Tagged in: contract

Khabib Nurmagomedov adding Kevin Lee, 165-pound weight class to his promotion, Eagle FC

As an active fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov was one of the most influential figures in mixed martial arts. It seems he will continue to be one in his retirement.

Nurmagomedov, 33, revealed on Wednesday that his MMA promotion, Eagle FC, has signed former UFC lightweight Kevin Lee to an exclusive contract. Nurmagomedov also said his company plans to permanently open a new 165-pound weight class — a topic of debate in the sport for some time.

Lee (18-7) fought in the UFC from 2014 to 2021. He competed at 155 and 170 pounds but campaigned — unsuccessfully — for the addition of a 165-pound weight class.

“It’s going to be big news for a lot of fighters around the world,” Nurmagomedov told ESPN. “I know a lot of fighters want 165. A lot of fighters can’t make 155 and they are a little small at 170.

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“Honestly, this is not only about Kevin Lee. This is about a lot of fighters. I know because when I was a fighter, how I was feeling in there and I was talking with a lot of fighters around the world, they were asking, ‘Why other promotions — UFC, Bellator, PFL — why they not make 165?'”

Nurmagomedov even encouraged UFC lightweight Dustin Poirier to join his 165-pound weight class.

Poirier is signed to the UFC and just came up short in a title bid versus Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 over the weekend in Las Vegas.

Born in Dagestan, Nurmagomedov purchased Eagle FC in 2020. The promotion is holding its first U.S.-based event on Jan. 28 in Miami. The retired former champ says he has big plans for his promotion, and expects it to become a global brand.

“I have so much knowledge and I can share my knowledge with a lot of people,” Nurmagomedov said. “I can make comfortable position for a lot of fighters around the world. Right now, we are going to create a new system.

You guys will know very soon about this platform, where fighters will be happy. More happy than they’ve been with other organizations. Nothing against our big brothers, but this business have to move on.”

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Padres reportedly sign RHP Nick Martinez

The Padres reportedly signed RHP Nick Martinez to a four-year contract worth $20 million.

However, the deal did not get done before the current MLB lockout.

Once the deal is completed and official, Martinez will have opt-outs after each of the first two seasons, but the Padres will hope he becomes a critical part of the Padres rotation. He’ll be a free agent until the lockout ends.

Martinez, who spent four campaigns with the Texas Rangers from 2014-2017, played the past four years in Japan.

The veteran pitcher owns a 3.44 ERA over his career in the NPB, but posted a stellar 1.62 ERA for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2021. These numbers prompted the Padres to make a move. Martinez also pitched in the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA, as they secured a silver medal. 

Martinez actually played second base for most of his collegiate career at Fordham. He pitched in 15 matches, and the Rangers chose to develop him as a pitcher. The native of Miami was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 Major League draft but worked his way up the ranks quickly.

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He made his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League and pushed his way up to Double-A in the 2013 season. After a strong spring training, he was named as the fifth starter for the Texas Rangers for the 2014 season. He made 29 appearances for the Rangers, counting 24 starts.

Martinez pitched 140.1 innings, posted a 4.55 ERA and a 1.461 WHIP. His season highlight came on September 23, when he threw 6.2 scoreless innings and permitted just five hits versus the Astros. 

Martinez also pitched well in 2015, posting a career-best 3.96 ERA in 125 innings and 21 starts. That year, he did lead the major leagues in hit batters.

Unfortunately, he struggled in 2016, splitting time between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock. Ultimately, he made 12 appearances and just five starts for the Rangers. The pitcher didn’t perform very well in his limited time, posting a 5.59 ERA.

He did get extended opportunities in 2016.

The right-handed pitcher made 23 appearances and 18 starts in the 2017 season, as he pitched 111.1 innings, but struggled again, putting up a 5.56 ERA.

Nick Martinez hit free agency after the season, and after struggling in his previous two seasons, there wasn’t much interest from teams in the States.

The veteran pitcher signed a one-year deal with the Nippon Ham-Fighters. He put together a strong season recording a 3.51 ERA, which was enough to get him another one-year contract for the 2019 season.  

That year, Martinez put up a 3.51 ERA for the second consecutive season, pitching in 161.2 innings and striking out 93 batters in the process.

For the 2020 season, Nick Martinez re-signed with the Ham-Fighters. But in 17 appearances, the pitcher struggled. Martinez was only able to produce a 4.62 ERA and became a free agent after the season ended.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks came calling, and he has been stellar. His 1.62 ERA came in 149.2 innings, and his career-best professional season earns him a contract with the Padres. 

The veteran right-handed pitcher will compete with players such as Chris Paddack and MacKenzie Gore to make the back end of the rotation. If he doesn’t make the rotation, he’ll factor into the bullpen to some degree.

His time in Japan helped him develop, and he’ll look to be a major player in the Padres pitching staff in 2022 and beyond.

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New York Mets announce Billy Eppler as new GM on 4-year contract

The New York Mets finally found a general manager, hiring Billy Eppler in a move revealed Thursday night following their long and ridiculed search.

Eppler was fired as GM of the Los Angeles Angels a little more than a year ago after five unsuccessful seasons. But he landed the same position with the Mets after a recruiting process that became the butt of jokes while dragging on for more than six weeks since the 2021 season ended.

Eppler gets a four-year contract to become the 16th general manager in Mets history and their fifth head of baseball operations in 13 tumultuous months. He will be introduced by the team Friday via Zoom.

With an uncertain offseason already underway, his return to New York marks a major step toward restoring stability in the front-office structure under owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson.

“I’m so thankful to Steve and Sandy for what I consider an opportunity of a lifetime,” Eppler said in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do and will systematically begin to work towards our goal of building a perennial winner.”

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The 46-year-old Eppler was GM of the Angels from 2015 to 2020, overseeing five consecutive losing seasons.

The team went 332-376 (.469) under three managers, with a rotating cast of supporting players around Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

Unable to provide enough pitching, an aggressive Eppler did land some big fish for Los Angeles with the help of owner Arte Moreno’s checkbook. He lured two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani to the Angels and signed free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon to a $245 million, seven-year contract. Trout got a $426.5 million, 12-year deal.

“Billy has the experience, character and respect of the baseball community that will allow him to attract the players and front office talent to lead the Mets forward,” Cohen stated. “He is a leader who has worked in two of baseball’s biggest markets and his talents and personality will move us closer to my goal of sustained success.”

Although the Angels didn’t win much under Eppler, he boosted a previously barren farm system with several prospects now making an impact on the big league level, including All-Star slugger Jared Walsh, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell and Reid Detmers.

“One of the most honest people I’ve met in this industry. Great talent evaluator,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Eppler at the end of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. “I’m certain he’s going to land firmly on his feet.”

Two months ago, Eppler joined WME Sports as part of their baseball representation.

“Over the past two decades, Billy has been a scout and an assistant GM,” Alderon said. “He’s also more than familiar with the New York market. This uniquely qualifies him to lead our efforts going forward. He’s smart, he hustles and has a keen eye for identifying talent. He’s going to make us better. I am really pleased that we have someone of his caliber leading the Mets.”

Eppler graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1998 with a finance degree and worked in scouting and player development for the Colorado Rockies from 2000 to 2004. After that he joined the New York Yankees and became a rising star in their front office.

He was director of professional scouting from 2006 to 2011 and an assistant GM under Brian Cashman from 2012 to 2014.

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Odell Beckham Jr. agrees to contract with Los Angeles Rams

Odell Beckham Jr. has agreed to a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams, the team revealed.

The free-agent wide receiver joins a high-powered offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and adds to a depth chart at the position that already includes Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson.

Beckham became a free agent when he cleared waivers on Tuesday after being released by the Cleveland Browns.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks were among the other teams Beckham considered this week, sources had told ESPN.

Stafford stated Thursday he has a lot of respect for Beckham, who he played with at a Pro Bowl. He lauded Beckham for being “outstanding” both when the ball is in the air and after the catch and said he was “excited” to be able to work with him on the Rams.

“It’s an opportunity for us as a team, it’s an opportunity for him to come in here and prove himself to us. What our room is about in the receiver room is pretty special. I know he’ll fit right in and continue to get better and hopefully help us as a team,” Stafford said.

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Stafford said if Beckham wants to win, “that’s what we’re all about,” and he was confident he’ll be able to contribute.

“Everybody on our team carves out their role. They do a great job of figuring out what that role is going to be and going out there and proving it both on the practice field and in games and given the opportunities I know he’ll do the same,” he said.

In Los Angeles, Beckham essentially replaces veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after the trade deadline last week. Jackson signed with the Las Vegas Raiders this week.

Beckham is the second high-profile player added by the Rams this month, after Los Angeles traded for star pass-rusher Von Miller before the deadline last week. Miller welcomed Beckham to Los Angeles on his Instagram Story, posting: “Let’s chase this ring family!!!!”

Beckham was also welcomed to L.A. by Lakers superstar LeBron James, one of his good friends, who tweeted: “Welcome to LA my brother @obj ! It’s GO TIME!!”

The Rams lead the NFL in total offense this season behind a potent passing attack led by Stafford, who is first in the NFL with 2,771 passing yards. Kupp is the team’s No. 1 receiver and leads the NFL in receptions (74), receiving yards (1,019) and touchdown receptions (10).

The Browns excused Beckham from practice last week while the sides negotiated his exit. He had asked to be traded and never developed an on-field connection with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Beckham essentially forced his release last week when his father shared an 11-minute video on social media — hours before the trade deadline — of plays in which Mayfield didn’t pass him the ball.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection has 17 catches for 232 yards and zero touchdowns in six matches this season. Beckham had 1,035 receiving yards in 2019, his first season with Cleveland, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020. He has passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark five times in his career.

Browns safety John Johnson III, who spent the past four seasons with the Rams, was on a Zoom call with Cleveland reporters when the news of Beckham’s signing broke. Johnson wondered how OBJ will fit in L.A.

“They had a good thing going, like a complete offense,” Johnson said. “I don’t know. I just feel, like, from being in L.A., I know for a fact the offense runs through Cooper Kupp; even in the run game, the pass game, the screen game, it kind of runs through Cooper Kupp. So obviously, Odell’s a big name and he’s going to want that attention as well. It will be interesting.

“Coach [Sean] McVay, he’s one of the best doing it. He’ll find a way to get it done, but right off the bat, I really wouldn’t want to go there if I were him. But we’ll see how it goes, and I wish him the best.”

The Rams have been remarkably successful at managing the egos and needs of their elite players, with McVay assuaging almost all public disenchantment with the organization.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was considered a potential locker room problem after he forced his way out of Jacksonville, but he has been a model citizen and a clear team leader in Los Angeles since arriving in 2019.

The Rams (7-2) play the San Francisco 49ers (3-5) on Monday night.

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LHP Andrew Heaney headed to Los Angeles Dodgers on 1-year deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who entered this offseason with several holes to fill on their pitching staff, signed Andrew Heaney to a one-year contract worth $8.5 million, sources confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

Heaney, a 30-year-old left-handed starter, spent the bulk of the past seven years with the crosstown Angels, posting a 4.67 ERA with nearly four times as many strikeouts as walks in 605 innings.

Heaney spent most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery but has since made only three relatively short trips to the injured list.

His ERA ballooned to 5.83 in 129⅔ innings last season, but some of the underlying numbers painted his 2021 season more favorably (most notably an average exit velocity of 89 mph, an expected ERA of 4.03 and a swinging-strike percentage of 13.8).

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The Dodgers have only Walker Buehler and Julio Urias returning from the 2021 rotation, though Tony Gonsolin and David Price will also vie for solidified spots.

The team is attracted in bringing back Max Scherzer, who is poised to sign one of the sport’s richest deals on an annual basis, but will presumably be in play for several big-name free agents and trade candidates.

The Dodgers recently opted against extending an $18.4 million qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw largely because of the forearm/elbow inflammation that plagued him down the stretch last season.

The ailment kept Kershaw from participating in the postseason and has created an air of mystery around his health at the onset of this offseason. If Kershaw is healthy and wants to return to the Dodgers — and if his hometown Texas Rangers aren’t too much of a pull — both sides are expected to work something out.

Heaney, who made $6.75 million last season, was traded to the New York Yankees in July, gave up 13 home runs in 35⅔ innings and spent all of September in a low-leverage bullpen role.

He was designated for assignment on Oct. 5 and granted free agency two days later. Because of that, Heaney didn’t have to wait until the official start of free agency — typically five days after the conclusion of the World Series — to speak with prospective suitors.

Heaney spoke with multiple teams before deciding on the Dodgers.

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Trevor Bauer, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon decline opt-outs; Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard get qualifying offers from New York Mets

Right-hander Trevor Bauer, third baseman Nolan Arenado, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and infielder-outfielder Jurickson Profar declined to opt out of their contracts to become free agents.

Bauer agreed to a three-year, $102 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in February and stated 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts. He has been on paid leave since July 2 while he is investigated under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. He is keeping salaries of $32 million in each of the next two seasons.

Elsewhere, the New York Mets revealed Saturday that they have extended $18.4 million qualifying offers to outfielder Michael Conforto and pitcher Noah Syndergaard — a day ahead of Sunday’s deadline. Players have 10 days to decide whether to accept the one-year offer.

Arenado was owed $214 million over seven seasons as part of the contract that was amended when he was traded Feb. 1 to the St. Louis Cardinals by the Colorado Rockies.

He had the right to opt out after this season and also has the right to opt out after the 2022 season.

Arenado hit .255 with 34 homers and 105 RBIs in his first season with the Cardinals.

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Blackmon struck a six-year, $108 million deal with the Rockies in April 2018 that included a $21 million player option for 2022 and a $10 million option for 2023. He kept his contract for 2022 after hitting .270 with 13 homers and 78 RBIs.

Profar agreed in January to a three-year, $21 million contract with the San Diego Padres and had the right to opt out of a deal that involved $6.5 million for 2022, $7.5 million for 2023 and a $10 million mutual option for 2024. He hit .227 with four homers and 33 RBIs for the disappointing Padres.

Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart’s $7.75 million option was exercised Saturday by the Detroit Tigers, who acquired him Wednesday from the Cincinnati Reds for infield prospect Nick Quintana. Barnhart’s option price included a $250,000 escalator for winning a 2020 Gold Glove and would go up again by the same amount if he wins for 2021.

The Chicago White Sox declined a $6 million option on 31-year-old infielder Cesar Hernandez. He hit .232 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs for Cleveland and Chicago, which got him on July 29.

Reds left-hander Justin Wilson exercised a $2.3 million player option, part of a two-year, $5.15 million deal he signed with the New York Yankees. By exercising the player option, Wilson gave the Reds a club option for 2023 at $500,000 above that year’s minimum salary. He had a 2.81 ERA in 21 games after the Reds obtained him on July 28.

Josh Tomlin’s $1.25 million option was declined by the World Series champion Atlanta Braves, who must pay a $250,000 buyout. The 37-year-old right-hander was 4-0 with a 6.57 ERA but did not pitch in the postseason.

St. Louis declined a $17 million option on right-hander Carlos Martinez, who gets a $500,000 buyout, and a $12 million option on infielder Matt Carpenter, who receives a $2 million buyout. Martinez was 4-9 with a 6.23 ERA, completing a five-year, $51 million contract. Carpenter hit .169 with three homers and 21 RBIs, finishing a two-year, $39 million contract.

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Ben Simmons reports to Philadelphia 76ers

After staying away for the first two weeks of the preseason, 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons reported to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Monday night, sources told ESPN.

As the Sixers played the Brooklyn Nets, Simmons took a COVID-19 test in the arena, sources said. The initial test starts several days of testing required by the NBA to clear him for a return to the team.

Simmons’ arrival settled several weeks of discussions between the organization and Simmons’ representative, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, to get Simmons back into the marketplace, sources said.

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Simmons had held out in hopes of accelerating a trade. However, under the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, for each preseason game he missed, he lost roughly $360,000 for failing to show up — totaling more than $1 million for the three games that he missed.

In addition, the 76ers could fine Simmons for missed practices: $2,500 for the first, $5,000 for the second, $7,500 for the third and for every practice after that it being left to the discretion of the team, with the ability to go up to $50,000.

Simmons, 25, has four years and $147 million left on his contract.

Simmons hadn’t spoken directly to team officials since a late August meeting in Los Angeles in which he reiterated his desire for a trade, sources said.

He had recently become more open-minded about the possibility of ending his time away from the team and reporting to Philadelphia, but the next step will be him committing to not just a return to the city — but returning the team on the court.

The Sixers have canvassed the league throughout the offseason for trades but have been unable to find a deal that would bring them a comparable star they’d want to continue to build a championship contender around All-NBA center Joel Embiid, sources said.

Those trade talks would likely continue with a Simmons return, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers are hopeful to keep working to convince Simmons on remaining long-term with the franchise, sources said.

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Chicago Bulls exercise contract options on Coby White, Patrick Williams

The Bulls have exercised a pair of rookie scale team options, locking in guard Coby White and forward Patrick Williams for the 2022/23 campaign, the team revealed wednesday in a press release.

While decisions on standard team options are typically due right before free agency begins, teams have to make their decisions on rookie scale team options a year in advance.

By October 31, clubs must either exercise or decline third-year options for first-round picks from 2020 and fourth-year options for 2019’s first-rounders.

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White was a starter for the Bulls this past season, but figures to come off the bench following the team’s acquisition of Lonzo Ball in free agency.

The 21-year-old averaged 15.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 4.1 RPG on .416/.359/.901 shooting in 69 games (31.2 MPG) in 2020/21. His ’21/22 debut may be delayed, since he’s coming off left shoulder surgery.

Williams, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, was also a full-time starter last season as a 19-year-old rookie.

His role for 2021/22 stays unclear, but the former Florida State standout looks like a key part of Chicago’s long-term plans. He put up 9.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG on .483/.391/.728 shooting in 71 games (27.9 MPG) last season. White’s fourth-year option for 2022/23 is worth $7,413,955.

He’ll now be extension-eligible during the 2022 offseason and would be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023 if he doesn’t sign a new contract next year.

Williams’ third-year option for ’22/23 will pay him $7,775,400. The Bulls will have to decide on his fourth-year option for 2023/24 by October 31, 2022.

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Dallas Mavericks sign free agent Frank Ntilikina, No. 8 pick in 2017 draft

The Dallas Mavericks bolstered their backcourt by signing former New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina.

The Mavericks revealed the signing of Ntilikina on Thursday. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed.

Ntilikina played four seasons for the Knicks, who selected him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. In that same draft, the Mavs took Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth selection, later trading the guard to the Knicks in the blockbuster deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas.

The 23-year-old Ntilikina averaged 5.5 points, 2.7 assists and two rebounds over 211 career games (55 starts) with the Knicks. He had career-worst averages of 2.7 points and 0.6 assists over 33 games (four starts) last season, his final in New York before becoming a free agent.

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Born in Belgium, Ntilikina moved to France when he was 3 years old and started his professional basketball career in 2015 in a French pro league.

Ntilikina competed in the Summer Games in Tokyo for the French national team, which lost to the United States in the gold medal game.

The Mavericks have focused on guards this off-season, previously adding veterans Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown in free agency. Dallas also re-signed shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Mavericks made a point guard selection of their own during that draft. With Ntilikina off the board by the pick prior, Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 overall selection.

Neither Ntilikina nor Smith Jr. had successful tenures with their original NBA team. They are each looking to put together a strong training camp performance to earn a contract for the 2021-22 season.

There was speculation that Smith Jr. could receive a camp invite from the Mavericks, but instead, he received and accepted one from the Portland Trail Blazers.

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DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with Los Angeles Lakers after trade, buyout

After finalizing a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons, three-time All-Star center DeAndre Jordan intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN.

Detroit got Jordan, four second-round picks and $5.78 million in a deal with Brooklyn on Friday with the intention of buying out the remaining two years and $20 million on Jordan’s contract, sources told ESPN.

Once the buyout agreement is signed, Jordan will have to clear waivers before becoming a free agent and signing with the Lakers. His contract terms make it virtually impossible for Jordan to be claimed by a team.

Brooklyn got Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya in the deal with Detroit, the Nets revealed Saturday.

They will send the Pistons their 2022 and 2027 second-round picks along with the more favorable 2024 second-rounder between the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies and the more favorable 2025 second-rounder between the Wizards and Golden State Warriors, sources said.

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Trading Jordan’s contract instead of buying it out offers the Nets financial relief in the short term, but also in the future with the repeater tax penalty starting in 2023.

“We appreciate everything DeAndre has contributed to our organization over the past two seasons both on and off the court and wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

Brooklyn had the option of waiving and stretching the $19.7 million owed on Jordan’s deal over five seasons; that would have represented a $3.9 million cap hit that would have lingered on the team’s books from 2021 to 2025.

The move could have saved the Nets money on their luxury tax bill for the next two years but cost them an extra $20 million in 2023-24 and could have reached $50 million in 2024-25 and 2025-26.

The Lakers have signed several veteran players to their bench — including eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard — and still have three-time All-Star Marc Gasol on the roster.

Jordan was part of a free-agent signing class with Brooklyn that included Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2019.

Initially, Jordan alternated at starting center with Jarrett Allen, who was eventually traded to Cleveland as part of the four-team deal that landed the Nets All-NBA guard James Harden.

Once the Nets acquired Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, Jordan’s role diminished. Jordan averaged 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 57 games played last season in Brooklyn.

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