Offseason frenzy: Free Agency starts with a bang

Published July 2, 2022, 1:00 AMMiguel Flores

Kevin Durant’s trade request, free agent signings, and huge contract extensions all on the first day of Free Agency.

What went down

Kyrie Irving said, through The Athletic's Shams Charania, that “those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow” in his announcement of opting into the final year of his deal with the Brooklyn Nets.

The very next day, Kevin Durant asked Nets owner Joe Tsai directly for a trade.

This was the opening shot on the first day of Free Agency 2022 – a seismic nuke that affects the entire league—even the teams nowhere near trading for Kevin Durant. This was the news Pinoy Nets fans woke up to. This is probably not the last chapter to what should be drama-filled next few days or even weeks.

This is probably the final damning chapter to the Brooklyn Nets’ super team experiment. Relinquishing control of the franchise to two superstars on max deals for the last three years gave them one playoff series win and 54 total games with both Durant and Irving on the floor.

Is this the last time we see teams cede control of their teams to players, seeing that most super team attempts have crashed and burned?

Durant seemingly has no control of where he lands in a trade since the extension he signed last offseason did not include a no-trade clause. But no team would want to unload all of their best players and assets for KD who doesn’t want to be there. It’s still in the best interest for both parties to negotiate what’s best for each side. Durant, reportedly, wants to go to either Phoenix or Miami – two teams that could conjure an attractive package for Durant.

When the Durant domino falls, expect more to come crashing down like the Kyrie domino. Teams that acquire KD or Kyrie will want to reload for a championship run.

Big-time ballers

How many Arabian horses could $270 million buy? That’s probably what Nikola Jokic is thinking about now after he signed a “supermax” extension with the Denver Nuggets.

To recap, a “supermax” extension is reserved for players who meet a certain criteria, which includes MVP wins and tenure in the league. Jokic matched all the criteria so his new deal is reportedly worth 35% of the salary cap for the 2023-2024 season – the first season of the deal. That’s around $270 million total for five years with a $61.2 million payout in the final year.

Ja Morant also got paid, signing a five-year, $193 million rookie scale extension, which could end up becoming a $231 million deal if Morant makes an All-NBA team, wins Defensive Player of the Year, or wins MVP next season. This criteria is known as the 5/30% rule or the Derrick Rose rule. The standard maximum contract for rookies coming off their initial four-year rookie contract is a five-year deal worth 25% of the salary cap. That could become 30% if the player meets the criteria mentioned above.

Along with Morant and Jokic, Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns also got supermax extensions set to kick in in the 2024-2025 season. They essentially tacked on four more years to their current deals, guaranteeing they’ll be under contract with their current teams for at least six more seasons.

Bradley Beal, on the other hand, may have quashed trade rumors by signing his own supermax deal with the Washington Wizards, worth $251 million for five years.

What he said

Aside from Jokic, another former second round pick got the payday of a lifetime as Jalen Brunson signed a five-year $106 million deal with the New York Knicks.

Brunson’s former Villanova teammate Mikal Bridges wanted the world to know how much he deserved this.

Did you see that?

Fred VanVleet gave his summer cap attendees the full NBA experience.