The Los Angeles Lakers kept two of their best guards. The Milwaukee Bucks retained their big man, as the early trend in free agency of most players staying put continued Saturday.
Dillon Brooks, though, is off to a new beginning in Houston.
Austin Reaves agreed to a four-year deal that could be worth $56 million, and D’Angelo Russell returned to the Lakers as well on a $37 million, two-year deal, people with knowledge of those transactions told The Associated Press. The Athletic first reported the agreement with Reaves, and ESPN first reported the agreement with Russell.
Reaves and Russell were both starters in the postseason for the Lakers, who made the Western Conference finals before falling to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
Also Saturday, Milwaukee — which had already retained Khris Middleton — kept center Brook Lopez on a two-year deal, a person familiar with the agreement told the AP. The Athletic and ESPN reported the deal was worth $48 million for the 35-year-old Lopez, who averaged 15.9 points in 78 games this past season for the Bucks.
Russell Westbrook is also staying where he ended last season, agreeing to a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers — after starting the last 21 games for them in the regular season and their five playoff games. The second year is at Westbrook’s option, a source said; ESPN reported the deal was worth $8 million.
Brooks — who made tons of headlines for his talking, on and off the court, during Memphis’ first-round playoff series against the Lakers — is getting a new home in Houston, after agreeing to a four-year deal worth nearly $80 million, a source told AP. ESPN reported it may become a sign-and-trade, one that would create a massive trade exception for the Grizzlies.
Brooks was fined by the NBA for not talking to the media after some playoff losses, including the last one that happened to be the worst playoff loss in franchise history. He was ejected from Game 3 of that series for striking LeBron James in the groin. That was after he called James “old” and led the NBA with 18 technical fouls this season, earning a pair of one-game suspensions in the process.
Brooks was offered an extension last year but turned it down. The Grizzlies later decided he wouldn’t be in their future plans.
While Reaves, Russell, Lopez and Westbrook stayed put, Max Strus found a new home.
Strus — who helped Miami get to the NBA Finals — is headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers, agreeing to a $63 million, four-year deal that was finalized Saturday by making the transaction part of a three-team trade, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
Strus goes to the Cavaliers, who will send Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens to San Antonio while Miami get future second-round draft compensation, said the people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the trade terms have not been approved by the NBA.
ESPN first reported the trade agreement.
Strus was a starter for Miami in their playoff runs over the last two years, including this past season’s trip to the finals against Denver. He averaged a career-best 11.5 points this past season and has shot 37% from 3-point range in his career.
Cleveland clearly prioritized shooting. The Cavs struck deals with Caris LeVert ($32 million, two years) and Georges Niang ($26 million, three years) on Friday; Niang is a career 40% shooter on 3s, and LeVert shot a career-best 39% from beyond the arc this past season.
Also Saturday, Orlando retained Moritz Wagner ($16 million, two years) and the Heat added Thomas Bryant ($5.4 million, two years, second at his option) to give them some extra size. Bryant was with the Nuggets for their title run.
Most deals cannot be finalized until July 6, and Strus became one of the biggest names to leave for a new team in the early stages of free agency. Fred VanVleet ($130 million, three years) left Toronto for Houston, and Bruce Brown Jr. ($45 million, two years) left Denver for Indiana.
Many players stayed put: Jerami Grant ($160 million, five years) remained in Portland, Kyrie Irving ($126 million, three years) remained in Dallas, Cam Johnson ($108 million, four years) stays in Brooklyn, Middleton ($102 million, three years) stayed in Milwaukee, Kyle Kuzma ($102 million, four years) remained in Washington and Draymond Green ($100 million, four years) remained with Golden State.
And some players eligible for rookie-scale extensions also cashed in Saturday on deals that will take effect in 2024-25.
Desmond Bane in Memphis and Tyrese Haliburton in Indiana struck agreements in the wee hours of Saturday on contracts that will be worth an estimated $207 million apiece over five years, with Haliburton potentially able to reach $260 million if he makes an All-NBA team. Later Saturday, LaMelo Ball agreed to the framework of a similar deal with Charlotte, a person with knowledge of the details said, and he could also see the value escalate from $207 million to $260 million if he reaches All-NBA status.