Tagged in: free agent

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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Pittsburgh Steelers undergo special teams makeover, release punter Jordan Berry, long snapper Kameron Canaday

The Pittsburgh Steelers are ushering in a new era in the team’s kicking unit. While kicker Chris Boswell’s job is safe, he’ll have a new supporting cast for the 2021 season.

The Steelers released punter Jordan Berry and long snapper Kameron Canaday, league sources confirmed to ESPN. With their departures, rookie seventh-round pick Pressley Harvin III is the presumed punter and Christian Kuntz, who played FCS football at nearby Duquesne University, is the team’s long snapper.

Berry first joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and has been the team’s primary punter for the better part of six seasons.

He was briefly released last year when the team brought on former Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt for a month, but Berry re-signed with the team in October and reclaimed punting duties.

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He averaged 44.4 yards per punt in his career, including a career best 45.8 last season. He went toe-to-toe with Harvin, a Georgia Tech product and 2020 Ray Guy winner, throughout training camp and the preseason.

“It really has been competitive,” special teams coordinator Danny Smith said during training camp. “It really has. It’s good to see two pros put their best foot forward. No pun intended. But Jordan’s punting the ball better than he ever has and Pressley is very talented, so it’s been quite a competition.”

Harvin impressed from the jump, averaging 46 yards per punt over his three preseason appearances.

Berry rose to the occasion and averaged 43.9 yards per punt in two preseason matches, but the team opted to go with their draft pick.

At long snapper, Kuntz, a Pittsburgh area native, won the job over four-year long snapper Canaday after spending part of the 2020 season on the Steelers’ practice squad.

He also spent the 2019 training camp with the Steelers before being waived during final cuts. He’s been on rosters and in camps with teams since 2017 and had a stint in the XFL with the Dallas Renegades, earning praise for his versatility of being a linebacker and long snapper.

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Top New York Jets free-agent signing Carl Lawson ruptures Achilles, will miss 2021 season

New York Jets defensive end Carl Lawson, the team’s biggest free-agent signing from the offseason, will miss the 2021 campaign after rupturing his left Achilles tendon Thursday.

The injury happened during a red zone period in a joint practice between the Jets and Green Bay Packers at the Packers’ facility. Several players took knees and the practice fell ominously quiet as medical personnel tended to Lawson.

Safety Zane Lewis also suffered a season-ending injury during the joint practice as the Jets stated he tore a patella tendon and sprained an MCL. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (knee) and wide receiver Denzel Mims (hip) also were injured Thursday, but their injuries are considered minor and both players are day-to-day, the Jets said.

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Lawson’s season-ending injury is a huge blow to the Jets, who were counting on him to be their primary edge-rushing threat in their new 4-3 front.

He had been dominant in training-camp practices.

The loss of Lawson will force the Jets to retool their defensive line under new head coach Robert Saleh, who spent the last four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator.

Saleh is no stranger to dealing with injuries and still fielding a strong defense. The 49ers ranked No. 5 in total yards allowed last season despite the losses of Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman and Ezekiel Ansah due to injuries.

Bryce Huff, an undrafted free agent last year out of Memphis, is the favorite to get a chance to replace Lawson as a primary pass-rusher for the Jets.

The Jets signed Lawson to a three-year, $45 million contract in March. He spent his first four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawson has a history of major injuries. He tore his left ACL at Auburn in 2014, and he tore his right ACL with the Bengals in 2018.

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New York Jets OL Alex Lewis, a former starter, decides to retire

New York Jets guard Alex Lewis, who walked off the practice field Aug. 5 with an apparent head injury, has decided to retire from the NFL, a source told ESPN on Wednesday.

By rule, Lewis, 29, was eliminated from playing for any team in 2021 when he was placed last week on the reserve/left squad list. He was aware of that possibility and wasn’t surprised when the Jets used that designation, the source said.

Lewis’ head injury wasn’t the reason he left the team, as the Jets suggested soon after his sudden departure. “He’s going through some things which are much greater than football right now,” coach Robert Saleh said on Aug. 7. “We’re just giving him a chance to kind of sort through it all.”

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Lewis’ retirement culminates a tumultuous year.

The former starter spent time last campaign on the non-football injury list as he sought medical help for an undisclosed condition. That came after a heated practice-field exchange with then-coach Adam Gase.

In the offseason, the Jets replaced Lewis by drafting guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round. Lewis wasn’t happy, a source said, prompting him to skip the voluntary portion of the offseason program.

The Jets approached Lewis about a pay cut, and the two sides agreed to a reworked deal in May. His base salary was lowered from $5.8 million to $3 million, and the final year of his contact (2022) was voided, which would have allowed him to become a free agent.

In theory, Lewis could try a comeback in 2022, but “it remains to be seen whether he has any desire to play again,” the source said.

Lewis, a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, played three years with them before being traded to the Jets in 2019. He did a solid job at left guard and was rewarded with a three-year, $18.6 million contract. He played in 44 career matches, with 39 starts.

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Boston Celtics, Dennis Schroder agree on 1-year, $5.9 million deal

Free-agent point guard Dennis Schroder is headed to the Boston Celtics, he announced Tuesday on his Instagram account.

The deal is for one year and will be for the $5.9 million taxpayer midlevel exception, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Schroder, who turns 28 in September, was the last remaining significant unrestricted free agent on the market. He turned down a lucrative extension offer from the Los Angeles Lakers during the regular season, worth north of $80 million, to pursue a bigger contract this summer.

In Boston, Schroder joins a Celtics team with a hole at point guard in the wake of Kemba Walker being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, giving him an opportunity to boost his value when he will hit the market again as a free agent next summer.

“I’m proud to announce that for the 2021-22 season I’ll be playing for the Boston Celtics!” Schroder wrote on Instagram. “This is one of the best franchises in NBA history and it will be a honour to put on the green and white and do what I love! I’m going out there every night and leaving it all on the floor for the city!! Who’s ready?”

The Lakers had acquired Schroder in a trade with the Thunder at last year’s NBA draft in exchange for Danny Green and last year’s first-round pick.

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Schroder averaged 15.4 points and 5.8 assists in 61 games — all starts — for the Lakers, but he was mired in controversy after he missed 11 days late in the regular season after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

He told a German publication that he and LeBron James were the only Lakers players to not get vaccinated, before then telling local reporters upon his return that, “I’m the only guy that didn’t get vaccinated. I’ll just leave it at that.”

He then averaged 14.3 points but shot just 40% from the field and 30.3% from the 3-point line in the Lakers’ loss to the Phoenix Suns in six matches in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

“You got to go through the bulls— to get to the good s—,” Schroder told reporters in his end-of-season news conference after the Suns series.

By signing Schroder for the taxpayer midlevel exception, along with signing center Enes Kanter for a one-year minimum deal, Boston now is sitting a little over $4 million over the luxury tax line with 15 guaranteed contracts on its roster.

The Celtics are coming off a disappointing season that saw them conclude seventh in the East and lose in five games to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

After the season ended, longtime president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stepped aside, longtime coach Brad Stevens took his place and the Celtics hired Nets assistant Ime Udoka to replace him.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, is facing a massive payroll and luxury tax bill of close to $200 million even without Schroder, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, after trading for Russell Westbrook, signing Kendrick Nunn to a two-year deal worth $10 million, re-signing Talen Horton-Tucker to a three-year, $32 million deal and filling out the rest of the roster with one-year minimum deals, including contracts for future Hall of Famers Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

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Kawhi Leonard declines $36 million player option for next season

Kawhi Leonard has declined his $36 million player option for next season, becoming a free agent, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The expectation is that Leonard will negotiate a new deal to stay with the LA Clippers.

Yahoo Sports first reported that Leonard has declined his option.

Leonard’s decision comes in the wake of having surgery on July 13 to repair a partially torn right ACL that kept him out of the LA Clippers’ final eight playoff games.

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Leonard could potentially miss a chunk of the upcoming season.

The Clippers stated in their news release revealing the surgery that there was no timetable for his return.

Despite the injury, Leonard remained the biggest star in the league with a decision to make this summer concerning his future.

He decided between opting into his contract for $36 million in 2021-22 with the option of then signing a four-year, $181.5 million extension that would start in 2022-23 or declining the option and potentially signing a four-year, $176.2 million deal.

Leonard averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 52 regular-season games during his second campaign with the Clippers. He missed nine out of 10 regular-season games in April due to a foot injury.

Prior to Leonard’s knee injury, the Clippers got a glimpse of their potential with Leonard and Paul George playing their best basketball together on the playoff stage.

Leonard averaged 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting 57.3 percent in 11 postseason matches.

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New York Yankees acquire All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo from Chicago Cubs

The New York Yankees obtained All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, it was revealed.

Right-handed pitcher Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcantara, both minor leaguers, will head from New York to Chicago in the trade.

The Yankees also announced they acquired cash considerations from the Cubs but didn’t specify the amount. A source told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers that it is $5.5 million, which is the remaining balance of Rizzo’s $16.5 million salary this season.

Rizzo wasn’t in the lineup for the Cubs’ series finale versus the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. The three-time All-Star is batting .248 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 92 games this season.

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Rizzo, who will turn 32 on Aug. 8, can become a free agent after the season.

He has spent the past 10 seasons with Chicago. The slugger went over in a trade with the San Diego Padres in 2012 and is considered one of the iconic Cubs after helping break a 108-year championship drought in 2016.

The move to get Rizzo comes after New York also got All-Star outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. Both Rizzo and Gallo are left-handed hitters, which the Yankees had sought to add to a lineup that was predominantly right-handed — not a good mix at Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field.

New York started the day fourth in the American League wild-card chase for two spots and then lost 14-0 at Tampa Bay. The Yankees had been using a mix at first base this year with DJ LeMahieu getting a lot of time. 

Luke Voit led the majors in home runs last year during the pandemic-shortened season, but the big first baseman has been injured for much of the year.

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New Orleans Saints agree to deal with free agent cornerback Brian Poole

The New Orleans Saints have agreed to a deal with free agent cornerback Brian Poole, pending a physical, a source confirmed.

Terms of the agreement were not instantly known. NFL reporter Josina Anderson first reported that Poole stated he intends to sign a one-year deal with the Saints on Monday.

Poole, 28, spent his first five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets after going undrafted out of Florida.

The 5-foot-10, 213-pounder established himself as one of the NFL’s top slot cornerbacks before he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 9 last year.

Poole had two interceptions, one sack and seven pass break-ups in his abbreviated 2020 season with the Jets. He has seven interceptions and six sacks in 70 career games.

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Cornerback has been a pressing need for the Saints ever since they released veteran starter Janoris Jenkins during a salary-cap purge at the start of the offseason.

Poole is a curious fit since he primarily plays in the slot – where New Orleans has other proven options like safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson and cornerback Patrick Robinson. But the increased depth and talent can’t hurt.

The Saints, who recently created more than $10 million in cap space through revised contracts, could also look to add more veteran help at wide receiver and defensive tackle as they head toward the beginning of training camp this week.

Poole is known for his physical coverage against slot receivers, yet he was called for only three penalties in 2019 and none in 2020, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

He spent his first three years with the Falcons, and quickly became an integral part of the defense. As a rookie, he saw significant playing time on their NFC championship squad. In 2018, he struggled at times in pass coverage, prompting the Falcons to set him free by declining his restricted-free agent tender.

Poole proved to be a solid, cost-effective acquisition for the Jets, first signing a one-year, $3 million deal in 2019, then a one-year $5 million deal in 2020.

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Kansas City Chiefs re-sign defensive end Alex Okafor to 1-year deal

Veteran defensive end Alex Okafor has signed a one-year contract to return to the Kansas City Chiefs, just days before the first players start reporting for training camp.

The Chiefs did not disclose financial terms in announcing the deal Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Okafor has 30 sacks and 183 tackles in eight NFL seasons, including the past two with the Chiefs. He joined the club as a free agent from New Orleans in March 2019, signing a three-year, $18 million contract.

Okafor made an immediate impact in helping rebuild the Kansas City defense, recording five sacks and 21 combined tackles in 10 games. A torn pectoral muscle in Week 15 forced him to finish the season on injured reserve. He missed playing in the team’s triumph over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV.

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The veteran signed a restructured contract in August 2020 that reduced his salary cap figure for that upcoming season by $2 million and voided the final year of his original three-year deal.

A hamstring injury limited Okafor to 11 games last season.

He finished with three sacks and 16 total tackles. He contributed in a backup role during the team’s playoff run, picking up five total tackles in three postseason contests, including one stop versus Tampa Bay in the team’s 31-9 loss in Super Bowl LV.

Okafor expects to compete for a backup role behind anticipated starters Frank Clark and Chris Jones as the team’s edge rushers. Competition at defensive end also includes veteran Taco Charlton, second-year pro Mike Danna and 2021 fourth-round draft pick Joshua Kaindoh.

Clark was charged in California with felony possession of an assault weapon stemming from a traffic stop in March. In June, he was arrested in Los Angeles after police said they saw a submachine gun in his car. Chiefs players begin reporting to training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph on Friday.

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