Hayward starting his free-agent tour, as West gets tougher
Gordon Hayward will start his free agency tour in Miami on Saturday, potentially on the verge of moving into the Eastern Conference for the first time in his career.
The East could use some more star power.
Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin are staying in the West. Paul George is heading to the West as well, teaming up with reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook after a surprising deal saw Indiana send him to Oklahoma City. Before daybreak in some parts of the NBA world, roughly $750 million in new deals were hammered out and merely awaiting signatures next week when the NBA's offseason moratorium ends.
The frenzy is underway, and there's still plenty of moves left.
Curry is now off the board and staying with the champion Golden State Warriors on a five-year, $201 million deal — that's $170.22 for every second of every regular-season game the Warriors will play in that span, overtimes not included. Kevin Durant will likely soon make it official that he's staying with the champs as well.
So with those two basically sealed, many eyes will be on Hayward's meeting with Miami. It's the first of three meetings Hayward is expected to take in the coming days, others coming with Boston and then Utah — the team that he has been with throughout his NBA career. But if Heat President Pat Riley can pull off another free-agent coup, Miami could find itself again contending in the East.
But the first night of free agency — the NBA says talks couldn't begin until 12:01 a.m. Eastern on July 1, though that seemed an even grayer area than usual this year — was all about the West.
Griffin canceled some meetings he had with other teams, Phoenix included, and struck a deal to stay with the Clippers on a five-year contract worth about $175 million. That agreement represented the richest contract (in terms of total value) in NBA history, topping the $153 million deal that Mike Conley struck with the Memphis Grizzlies last summer.
By sunrise, Griffin's contract was No. 1 no more.
Curry got the first "Supermax" in NBA history, striking that deal shortly after the free-agent shopping spree around the league was getting underway. Curry, by NBA standards, was an absolute bargain in his first seven seasons, winning two MVP awards, two championships, setting 3-point records and doing all that while making an average of $6.5 million a year.
He'll now average about $40 million over the next five.
"Congrats @StephenCurry," Cleveland star LeBron James tweeted.
It was a run on point guards all over the league:
Not only did the Warriors keep Curry, but also agreed to keep Shaun Livingston for three more years. Jrue Holiday got $126 million in a five-year deal with New Orleans, with incentives possibly pushing that one to $150 million. Patty Mills is returning to San Antonio for the next four years at $50 million, and Jeff Teague agreed with Minnesota on a three-year, $57 million deal. John Wall was offered a four-year extension worth $168 million by the Wizards, also falling into that so-called Supermax category.
The Supermax is a part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which also went into effect Saturday after being ratified by the league and the National Basketball Players Association earlier this year.
Teague replaces Ricky Rubio, traded earlier Friday to Utah in a move that could have some impact on what Hayward does. It also doesn't hurt Minnesota's new place as a popular pick for big-time improvement out West, with the newly acquired Jimmy Butler — another All-Star leaving the East for the West — already joining Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Utah getting Rubio essentially means George Hill's time with the Jazz is over. It's unknown how much, if any, effect that will have on Hayward and his decision between joining the Heat, the Celtics or remaining in Salt Lake City.
In other highlights from the first night of free agency:
— Tony Snell agreed on a four-year deal that could be worth up to $46 million to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks. The fourth year is at Snell's option.
— Houston kept Nene on a four-year, $15 million deal that would seem like an absolute bargain in today's league.