new level

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing something in the NBA right now that could become a real problem for me.

For years, discontented players have asked to be traded. Usually they do it privately and not in the media. You never hear about it most of the time that it happens.

First, let's get this straight right now -- I have nothing against free agency. I grew up in an era when players where chained to the same team for life, even if they never got a chance to play much. They had no options. They had to play for the team that "owned" them, or go home.

So now free agency has brought a lot of player movement and it usually favors the rich franchises, the more glamorous cities or the places where the sun shines the most frequently. But I never get too worked up over that. It's the way it is in any business. People want to work for successful companies alongside talented co-workers in great cities.

I wasn't upset when Kevin Durant chose Golden State or LeBron James picked Miami. Or Cleveland. It was their right. The fulfilled their contract and won the right to choose a new team.

But what's bugging me now is a player under contract who is acting as if he is a free agent. He is not only demanding a trade, he is trying to dictate where he should be dealt. I don't like any of that.

Kyrie Irving is that guy. He has three seasons -- the last one being an opt-out year -- left on his contract with Cleveland and has told the Cavs he wishes to be traded. And not only that, he's given the team three "preferred destinations." Now keep in mind, this isn't Carmelo Anthony, who has basically been run out of town by Phil Jackson and has it written into his current contract with the Knicks that he has the right to approve any trades.

What gives Irving the right to expect to just trade his uniform in for another one? Well, nothing. Except NBA players these days are being catered to, fawned over and recruited the same way they were in their high school days, when they played AAU basketball. And we are starting to see the signs that they are beginning to think they can simply go where they want, sign up to play with their pals or create a super team on a whim.

And face it, in many cases some of the top players are basically running their franchise. LeBron James complains in Cleveland that he doesn't get enough help to beat the Warriors but come on -- LeBron has been the de facto General Manager of that team since he returned. He's been behind a good many of that team's trades and free-agent signings, as he assembled a roster of friends and players he knew would defer to him. Now that it isn't working to his satisfaction, he wants a do-over. Or to go someplace else.

If we're talking about recruiting free agents or even Anthony -- who has the no-trade clause that he could modify for any team chasing him -- that's fair game. But players already under contract who first demand a trade and then try to pick the team they go to?

No way.

First off, you sign a deal for $20 million a season as Irving did, you keep your mouth shut and play. Play it out. Then you become a free agent and can go wherever you want. But don't attempt to hold a team for ransom that has signed you in good faith. Be a person of integrity and honor your deal.

And trying to pick the team you're traded to after demanding a trade while under contract? That's what's adding insult to injury.

The Cavs should find out where he'd least like to go and send him there. If the league gets to the point when contracts mean nothing and players can merely quit on their current team and demand a trade to a specific team of their choice, that's when I will quit paying attention.

There is enough player movement as it is, with free agency. And giving up on your current team is not only unseemly, it takes disloyalty to an obscene level.

The Trail Blazers have done everything possible to avoid Utah's Hayward calamity

The Trail Blazers have done everything possible to avoid Utah's Hayward calamity

Yes, it was too bad Utah couldn't have held on to Gordon Hayward instead of losing him to Boston in free agency. The Jazz had something good percolating in Salt Lake City but lost an all-star player with no compensation, a monumental setback for a small-market franchise.

But in analyzing what happened to Utah, it's easy to see how the Trail Blazers have taken a much smarter approach to building a franchise in a market that's not likely to attract premium free agents.

The Jazz messed up with Hayward. They blew it. And forget market size and all those alibis, Hayward should still be in a Utah uniform. Back in 2014, the Jazz had the chance to sign him to a five-year rookie extension and did not do that. Sure, Hayward had not yet shown he would become an all-star, but his career arc was on the rise. I'm not certain whether the Utah front office was simply penny pinching or just didn't know how talented Hayward was -- but really,  a big underrated skill for those operating a team in the NBA is knowing your own players and their potential better than anyone else does.

And when you draft and develop players with all-star potential, you better be 100 percent, rock-solid sure they don't blossom someplace else. You just cannot afford to make mistakes with players you have drafted and had on your roster for multiple seasons.

Utah could have signed Hayward to that extension at five years and $80 million but sat back, hoping to re-sign him on the cheap. However Charlotte came in and offered him a four-year, $63 million deal with the final season a player option. Of course, Utah matched the offer -- but as you can see, it cost the Jazz two years of Hayward and those two seasons could have turned out to be successful enough to convince him to stay in Utah even longer.

Now do you understand why Neil Olshey took no such chance with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum? They are tied to the Trail Blazers for as long as contractually possible, though the 2020-21 season. And oh, by the way, all those other contracts Portland signed last summer -- Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, Evan Turner -- that people complain about, had strategic value. The Trail Blazers preserved cap space by making those deals before signing McCollum to his extension. Had they not made those deals when they did, very little cap space would have been left to fill the roster after CJ's deal was signed.

And seriously, do you think Portland could have signed a free agent this summer as talented as McCollum? No way. In a situation like Portland's, it's best to draft wise, trade smart and make sure your key players don't get away.

Because replacing them can prove to be very difficult.

 

Which rumored free agent has strongest possibility of joining Blazers?

Which rumored free agent has strongest possibility of joining Blazers?

The Portland Trail Blazers haven't been known to land big free agent targets. Some think it rains too much. Others don't see it as a big enough media market. Whatever the reason, the Blazers head into the offseason with a ton of cap space and a young core of players to build around. 

So, with all the names out there from Kevin Durant to Dwight Howard, among others, who is the target that carries the most weight?

Dwight Jaynes and Jason Quick weigh in in the video above. 

Time to start the Kevin Durant to Portland conversation?

Time to start the Kevin Durant to Portland conversation?

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant will be the hottest free agent target this offseason, and while he has spent his entire NBA career with one team, that one team seems to be the one who is most likely to be left out in the cold. 

Before his season even ended, Durant was linked to the Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, while other teams like the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers have had players take to social media to recruit the seven-time All-Star and NBA MVP. 

So, with the 2016-17 salary cap is reportedly expected to hit $92 million and will continue to rise, is it possible to throw the Trail Blazers in to the mix? Coming off a season in which the Trail Blazers had the lowest salary cap and rose to the levels of the Western Conference Semifinals, Neil Olshey has money to spend. With a team on the rise, Durant could find himself in a place that once passed him up in the NBA Draft. 

Durant can make more money in Oklahoma City because the Thunder have his Bird Rights, which allows him to earn up to 30 percent of the team's cap. Durant could sign a one-year contract with the Thunder and become a free agent next summer, allowing him to receive 35 percent of the team's salary cap. 

So, as the free agency circus officially begins next month, Durant to (insert team name here) is worth a discussion. 

Isaac and Suke discussed the prospects of Durant to Portland in the video above.