Kyrie Irving

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,” 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 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, it’s 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.

Eastern Notes: Pacers, Bucks, Sumner, Nets, De Colo

The first-round draft pick the Pacers will send the Bucks in their sign-and-trade deal for Malcolm Brogdon is lottery-protected in 2020, tweets ESPN’s Zach Lowe. And if it doesn’t convey in 2020, it’s lottery-protected for five more drafts after that before becoming unprotected in 2026, Lowe adds. In other words, barring a catastrophe in Indiana, Milwaukee will be getting a pick in the back half of the first round, likely next year.

Meanwhile, Edmond Sumner‘s new three-year deal with the Pacers will be worth $6.5MM, a league source tells Grant Afseth of The Kokomo Tribune (Twitter link). It’s not clear whether all three years will be fully guaranteed, but it sounds like Sumner will be getting more than the minimum.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • A source tells Marc Stein of The New York Times that Spencer Dinwiddie was “at the forefront” of a months-long push to convince Kyrie Irving to choose the Nets over the Knicks — and to push Kevin Durant in the same direction. While DeAndre Jordan spent the last two months of the season with the Knicks, he also came to view Brooklyn as a more favorable destination to team up with Irving and Durant, according to Stein, who says the veteran center “joined the chorus promoting the Nets” in recent days.
  • EuroLeague powerhouse Fenerbahce is in serious pursuit of Raptors RFA guard Nando De Colo, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. According to Carchia, De Colo – who last wore an NBA uniform in 2014 – remains focused on getting back into the NBA. But if he doesn’t get an offer he likes within the next couple weeks, it’s possible he’ll sign with the Turkish club, says Carchia.
  • Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype caught up with veteran center Nikola Vucevic to talk to him about his new $100MM contract agreement with the Magic. “I feel rewarded for what I’ve done – not just last season, but what I’ve done throughout all of my years in Orlando,” Vucevic said of his new deal. “It means a lot for the team to reward me with this nice contract. It was important for me to be able to continue [my career] there and I’m glad we were able to agree on a deal that keeps me in Orlando for four more years.”

Warriors Agree To Acquire D’Angelo Russell Via Sign-And-Trade

JULY 1: The Warriors will send a future protected first-round pick to the Nets as part of the deal to help incentivize them to acquire Durant via sign-and-trade, tweets Wojnarowski.

JUNE 30: The Warriors are trading for D’Angelo Russell, Treveon Graham, and Shabazz Napier from the Nets, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). The move would be made via sign-and-trade in exchange for Kevin Durant.

Russell will receive a four-year, $117MM maximum salary contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

It was reported earlier today that the Warriors may have an interest in turning Durant’s departure into a sign-and-trade with the Nets. If they hadn’t taken back any salary in the deal, the Dubs could have created a $30MM trade exception. Instead, they’ll land one of the top restricted free agents on the market.

Brooklyn replaced Russell with Kyrie Irving at the point guard position and the franchise was said to be open to helping Russell find a new home of his choosing, even if it meant committing to a sign-and-trade. The Nets wouldn’t look to take salary back in most scenarios, but since they are getting Durant from Golden State, sending Russell there wouldn’t hinder their ability to sign their new stars.

Russell was said to be eyeing a possible move to Minnesota to team up with his close friend Karl-Anthony Towns. Perhaps that was before a deal in Golden State seemed like a feasible option.

The Warriors must stay below the tax apron, which is set at approximately $138.9MM, to remain eligible to accept a sign-and-trade. Doing so with Russell and Klay Thompson receiving maximum-salary deals will be extremely difficult, so another move or two is likely coming for Golden State. As Wojnarowski tweets, Andre Iguodala may have to be moved. Shaun Livingston also appears unlikely to be back.

[UPDATE: Warriors trading Iguodala to Grizzlies]

With Thompson expected to miss most or all of the 2019/20 season with a torn ACL, Russell figures to share the backcourt with Stephen Curry next season in a revamped Warriors lineup. It will be fascinating to see if the club plans to move forward and build around all three guards long-term once Thompson is healthy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets, Kyrie Irving Agree To Four-Year Deal

JUNE 30: The Nets and Irving have agreed to a four-year, $140,790,600 deal, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, it includes a fourth-year player option.

[UPDATE: Irving will accept less than the max to accommodate a $40MM deal for DeAndre Jordan]

JUNE 29: The Nets and free agent point guard Kyrie Irving are set to meet in New York on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the two sides are motivated to quickly agree to terms on a four-year, maximum-salary contract worth a projected $141MM.

Once Irving commits to the Nets, the team is expected to renounce restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell, allowing him to become unrestricted, league sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). However, Brooklyn is also willing to work with Russell and his reps to help him get to the destination of his choice, and may not renounce his rights if there’s a sign-and-trade deal that appeals to the Nets, Woj adds (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Lakers reach out to Russell]

Whether or not Russell’s cap hold remains on their books, the Nets will have the room necessary to sign Irving outright. Renouncing Russell – or trading him without taking back any salary – would give the club the room to sign another max-level player to join Kyrie.

It has been a roller coaster year for Irving, who said during a preseason team event with the Celtics that he intended to re-sign with Boston at season’s end. A frustrating season with the C’s made him re-think that stance, and rumors in recent months suggested that he might be eyeing a move to the Knicks. However, within the last month, multiple reports indicated that it was New York’s other team, the Nets, that Irving was focused on joining.

Irving will be 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 Celtics have already lined up a replacement for Irving, as All-NBA Third Team guard Kemba Walker reportedly plans to agree to terms on a four-year, maximum-salary deal with Boston once free agency officially begins on Sunday.

As Boston swaps one All-NBA point guard for another, the Nets will do the same with a pair of All-Star point guards, replacing Russell with Irving. While Russell had an impressive breakout season in Brooklyn in 2018/19, the Nets’ willingness to invest big money in Irving reflects the team’s belief that the former Cavalier and Celtic is the more dynamic play-maker and scorer.

Once they secure a commitment from Irving, the Nets are expected to pursue his good friend Kevin Durant. They’d need to make at least one more roster move to open up the room necessary to land Durant, since his maximum salary projects to be about $5.5MM higher than Kyrie’s due to his 10+ years of NBA experience.

If the Nets can’t land Durant, they’ll have plenty of other options on the free agent market. Tobias Harris is one name that has been frequently linked to Brooklyn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.