Thursday, November 26, 2020
Nov. 26, 2020

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Blazers add 3 players on first day of NBA free agency

Jones Jr., Hood commit to Portland; Kanter returns via three-team trade

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Miami Heat's Derrick Jones Jr. dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C.
Miami Heat's Derrick Jones Jr. dunks against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP) Photo Gallery

Derrick Jones Jr., the high-flying forward who won the NBA’s dunking championship during last season’s All-Star Weekend, has left the Miami Heat for the Portland Trail Blazers in NBA free agency.

Jones on Friday night agreed to a two-year, $19 million deal with the Trail Blazers, with the second year a player option. The deal is fully guaranteed, an NBA source confirmed to the Sun Sentinel of Foirt Lauderdale, Fla. He earned $1.6 million with the Heat this past season.

Free agency opened in the NBA at 3 p.m. PST Friday. No deals can be signed until 9:01 a.m. Sunday.

Earlier Friday, center Enes Kanter returned to Portland in a trade from the Boston Celtics as part of a three-way deal that also includes the Memphis Grizzlies.

Free agent forward Rodney Hood tweeted on Friday he is coming back as well. Sources told ESPN it is on a two-year, $21 million deal.

A deft defender, particularly in the Heat’s zone defense, Jones Jr. was a major part of Miami’s rotation for the last two seasons, and averaged a career-best 8.5 points per game for the Heat this past year.

The Heat had the salary-cap resources to match the Trail Blazers’ offer, but declined to offer more than a single guaranteed season, with an eye on maximizing 2021 salary-cap space.

Jones, 23, joined the Heat in December 2017 and had played himself into the rotation, only to lose that role after the team acquired Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala at the Feb. 6 NBA trading deadline.

Kanter returns to the Blazers, where he had a terrific stretch after signing as a buyout free agent in 2019. In 23 games with Portland, Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. He quickly became a fan favorite.

Kanter’s $5 million salary slides into Portland’s $7 million trade exception and allows the Blazers again pair Jusuf Nurkic with Kanter, a model that helped lead Portland to the Western Conference finals.

The Grizzlies get Mario Hezonja and the 30th pick (Desmond Bane) from draft-night deals as part of the trade. The Celtics get a future Memphis draft consideration.

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