The stretch between last Thursday’s NBA draft and Friday night free agency starts promised to bring in the business. The Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks are sure to strike a deal to bring John Collins to Salt Lake City, league sources have told Yahoo Sports, ending nearly a year of dialogue between the two front offices that centered on Collins trade scenarios. More movement appears to be on the horizon. The Hawks have also been active in talks about commercial opportunities for De’Andre Hunter, while other deals, such as the Minnesota Timberwolves extending Naz Reid up to three years, $42 million, will have continuing ripple effects across the casual scene.
Collins’ trade with Utah State is the latest in a series of cost-conscious deals around the NBA. Perhaps the most notable trade of draft day was the Warriors’ trade between Jordan Paul and Chris Paul, when the Mavericks and Kings also offloaded Davis Bertan and Richeon Holmes, respectively. Sources said Atlanta has been trying various avenues to move the remaining three seasons of Collins’ five-year, $125 million deal throughout the pre-drafting process. It once seemed like the Mavericks and Hawks would make ideal business partners, sources said, but the two teams never came to an agreement — including agreement on Clint Capella’s concepts — that could have involved the No. 10 and 15 changing hands in different outcomes.
Atlanta’s conversations with Utah were also known around the league. The Hawks and Jazz discussed Collins’ deals dating back to the wake of Utah’s dealings with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, and the Jazz’s Nos. 9 and 16 presented the Falcons with other logical opportunities. Despite this, Atlanta could not use Collins to go into the draft. Such is the nature of the NBA market under the new collective bargaining agreement, that players’ salaries are set to continue to rise beyond the league’s next television contract in 2025. Both the Hawks and Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports, left draft night with Understanding that Collins’ deal could still pay off before free agency begins. It took Rudy Gay to sign up for his $6.4 million player option on Monday to complete the deal, but Collins is finally a member of the Jazz. We’ll see if any of the other loose threads of trade talks in Atlanta, such as the Hawks’ weekly draft negotiations with the Pistons and Pacers regarding Hunter, can regain momentum.
It always happens how the rest of the off-season action unfolds in some form of streaming effect. Sources said Utah, for example, was planning on targeting attackers in the market, and the acquisition of Collins takes a potential touchdown off the board for someone like Kyle Kuzma — one of the best forwards agents reportedly looking for upwards of $30 million on average. annual salary. The Jazz only landed Collins, mind you, after Utah lost an opportunity to sign a primary target in free agency. As first reported by Mark Stein on SubstackHowever, the Jazz were expected to become expensive bidders for Kristaps Porziņģis until the Wizards managed to pull off a three-team deal with the Celtics and Grizzlies that sent Porziņģis to Boston. The Celtics will now have a chance to extend Borziers for another two years, which is calling Grant Williams’ status in Boston into question.
Williams is another solid forward who was linked to Utah before hitting restricted free agency, showing just how interconnected the web of offseason scenarios is. Utah could still generate upwards of $28 million in room this summer, but that will require letting veteran Jordan Clarkson walk, long considered a favorite Jazz cornerback of Utah owner Ryan Smith. Even if the Jazz retained this ample amount of cap space, it’s hard to expect another frontcourt piece looking to join a Utah rotation that was already crammed with All-Star Lauri Markkanen, sophomore center Walker Kessler, Collins, and the #9 pick in Taylor Hendrix. That money may still be enough to scare off the Lakers with a massive Austin Reeves bid sheet.
Reaves still appears to be an option for the Rockets, though word has only gotten more and more in league circles about Houston’s chances of edging out veteran guard Fred VanVleet from Toronto. While staying with the Raptors still looks like it’s on the table for both parties, Houston is poised to offer VanVleet a very competitive deal, while all those whispers about James Harden’s return have declined significantly in recent weeks. The Rockets are considering short-term, high-paying contracts in order to get higher target free agents with a $61 million cap, sources said. It would take a contract cap to lure VanVleet out of Toronto, the sources said, which could be as much as $80 million for two years. Dillon Brooks continues to be mentioned by league personnel as the top winger on the Rockets’ radar, as well as Brook Lopez being ranked as Houston’s primary big man option. Watch the Rockets potentially trade jump forward KJ Martin to create more financial flexibility. Sources told Yahoo Sports that the Rockets have had an increased number of trade calls for Martin with several teams since the NBA Draft. Atlanta, Phoenix, and Brooklyn were mentioned as suitors to Martin dating back to the February trade deadline.
The other major front spots in free agency will be Indiana and Detroit, which could go away depending on what happens with the aforementioned Hunter trade. Sources said the Pacers are also a strong contender for Harrison Barnes from the Sacramento Kings. Barnes had a close relationship with All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton during their stint at Northern California, and Barnes gets added support from Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle who harkens back to his joint days with the Mavericks. Sources said Barnes’ signing could hurt other high-profile Indiana targets, such as Williams and Heat’s Max Stross, who may also play for Orlando and Detroit, depending on what the Pistons achieve. Detroit hustle and former Suns coach Monty Williams has put a huge bidding card on Nets pitcher Cam Johnson, who reached the 2021 NBA Finals under Williams’ tutelage, certainly has traction throughout the league. Although the Nets are expected to match any working offer for Johnson, rival executives are ready for Brooklyn to consider more cost-saving deals in the wake of a potentially expensive new deal for Johnson.
Barnes’ potential departure from Sacramento, coupled with the Kings creating nearly $35 million in cap space after an overnight draft for Holmes and the No. 24 pick to Dallas, has rival front offices wondering what big swing the Kings are planning in free agency. The outright sale of a first-round pick to save, even in this economy, has left many league employees in the mind that Sacramento has a definite move up its sleeve — not just renegotiating and expanding the NBA’s Domantas Sabonis position for what is expected to be in four, sources said. years 120 million dollars.
Sacramento has been chasing Bucks All-Star guard Chris Middleton a popular theory put forth by league numbers, but all signs point to Milwaukee and Middleton finalizing a new deal once free agency begins Friday after Middleton turned down a 2023-24 player option last week. The Kings and head coach Mike Brown’s theft of Draymond Green from the Warriors will be quite the story, sources said, while Portland and Detroit are also expected to make plays with Green. Although all indications still point to Green returning to the franchise, he has won four championships.
The name that has been gaining a lot of traction as a potential target for Sacramento is Kuzma, who once thrived on the road in Los Angeles and was nearly dealt to the Kings in 2021 before the Lakers redirected Kuzma to the Wizards instead and acquired Russell Westbrook. Even with Sabonis a new deal, as well as the Kings expecting to bring back multi-talented forward Trey Lyles, sources said Sacramento could have more than $25 million to play with in the bedroom, according to salary projections provided to Yahoo Sports.
Sabonis’ extension would eliminate a major free agent class big man the following summer a year ago. Reed, a major in the market this summer, returning to Minnesota has opposing executives waiting to see if the Timberwolves trade off veteran Taurean winger Taurean Prince and his $7.5 million unsecured salary, which would help Minnesota reach the full midfield exception. There have already been many names associated with Wolves in that pay slot, all of them working in the play industry, larger combo guards like Bruce Brown and Donte DiVincenzo. Both players are expected to have many options in this contract range, as there has been growing noise among league personnel about DiVincenzo joining former Villanova teammates Galen Bronson and Josh Hart in New York.
Sources said San Antonio has been known to await a short-term contract for Reed and hope to pair him with Victor Wimpanyama on the front court. Now the Spurs will have to turn to other targets, perhaps someone like Pelicans center Jonas Valanciñas New Orleans and San Antonio recently did business offloading Devonte Graham’s contract The Pelicans have since made Valanciunas available to look for more mobile, top men who They protect the edges. Sources said New Orleans made one call to Cleveland about acquiring Jarrett Allen. Sources said the other team that wanted to be in the Reds mix was the Allen’s Cavaliers. Cleveland needed a way to sign and trade to acquire the talented big man. It remains to be seen if the Cavs will continue to look for other backup options in the frontcourt behind Allen and Evan Mobley, or if the front office has greatly appreciated Reed.
The last major trade situation at the juncture remains in Washington, the sources said, as the Wizards seek compensation for veteran guards Monty Morris and Dillon Wright. With 16 Washington players currently on guaranteed contracts, the Wizards are also expected to reach a buyout agreement with Danilo Gallinari, acquired in a Porziņģis trade, paving the way for the veteran scorer to find a home with a playoff contender. Clippers guard Norman Powell is also available for trade across the league, after his name was first mentioned in Los Angeles’ early efforts to acquire Paul from the Wizards.
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