This was always going to be quick, and Kawhi Leonard was always going to get the max.
Just minutes after the NBA free agency floodgates opened, Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs shook hands on a maximum contract extension from his rookie deal, something Leonard confirmed to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
After the San Antonio Spurs presented an offer of a maximum contract extension to his representatives, star forward Kawhi Leonard has agreed to the framework of a five-year deal that could be worth in excess of $90 million, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
“I have every intention of signing with the San Antonio Spurs,” Leonard said in a statement. “There are details in the contract which need to be worked out with the organization. I am confident that this will be accomplished.”
Those details pertain to exactly how big the contract will be based on the finalized numbers, plus any potential opt-outs for Leonard.
Leonard is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year plus has become a central cog of the Spurs offense, averaging 16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
Don’t expect Leonard to put pen to paper and sign this deal for a little while. The reason is to give the Spurs more financial room to maneuver as they try to land LaMarcus Aldridge and other free agents. Right now Leonard’s cap hold — the space allotted to his next contract on the official team books — is just over $7 million and it will not increase until Leonard actually signs the deal, and it is submitted to the league. The Spurs and Leonard have until late October to do that, so they can take their time and leave the millions of dollars of cap space open to help lure free agents. The Spurs are allowed to exceed the cap to re-sign their own player (Leonard) under the “Bird rights” rules.
Leonard being locked in as part of the future of that franchise — along with having Tony Parker for a few more years, and Gregg Popovich — is going to be attractive to free agents who want to win.
For a guy who repeatedly said he was committed to the Cavaliers and wanted to stay with Cleveland, it’s an interesting development that he has started to flirt with other teams.
Kevin Love is going to meet with the Lakers this week, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.
The Lakers have always been the front-runner to land Kevin Love if he bolts Cleveland. He has ties in Los Angeles and went to college there. However, Los Angeles is not the only team looking to get its foot in the door with Love.
Love is a perennial All-Star and one of the elite offensive power forwards in the game, able to score inside and drain the three. Plus he is a beast on the boards and the best outlet passer in the game. He would fit in anywhere.
Like a guy flirting at a bar with a pretty woman, this doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere. Love and the Lakers (and maybe others) are just talking.
But Love said he was committed to the Cavaliers. This flirtation could be the first step to something more.
The Lakers are bringing out the big guns — and we don’t just mean the effort to clear out a cap space and go after a couple max contract stars.
The Lakers are bringing their biggest names into the room for their meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge just after free agency starts — including Kobe Bryant. From Sam Amick of the USA Today.
According to a person with knowledge of the Lakers’ situation, Bryant is expected to be part of the meeting with Aldridge on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The meeting with the big man who is widely expected not to re-sign with the Portland Trail Blazers is also expected to include Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss, general manager Mitch Kupchak, assistant general manager Glenn Carraro, coach Byron Scott, senior vice president of finance Tim Harris, vice president of public relations John Black, as well as representatives from Time Warner Cable and AEG.
Lakers fans, before you celebrate this, remember Kobe was in the room before. His saying he was staying a few more years and his presence seemed to derail an already fragile meeting with Dwight Howard two years ago. Last year Kobe was not in the room, but then he and Carmelo Anthony spoke later and both questioned if their games would would really blend well. (They were right by the way, that would have been a ball-stopping mess.) His presence in the room is no guarantee — not everybody loves him.
But Kobe is being active in free agency this year, he has already called DeAndre Jordan to lobby him.
The Lakers are one of the front runners for Aldridge and could land other top free agents, and they have a reputation for making good pitches. But there is nothing quite as random and unpredictable as NBA free agency.
Stephen Curry was at the Under Armour’s SC30 Select Camp — he is by far Under Armour’s biggest NBA star — and it turns out he can do a little more than knock down threes.
I didn’t know he had that in him.
So now do we start the Stephen Curry for the Dunk Contest campaign?
(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)
The Los Angeles Clippers want their shot and believe they have a chance. The Celtics and a handful of other teams would like the chance for a sit down.
But in the end, Paul Pierce may well remain a Washington Wizard.
Pierce has officially opted out and become a free agent, but the Wizards like their chances, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
Pierce can still help a team, despite turning 38 next season. He has a crafty, veteran game that ages well — he averaged 11.9 points a game and shot 38.9 percent from three last season. He’s still relatively efficient on offense, but he’s more of a concern on the other end of the court.
The Wizards had success last season, particularly in the playoffs, with Pierce at the four. The Clippers have Blake Griffin at the four and would use Pierce more at the three, which has not been as kind to him in recent seasons. That and the fact he likes John Wall and Bradley Beal plays in the Wizards favor as well. As for the Clippers, that is a different team if DeAndre Jordan chooses to return home to Texas.
Pierce likely isn’t going to make a snap decision, which is fine as the Wizards may feel like time is on their side.