Kyrie Irving

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Poirier, Ntilikina, Nets

Veteran NBA center Marc Gasol added to his already impressive year by helping lead Spain to a gold medal in the FIBA World Cup today, finishing with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 25 minutes of work against Argentina.

Gasol, who also helped Toronto win the NBA championship in June, joined Lamar Odom as the only players in league history to win both a title and gold medal in the same calendar year.

“It reminded me a lot of the Larry O’Brien trophy,” Gasol said when asked about winning the Naismith Trophy, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The Naismith Trophy is awarded to the winner of the World Cup. “And hey, you can drink out of it!

“When I saw it, it was pretty shiny as well. Completely different tournament, completely different setup, but the feeling of fulfillment was there, because you invested so much, you risked a lot and you put everything on the line for your guys.”

This year’s World Cup could be the last for Gasol, who turns 35 in January and is set to enter his 12th NBA season this fall. The defensive-minded center has been on top of the basketball world in 2019, something he surely won’t forget when he looks back on his career.

“It feels like I haven’t stopped playing basketball,” Gasol said. “It’s been an amazing year for me and I’m just happy.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Vincent Poirier was a good pick-up for the Celtics this offseason, according to French teammates Nicolas Batum and Evan Fournier. Poirier signed a two-year deal to join the franchise back in July. “It’s clear that he’s a center that can block shots and control the paint,” Fournier said, per John Schuhmann of NBA.com. (Twitter links). “He’s a terrific roller, can really catch a lob, and obviously has a lot of energy. It’s a good pick-up for Boston, for sure.”
  • Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina is healthy again and motivated for the upcoming season, tweets Marc Stein of the New York Times. Ntilikina, according to Stein, also mentioned how the entire group is “very hungry” for next season. New York has several new players on its roster, including the likes of Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett and others.
  • The Nets plan to give away 10,000 Kyrie Irving jerseys when the team hosts the Knicks on October 25, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). The Knicks were one of several teams interested in signing Irving in July, though Irving was said to have his sights set on joining the Nets well before the start of free agency.

Atlantic Notes: Stevens, Feaster, Donaldson, Ainge

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will have a new-look roster to work with this season, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, and while replacing All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving with fellow All-Star Kemba Walker will be the easy part, replacing defensive stalwarts Al Horford and Aron Baynes should prove a bit more challenging.

Another question is who starts — Gordon Hayward or Jaylen Brown? Do both of them start, with Marcus Smart back on the bench? According to Stevens, it really doesn’t matter, as long as the lineups mesh together.

“We’re obviously going to have to figure out lineups that work best together,” Stevens said. “Everybody is going to make a big deal over who starts, but we all know who the five guys are that are going to play the very most on our team, and everybody can probably write that down right now, and then it’s a matter of who fits best. They’re not all in the same position, but we’ve got to figure out who’s going to play the big spot and with which groups.”

Enes Kanter figures to get most minutes at center starting out, but young big Robert Williams could push for more playing time as the season progresses. The Celtics will also rely on Daniel Theis and Vincent Poirier for frontcourt depth.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics have hired Allison Feaster as director of player development. Feaster is a former WNBA player and Harvard graduate who also worked in the G League.
  • Raptors data analyst Brittni Donaldson has been promoted to an assistant coach on the staff of head coach Nick Nurse, per a tweet from Stadium (Twitter link).
  • In a piece for NBC Sports Boston, Blakely writes that Danny Ainge is concerned with Stevens happiness this season, saying “My biggest concern through all of this was, I want my coach to be happy who he’s coaching and that’s the hardest job. I’ve been at this business a long time. It’s…you gotta have fun. You really have to have joy. That doesn’t mean every minute is going to be happy. Everybody is going to face adversity and challenges and trials through the course of a season. But, it still has to be fun.”

Nets Continue To Monitor Carmelo Anthony

Although Carmelo Anthony is scrimmaging with the Knicks today, New York’s other team appears to be his more likely suitor. According to Frank Isola of The Athletic, the Nets remain interested in possibly signing Anthony and continue to “closely monitor” the veteran forward.

While general manager Sean Marks will have the final say on whether or not the Nets sign Anthony, a source tells Isola that newly-added stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are “pushing” the team to add the former scoring champion.

Isola also hears that Marks and Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson have both watched Anthony train or play this summer. One team source says that the 10-time All-Star “certainly helped his cause” with his recent workouts in Los Angeles and that “his body looked great.”

Still, there are roadblocks in the way of Anthony reaching a deal with the Nets. For one, the team already has 15 players with guaranteed salaries under contract. Unless Brooklyn is willing to trade or waive one of those players, Carmelo’s best path to a regular season roster spot might be joining the club on a non-guaranteed deal once Wilson Chandler is eligible to be placed on the suspended list.

Chandler has been suspended 25 games for a positive PED test and can be removed from the active list five games into his ban. That would give Anthony a 20-game window to make an impression on the team and potentially earn a longer look, but it’s not clear if he (or the Nets) would be open to that sort of arrangement.

Anthony’s camp remains optimistic that the 35-year-old will find an NBA job, according to Isola, who notes that Carmelo’s representatives have also spoken to the Sixers.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Dinwiddie, Fall, Simmons

Kyrie Irving‘s interest in playing in New York dates back to at least December, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said on a podcast with Shams Charania of The Athletic (hat tip to Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston).

“You could just tell from the conversation that it was a little bit different,” the Nets’ Dinwiddie said. “… Actually, it definitely was December because he made a comment to me, he was like, ‘New York might be real fun next year,’ because I hadn’t signed yet. … That’s when I was first tipped off to the whole thing.” 

Dinwiddie signed an extension with the Nets on December 13 and started developing a strategy to get Irving and Kevin Durant to join him in Brooklyn. He spoke frequently to Irving about the organization, touting the style of play, the training staff and the family-oriented atmosphere that GM Sean Marks has installed.

“Of course I’m going to be like, ‘Bro, (the Nets are) perfect for you,'” Dinwiddie added. “‘And (head coach) Kenny (Atkinson) gonna let you rock.'”

There’s more tonight from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rookie center Tacko Fall will come into camp on an Exhibit 10 contract, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge tells NBC Sports Boston that he will be given a chance to earn a roster spot. “Tacko is fun to watch,” Ainge said. “… Guards get in a bind and they just throw the ball up in the air and then Tacko grabs it and tip-toe dunks it into the basket. It just looks like a senior in high school playing against fourth-graders sometimes.”
  • Sixers guard Ben Simmons confirmed on Twitter that he won’t be playing in the FIBA World Cup. He plans to host camps in Australia and train with the national team, but he won’t take part in any games. Simmons expressed an intention to participate in the Olympics next summer.
  • The Raptors have a $2.95MM trade exception that will expire tomorrow, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. It’s left over from the deal that brought Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs last summer.

Celtics Notes: Kemba, Kanter, Fall, Green

As the Celtics introduced offseason additions Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter at a press conference today, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told reporters, including A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link), that landing Walker and Kanter was his “Plan A” heading into the offseason.

While it’s hard to believe that a franchise so frequently linked to Anthony Davis would have considered Walker and Kanter its top priorities, Ainge’s comments make more sense if you assume he’s talking about Boston’s plan on June 30. By that point, the Lakers had already agreed to acquire Davis and the C’s had a good idea that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford wouldn’t be back.

In fact, Ainge said today that the Celtics started to get a sense as early as March or April that Irving may not be back in Boston for the 2019/20 season (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

“I was obviously thinking a move in a different direction at that point, thinking of the different options,” Ainge said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com.

We have much more on the Celtics today, so let’s dive in…

  • Kanter said today that a recruiting call from Walker (via Ainge’s phone) helped convince him to join the Celtics. Kemba was one of the biggest reasons I came here,” Kanter said, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics attempted to work out sign-and-trade deals with the Sixers and Nets for Horford and Irving, respectively, but both teams wanted more draft pick compensation than Boston was comfortable with, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Turning those free agent departures into sign-and-trades might have allowed Boston to retain more cap flexibility or pick up an extra asset or two.
  • Having agreed in June to sign Tacko Fall to an Exhibit 10 contract, the Celtics haven’t indicated yet that they intend to alter their plans for the rookie following his impressive Summer League performance. However, his showing in Las Vegas certainly caught the team’s eye. We want to take his development very seriously,” Ainge said of Fall (Twitter link via Himmelsbach). “He’s a high priority for us to develop.”
  • Another Summer League standout, Javonte Green, is drawing significant interest overseas, according to Himmelsbach, who tweets that it’s probably unrealistic to expect the wing to become an affiliate player for the Maine Red Claws.
  • After rescinding Daniel Theis‘ qualifying offer over the weekend, the Celtics still had a tiny bit of cap room to sign a rookie to a contract longer than two years, ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted (via Twitter). However, making their deals with Theis, Kanter, and Brad Wanamaker official today eliminated that cap room.

Details On Contracts For Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant

After word broke last week that the Nets had reach agreements to sign Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, maximum-salary contracts, a follow-up report indicated that the two stars would take less than the max to accommodate DeAndre Jordan‘s four-year, $40MM contract with Brooklyn.

That’s still the case, but turning the acquisition of Durant into a sign-and-trade deal helped allow the Nets to give both of its new stars deals that could still be worth up to the max, via incentives. ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks have the specific details on those contracts, explaining that each player has about $1MM annually in incentives. Irving’s are considered “unlikely” and don’t current count toward his cap hit, while Durant’s are viewed as “likely” and are included in his current cap charge.

Irving’s contract, which has a fourth-year player option, as previously reported, has a base value of of $31,720,000 in year one, according to ESPN, which is $1MM shy of Kyrie’s max. The deal features eight separate incentives worth $125K apiece — they’ll be worth slightly more in each of his future seasons as the value of the contract increases.

He can earn $125K bonuses in 2019/20 for meeting the following benchmarks, for up to $1MM in total:

  1. Appear in 70 or more regular season games.
  2. Commit fewer than 2.4 turnovers per game (must appear in 60+ regular season games).
  3. Attempt at least 4.6 free throws per game (must appear in 60+ regular season games).
  4. Shoot at least 88.5% from the free throw line.
  5. Make at least 2.8 three-pointers per game.
  6. Commit fewer than 2.1 fouls per game.
  7. Nets score at least 114 points per 100 possessions with Irving on the floor in the regular season.
  8. Nets allow fewer than 106 points per 100 possessions with Irving on the floor in the regular season.

For more details on the odds of Irving (and the Nets) reaching those marks, be sure to check out ESPN’s breakdown.

As for Durant, his contract – which also features a fourth-year option, as previously noted – features simpler incentives.

KD’s likely $1MM bonus will be earned if any one of the following four criteria are met, according to ESPN:

  1. The Nets make the playoffs.
  2. The Nets win at least 43 games.
  3. Durant appears in at least 50 games.
  4. Durant makes the All-Star team.

Durant is expected to miss the entire 2019/20 season, so the last two benchmarks won’t be possible, but the first two are very realistic possibilities.

Depending on whether Irving and Durant reach their incentives this season, this year’s cap hits could be retroactively adjusted. Future cap hits could also be altered, depending on whether those incentives are still considered likely or unlikely after 2019/20.

Atlantic Contract Notes: Durant, Jordan, Claxton, Milton, Brazdeikis

Kevin Durant‘s max contract with the Nets includes $4.3MM in likely bonuses, according to Jeff Siegel of EarlyBirdRights.com. It’s not clear how those bonuses can be earned but if they’re based on individual statistics, he can’t reach them next season due to his Achilles injury. His deal also includes a full 15% trade kicker. DeAndre Jordan‘s salary with Brooklyn starts at 9.9MM, rises 5% in the second year, dips back down to 9.9MM, then drops slightly in the fourth year for a total of 40MM, Siegel adds (Twitter links).

We have more contractual news from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The timeline of the Nets’ moves in free agency – signing Kyrie Irving and Jordan to free agent deals using salary-cap room and then acting like a team over the cap to pull off the Durant sign-and-trade with Golden State — also allowed them to give Nicolas Claxton a three-year contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Without room, Claxton’s fully guaranteed deal would have been limited to two years. The University of Georgia big man was the first pick of the second round.
  • Shake Milton‘s four-year minimum contract with the Sixers includes a team option in the final year and is otherwise fully guaranteed, Siegel tweets. The shooting guard played last season on a two-way contract, splitting his time between the Sixers and their G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.
  • Knicks rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis received a three-year minimum deal, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Brazdeikis will make approximately $900K as a rookie, $1.5MM in his second year and $1.8MM in his third season (team option).
  • The Celtics have been exploring a variety of contract terms with second-round pick Carsen Edwards, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. The negotiations with the Purdue guard include guaranteed amounts.

Free Agency Notes: Raptors, Stephenson, Kyrie, Sefolosha

The defending-champion Raptors will be a different team in 2019/20, with Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and starting shooting guard Danny Green off to Los Angeles. In the wake of Leonard agreeing to join the Clippers and Green committing to the Lakers, Toronto president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri issued a statement thanking the two former Spurs for their contributions to this year’s title team.

“We are very thankful for the year that Kawhi and Danny played with us here in Toronto, and I know the city and the entire country of Canada are grateful for everything they did to help us to win our first NBA Championship,” Ujiri said. “On behalf of the Raptors, I say a very heartfelt thank you to Kawhi and to Danny, and we send them and their families nothing but good wishes. As an organization, the Raptors will focus on the future and continue our pursuit of a second championship.”

After losing two All-NBA caliber defenders in Leonard and Green, the Raptors seem to be seeking out a certain archetype as they peruse the free agent market, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. As Murphy points out, new additions Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are both versatile forwards with size who should help Toronto maintain its identity as a strong defensive club.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • It doesn’t appear there’s anything brewing at the moment for free agent guard Lance Stephenson, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. According to Agness, Stephenson continues to seek a new contract and may have to settle for a minimum-salary deal.
  • While we already know that Kawhi Leonard reached out to Kevin Durant and Paul George before making his free agency decision, ESPN’s Zach Lowe adds Kyrie Irving to the list of players Leonard explored recruiting. Durant and Irving were set on heading to Brooklyn, so those discussions likely didn’t go far.
  • The Jazz haven’t completed closed the door on the idea of a reunion with free agent wing Thabo Sefolosha, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Speaking to Mark Medina of The Mercury News about his decision to join the Timberwolves, Jordan Bell said he was looking for a team that would give him playing time, rather than seeking out the most lucrative offer available. “An opportunity just to play,” Bell said when asked what he prioritized. “Money wasn’t really the issue.” The former second-round pick is getting a one-year, minimum-salary deal from Minnesota.

Nets Officially Sign Kyrie Irving

The Nets have signed Kyrie Irving to his new four-year contract with the team, according to the NBA’s transactions log, which lists the deal as official. Brooklyn hasn’t formally announced Irving’s signing yet, but the club has a complex series of transactions that must be completed, so it may be waiting to announce Irving at the same time as Kevin Durant.

Irving is moving from one Atlantic playoff team to another after earning All-NBA Second Team honors with the Celtics this past season. He averaged 23.8 PPG and a career-high 6.9 APG and 5.0 RPG with impressive efficiency numbers (.487/.401/.873 shooting).

However, locker-room and chemistry issues, as well as a disappointing second-round exit in the postseason, soured his second and final year in Boston. The C’s will replace him with another All-NBA point guard, Kemba Walker.

While Irving was initially expected to sign a four-year maximum-salary contract worth just shy of $141MM, a report indicated that he (and Durant) would accept a little less than the max in order to accommodate a four-year, $40MM deal for DeAndre Jordan. We’ll have to wait to find out the final terms of Irving’s new contract.

For more on Irving’s new deal, check out our original story from last weekend on his agreement with the Nets.

Hawks Acquire Allen Crabbe In Trade With Nets

JULY 6: A month after it was agreed upon, the Nets have officially traded Crabbe to the Hawks along with the No. 17 pick (Nickeil Alexander-Walker) and a lottery-protected first-round pick in exchange for Prince and the Hawks’ 2021 second-rounder, according to press releases from both teams.

Brooklyn will, of course, use its cap room to sign Irving and Durant.

JUNE 6: The Nets and Hawks have agreed to a trade that will send Allen Crabbe, the No. 17 pick in the 2019 draft, and a lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick to Atlanta in exchange for Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

The move will allow the Nets to clear more than $17MM from their books for the 2019/20 season by swapping Crabbe’s expiring $18.5MM deal for Prince’s ($3.48MM) and clearing the cap hold for the No. 17 pick. That will put Brooklyn on track to enter the offseason with more than $47MM in cap space. The Nets will now have a clearer path to creating two maximum-salary cap slots if they’re willing to renounce D’Angelo Russell‘s cap hold.

[RELATED: Latest On D’Angelo Russell]

The fact that the Nets were willing to agree to move Crabbe so early in the offseason signals that they have big plans for that extra cap room, which is particularly intriguing given the recent rumors linking Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Irving is “serious” about the Nets, and Brooklyn is looking to beat out the Knicks and the rest of the NBA for top free agents this summer.

If Russell is renounced, the Nets would have enough cap space for Irving and another maximum-salary free agent, unless that player has 10+ years of NBA experience (like Kevin Durant). In that scenario, the club would have to make one more modest cost-cutting move.

Besides creating extra cap flexibility, the Nets also pick up a solid young wing with three-and-D potential in Prince. The 25-year-old has averaged 13.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.4 APG with a .431/.387/.834 shooting line in 137 games (29.3 MPG) over the last two seasons in Atlanta. He’s extension-eligible this offseason and will be a restricted free agent in 2020 if he doesn’t get a new deal.

From the Hawks’ perspective, acquiring Crabbe in exchange for Prince and their 2021 second-round pick will allow them to pick up two extra first-round selections, which could be used to add two more young prospects to their core or could be dangled in subsequent trade discussions.

Atlanta is now armed with three top-20 picks in the 2019 draft (Nos. 8, 10, and 17). There have been rumors that the Hawks have explored the idea of packaging their two top-10 picks to move up — adding the No. 17 selection to the mix should give the club more leverage in those discussions.

Meanwhile, the on-court impact of swapping out Prince for Crabbe shouldn’t be significant, as they play fairly similar roles. While Crabbe’s lucrative contract isn’t team-friendly, he has still been a very good three-point shooter in recent years, posting a .396 3PT% since signing his four-year deal in 2016, and his deal will expire after the 2019/20 season.

The Hawks’ cap room for 2019 will be cut nearly in half by the deal, but the team still projects to have about $23-25MM in space.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN.com observes (via Twitter), the two teams won’t be able to complete the trade until July, since the Hawks won’t have the cap room necessary to absorb Crabbe’s contract until the new league year begins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.