Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
So that’s an interesting development, eh? But let’s take a moment or two to unpack it. First off, the Nets haven’t burned their ships* yet. They’ve only got room for two max players if they renounce D’Angelo Russell. Couple that with Steve Bulpett’s report a couple weeks ago saying that he had confirmed that two teams were looking at Kyrie Irving only as a contingency target–that is, they were going to go after Kyrie only if they land the big fish, and then only if the big fish wants to play with Kyrie.
Obviously, the Nets’ priority targets are KD and/or Kawhi, and it seems almost a foregone conclusion that they’ll have to land one of them before they’ll renounce Russell and go after Kyrie. I don’t believe that Kyrie is their primary target. I don’t think Kyrie is anybody’s primary target apart outside of Boston.
So, this boils down to a few possible scenarios–I’ve used “KD” as a stand-in for either KD or Kawhi, because I think KD is by far the more likely player to relocate:
- Kyrie and KD already have an agreement between themselves to join the Nets. I consider this to be the least likely scenario. It requires too much in the way of fortunate coincidences. That is, in order for Kyrie and KD to team up (1) their contracts would have to sync, (2) they’d have to have already identified a team that would have space for 2 max players that (3) they both wanted to play for, and (4) this all would probably have to be arranged before the 2018/19 season started.
- The Nets know they have KD, and know they have Kyrie. A slight variation of the above–and slightly more plausible. This presupposes that a perceptive Brooklyn front office has quietly reached out to both KD and Kyrie through various intermediaries (yes, that’s against league rules, but it’s about as well enforced as going 32 in a 30MPH zone). I consider this to be rather improbable as well. Why? Because I don’t think KD has decided where he’s going to go yet.
- The Nets know they have Kyrie and think they have KD. Slightly more possible than the Nets having firm commitments from both KD and Kyrie, but still not one I’d consider probable. In the first place, I have doubts that the Nets have made Kyrie a priority. And I don’t think they want to be saddled with a max contract Kyrie and little else. This Nets team + Kyrie is a second round exiting dud. So, as far as that goes, I don’t think that the Nets have done anything other than equivocate with Kyrie’s people, if they’ve reached out to Brooklyn.
- Kyrie hasn’t made up his mind yet. This, I think, is where things stand. I don’t think the Nets have committed to Kyrie. I think the Nets are banking on Kyrie still being available after they land whatever big fish they’re aiming for. And this, I think, is why Boston’s got the inside track to retain Kyrie. Boston wants Kyrie, period. No other team in the NBA seems to be that interested in him. Now this may be an indication that Boston’s front office is stupid–or it may be an indication that they know more about the situations that went on last season than we do.
So, then, why did the Nets pull the trigger on that trade yesterday? Did they have some clandestine meeting with Kyrie while he was in New York? Sure. It’s possible. But, that, again, implies some improbable circumstances:
- The Nets and the Hawks had already the framework of this trade in place, and they were keeping it on ice until the Nets met with Kyrie. That’s not how front offices work. You’re not going to tell the Hawks GM that you need to meet with Kyrie before you pull the trigger on the trade, because you don’t share that kind of information. And if you’re the Hawks, you don’t negotiate a deal with the Nets and then give them a long window of time in which they can back out of the deal. The Nets were not negotiating from a position of strength here.
- The Nets and Hawks agreed on the trade after Kyrie committed to the Nets. This is rather improbable because the Nets still have D’Angelo Russell. If they had a commitment from Kyrie—if they had committed to Kyrie—D’Angelo’s gone. The Hawks can absorb both Crabbe and Russell’s salaries, and would likely have taken Russell off Brooklyn’s hands for nothing more than a heavily protected second-rounder (because the Hawks would renounce Russell immediately on July 1, thus they’d only have to carry his cap hold for a few weeks).
I’m not going to get into the question about whether or not the Celtics are better off without Kyrie on the team. That’s not a question that any sensible person would ask.
I still think that Kyrie’s most likely going to re-sign with Boston. I don’t put an ounce of stock in this ‘homecoming’ narrative–and jeez-louise, the New York City metro has dang near 24 million people in it. What ‘home’ would he be coming back to? Living somewhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn or way out in the Hamptons would bring back all his childhood memories of living in Jersey? Please. That narrative leaks like a sieve.
*”Stout Cortez” did not actually burn his ships after landing in Mexico. He scuttled them. Also, he was not the first Spaniard to see the Pacific Ocean, Balboa was.
Page 2: Where the Pelicans covet Jayson Tatum
We’ll overlook David Griffin’s blatant violation of the 10th commandment and focus on the particulars.
First off, would Boston trade Tatum and Smart for only a single guaranteed year of Anthony Davis?
Let’s start by assuming that AD and Kawhi are players of equal value. Then, let’s assume that the Raptors/Spurs trade was a fair one.
The Raptors sent DeMar DeRozan and a pick to the Spurs for one year of Kawhi Leonard. Now the question is what Celtics’ player or players would be comparable to DeMar DeRozan.
Consider also that AD’s agent desperately wants AD to go to Lakers, whereas Kawhi has only been tenuously linked to the LA market. Meaning Boston is taking a bigger gamble on re-signing AD than Toronto took on re-signing Kawhi.
Frankly, I think Tatum+Smart+Memphis pick is a serious overpay for Davis. I don’t think AD is enough of his own man to overrule Rich Paul’s fixation on LeBron. Tatum, salary filler from the back end of the roster, and the Celtics’ pick this year is the most I’d give up for Davis, and even with that, I’d be hesitant to pull the trigger because of just how big a flake Rich Paul is.