While Durant joins Nets, Chicago Bulls add a former division rival
NBA free agency officially began at 5 p.m. Sunday, but teams obviously did plenty of prep work.
A long flurry of activity was highlighted by a Brooklyn blockbuster. Injured Golden State forward Kevin Durant jumped coasts to join Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan with the Nets. It's possible Durant won't play next season while recovering from a torn Achilles.
Meanwhile, the Bulls found their veteran, Jimmy Butler took his talents to South Beach, Robin Lopez agreed to join twin brother Brook in Milwaukee, Taj Gibson went home and Derrick Rose picked a new Midwestern location.
The Bulls got their party started with more of a medium-impact move. They agreed to terms with former Indiana forward Thaddeus Young on a three-year deal worth a reported $41 million.
Young fills one of the Bulls' most pressing needs, an experienced veteran to help mentor the younger players. The 6-foot-8 Young, 31, has been a consistent contributor and relatively injury-free over his 12 NBA seasons. Last season, he averaged 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot 53 percent from the field.
The injury-plagued Bulls could use someone who played 81 of 82 games the past two seasons and at least 73 games in each of the last seven years. Young is an undersized power forward who runs the floor well, plays defense and is willing to do the dirty work.
Young has been to the playoffs eight times in 12 seasons. Ironically, the one time he advanced to the second round was in 2012 when his Philadelphia squad upset the top-seeded Bulls after Derrick Rose tore his ACL. That Sixers team was coached by Doug Collins, currently a Bulls' consultant. Young was a teammate of Zach LaVine during a brief stay in Minnesota in 2014-15.
Young sent a message on Twitter shortly after the deal was announced, referencing John Paxson, Gar Forman and coach Jim Boylen. "What's up, Chicago Bulls?" the message read. "Gar, Jim and Pax, thanks for opportunity to help build culture and get us back on track. Let's work."
With the addition of Young, the Bulls still have around $10 million in salary cap room and they can also use the midlevel exception, worth $4.76 million for teams with cap space. A veteran guard, such as Chicago native Patrick Beverley, remains a likely target.
There were no indications the Bulls made a serious pitch for Brooklyn all-star guard D'Angelo Russell, who was sent to the Warriors on a 4-year, $117 million max deal late Sunday night, according to league sources. There was talk of the Bulls meeting with big man Julius Randle, who averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds last year with New Orleans, but he ended up with the New York Knicks for $63 million over three years.
The Pacers made some significant alterations Sunday. Besides losing Young to the Bulls, forward Bojan Bogdanovic agreed to a deal with Utah. Indiana added guard Malcolm Brogdon in a sign-and-trade with Milwaukee and will sign shooting guard Jeremy Lamb from Charlotte. Pacers point guard Darren Collison unexpectedly announced his retirement this weekend.
Elsewhere in the Central division, Milwaukee will re-sign guard Khris Middleton and center Brook Lopez, while losing Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic, who is reportedly headed back to Spain.
Rose agreed to a two-year, $15-million deal with Detroit. Brooklyn native Gibson accepted a two-year, $20-million offer from the Knicks.
When Butler made it clear his preferred destination was Miami, Philadelphia worked out a sign-and-trade, getting Josh Richardson back in return. One question now is whether Dwyane Wade will follow through on a veiled Twitter threat to come back and play another year if Butler joined the Heat. The Sixers still had a nice day, re-signing Tobias Harris to a max deal while adding free agent Al Horford from Boston.
After Durant, there weren't any big surprises on Day One. Charlotte's Kemba Walker agreed to terms with Boston as expected. Former Celtics guard Terry Rozier is headed to the Hornets, former Sixers guard J.J. Redick will join New Orleans, guard Ricky Rubio is going from Utah to Phoenix, center Dewayne Dedmon from Atlanta to Sacramento, forward Trevor Ariza from Washington to Sacramento and forward Al Farouq-Aminu from Portland to Orlando.
Several players agreed to new deals with their current teams, including Nikola Vucevic (Magic), Terrence Ross (Magic), Jonas Valanciunas (Grizzlies), Harrison Barnes (Kings), Kristaps Porzingis (Mavs), Dwight Powell (Mavs), Thomas Bryant (Wizards) and Rodney Hood (Blazers).
The biggest decision still remaining is Kawhi Leonard, who is expected to either stay in Toronto or move closer to his hometown by signing with the Clippers or Lakers. Golden State's DeMarcus Cousins is still available.
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