If Friday night’s opening fireworks started early with the Paul George trade, Saturday was the morning-after cleanup. As players and teams went forward with their meetings and their Plan Bs, Cs, or in the Celtics’ case, Plan What Now, we saw a couple teams close loops by signing their own players and picking up other key pieces along the way.
Here’s the latest from the first full day of free agency.
Andre Iguodala got what he wanted
Andre Iguodala tested free agency and, for a brief moment, it looked like he might not return to the Bay Area for the Warriors’ title defense. Iguodala was clear that he wanted three fully guaranteed years and a sizable payout. The Sixers, Kings, Spurs, and Rockets were all interested, and the latter two actually held meetings with him. But after meeting with Houston, Iguodala got what he wanted: enough leverage to coax his money out of the Warriors’ pocket — and the opportunity to break his own news.
The deal is for three years and $48 million, figures first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical. For context, Iguodala’s last deal was also for a total of $48 million, but over four years instead of three. Being a Finals MVP and an integral part of the Warriors’ culture will do that for your wallet. Golden State has now bitten the expensive bullet —one worth a projected $130 million in guaranteed salaries for next year once the team re-signs Kevin Durant — in order to bring back its entire core. They also signed Steph Curry to a mega-max extension worth over $200 million. I’d like to be there when Joe Lacob gets that tax bill at the end of every one of the next few seasons.
Joe Ingles will be making a lot of singles (I’m sorry)
After an eight-year stint overseas, Ingles has finally made it in the NBA. On Saturday, he signed a deal for $52 million over four years, fully guaranteed, to stay with the Utah Jazz. The box score might not show it, but in his first three years in Utah, Ingles became a top-notch role player for the Jazz and a crucial part of their rise in the West. Keeping him was a priority, regardless of the fact that Ingles and Gordon Hayward are close friends and share the same agent.
Paired with the acquisition of Ricky Rubio from the Wolves, the Jazz did a solid job creating a bargain backcourt (less than $30 million combined) that will likely not include George Hill next season. In Rubio, they got a new ball handler for Hayward and while still retaining Ingles, his closest teammate. The signing of Ingles does not clinch Hayward’s return to Utah, but the deal means it could influence it.
Jose Calderon ends the Deron Williams era in Cleveland
The Cavs have a new backup point guard after signing free agent Jose Calderon to the veteran’s minimum, $2.3 million for one season. The timing of the news was uncanny, as Calderon’s announcement was followed by a story by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reporting that, unlike in previous offseasons, LeBron is not helping the Cavs recruit free agents to Cleveland.
Calderon’s signing is likely not related to the report, given that the Cavs are looking for ways to spend less, and using the vet minimum to sign a backup point guard does just that. But Calderon was statistically worse than Deron Williams last season. If LeBron is not helping court free agents, then it is likely he did not sign off on this one either, and while teams have added superstars and top free agents, this is the Cavs’ first move in a crucial free agency. Seems like trouble.
The Clippers are in the Blake Griffin Business — and the T-shirt business
Aside from J.J. Redick signing with the Sixers, the topic that elicited the most reaction from Basketball Twitter was this T-shirt, reportedly worn by all Clippers representatives at the meeting — er, ceremony — where they courted Blake.
This is amazing on multiple levels. First, the people on the T-shirt: Nelson Mandela, JFK, Barack Obama, Gandhi, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King Jr., all surrounding Blake. I would have paid an insane amount of money to be in the room when they were going through the selection process. "Why are we including JFK again?" "He got us to space, right?" "What about other athletes?" "Anyone but a baseball player." Plus, the word that’s supposed to be "Pioneers" looks like "Pioneeps.")
Either the Clippers are completely tone-deaf — and reports are this shirt has been in the franchise since the start of this season — or they know Blake so well that they knew how this would play with his humor.
The Suns are out of the Paul Millsap Sweepstakes
Before likely getting turned down again by a free-agent big man again, the Suns took themselves out of the running for Millsap and are reportedly opting to go for the full, youthful rebuild. It’s a direction that has a few repercussions.
First, as Woj reported, this allows the Suns to turn from buyers into absorbers in order to gain assets out of bad deals that teams can attempt to dump on them. Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo, and Joakim Noah, among others, are some of the players with eyesore contracts that could be headed to Arizona, but all of those teams would have to attach some serious accoutrements in order to get the Suns to bite and absorb.
Meanwhile, for Millsap, this all but assures that his decision will come down to either the Nuggets, whom he is reported to be meeting with Saturday night in Atlanta, or the Wolves. Both locations are enticing for fans and their teams. Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns are both athletic centers that would pair perfectly alongside Millsap. Size may not be en vogue, but both of Millsap’s suitors are banking on it being essential to their success.
Nene was signed, then he wasn’t
Days after Daryl Morey pulled off the most elaborate cap-finessing deal ever by engineering a sign-and-trade for Chris Paul, Morey and the Rockets were left seemingly unaware about a rule in the new CBA. No, really.
Free agent Nene was offered a four-year, $15 million deal by the Rockets on Friday night. Nene liked the deal and he agreed to it. Everything was cool until Saturday morning came around, and it turns out the deal is quite literally illegal under the CBA because Nene is going to turn 38 during the final year of his contract.
The over-38 rule used to be the over-36 rule, and it basically disallows teams to back load contracts for aging players. The limit got pushed back to 38 because of superstars in their 30s who still can command that money on the market. In this case, it backfired on Nene, who is still a solid player, but not a superstar, and was unable to sign this deal.
The Rockets had to shave $4 million off their second offer and make it only a three-year deal for Nene, who is reportedly displeased about the development and is "back to square one" in his free-agent process, opening up to other teams instead of prioritizing a return to Houston.
LeBron should be Steph’s new agent
David West wants one more ring
West isn’t satisfied. Before arriving in Golden State, West had earned a career total of around $87 million, so his pay cut was easy to swallow, and now he’s ready to do it again for the sake of a second ring. West is returning to the Warriors on a one-year deal worth $2.3 million, a slight bump from the $1.55 million he earned in his first year with the team.
It looks like the Warriors are attempting to bring back the band in their attempt to go back-to-back, and West is a bargain in the frontcourt for a team that will continue to send more money toward their four main stars.
Langston Galloway signs with the Pistons
As my colleague Haley O’Shaughnessy pointed out earlier this week, the Pistons are still paying Josh Smith. Josh Smith now plays in China, which gives you a picture of how cash-strapped Detroit is. The Pistons were not expected to be very active in free agency, but they ended up signing Galloway to a three-year, $21 million contract, a deal that says more about how they don’t expect to re-sign restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope than how they may feel about Galloway.
Regardless, Galloway provides a cheaper, yet equally above-average defender on the perimeter to pair alongside new draft pick and shooter Luke Kennard. It’s a solid deal for a team that is now fully hard-capped.