Thompson, Irving, Walker expected to make new NBA deals
New York (AFP)
Three-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson and playmakers Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker were expected to agree to new NBA deals on Sunday as free agency for the 2019-20 season begins.
Thompson was expected to reach terms quickly on a five-year deal worth $190 million to remain with the Golden State Warriors once the free agency period began.
Irving was looking at a four-year deal worth $141 million to join the Brooklyn Nets while Walker was set to leave Charlotte and replace Irivng on the Boston roster for the same terms.
Under NBA free agency rules, teams cannot sign contracts with players until Saturday, meaning teams will not confirm deals, leaving reports over the next week to indicate talent movement ahead of next season.
Two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Players Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant are expected to be the major free agents whose sagas will drag out over the next few days as they head pitches from several clubs who can offer maximum level contracts after both players opted out of their deals.
Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to the NBA title after being traded from the San Antonio Spurs, whom he sparked to the 2014 crown.
The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers have long been expected to make high-priced pitches to lure Leonard, who grew up in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Lakers put themselves in the mix with a salary dump that gives them a maximum salary slot to seek a third star to unite with LeBron James and center Anthony Davis, who is set to join the Lakers in a deal with New Orleans.
Durant, who will miss next season after rupturing an Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals as Golden State lost to the Raptors, is looking at maximum money from several places, including the Knicks, Clippers and Brooklyn.
When Durant is able to return, he could be alongside Irving with the Nets or Leonard in New Work or Los Angeles.
- Durant, Kawhi eye bids -
And there is every chance Leonard and Durant could stay with their current clubs, who can offer the longest and richest deals under NBA salary cap rules to keep their stars.
The Warriors are expected to offer Durant a five-year deal worth $221 million.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry will reportedly join Golden State general manager Bob Myers in meeting with Durant in a bid to keep him in the fold as the club moves to a new $1 billion home arena starting next season.
Curry and three other teammates went to visit Durant three years ago to convince him they wanted him to join the team as a free agent.
And the Raptors reportedly have been assured they will have the final presentation to make to Leonard after other suitors have made their pitches.
The Clippers also reportedly are interested in Philadelphia's Jimmy Butler, who could combine with Leonard in Los Angeles to create a formidable duo.
Butler has been a target of the Houston Rockets, who would like to add him alongside NBA scoring champion James Harden and Chris Paul.
? 2019 AFP