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Lakers keep Reaves, Russell; Bucks agree to keep Lopez in free agency

AP – The Los Angeles Lakers kept two of their best guards. The Milwaukee Bucks retained their big man, as the early trend in free agency of most players staying put continued on Sunday.

Dillon Brooks, though, is off to a new beginning in Houston.

Austin Reaves agreed to a four-year deal that could be worth USD56 million, and D’Angelo Russell returned to the Lakers as well on a USD37 million, two-year deal, people with knowledge of those transactions told The Associated Press (AP). The Athletic first reported the agreement with Reaves, and ESPN first reported the agreement with Russell.

Reaves and Russell were both starters in the postseason for the Lakers, who made the Western Conference finals before falling to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

Also Saturday, Milwaukee – which had already retained Khris Middleton – kept centre Brook Lopez on a two-year deal, a person familiar with the agreement told the AP. The Athletic and ESPN reported the deal was worth USD48 million for the 35-year-old Lopez, who averaged 15.9 points in 78 games this past season for the Bucks.

Russell Westbrook is also staying where he ended last season, agreeing to a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers – after starting the last 21 games for them in the regular season and their five playoff games.

The second year is at Westbrook’s option, a source said; ESPN reported the deal was worth USD8 million.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Austin Reaves drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets. PHOTO: AP

Brooks – who made tonnes of headlines for his talking, on and off the court, during Memphis’ first-round playoff series against the Lakers – is getting a new home in Houston, after agreeing to a four-year deal worth nearly USD80 million, a source told AP. ESPN reported it may become a sign-and-trade, one that would create a massive trade exception for the Grizzlies.

Brooks was fined by the NBA for not talking to the media after some playoff losses, including the last one that happened to be the worst playoff loss in franchise history. He was ejected from Game 3 of that series for striking LeBron James in the groin. That was after he called James “old” and led the NBA with 18 technical fouls this season, earning a pair of one-game suspensions in the process.

Brooks was offered an extension last year but turned it down. The Grizzlies later decided he wouldn’t be in their future plans.

While Reaves, Russell, Lopez and Westbrook stayed put, Max Strus found a new home.

Strus – who helped Miami get to the NBA Finals – is headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers, agreeing to a USD63 million, four-year deal that was finalised on Saturday by making the transaction part of a three-team trade, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

Strus goes to the Cavaliers, who will send Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens to San Antonio while Miami gets future second-round draft compensation, said the people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the trade terms have not been approved by the NBA.

ESPN first reported the trade agreement.

Strus was a starter for Miami in its playoff runs over the last two years, including this past season’s trip to the finals against Denver. He averaged a career-best 11.5 points this past season and has shot 37 per cent from three-point range in his career.

Cleveland clearly prioritised shooting. The Cavs struck deals with Caris LeVert (USD32 million, two years) and Georges Niang (USD26 million, three years) on Friday; Niang is a career 40 per cent shooter on 3s, and LeVert shot a career-best 39 per cent from beyond the arc this past season.

The Knicks, who beat the Cavaliers in the first round for their first postseason victory in a decade, added another former NCAA champion from Villanova by agreeing to a deal with Donte DiVincenzo. The swingman joins college teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart with a four-year, USD50 million deal, a person with knowledge of the details said.