Miami Heat President Pat Riley is a big fan of the symbolic 12:01 a.m. phone call to his team’s top targets. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he would rather be sleeping at that moment. And more than $1 billion in deals will likely be hammered out in the next couple of days alone.
Free agency has returned to the NBA, and this July 1 is unlike any other.
Sure, there’s the annual list of superstars who could take their talents elsewhere — Kevin Durant will hear sales pitches designed to talk him into leaving Oklahoma City, Dwyane Wade is prepared to leave the Heat if he doesn’t get a deal to his liking, and it seems LeBron James will make the Cavaliers dig even more deeply into their pockets to reward him for the city’s first NBA title.
All this comes with a backdrop of an enormous jump in the salary cap, going from $70 million this past season to likely somewhere close to $95 million when the league announces the actual number early next week.
So the spending will be out of control. That’s for certain.
Just about everything else is uncertain, starting with Durant’s status.
“My message to him is just try to get through this, don’t make a decision based off anybody else, make your own decision,” New York Knicks forward and Durant’s Olympic teammate Carmelo Anthony said. “Because at the end of the day, you’re the one that has to live with that.”
Durant, true to his nature, is tight-lipped about how his decision-making process will actually work.
“I’ll factor in everything that’s important to me, which is playing basketball at the end of the day, and we’ll see what happens,” Durant said.
Durant plans on going to New York — not to play, but to deliberate. Some teams have been granted invites to meet with Durant in the New York area this weekend, and Heat center Hassan Whiteside is planning to meet with teams there as well on Friday. There’s been no indication how quickly Durant will reveal if he’s staying with the Thunder or moving on, but in Whiteside’s case the answer could come on Day One.
“I’m not calm. Look at me. Woooo!” Whiteside shrieked earlier this week in Miami, when he talked about the looming decision that will take him from someone who made just under $1 million this past season — pocket change by NBA standards — to quite probably more than $20 million in each of the next four seasons. “I’m excited, man. C’mon, man. Free agency time.”
Whiteside will strike it rich without going to a single All-Star Game first. Bismack Biyombo (who made $2.8 million this season and is expected to at least quintuple that going forward) will probably do the same, and that comes with him not even having been a full-time starter with the Toronto Raptors.
This is the new NBA. And it’s not changing. The cap will take another giant leap next season, too.
The NBA champion Cavaliers have made a qualifying offer to popular backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, making him a restricted free agent.
Dellavedova is expected to draw interest from other teams once free agency begins, and depending on how much he’s offered, the Cavs could face a tough decision on whether to re-sign the 25-year-old Australian.
Dellavedova had a solid third season with the Cavs, averaging 7.5 points and 4.4 assists in 24.6 minutes per game.
A 6-foot-4 guard, Dellavedova was vital for the Cavs during the Finals a year ago, when Kyrie Irving shattered his kneecap, and is a relentless defender.