Dan Feldman

Report: Cavaliers, Celtics face Wednesday deadline on Kyrie Irving trade


Last Tuesday night, the Cavaliers and Celtics made official – but not complete – their trade of Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick. On the trade call, the teams presumably set schedules for physicals and ruling on them.

With Thomas’ hip causing concern in Cleveland, that schedule is suddenly of the utmost importance.

Now, we have an idea on timing.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

A Cavs source said the two sides need to reach a conclusion by Wednesday evening or mutually agree to extend the deadline. Though the Cavs could void the trade based on Thomas’ injury, sources still expect a deal to get done.

The teams could easily delay the deadline, but if the Celtics are truly drawing a line in the sand with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown or any other first-round pick, they could stick to Wednesday evening. Of course, that might be more of the posturing we’ve seen from both sides.

If it comes to it, the Cavs could always void the trade and still negotiate with Boston on a revised deal. But who’s to say the Celtics would even leave the original offer on the table?

Wednesday is a soft deadline, but a deadline nonetheless. Those are always helpful in finding resolution, though obviously not as much as hard deadlines.

Report: Cavaliers evaluating Kyrie Irving trade after Isaiah Thomas physical


The Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick – pending physicals.

Boston acknowledged that Thomas’ hip injury played a role in the deal. It also might factor into the trade getting voided.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

It doesn’t take Miss Cleo to read these tea leaves. Cleveland is clearly concerned.

The Cavs don’t need Thomas ready to start the season. With him on an expiring contract, they don’t even necessarily need him to have great longevity – though he would certainly like to be healthy enough to cash in next summer, and they would ideally like to re-sign him (and LeBron James). But most of all, the Cavaliers need Thomas healthy this May and June for a playoff run that could realistically culminate with another championship.

If it appears too unlikely Thomas is up to that, the Cavs have no choice but to flunk his physical and negate the trade.

The big question: How unlikely is too unlikely?

Cleveland got so much in the deal – Crowder (a versatile wing built to match up with the Warriors), Zizic (a fine young prospect) and that sweet, sweet Brooklyn pick that alone might near Irving’s value. The Cavaliers obviously don’t need Thomas perfectly healthy to come out ahead, which is self-evident in them making the trade while Thomas is still rehabbing his hip.

The teams could always try to re-work the trade, though it wouldn’t be easy. They tried for weeks before finding this configuration.

Thomas, an All-NBA second-teamer who averaged 29 points per game last season, was supposedly key in appeasing Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s desire to acquire a star for Irving. Maybe Boston can swap in other players – including point guards Marcus Smart and/or Terry Rozier – but that might not placate Cleveland. It’d also be superfluous for the Celtics to keep Thomas while adding Irving, at least if Thomas can play.

And just which players would Boston include in a revised deal? Marcus Morris can’t be aggregated in a trade until Sept. 7. Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin and Daniel Theis can’t be traded at all until Dec. 15. Options are narrow.

If the deal gets undone, there would be a lot of hurt feelings on both sides.

Irving, of course, requested a trade from Cleveland. How would he handle returning after believing he had moved on? How would his teammates welcome him back after coming to terms with his exit?

Likewise, Thomas might not be keen on returning to the Celtics. I wouldn’t blame him for looking around the locker room and front office and wondering whom he can trust. Even if Thomas returned to Boston and played well, there’d be no chance of pitching him with loyalty in free agency next summer.

The simplest answer might be the Cavaliers getting another pick from the Celtics, which wouldn’t affect the trade’s cap math, in exchange for taking greater risk on Thomas’ hip. That’d avoid a lot of drama.

If even amenable to that – they’re already giving up so much – the Celtics would probably want to conduct another physical of their own on Thomas. Otherwise, what would stop the Cavs from signaling concern just to extort an extra pick from Boston?

There are good reasons for both teams to take their time in evaluating this. It just must be excruciating for everyone involved.

Suns’ second-rounder Davon Reed out 4-6 months after knee surgery

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Every contract negotiation for a second-round pick begins in the backdrop of the required tender – a one-year offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, a team must extend to maintain exclusive negotiating rights on a player. The team would love to add three more unguaranteed years at the minimum, securing the possibility of cheap production without committing anything. Of course, players would never go for that.

So, teams entice players with larger guarantees. Essentially, the teams are buying upside on the backend of the contract by promising to pay more in the early years. The higher guarantee, the longer the contract the player is willing to sign.

But Suns No. 32 pick Davon Reed – represented by Stephen Pina of Andy Miller’s agency – fell on the wrong side of the guarantee vs. flexibility curve.

Reed received the second-smallest guarantee among any second-rounder to sign a standard contract this year – $1,504,736 (his $815,615 minimum salary this year plus $689,121 of his $1,378,242 minimum salary next year). Yet, Reed also locked in for the maximum-allowable four years with the final two seasons unguaranteed at the minimum.

By contrast, the only other second-rounder to sign a four-year deal – Celtics’ No. 37 pick Semi Ojeleye – received a $2,193,857 guarantee (his full $1,291,892 salary this season plus enough of his salary next season to equal the minimum over two years). Thomas Bryant – the Lakers’ No. 42 pick – was guaranteed just his $815,615 minimum salary this season, but at least he locked in for only two years.

Reed’s contract blunder is already looking more costly.

Suns release:

Phoenix Suns guard Davon Reed yesterday underwent a meniscus repair of his left knee. The procedure was performed by Head Team Physician Dr. Tom Carter at Gateway Surgery Center in Phoenix. Reed is expected to return to full basketball activity in approximately four to six months.

If this stalls Reed’s career, he’ll walk away with just $1,504,736 – $1,195,264 less than the guarantee to the player drafted just before him (the Pelicans’ Frank Jackson) and $923,506 less than the player drafted just after him (the Magic’s Wesley Iwundu).

If Reed gets healthy and becomes a positive NBA contributor, Phoenix will reap the rewards while paying him the minimum the next four seasons.

Kyrie Irving leaves $1,668,172-$5,845,172 on the table by waiving trade kicker

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Kyrie Irving wanted a trade from the Cavaliers.

He put his money where his mouth is to facilitate a deal to the Celtics.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Irving’s trade bonus could have been worth 15% of his remaining salary before a 2019 player option – up to $5,845,172. But that amount would have rendered the trade – Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick – illegal under the NBA’s salary-matching trade rules. Boston could take back only its outgoing salary plus $5 million, and Irving’s base salary left just $834,086 to spare.

That meant the maximum trade bonus Irving could have received in this deal was $1,668,172 – $834,086 applied to both seasons before his player option.

The Celtics could have sent out more salary, allowing Irving to earn a higher portion of his kicker, which would have been paid by the Cavs by rule. But Boston is short on filler salary – especially because Marcus Morris can’t be aggregated in a trade until Sept. 7, and Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin and Daniel Theis can’t be traded at all until Dec. 15. Including anyone else would have meant the Celtics surrendering even more value – and they already gave up so much. Maybe Cleveland would have balked at paying extra to Irving, who already threw them for a loop with his trade request.

But the possibility of Irving pocketing a trade bonus was there. Whether $1,668,172 is a lot to someone earning $18,868,626 this season is in the eye of the beholder.

That Irving didn’t maximize his income by pushing for a different trade that could’ve allowed him to receive more of his trade bonus or even demanding the maximum amount allowable in this trade speaks to his desire to leave Cleveland. It also says something about his eagerness to join the Celtics, which should make them a little more confident about re-signing him in two years.

Though Irving signing an extension is almost certainly unrealistic, these little signals matter as his free agency looms.

Rumor: Mavericks RFA Nerlens Noel rejected contract worth $17.5 million annually

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Nerlens Noel has been the best free agent available for a while, and it doesn’t appear the restricted Mavericks center will strike a deal any time soon. He just hired Rich Paul, who’s default negotiation tactic is waiting.

Noel is said to desire the max, which, who wouldn’t? We don’t know what he’d actually settle for. But now we have an idea what Dallas is offering.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

A report like this should be taken for what it is: incomplete. How many years? More importantly, how much is guaranteed? Is the offer still on the table?

Whoever leaked this did so to paint his or her side in the most favorable light. Based on only what we know – a $17.5 million average annual salary – the offer might be good for Noel, terrible for Noel or anywhere in between.

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum ignored those caveats and shared a sharp opinion:

It’s shocking to see a player publicly insert himself into another player’s business like this.

Granted, a fully guaranteed deal worth $17.5 million annually – no matter its length – looks good for Noel. It’s hard to see another team offering more at this point, and that’d trump his $4,187,599 qualifying offer – especially given Noel’s injury history.

But I don’t know the guarantees in the reported proposal. Unless McCollum does, he’s not positioned to critique the advice Noel is receiving.