NBA free agency began at 6 p.m. Thursday, when teams can begin to negotiate deals with players. The deals won’t become official until July 6.
The 2022 free agency class is weaker in years past, with many big stars planning to sign contracts to remain with their teams. We’ll be tracking the notable moves and news throughout the start of free agency.
Ricky Rubio reuniting with Cleveland
Ricky Rubio helped return the Cavaliers to contention. He’ll try to keep them there.
The veteran point guard agreed to come back for another stint with Cleveland, agreeing on a multiyear contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
Rubio was instrumental in Cleveland’s turnaround last season before injuring his left knee. He agreed to a three-year, $18.4 million deal, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced the agreement.
The 31-year-old Rubio was having one of his best NBA seasons before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against New Orleans in December. Rubio was a mentor to Cavs All-Star guard Darius Garland and his reunion in Cleveland with former Minnesota teammate Kevin Love had helped the forward’s comeback.
The Cavs traded Rubio’s expiring contract to Indiana in the deal for swingman Caris LeVert at the deadline. But Cleveland always hoped to bring the popular Rubio back for the right price.
It’s not known how far Rubio is in his recovery or if he’ll ready for the start of next season. Rubio has twice torn the ACL in his left knee.
In case Rubio’s not ready, the Cavs agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran minimum with guard Raul Neto, who spent the past two seasons with Washington.
Cleveland also agreed to a one-year contract with center Robin Lopez, who will back up All-Star Jarrett Allen. The 7-foot Lopez was with Orlando last season.
Rubio averaged 13.1 points, 6.6 assists in 34 games with Cleveland, which acquired him in a trade last summer with Minnesota.
The Cavs credited his leadership in helping the team’s 22-win improvement from the previous season. Cleveland went 44-38, but a late-season stumbled prevented the team from making the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
Rubio was drafted with the fifth overall pick by Minnesota in 2009. He spent two years playing in his native Spain before spending seven seasons with the Timberwolves. He also has played for Utah and Phoenix.
Rubio’s return could impact the team’s thinking on guard Collin Sexton, who is a restricted free agent. Like Rubio, Sexton missed much of last season with a knee injury. The Cavs extended a qualifying offer to Sexton this week.
Rudy Gobert traded to Minnesota, will pair with Karl-Anthony Towns
Danny Ainge appears to have made his first real mark on the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz and their new CEO have agreed to trade Rudy Gobert — a three-time defensive player of the year — to the Timberwolves for a massive package of players and draft picks, according to a person with knowledge of the blockbuster deal.
Utah will receive four first-round picks between 2023 and 2029, a first-round pick from this year’s draft in Walker Kessler, along with Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the NBA had not approved the deal and neither team could announce it publicly.
ESPN, which first reported the trade, also said Jarred Vanderbilt was going from Minnesota to Utah as part of the deal for Gobert — who now gets paired alongside another elite big man in Karl-Anthony Towns, who just agreed to a supermax deal to remain with the only team he’s ever played for.
“5 firsts …. Sheeeeeshhhhh,” New Orleans guard CJ McCollum posted on Twitter.
Indeed, it is a slew of assets for the Jazz, who made the playoffs in each of the last six seasons and now seem to be resetting in multiple ways. Quin Snyder decided to depart last month after eight years as coach; the Jazz hired Will Hardy, a longtime San Antonio assistant and an assistant for the Celtics on its run to the Eastern Conference title this past season, to take over on the bench.
And now, Gobert leaves, officially ending his pairing with guard Donovan Mitchell in Utah — an on-court relationship that seemed really good at times, and strained at other moments. And a series of disappointing playoff exits led to the annual question of whether the two could coexist on a title-contending team.
Gobert will instead start alongside Towns, forming what arguably will be the best 1-2 big-man punch in the league. Minnesota, barring other moves, could have a starting lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, along with Gobert and Towns.
The 30-year-old has won NBA Defensive Player of the Year three times along with making three All-Star teams. He is entering the second season of a five-year, $205 million contract, having led the league with 14.7 rebounds per game in the first.
Hawks trade Kevin Huerter to Kings
The Atlanta Hawks are trading Kevin Huerter to the Sacramento Kings for Justin Holiday, Mo Harkless, and a future conditional draft pick, according to a person with direct knowledge of the agreement.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been formally approved by the NBA and announced by either club. ESPN first reported the trade.
Huerter averaged 11.4 points in four seasons with Atlanta after being selected by the Hawks with the No. 19 pick in the 2018 draft. He was a starter for the overwhelming majority of his time in Atlanta.
But a trade seemed likely after the Hawks added guard Dejounte Murray in a trade with San Antonio this week, creating a backcourt pairing of young All-Stars — Murray and Trae Young.
Holiday spent 26 games with the Hawks in the 2015-16 season and averaged 8.3 points for the Kings this past season. Harkless averaged 4.6 points for Sacramento last season. – Associated Press
Celtics acquiring Malcolm Brogdon from the Pacers
The Celtics on Friday agreed to trade center Daniel Theis, guard Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, and their 2023 first-round pick to the Pacers in exchange for veteran point guard Malcolm Brogdon, a league source confirmed to the Globe.
John Wall agrees to sign with Clippers
Guard John Wall agreed to a two-year, $13.2 million deal with the Clippers, his representative Klutch Sports Group announced Friday.
Jusuf Nurkić returning to Portland
Jusuf Nurkić agreed to a four-year, $70 million contract to remain with the Trail Blazers, the agency that represents him announced.
Zach LaVine staying with the Bulls
Zach LaVine is staying with the Chicago Bulls. The two-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist said Friday he has agreed to a new deal with the Bulls. LaVine will be signing a five-year max contract worth about $215 million.
The Athletic first reported the agreement between the Bulls and LaVine.
Danilo Gallinari plans to sign with the Celtics
Danilo Gallinari plans to sign a two-year deal with the Celtics, Adam Himmelsbach confirmed. Read his full report here.
Cavaliers, Ricky Rubio agree to 3-year contract
Point guard Ricky Rubio has agreed to a three-year, $18.4 million deal to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to The Associated Press.
Brunson headed to Knicks
Jalen Brunson has reached agreement on a four-year, $104 million deal with the Knicks, according to ESPN. The guard is coming off a career-best year where he averaged career highs of 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Beal re-ups with Wizards
All-Star guard Bradley Beal will be staying in Washington. Beal agreed to a five-year, $251 million maximum contract to stay with the Wizards, according to ESPN.
Durant wants a trade
Kevin Durant has requested a trade from the Nets, a person with direct knowledge told the AP. The seismic decision undoubtedly will have teams scrambling to put together enormous offers for the perennial All-Star.
The Nets have been working with Durant to find a trade partner, and he has multiple teams on his preferred list, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because neither the player nor Brooklyn revealed any details publicly.
ESPN first reported Durant’s trade request, citing Phoenix and Miami as two of his preferred destinations. — Associated Press
Eight players to watch and others the Celtics could target with mid-level exception
When the Celtics came within two wins of an NBA championship, it showed president of basketball operations Brad Stevens that extensive roster alterations were not necessary, while also affirming that the current group is just not quite good enough.
With that in mind, Stevens and the Celtics intend to enter free agency on Thursday evening with some urgency, but not desperation.
The Celtics are not really positioned for a seismic strike, nor do they wish to be. But they will have options as they seek to refine the roster around star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Harden frees up space for Sixers
James Harden is taking less with hopes the Philadelphia 76ers can do more.
A person familiar with the situation said Harden chose not to exercise his $47.4 million option for next season and will become a free agent — but with no designs on leaving Philadelphia. Harden made the decision to allow the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign other players this summer, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side confirmed those plans publicly. — Associated Press
Irving, Westbrook staying put
Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook already have made their decisions; both could have been free agents this summer and found a combined 84 million reasons not to hit the open market — $47 million for Westbrook to opt-in for the last year of his deal with the Lakers, and nearly $37 million for Irving to do the same with the Nets. — Associated Press
Christopher Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe. Katie McInerney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac. Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.