As free-agency dominoes fall, the wait for Kawhi Leonard continues
Today marks the first full day of NBA free agency, with one of the biggest names — finals MVP Kawhi Leonard — yet to announce whether he'll stay with the Toronto Raptors, or join another team, following their first-ever championship.
And the waiting may last a few more days.
Roughly $2.5 billion US in contract commitments were made in the first six hours that followed the official beginning of free agency at 6:01 p.m. ET Sunday — and there are still many unanswered questions. Leonard is the biggest domino yet to fall.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse says the team will be meeting with Leonard: "We've got a visit with Kawhi here in the next day or so."
It's believed the Raptors will get the last meeting, with Leonard also likely to talk with the Clippers and Lakers, both out of Los Angeles — possibly among other teams — before making up his mind.
Last man standing
Most of the other biggest-name free agents appear to have picked their new homes — or will be staying in their current ones. The biggest contract left, more than likely, is the $190-million, five-year pact Klay Thompson is believed to be getting from the Golden State Warriors, although neither side indicated the agreement was finalized Sunday night.
Even with Thompson staying, the five-time reigning Western Conference champion Warriors will be very different next season. They have lost Kevin Durant to Brooklyn, then reportedly traded Andre Iguodala to Memphis late Sunday night. Durant was the finals MVP when Golden State won its 2017 and 2018 titles. Iguodala was finals MVP when the Warriors were champs in 2015.
No deals can become final until Saturday, when the NBA's annual moratorium ends. For some teams, the extra time to work through details seems necessary.
"Where da cheesesteaks?" asked Miami's Josh Richardson, after the Heat agreed to send him to Philadelphia in what was shaping up as a complex three-team deal that also included Dallas — and is to bring Jimmy Butler to Miami.
Total contracts could total over $4B
The Heat and Mavericks discussed multiple permutations of a deal, and hours after thinking something was done were still unable to actually close on something. It doesn't mean the Butler deal is dead, especially because of all the moves that were made in reaction to his joining Miami. But the Heat clearly still have some more work to do in order to make everything work.
The 76ers, with the belief they'll be signing-and-trading Butler, moved quickly to add Al Horford on a four-year deal that could be worth as much as $109 million. His was one of at least 11 deals worth at least $100 million agreed to on Sunday, one of the wildest spending days in league history.
"From the trade to the Sixers in February, through the regular season and playoffs and now on to free agency, this contract is a culmination of so much in my life and basketball career," Philadelphia's Tobias Harris wrote in an essay published on ESPN.com after he agreed to a five-year, $180 million contract. "It's also a new beginning."
Plenty of new beginnings are still coming: There are still no fewer than 160 free agents available for the taking, which means the spending by the time this summer is over on new deals should easily top the $4 billion mark.