Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri said Tuesday he has met with Kawhi Leonard, who is days away from becoming a free agent, and is confident the NBA champions can re-sign the superstar.
Speaking at a season-ending news conference, Ujiri said he had “very good meetings with him the last few days” but declined to elaborate.
Wherever Leonard, who turns 28 on Saturday, chooses to sign, the Raptors “will respect his decision,” Ujiri said.
Ujiri’s words came amid numerous reports that Leonard has scheduled a meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers for July 2. The Clippers long have been considered a front-runner to sign Leonard, a Southern California native.
–The Houston Rockets have their sights set on acquiring Jimmy Butler once the NBA free-agency period begins Sunday, according to ESPN.
But since the Rockets don’t have the salary cap room to chase Butler as a free agent, the team is hoping to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Butler, who finished last season with the 76ers, is eligible to sign a four-year, $140 million contract as a free agent. The only way Houston could take on that type of salary would be to shed two or three contracts of their own.
–Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala said he missed time during the 2018 playoffs with a fractured leg, despite the team claiming it was a bone bruise.
Iguodala made the comments on The Breakfast Club radio show while discussing Kevin Durant’s injury situation in Golden State’s playoff run this year. Durant suffered a ruptured Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals after he returned from a calf injury. His comments about his 2018 injury could renew questions about the Warriors’ medical staff and procedures.
“Our training staff is one of the best in the world. And I feel like they got (Durant) back. The tough thing is, when you’re an athlete and you’re hurt, everybody is looking at you sideways,” Iguodala said. “Last year, it happened to me. I missed the last three games of the Houston series. It goes to Game 7. We barely get out of that series. And now they’re looking at me like, ‘When are you coming back?’ And I had a fractured leg. But it’s being put out there like, ‘You’ve got a bone bruise.’ ‘Nah, it’s fractured.'”
–The Orlando Magic extended qualifying offers to center Khem Birch and forward Amile Jefferson, giving the team the right to match an offer sheet from a different club. Birch and Jefferson will become restricted free agents Sunday.
Birch, 26, averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season in 50 games (one start) in his second year with the Magic. Birch played at the University of Pittsburgh and UNLV, going undrafted in 2014. He played professionally before making the Orlando roster last season.
Jefferson, 26, averaged 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds last season over his first 12 career NBA games while on a two-way contract with the Magic. Jefferson helped Duke win an NCAA title in 2015.
–Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal claims team officials gave him assurances he won’t be traded.
Beal said he is open to a long-term contract extension with the team.
Beal told The Washington Post that owner Ted Leonsis, interim general manager Tommy Sheppard and coach Scott Brooks all have told him he’s staying put as rumors about interest from the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans swirl.
–A former Sacramento Kings executive will spend seven years in prison for stealing $13.4 million from the team.
Jeffrey David, who was the Kings’ chief revenue officer, was sentenced Monday.
He entered a guilty plea in December to federal charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The crimes carried up to 22 years in prison.
–Field Level Media