NEW YORK: All-Star forward Paul George will join NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder while Stephen Curry has agreed to a rich new deal to stay with Golden State.
Those reported deals set the tone as NBA free agency deal making began on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) , when the league announced each team’s salary cap was $99.093 million (86.7 million euros) for the 2017-18 season.
While clubs can make deals and negotiate terms, no contracts can be signed until Thursday under league free agency rules, leaving only reports of moves until things can be finalized.
Two-time NBA MVP Curry reached terms on what his agent told ESPN was a five-year deal worth $201 million, what would be the richest contract in NBA history.
Curry, who received a congratulatory tweet from Cleveland star LeBron James, had taken less money this season to help finance the talent around him, including NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who helped lead the Warriors over Cleveland to win his first title.
Durant has opted out of his contract with the Warriors but is expected to re-sign once Golden State works out deals for other players, notably top reserves Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.
Livingston reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Warriors while Iguodala is set to meet with San Antonio and ESPN reported Golden State would look at free agent Rudy Gay if Iguodala goes elsewhere.
Durant left Oklahoma City a year ago for the Warriors and Westbrook last season became only the second player in NBA history to average a triple double of points, rebounds and assists for a full season. He had 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game.
Now Westbrook will welcome George, who had told the Indiana Pacers he would not stay beyond the end of his contract next season and had spoken of wanting to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pacers, according to ESPN, sent him to Oklahoma City for guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis. That gave the Pacers something for losing George, when they would have received nothing had he stayed through next season and played out his contract.