Deals get real: Butler joins Heat, Raptors wish Kawhi well

ASSOCIATED PRESS
LAS VEGAS
Published 08.07.2019 00:05

Toronto said farewell to Kawhi Leonard. Miami said hello to Jimmy Butler. The Lakers finally have Anthony Davis. Free agency became real Saturday.

The four-team trade that sent Butler to the Heat, with a new $142 million, four-year contract, was one of the first big moves to get done once the league's offseason moratorium ended. But many of the other massive moves, such as Leonard's signing with the Los Angeles Clippers and the trade to have Paul George join him, remained in the paperwork stage. There was no real worry about the pending transactions: Some deals, including a few that got agreed upon very quickly when the negotiating window opened June 30, simply needed to be slotted in a certain order to make the NBA's money rules work.

"I think it's going to be a really exciting season," said Portland's Damian Lillard, who wasn't a free agent and won't be for a long time after signing a $196 million, four-year extension that could keep him with the Trail Blazers until 2025. "Obviously, it's exciting to see players change teams. You know people love that."

Not all people. Not always, anyway. Toronto awoke to the news Saturday that two starters from this past season's NBA champion Raptors, Leonard and Danny Green, were moving on. Leonard picked the Clippers and will sign a $142 million, four-year deal and George will be joining him in a massive trade that will send Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five draft picks to Oklahoma City in a blockbuster deal that shook up both conferences. Green is joining the Lakers on a two-year deal.

"Teams are making moves to win now and that's obvious," said Heat forward Meyers Leonard, who left Portland and is part of the four-team Butler deal. "The Clippers, for example, they're in ‘win-now' mode. They played well last year in the playoffs. They go and get Kawhi and PG and all these other players. OKC has to be thinking, ‘OK, we just got a ton of draft picks.' So people are positioning themselves in different ways."

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