Dorian Finney-Smith

New York Notes: Robinson, Brunson, Nets’ Small Ball, Simmons

After Mitchell Robinson vented about his role on social media, coach Tom Thibodeau and guard Jalen Brunson spoke to the Knicks center privately, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Another of the Knicks’ big men — Isaiah Hartenstein — said Robinson hasn’t allowed his frustration to seep into the locker room and onto the court. “It’s not like he’s coming into practice b—-ing,” Hartenstein said. “He’s always there. He’s always interactive. He’s always been a good teammate.”

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Speaking of Brunson, he hasn’t played since March 9 due to what the team describes as a sore left foot. However, Brunson himself calls it a bone bruise, Katz tweets. Brunson went through a full practice on Friday and is listed as questionable against Denver on Saturday.
  • The Nets have gotten stellar results from their small lineup, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. Lacking a backup big, Dorian Finney-Smith has been playing center with Royce O’Neale at power forward when Nic Claxton rests. That small-ball unit has produced a plus-13.5 net rating. “It allows us to fly around,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “If you don’t cover for each other, we’ll get punished: We’ll get punished on the glass, we’ll get punished just by overall strength and the size of dudes that you have to guard. So (you’ve seen) us fly around, cover for each other, really have a tight shell and be in the right spots.”
  • Klutch Sports negotiated Ben Simmons‘ five-year, $177MM extension in 2019 before he was traded to the Nets. Now, the agency and Simmons are parting ways, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets. The enigmatic Simmons is expected to hire veteran agent Bernie Lee, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. Simmons hasn’t played since Feb. 15 due to a knee injury.

Trade Breakdown: Kyrie Irving To The Mavericks

This is the second entry in our series breaking down the significant trades of the 2022/23 season. As opposed to giving out grades, this series explores why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a blockbuster deal between the Mavericks and Nets

On February 6, the Nets sent Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris to the Mavericks in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas’ 2029 first-round pick (unprotected), and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029.

The Nets’ perspective:

Irving’s trade request derailed what had been a promising season for Brooklyn. The Nets had a poor start to 2022/23, going 2-5 before parting ways with former coach Steve Nash, but found success with his replacement, Jacque Vaughn, who was formerly the team’s top assistant.

After Irving returned from his suspension following his promotion of an antisemitic film, things were looking up. At one point the Nets won 18 of 20 games, with Kyrie playing a big role in their success.

Unfortunately, Kevin Durant went down with another knee sprain, and the Nets started to lose, though not as much as they did in ’21/22 without the star forward. Irving put up big numbers in a few of their victories and was evidently displeased that the Nets didn’t offer him a full maximum-salary extension — he decided he’d had enough.

It’s hard to say that Irving’s tenure with the Nets was anything but a failure, even if he was highly productive when he was on the court. The team only won one playoff series during his stint despite having Durant healthy for two of those runs, not to mention former MVP James Harden for one. Injuries certainly played a role in that, but so did Irving’s decision making.

Over Irving’s three-and-a-half seasons with the Nets, he appeared in just 143 of a possible 278 regular season games, or 51.4%. He played in 13 of 20 playoff games (65%).

Whether it was injuries, leaving the team unexpectedly for personal reasons, refusing to get vaccinated, or a team-imposed suspension, Irving wasn’t available nearly enough and caused chaos throughout the organization. Harden asking out last year was more complicated than just Irving’s lack of availability, but it certainly played a role.

The simple fact is Irving was unreliable for Brooklyn. All you have to do is look at his games played to realize that.

From a purely basketball perspective, getting equal value in return for a player as talented as Irving was never going to be realistic. Considering he’s on an expiring contract, and given all of the issues and controversy over the past handful of years, I’m honestly surprised the Nets got as much back as they did.

Finney-Smith and Dinwiddie were arguably the Mavs’ second- and third-best players this season (in whatever order). Sure, they aren’t stars, but they helped the team win games and played big roles in Dallas reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2022, ranking second and fifth on the team, respectively, in minutes per game during the postseason (both players also shot over 40% from three-point range).

Finney-Smith doesn’t get much media attention since his playing style is selfless, but he has had a pretty remarkable career arc. After going undrafted in 2016, he caught on with the Mavs due to his defense and hustle. However, the combo forward only shot 51.7% on twos and 30.3% from deep over his first three seasons, so he was a liability offensively.

That has changed over the past three-plus seasons, with Finney-Smith improving both his two- and three-point percentages to 59.2% and 38.2%, respectively. He was a full-time starter and often had the impossible task of guarding the opposing team’s best player, credibly defending positions one through four.

While Finney-Smith may not be a lock-down one-on-one defender like OG Anunoby or an elite shooter, he is a quality 3-and-D player who has positive value. Brian Lewis of The New York Post reported after the trade that multiple teams offered two first-rounders for the veteran forward – the Nets could easily deal him in the offseason if they’re so inclined.

Dinwiddie thrived alongside Luka Doncic as a secondary play-maker over the past two seasons (he was really only on the team for about one full season, as he was acquired in February 2022). In 76 games (32.3 MPG) with the Mavs, he averaged 17.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.9 APG on a rock-solid .466/.404/.788 shooting slash line, good for a .605 true shooting percentage (the league average for guards in ‘22/23 is about 56%).

The combo guard is a below-average defensive player, but he’s big for his position (6’5″, 215 pounds), so he at least offers some versatility. He’s under contract through next season and will carry a reasonable $20.36MM cap hit in ‘23/24.

Both players will turn 30 years old later this season, so they’re in the midst of their primes. Finney-Smith is on a long-term contract that will pay him $13.93MM in ‘23/24, $14.93MM in ‘24/25, and he has a $15.38MM player option in ‘25/26.

In addition to receiving two quality rotation players, the Nets also received the Mavs’ unprotected 2029 first-round pick and a couple of second-rounders. Obviously, the unprotected first-rounder was the key to this deal being made, as there were other teams desperate to improve their chances this season, including the Lakers.

If things go south in Dallas or Irving simply walks as a free agent, how will Doncic respond? That’s what everyone in the NBA will be monitoring in the coming months (and possibly years).

If Doncic is no longer on the team six years from now, all bets are off as far as that pick goes (he can become a free agent as early as 2026). Even if he stays, it’s not like the Mavs are a world-beater or stacked with young talent. Losing Jalen Brunson in free agency and now trading away two of their best remaining players and an unprotected future pick makes it more difficult to make subsequent win-now moves.

It’s worth noting that Brooklyn saved a significant amount of money toward the luxury tax with this deal and added a couple small ($4.5MM and $1.8MM) traded player exceptions as well.

The Nets did the best they could under the circumstances. I certainly don’t blame them for not giving Irving the extension he wanted after all that’s happened over the past handful of years. Obviously there was a major downside in that it caused Durant to ask out as well, which we’ll cover in another article.

The Mavs’ perspective:

Irving’s value might be the most difficult to gauge of any player in the league, because when he’s active and on the court, there’s no question that he’s a star player worthy of a max-salary commitment. He is one of the most skilled ball-handlers in NBA history and an elite shot-maker.

An ambidextrous finisher at the rim whose creativity is unparalleled, Irving averaged 27.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.8 APG and 1.3 SPG on a terrific .490/.397/.912 shooting line (.604 TS%) in his 147 games (35.8 MPG) with the Nets.

In addition to making one of the biggest shots in NBA history in Game 7 of Cleveland’s championship victory over Golden State in 2016, Irving holds career Finals averages of 27.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.8 SPG on .468/.395/.926 shooting in 13 games (39.8 MPG). He has produced at an extremely high level on the highest stage, against elite competition.

When he gets hot, there’s no one in the league that can guard him. In just his fourth game as a Maverick, Irving scored 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting in the fourth quarter against Minnesota, coming close to a franchise record (only Doncic with 28 and Dirk Nowitzki with 29 have scored more in a quarter). The Mavs wound up losing the game, but Kyrie nearly single-handedly gave them a chance to tie it after being down 18 to start the fourth.

Dirk was 40 years old when Doncic was a rookie and realistically should have been retired already – he could barely move. Trading for Kristaps Porzingis didn’t work out. Irving is far and away the most talented teammate Doncic has ever played with.

Offensively, there’s plenty of reason for optimism. Irving has shown he can be an excellent 1B option next to elite players, and Doncic certainly fits that bill. There’s enough shooting left on the roster to think the Mavs will be improved on that end, and they’re already eighth in the league in offense.

Adding top-end talent is more difficult than acquiring role players. The Mavs obviously believe acquiring Irving raises the team’s ceiling — otherwise they would not have made the trade.

The Mavs could not have signed Irving – or any other top player – in free agency because they’re well over the salary cap. In fact, they added about $29MM to their luxury tax bill with this trade, per Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico.

What they gave up is about the least you could possibly expect to give up for an eight-time All-Star in the middle of his prime. Irving is averaging more points per game (27.2) this season than Dinwiddie (17.7) and Finney-Smith (8.9) combined.

That said, availability has always been an issue for Irving. He missed an average of about 17 games per year due to injuries over his first eight seasons with the Cavs and Celtics. He has missed fewer than 10 games only once in 12 seasons, back in ‘14/15 with Cleveland (he missed seven).

Even putting aside Irving’s injury history and volatility (and both of those are significant concerns), there are basketball reasons why the trade might not work out. At 6’2″, Irving doesn’t have the size to regularly guard bigger players, and he doesn’t always put forth much effort on the defensive end.

He is better than his reputation suggests when he tries, but his lack of size hurts in switching schemes. The Mavs can’t hide him on weaker offensive players because that’s what they do with Doncic.

Part of the reason why Irving made sense when paired with LeBron James and Durant is that both of those former teammates were capable of playing top-tier defense when locked in. Doncic can make plays, but a stopper he is not.

Trading away two quality rotation players for one great-when-available player hurt the team’s size, defensive versatility and depth. Morris was included because he was unhappy with his playing time – he has yet to play a game for Dallas.

Josh Green is having a breakout third season for the Mavs. Instead of being a quality reserve, he’s now a heavy-minutes starter. How he responds will be critical to the team’s chances for the rest of the season and beyond.

Rookie Jaden Hardy, another guard, has also had a real role post-trade after excelling in the G League. He looks overmatched defensively, but he’s fun to watch when he gets going on offense.

The Mavs reached the Western Conference Finals last season primarily because they had the league’s seventh-best defense. The main reason they have already nearly equaled last season’s loss total (52-30 vs. 31-29) is because they have fallen all the way to 24th in defense.

Green, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber (once he returns from a torn hamstring) will be absolutely vital in trying to hold together some semblance of a competent defensive unit. It will be a tall order, especially in the playoffs, assuming Dallas makes it in.

It seems odd to make such a bold trade for perhaps the NBA’s most mercurial and unpredictable star when the team is already in a precarious position in the standings – the Mavs are currently the No. 6 seed in the West, but only two games away from completely missing the play-in tournament. Perhaps they believed they needed to shake things up because the previous roster wasn’t going anywhere.

Obviously, Doncic signed off and approved of the deal. The fact that Irving has longstanding relationships with president of basketball operations Nico Harrison and head coach Jason Kidd theoretically helps.

Even in the most optimistic scenarios, Dallas will have difficult choices to make in the offseason. Let’s say Irving and Doncic’s partnership is fruitful, Christian Wood plays well, Green thrives in a bigger role and the Mavs have another long playoff run. Green will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, Wood is a free agent and they’ll almost be forced to give Irving a massive new contract, assuming he wants to stay. That didn’t turn out very well for the Nets.

If things go south – say they miss the playoffs outright or lose in the play-in tournament – Irving could walk in free agency. In that scenario, the Mavs would have given up two quality players on reasonable contracts, an unprotected first-rounder and two second-rounders for at most 26 regular season games of Irving (he has already missed one game with lower back tightness). Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith were reportedly positive voices in the locker room on top of being solid players.

Irving threatened to undergo season-ending knee surgery if Cleveland didn’t trade him in the 2017 offseason. Two years later, he left Boston in free agency after publicly saying he was going to re-sign with the Celtics. Now he requested and was traded out of Brooklyn after feeling disrespected by not getting a maximum-salary extension.

How long will he last in Dallas if things don’t go the way he wants? Will that have a ripple effect on Doncic like it did with Durant? The Mavericks may have bolstered their championship upside if they can build out the roster around Doncic and Irving, but the risk of everything going up in flames is also exponentially higher than it was before making the deal.

Atlantic Notes: Finney-Smith, Bridges, Embiid, Poeltl

The Grizzlies reportedly offered four first-round picks for Mikal Bridges, but he wasn’t the only new Nets addition that drew interest from rival teams. Sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscriber link) that “multiple teams offered two firsts” for Dorian Finney-Smith, who was acquired from Dallas in the Kyrie Irving trade.

A strong, versatile defensive player and solid three-point shooter (36% career), Finney-Smith is in the first year of a four-year, $55.6MM extension, so he’s under contract long term (the final year is a player option for $15.4MM).

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Bridges exploded for a career-high 45 points (on 17-of-24 shooting) during Wednesday’s victory over Miami, as Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post relays. “If we keep learning and growing together, I feel like we’ll be a scary team that teams don’t want to play against,” said Bridges, who stuffed the stat sheet with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. “Defense comes first before anything.” The Nets lost major star power at the trade deadline, but Bridges has given the team hope that he can take his game to a new level, Sanchez writes.
  • Sixers star Joel Embiid might not compete in the All-Star Game, as he’s been dealing with a nagging foot injury, according to Kyle Neubeck of “I’m not sure, I’m not healthy,” Embiid said when asked if he’d play in Sunday’s game. “I haven’t been healthy for the past three weeks or month, I was just trying to get to the All-Star break without missing games and stuff. I feel like I’ve reached the point where I really need to follow the doctor’s advice and miss, back then he said I should have been sitting for two weeks. Going to see how the next few days go and go from there.”
  • The Raptors re-acquired center Jakob Poeltl, whom the team drafted ninth overall in 2016, ahead of last week’s trade deadline. In his third game back with the Raptors, he became just the second player in NBA history (David Robinson is the other) to record 30-plus points without making a free throw or a three-pointer while also registering at least five blocked shots, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The Austrian big man recorded 30 points (on 15-of-17 shooting), nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and six blocks in Tuesday’s victory over Orlando.

Central Notes: Cavs, O’Neale, Crowder, Wiseman, Noel, Pacers

Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman has made 14 in-season trades since taking the reins in Cleveland’s front office in 2017, but he had an uncharacteristically quiet deadline this season. As Chris Fedor of writes, the Cavs are one of just two teams (along with Chicago) that hasn’t made a trade since the 2022/23 season got underway.

“We just didn’t feel like anything was going to really move the needle for us,” Altman said on Thursday. “Scoured the market and talked to every team I could. We could have made a move that was lateral, multiple moves that were lateral, that I didn’t think appreciably made us better. I really wanted to see what this group looked like together, fully healthy, and the potential of this group, which we’ve seen right in front of our eyes, continue to grow.”

Royce O’Neale, Dorian Finney-Smith, Cameron Johnson, Grant Williams, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Bojan Bogdanovic were among the top targets on the Cavaliers’ wish list, according to Fedor, but the team either didn’t have the assets to acquire those players or deemed the asking prices too high.

Sources tell Fedor that the Cavs made a strong push for O’Neale and tried to line up other deals to get the Nets the sort of assets they wanted, but Brooklyn – which was seeking more than a first-round pick – didn’t bite.

“I think there’s value in continuity,” Altman said. “I think there’s value in giving this group a runway. Sometimes you just say to yourself, ‘Don’t mess this up.’ I think that was a big key for us this deadline. It was not easy for me. We’re the fifth-best team in the NBA right now — 35 wins, which is the fourth-most in the NBA — and some really good numbers to back up what I think you guys see on the court every day. I didn’t see anything that was going to put us over the top.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required) explores what Jae Crowder can bring to the Bucks and contends that hanging onto Grayson Allen through the trade deadline was a win for the team, since he’s having a strong two-way season.
  • Adding former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman to an already crowded frontcourt in a trade that sent out Saddiq Bey may be Pistons general manager Troy Weaver‘s biggest gamble yet, argues Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required). James L. Edwards III of The Athletic spoke to colleague Anthony Slater about what to expect from Wiseman in Detroit, with Slater noting that the young center still has a ways to go on the defensive end.
  • After not being included in a deadline deal, Pistons center Nerlens Noel has been listed as “not with team” on the club’s injury report, Edwards notes (via Twitter). Noel isn’t owed any guaranteed money beyond this season and finds himself buried even further down the depth chart following Wiseman’s arrival, so he could be a buyout candidate.
  • The Pacers‘ relative inactivity at the trade deadline reflected president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard‘s desire not to shake up his core or disrupt the chemistry that the current roster has built, says Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required). As Dopirak observes, Indiana’s lone deadline deal was primarily about using their remaining cap room to add more draft assets, but it will also give the team to take a low-risk look at young wing Jordan Nwora.

Kevin Durant Trade Notes

The Suns were at the top of Kevin Durant‘s list of preferred destinations because of his close relationship with head coach Monty Williams, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Williams spent a year as associate head coach in Oklahoma City during Durant’s time there, and they worked together on Team USA as well.

Amick adds that credit for the early-morning mega-deal should also go to Phoenix president of basketball operations James Jones, whose image of team building was influenced by his time as a player in Miami when the Heat brought in LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team with Dwayne Wade. In 2019, Jones made the decision to hire Williams, whose connections to Chris Paul and now Durant have turned the Suns into an updated version of that Heat super-team.

Amick hears from sources that Durant spent the past few days seeking advice from confidants about the best path for his future in the wake of Kyrie Irving‘s trade to Dallas. Most league insiders believed he would wait for the offseason to seek an exit from Brooklyn, but the deal with Phoenix came together quickly late Wednesday night.

There’s more on the Durant trade:

  • Even before Durant made his request last summer, league insiders understood that he had a desire to go to Phoenix, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. The chance to play with a Hall of Fame point guard in Paul and another All-NBA player in Devin Booker was appealing, and Durant knew the Suns had enough draft assets and young talent to make a trade realistic. Sources tell Fischer that Durant didn’t give the Nets a list of preferred locations when he made his trade request last June, but there was an understanding that Phoenix was among the leaders.
  • Brooklyn issued several public denials through the media this week that Durant was being made available, but teams began to believe on Wednesday that the Nets might reconsider that stance, says Ian Begley of SNY (Video link). He states that several clubs had similar offers ready, including the Grizzlies and Pelicans, but Durant’s desire to be in Phoenix influenced Brooklyn’s decision.
  • The Nets had no intention of trading Durant when they agreed to send Irving to the Mavericks on Sunday, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (video link). When Brooklyn obtained Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith from Dallas, they were intended to be pieces that could team with Durant and remain competitive in the Eastern Conference. The Nets’ front office spent Monday trying to move Finney-Smith and draft picks to improve the team even more, but things had changed by Tuesday. Windhorst said there was essentially a “one-team negotiation” with the Suns, and new owner Mat Ishbia was willing to offer a lot more than Robert Sarver did last summer.
  • The Durant news broke shortly before Irving addressed the media following his first game with the Mavericks, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Irving indicated there was a dysfunctional situation in Brooklyn and responded, “I’m just glad that he got out of there,” when he was asked about Durant. “I think this was in the works after year one,” Irving said. “I was unsure about whether or not I wanted to be in Brooklyn because of things that were happening behind the scenes. I just did my best to put my head down and work as hard as I could.”

Scotto’s Latest: Nets, Bridges, Grizzlies, Blazers, Lewis, Raptors, Spurs

The Nets have already officially completed one blockbuster trade this week and have agreed to another, but the belief around the NBA is that they’re not done dealing yet. Five executives tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that they’re prepared for Brooklyn to break up a glut of wings before Thursday’s trade deadline.

After acquiring Dorian Finney-Smith from Dallas, the Nets are poised to add Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder to a group of wings that already includes Royce O’Neale and shooters like Joe Harris, Seth Curry, and Patty Mills. Crowder is known to be available, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last night, but it’s a safe bet the Nets will be getting inquiries on several other players too.

According to Scotto, several teams – including the Grizzlies – have called the Nets to ask about Bridges. In addition to talking to Brooklyn about Bridges, Memphis has spoken to the Raptors about OG Anunoby and has expressed a willingness to give up multiple first-round picks for either player, Scotto reports. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) has heard the Nets would be able to secure up to three first-rounders for Bridges if they’re willing to flip him.

While the terms of the Durant and Irving deals suggest the Nets are comfortable stockpiling draft picks, the team will likely be on the lookout for promising young players on rookie contracts too — league sources tell Scotto that Brooklyn tried to get Josh Green and Jaden Hardy from Dallas as part of the Irving trade.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Trail Blazers are among the teams with interest in Raptors forward OG Anunoby, and Blazers guards Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons both have fans in Toronto, Scotto says. However, Portland would be reluctant to part with Sharpe in particular, since the team believes the rookie has All-Star upside, per Scotto.
  • The Pelicans, another one of the teams talking to the Raptors about Anunoby, have dangled draft pick compensation as the centerpiece of potential offers for the Toronto forward. Scotto confirms that New Orleans is willing to move Naji Marshall, Jaxson Hayes, and/or Devonte’ Graham, and adds Kira Lewis to the list of Pelicans players who are available in trade discussions.
  • Scotto has the details on the draft picks the Raptors are sending the Spurs in the Jakob Poeltl trade, reporting that the 2024 first-round pick will be top-six protected through 2026, while the two second-rounders headed to San Antonio are Toronto’s 2023 and 2025 picks.

New York Notes: Thomas, Claxton, Dinwiddie, Knicks, Reddish

It was just two weeks ago that a report identified Cam Thomas as one of the young players the Nets could dangle in trade talks. Since then, Thomas’ role in Brooklyn has changed in a major way.

Thomas has scored at least 43 points in each of his last three games, totaling 134 points on 42-of-75 (56.0%) shooting in those three contests while knocking down 14-of-25 (56.0%) three-pointers. According to ESPN Stats and Info (Twitter link), the 21-year-old is the youngest player in NBA history to score 40 or more points in three consecutive games.

During an SNY TV appearance (Twitter video link), Ian Begley said he hadn’t gotten the impression prior to Thomas’ scoring binge that the Nets were looking to shop him, and that’s even more true now. If anything, Begley noted, Thomas’ play may result in more potential trade partners inquiring on the second-year guard as a valuable young asset as Brooklyn explores the market for roster upgrades.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • Begley also confirmed during his SNY TV appearance that the Raptors are seeking center Nic Claxton as part of any major trade with the Nets. That represents a major “roadblock” in Brooklyn’s efforts to land a player like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, or Fred VanVleet, given what an important role Claxton has played for the team this season, Begley says.
  • Speaking to reporters at an introductory press conference on Tuesday, new Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie stated that he expects to remain with the team through Thursday’s trade deadline, observing that it would be “silly” for Brooklyn to hold the press conference if that wasn’t the plan (Twitter link via Marc J. Spears of Andscape). Brian Lewis of The New York Post passes along a few more of the presser’s notable quotes from Dinwiddie and new Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith.
  • Madison Square Garden Sports president David Hopkinson said on Tuesday that the company would be open to selling minority shares in the Knicks, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Knicks owner James Dolan has been adamant that he has no desire to give up control of the franchise, but with franchise valuations skyrocketing, it sounds like he’s open to the idea of raising capital by giving up a smaller stake.
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News explores the Knicks‘ trade deadline outlook, suggesting that Cam Reddish will be a strong candidate for a buyout if he’s not moved by Thursday afternoon.

Atlantic Rumors: Durant, Nets, Raptors, Claxton, Celtics, Sixers

Now that Kyrie Irving has been dealt, Kevin Durant find himself under the spotlight once again as league observers wait to see if the Nets forward will resubmit the trade request he made last summer.

Asked on Monday about that possibility, head coach Jacque Vaughn said that’s not something he has talked to Durant about and he doesn’t plan to do so. In Vaughn’s view, as long as the Nets can continue to show they’re capable of competing with the best teams in the East, there’s no reason for Durant to seek a change of scenery.

“At the end of the day, Kevin wants to win,” Vaughn said on Monday, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s always been our goal. He wants to win at shootaround, he wants to win any game of the week. That’s why he loves to play and that’s why he wants to play 82 games. That will be our holy grail. We’ll continue to try to put a group out that wins and until there’s something for me to be concerned about, then I’ll carry on business as usual.”

While the Nets added two solid role players in their Irving trade, their championship upside probably took a hit as a result of that deal, so the team has been exploring further roster upgrades, as we detailed on Monday. According to Ian Begley of, before trading Irving, the Nets had also remained in touch with the Hawks about John Collins and had spoken to multiple teams about Joe Harris and Patty Mills.

Although it’s possible Durant could push for a change of scenery again, most people around the NBA don’t expect that to happen this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said in a podcast with colleague Brian Windhorst (YouTube link), especially since the Nets’ additions of Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith signaled a desire to continue building a roster around Durant that’s capable of contending — Finney-Smith is a player KD likes and wanted Brooklyn to acquire if the team made a deal with Dallas, Lowe stated.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Following up on reports suggesting that the Nets were talking to the Raptors about Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says Toronto “covets” Brooklyn center Nic Claxton, having also attempted to acquire him at least season’s trade deadline. Ben Simmons and multiple first-round picks have also come up in the Nets’ trade discussions with the Raptors, Scotto adds.
  • The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Jay King take a look at what could be on tap for the Celtics at the trade deadline, considering whether it’s realistic to expect them to make a play for Durant and noting that a deal for a center remains the team’s most likely move. Weiss and King also examine Grant Williams‘ up-and-down play and conclude it still doesn’t make sense for Boston to trade him, despite a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer stating that teams are inquiring on Williams.
  • While Daryl Morey is always a good bet to make some sort of move at the trade deadline, the Sixers president of basketball operations tells Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice that he’s not expecting to make a huge splash this week. “I think it’s very unlikely we’re involved in anything big,” Morey said. “It could easily be that we continue to just develop chemistry and then have the group we have. I and (general manager) Elton (Brand) and everyone feels a responsibility in an important year like this to see if we can find anyone who can upgrade the team.”

Kyrie Irving Trade Notes: Clippers’ Offer, Cap Hits, More

Before the Nets agreed to send Kyrie Irving to Dallas, the Clippers made an offer that included Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, a future first-round pick, and two first-round pick swaps, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. As O’Connor notes, at least one more outgoing salary would’ve been required for the Clippers to accommodate Irving’s incoming cap hit, but he says that was the “gist” of L.A.’s offer.

Since the Clippers already owe their 2024 and 2026 first-round picks to Oklahoma City and have given OKC swap rights in 2023 and 2025, we can safely assume that their alleged offer for Irving would’ve included their 2028 first-rounder, with swap rights in 2027 and 2029 — the Stepien rule doesn’t allow teams to leave themselves without first-round picks in consecutive future years, while the “seven year rule” doesn’t permit clubs to trade draft picks more than seven years out.

For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on the latest episode of his Lowe Post podcast (YouTube link) that he doesn’t believe O’Connor’s reporting is accurate and that he thinks the Clippers’ final offer for Irving was worth less than that.

Whatever the offer was, it wasn’t enough to entice Brooklyn to make a deal, so the Clippers will now have to adjust to the fact that Irving will be playing alongside Luka Doncic for one of their conference rivals.

“Don’t make me think about it right now, please,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said on Monday when asked about the Mavericks‘ new backcourt duo (Twitter link via Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times). “We play them Wednesday. I don’t want to think about that already. It’s going to be a tough challenge. Kyrie’s a guy we’ve always blitzed in the past, Luka’s always a guy we’ve blitzed in the past, and now they got two of them, so like I said, it’s going to be a tough challenge for a lot of teams in the West.”

Here are a few more tidbits related to the Kyrie trade, which became official on Monday:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) has the details on the new cap hits for Irving, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Spencer Dinwiddie following the trade. The cap figures for Irving and Finney-Smith got a bump as a result of trade bonuses, while Dinwiddie’s declined because some of his bonuses are now considered unlikely instead of likely. Those bonuses are tied to his team’s playoff success and are based on the previous season’s results — they had been considered likely because the Mavericks made the Western Finals last season, but Dinwiddie’s new team, the Nets, didn’t win a playoff series in 2022.
  • Irving’s track record of recruiting star teammates was a factor in the Mavericks‘ desire to acquire him, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Based on reporting at the time, it was Kyrie who convinced Kevin Durant to join him in Brooklyn back in 2019 when the two stars opted to sign with the Nets.
  • Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said on Monday that he’s looking forward to coaching Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith, but wishes Irving nothing but the best in Dallas, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “My interactions with Kai have always been positive,” Vaughn said. “I enjoyed coaching him. I want him to succeed. I’ll keep it that simple. We’ve had some ups and downs I guess along the way. I’ve also seen the young man score 60 points. I’ve also seen him bring his kids into the locker room. I’ve also seen him grow as an individual and be a better teammate than when I first met him. So for me, I’m going to always look at the good in people and want the good in people. And I want him to succeed.”

Nets Trade Kyrie Irving To Mavericks

FEBRUARY 6: Despite efforts by the Nets to expand the deal and involve a third team, the trade remains a two-team swap and is now official, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The Mavericks’ PR department confirms the trade is official in a tweet.

Nets GM Sean Marks issued a statement, Chris Milholen of Nets Daily tweets, saying in part, “We’re excited to add Spencer and Dorian to our roster, while also securing draft compensation that will increase our flexibility moving forward.”

FEBRUARY 5: The Nets and Mavericks have agreed to a trade that will send point guard Kyrie Irving to Dallas, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania (Twitter link) and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links), Brooklyn will receive guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick, a 2027 second-round pick, and a 2029 second-round pick in the swap. Those draft picks will all be the Mavericks’ own.

The Nets will also send forward Markieff Morris to the Mavs, Charania adds.

News of the agreement between the two teams comes just two days after word broke that Irving had requested a trade out of Brooklyn following failed negotiations on a contract extension. Reports at that time indicated that the All-Star guard had conveyed to the Nets that he planned to leave in free agency if he wasn’t dealt by the February 9 trade deadline.

The Nets wasted little time accommodating Irving’s request, having perhaps grown weary of the drama that has surrounded the 30-year-old since his arrival in Brooklyn in 2019. During those three-and-a-half years, Irving has missed significant time due to injuries, taken personal leaves of absence, refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 despite a New York City mandate that prevented him from playing in home games, and served a team-issued suspension for promoting an antisemitic film on social media.

On the court, Irving played at his usual high level in 143 total games as a Net, averaging 27.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per night with a .489/.396/.909 shooting line in 35.8 minutes per game. However, his and Kevin Durant‘s brilliance didn’t translate to much postseason success — Brooklyn has won just a single playoff series since adding the two stars in 2019.

By trading Irving for a package that includes both veteran players and future draft picks, the Nets – who currently occupy the fourth seed in the East at 32-20 – will set themselves up to remain in contention this year while also securing some assets for the future. Kyrie was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but Dinwiddie is under contract for another season and Finney-Smith’s deal runs all the way through 2025/26 (the final year is a player option).

The Mavs, meanwhile, will get the co-star they wanted for All-NBA guard Luka Doncic and their new-look backcourt should be the NBA’s most dynamic, though the move carries substantial risk. The trade will cost Dallas two of its most reliable rotation players, with Dinwiddie having averaged 17.7 PPG on .455/.405/.821 shooting and Finney-Smith handling key defensive assignments on the wing.

Additionally, while Irving could technically sign a two-year extension with the Mavs anytime before June 30, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported earlier today that Kyrie’s preference is to play out the current season and seek a longer-term maximum-salary contract as a free agent, so Dallas may have to take its chances with the mercurial star this summer. Obviously, the organization will be motivated to make it work with Irving — the front office wouldn’t have paid this price if it expected him to be a rental.

According to Marc Stein (Twitter link), the Mavericks consulted with Doncic before agreeing to trade for Irving, who is said to be “ecstatic” to join forces with Luka in Dallas, per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Mavs president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, formerly a top Nike executive, has a long-standing relationship with Kyrie, notes Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Both the Mavericks and Nets were already on track to be taxpayers this season, but because Irving ($36.9MM) and Morris ($1.8MM) have a higher combined cap hit than Dinwiddie ($20.2MM) and Finney-Smith ($12.4MM), the move will reduce Brooklyn’s projected end-of-season tax bill by about $26.5MM and increase Dallas’ by nearly $29MM, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter links).

Irving and Finney-Smith have trade bonuses in their contracts. Irving’s is worth 15% of his remaining salary, while Finney-Smith’s is worth 5%. There has been no indication yet that either player will waive or reduce his bonus.

The Lakers, Clippers, and Suns were also said to have interest in Irving, so the Mavs beat out several Western Conference rivals to land him. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Lakers and Nets had several conversations about a possible deal, but Brooklyn preferred Dallas’ package that included useful present and future pieces — trade talks between the two teams accelerated today, Woj adds.