Kurt Helin

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Report: As expected, DeMar DeRozan reached five-year, $139 million deal with Raptors

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When DeMar DeRozan said he wasn’t going to meet with any teams other than the Toronto Raptors, you could safely assume that deal would get done quickly once the calendar turned to July 1.

It took about two hours.

DeRozan and the Raptors have agreed to a five-year max contract, something first reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today, with Shams Charania adding the details.

DeRozan gets buckets. The man was an All-Star last February and now is part of the USA Basketball team for the Rio Olympics because of his ability to get into the paint and score. He averaged 23.5 points a game last season in Toronto. He, along with fellow Team USA member Kyle Lowry, drive the Raptors offense.

No doubt DeRozan needs to become more comfortable taking (and hitting) the three ball, but Toronto couldn’t afford to lose him, so they came up with a big number and he jumped at it.

Report: Wizards quickly nearing max five-year, $128 million deal with Bradley Beal

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The Wizards had to do this. If they didn’t max out Bradley Beal, another team would have — injury history or no. Then the Wizards would have had to match, but bad blood could have formed. He has just too much promise as a shooter in a league where 29 other teams could use more shooting.

Within an hour after free agency started, the Wizards and Beal were closing in on a five-year, $128 million contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Restricted free-agent guard Bradley Beal is nearing agreement on a five-year, $128 million maximum contract to stay with the Washington Wizards, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Vertical. The framework of the contract will be a straight five-year deal with no options, Bartelstein said.

The sides are expected to come to a complete agreement later Friday morning.

Friday morning does not mean in the hours right after midnight, but rather once everyone comes in and has had a cup of coffee Friday morning.

The question with Beal isn’t “can he play the game?” He averaged 17.4 points per game last season and is a career 39.7 percent shooter from three. Rather, the issue is his health, where a stress fracture in his right leg has kept him out of 46 games the past two seasons and is a lingering problem. He’s going to be on a minutes restriction the rest of his career to deal with that stress issue.

Beal and Wizards point guard John Wall need to learn to thrive together (they were just pedestrian last season, when the two were on the court together they played opponents basically even, less than +1 per 100 possessions). Maybe new coach Scott Brooks scan help. But the Wizards need those two to be a lot more like what Toronto gets out of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They have to be more than scorers; they need to be catalysts.

The Wizards will be paying Beal handsomely to be just that next season.

Report: Hassan Whiteside leaning toward Dallas over Miami

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It’s amazing how all this has happened before everybody gets to officially sit down in a room and talk.

Free agency opens at midnight Thursday (into Friday), and Hassan Whiteside is one of the most sought after bigs on the market — an athletic rim-protecting big who fits the modern NBA style of play. Already he has ruled out even meetings with the Lakers, Knicks, and others and is only going to sit down with Miami, Dallas, and Portland.

And maybe not all of them have an equal chance, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports:

Now, if I were the cynical type, I might say this: Miami has been reluctant to max out Whiteside at $22 million a season for four years, while Dallas is going all in (and we have to assume Portland would offer the max also). If I were Whiteside’s agent and wanted to up the pressure on Miami to come in with a max offer, this might be exactly what I’d want to leak before I met with them.

Or, maybe Whiteside likes the potential with himself at the five and Dirk Nowitzki at the four in Dallas (especially if they can convince Mike Conley to leave Memphis, as they are trying to do). Maybe a lot of things.

Just know that once free agency starts at midnight — and once Pat Riley gets in the room with Whiteside — everything can change. Free agency is a fluid situation and what we think going in can change on a dime.

PBT Extra Free Agency Preview: Plenty of potential, plenty of risk in class of centers

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One could argue that the center position is the deepest (or, at least second deepest) position in the 2016 free agent class.

But these are not lock guys that are available; there is a lot of risk and reward here. Not with Andre Drummond at center, but he’s not leaving Detroit.

But there is with Hassan Whiteside, a guy who has never earned $1 million a season and is about to make $22 million a year. There’s always a risk when a guy who scrapped to get paid finally gets the big check. With Pau Gasol there is the risk of age, with Joakim Noahwho is destined for the Knicks — it is age and health.

But the biggest gamble of all may be Dwight Howard.

I break it all down in this latest PBT Extra, including a suggestion for Howard.

PBT Extra Free Agency Preview: After Al Horford, power forward class drops off

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Al Horford is the second best free agent available on the market this summer, behind some guy named Durant.

But after the versatile forward from Atlanta — who may be on the move if the Hawks balk at offering him a five-year max deal — the quality drops off quickly. Well, Dirk Nowitzki is quality, but he’s not leaving Dallas.

Ryan Anderson has health questions, and his skills are in decline. Then you get into nice rotation players off the bench such as the Jareds — Sullinger and Dudley.

I break it all down in this latest PBT Extra.