After the first reports leaked following his physical that Isaiah Thomas was more injured than the Cavaliers had expected (or, they say, the Celtics had let on), it was obvious Cleveland was going to ask for more compensation in the Kyrie Irving trade. The question was what would Boston really give them? Not much if anything.
Still, Cleveland sees this as a negotiation. Meaning, as one should do in a negotiation, they started by asking for too much — the Cavs said they would ask about Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown or another first-round pick.
Boston will quickly shoot that idea down, sources told Chris Mannix of CSNNE. You can see the video above, but Mannix said the Celtics “will draw a pretty definitive line in the sand” and say that Tatum, Brown, or a first-round pick are off the table. As they should be — Cleveland already was getting a lot in this deal, headlined by that unprotected Brooklyn pick in the next draft.
Boston can play hardball, throw nothing more in, and call Cleveland’s bluff. Everyone knows Cleveland badly wants that Brooklyn pick (they also got Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic in the deal in addition to Thomas). As Mannix notes, Boston can throw in a second round pick — maybe their own, which will be in the mid-50s the next few years, guys drafted that deep rarely make the NBA (four guys in the 50s from the last two drafts played NBA games, none more than 42 total) — and that allows Cleveland to save face. But that’s it.
If Cleveland thinks they are getting anything of real value added in, this deal will die.
Kyrie Irving, according to a report, has ghosted the Celtics as free agency approaches.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Whoever leaked the initial information wanted to make Irving look bad. Whoever leaked this wanted to make Irving look good. Who’s telling the truth?
Maybe Irving’s and Boston staffers have differing definitions “communicative and forthright.” They could each be telling their own truths. But neither side is above spreading inaccurate rumors to sully someone else’s reputation.
Breakups get messy, and it appears this one is already there.
Beyond all the noise about how Irving is leaving, the most important detail: This is yet another report he’s leaving for the Nets.
The Hornets’ last hope for super-maxing out Kemba Walker and avoiding the luxury tax without trading or stretching anyone has been extinguished.
With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s $13 million salary locked in for next season, Charlotte faces hard choices.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
If the Hornets re-sign Walker to the super-max, sign their draft picks (Nos. 12, 36 and 52) and add no other free agents, they’d project to be about $9 million over the tax line.
Would Walker take that large of a discount? That $9 million below the super-max would be for just next season. Over a five-year contract with max raises, he’d be leaving about $54 million on the table. And that’s all to maintain a lottery team that’s not really upgrading.
Would Michael Jordan pay the tax? He never has, and I doubt this mediocre team sways him.
The most likely outcome if Walker re-signs: Charlotte trades an undesirable contract – Kidd-Gilchrist’s, Nicolas Batum‘s, Marvin Williams‘, Cody Zeller‘s) – or stretches Bismack Biyombo. Trading those rotation players would probably require a sweetener. Stretching Biyombo would create a cap hit through 2022.
So, the Hornets get even more depleted in the long-term, maybe also the short-term.
That’s the cost of overpaying so many players – including Kidd-Gilchrist, who plays hard and defends well but hasn’t developed enough of an offensive game.
R.J. Barrett is the consensus No. 3 prospect in this draft. The Knicks have the No. 3 pick.
A potential snag – New York working out Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland today – apparently won’t keep Barrett from his desired Knicks.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The top of the draft looks clear:
1. Pelicans: Zion Williamson
2. Grizzlies: Ja Morant
3. Knicks: R.J. Barrett
New Orleans has the No. 4 pick but is looking into trading it. I rate Garland as the top available prospect, but the Pelicans already have Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt. They could still take Garland, but the fit would be tricky.
Will New Orleans pick Garland? Take someone else? Trade the pick?
The draft will get interesting at No. 4.
Predicting what the Wizards will do this off-season — from the No. 9 pick in the draft on Thursday through what to do with Jabari Parker‘s $20 million team option — is difficult because they do not have a permanent general manager. The Wizards have made a run at Toronto’s Masai Ujiri (something sources told me is true despite owner Ted Leonsis’ denials), but for now in-house candidate Tommy Sheppard is running the show (and will for a while longer).
The biggest question: What will the Wizards do with Bradley Beal?
While every team in the league has called to try and feel out trade possibilities, the Wizards are leaning toward offering him a three-year, $111 million extension to his current contract, something reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
“He’s eligible for a three-year, $111 million extension. I’m told it’s the team’s intention to offer that up to him and try and move forward.”
The Wizards should offer it up.
It would be a surprise if Beal accepted it.
In part because he will want to see who is in charge and what direction this person takes the franchise before he commits to it, but also in part because it doesn’t hurt him financially. Beal can get a larger-year four-year extension in the summer of 2020, or become a free agent and sign a max five-year contract in 2021 (or, he could bolt them to another team that summer). Beal is just 25 years old and has not had the kind of injury issues that would make him think he needs to take the security now (he has played 82 games the last two seasons).
This little dance will go on in our nation’s capital, but it signifies nothing. Meanwhile, Beal will gear up for next season, another without John Wall where Beal will once again be the focal point of the office.