Lu Dort and Anfernee Simons headline big-money extensions, P.J. Tucker finds a new home

By Sports Desk June 30, 2022

Lu Dort, Bobby Portis and P.J. Tucker were among the players to get paid on a busy Thursday evening of free agency action.

Dort was shown good faith by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who opted to decline his team option that would have kept him on a $1.9million deal for next season, instead choosing to sign him to a five-year, $87.5million extension.

On a roster stacked with rookie salaries, the Thunder simply need to have some bigger contracts on their books to meet the league's salary floor, and in doing so they have rewarded a player who has become a cult figure, averaging 17.2 points per game this past season while being his side's premier wing defender.

Speaking of cult figures, Portis' connection with the Milwaukee Bucks after helping to deliver the city their second NBA championship was strong enough to have him stick around for the following year on just over $4m.

That loyalty was rewarded with a new four-year, $49m deal that will keep the 27-year-old big-man in Milwaukee until after the 2026 playoffs.

The Bucks also made a second notable move, signing 34-year-old free agent Joe Ingles to a one-year, $6.5m contract. Ingles suffered a season-ending injury with the Utah Jazz this past season, but figures to fill a role as a 41 per cent career three-point shooter, who can also handle, pass and defend at six-foot-eight.

Tucker was also a member of the Bucks' 2021 championship team, and after contributing to the Miami Heat's run to the Eastern Conference Finals this past season, the 37-year-old has signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for three years and $33m.

Over the years, Tucker has evolved into one of the game's best corner three point shooters, and across the past five seasons he has started 77 playoff games, often guarding the opposition's most dangerous wing scorer.

While Tucker is getting paid to come and provide a stabilising force, the Portland Trail Blazers are paying for upside with their four-year, $100m commitment to breakout guard Anfernee Simons.

After averaging no more than 8.4 points and 1.4 assists in each of his first three campaigns, the 23-year-old shot into mainstream attention this season and he piled up numbers on a Trail Blazers team that was missing star Damian Lillard through injury.

Simons started a career-high 30 games, and put up career-high numbers across the board. He averaged 17.3 points and 3.9 assists, while shooting an impressive 40 per cent from three on an aggressive 7.8 attempts per game, emerging as one of the game's more lethal pull-up shooters from distance.

Backup point guard Tyus Jones will return to the Memphis Grizzlies on a two-year, $30m contract after a season where he became one of the league's most valuable backups.

Jones led the entire league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 6.4 – putting a gap on the rest of the field – with his brother, Tre Jones of the Spurs, in second place at 5.1.

He also shot a career-high 39 per cent from long range, and averaged 12.7 points, 6.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds without Ja Morant in the line-up, making him one of the main reasons the Grizzlies were 20-5 in the 25 games their superstar point guard missed due to injury.

Related items

  • Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai appears to side with his front office after Kevin Durant ultimatum Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai appears to side with his front office after Kevin Durant ultimatum

    Just hours after reports came out detailing how Kevin Durant gave the Brooklyn Nets an ultimatum about his future with the franchise, team owner Joe Tsai has sensationally thrown his support behind general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash.

    In a report from The Athletic's Shams Charania, it states Durant had a meeting with Tsai on Monday where he reiterated his trade request, as well as the bombshell that he will refuse to remain with the team unless Marks and Nash are both fired.

    Durant, 33, is about to enter the first year of his four-year, $198million contract extension with the Nets, meaning there is no way for the two-time NBA Finals MVP to literally force his way out. To leave Brooklyn, the team will need to trade him, and there is no guarantee that is in their plans, despite Durant's requests.

    In a clear statement of where his loyalty lies, Tsai tweeted: "Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets."

    The Athletic's report also revealed the Nets "engaged in conversations with almost every team in the league" after Durant's initial trade request, but no team has been able to meet their asking price, which is said to be one of the biggest in NBA history.

    The Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat are mentioned as the three teams most likely to aggressively pursue a trade, with 25-year-old Celtics wing Jaylen Brown considered the best player being included in negotiations.

  • Durant demands Marks, Nash axe for Nets stay Durant demands Marks, Nash axe for Nets stay

    Kevin Durant has doubled down on his stance that he won't play for the Brooklyn Nets, at least as the organisation is currently constituted. 

    In a meeting with franchise owner Joe Tsai, Durant demanded that either he be traded to another team or that the Nets fire the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, The Athletic reported Monday. 

    Durant and Tsai spoke in London over the weekend, and The Athletic reported that the tone of the meeting was professional. 

    Durant has four years and $198 million left on the contract extension he signed last summer but made his trade demands public over a month ago on June 30. 

    The 12-time All-Star set the NBA world ablaze by demanding a trade, but no team has been able to pull off the massive deal to bring Durant to a new contender. 

    Earlier this summer, Durant said that he wanted to end up either with the Miami Heat or the Phoenix Suns, but the Nets now have some hope of keeping the two-time Finals MVP. 

    That is, if Tsai is willing to upend the franchise's leadership structure. 

    Durant, who will turn 34 before the start of next season, has played a total of 90 regular season games since signing with Brooklyn in 2019. 

    The much-anticipated trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played only 10 games together.

    Harden was traded for massive question mark Ben Simmons, Irving's future is unclear, and now the Nets are now at a massive organisational crossroads. 

  • WNBA star Brittney Griner sentenced to nine years in Russian prison WNBA star Brittney Griner sentenced to nine years in Russian prison

    WNBA star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on Thursday.

    Judge Anna Sotnikova reached her verdict quickly, which also included a fine of 1million rubles, rejecting Griner's apology and plea for leniency for bringing less than a gram of cannabis oil into the country more than five months ago.

    United States president Joe Biden called the sentence "unacceptable".

    While the war in Ukraine continues to cause tension between the US government and Moscow, the US State Department is now expected to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Russia, and a conviction was necessary before the process of organising a swap could begin.

    An eight-time All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury and widely considered one of the greatest players in WNBA history, the 31-year-old Griner was arrested in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She was returning to Russia, where she has played since 2014 during the WNBA offseason.

    The WNBA and NBA issued a joint statement after the sentence was handed down.

    "Today's verdict and sentencing is unjustified and unfortunate but not unexpected, and Brittney Griner remains wrongly detained," the statement read.

    "The WNBA and NBA's commitment to her safe return has not wavered, and it is our hope that we are near the end of this process of finally bringing BG home to the United States."

    At her trail on July 7, her lawyers argued that Griner was using the cannabis for medicinal purposes to treat chronic pain sustained over the course of her career.

    While on the stand, the two-time Olympic champion said she accidentally packed the cartridges and was unaware cannabis oil was outlawed in Russia.

    "Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney," Biden said in a statement.

    "It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately, so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and team-mates."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.