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Here are incentives Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving must hit to get max salaries


Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, according to initial reporting, took discounts so the Nets could sign DeAndre Jordan.

That isn’t the full story.

Both Durant ($38,199,000) and Irving ($32,742,000) can get their full max salaries next season. They just must hit incentives.

Brooklyn cleverly structured Irving’s contract to maximize cap space. The Nets had enough cap space for his base salary plus incentives. But once signed, Irving counted toward the cap at only his base salary plus likely incentives. Unlikely incentives – by definition, ones he wouldn’t have achieved last season – stop counting once he’s signed. So, that offered wiggle room used to get Jordan.

Irving has $1 million of unlikely incentives next season divided into eight $125,000 possible bonuses, according to Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks of ESPN: Irving can trigger the bonuses by:

  • Playing 70 games
  • Playing 60 games and averaging fewer than 2.4 turnovers per game
  • Playing 60 games and averaging 4.6 free-throw attempts per game
  • Shooting 88.5% on free throws
  • Making 2.8 3-pointers per game
  • Committing fewer than 2.1 fouls per game
  • His team scoring 114 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor
  • His team allowing 106 or fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor

These are all in reach for Irving, but none are locks. I’m surprised his incentives are set as so difficult. There were ways to structure these as more likely while remaining technically “unlikely.” Irving is a superstar. He had all the leverage.

Still, I doubt he’s fretting over $1 million.

These incentives carry through the other three years on his contract and presumably increase as his salary rises. So, there’s more than $4 million at stake. Again, I doubt Irving is too concerned.

Durant also has $1 million of incentives. He can get the bonus with any of the following:

  • His team making the playoffs
  • His team winning at least 43 games
  • Playing 50 games
  • Making an All-Star team

The individual honors seem highly unlikely next season with Durant sidelined by a ruptured Achilles. The Nets will probably win enough for Durant to qualify, anyway.

I see no roster-building reason Durant, who was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Warriors, has incentives in his contract. Durant could have seemingly signed a straight max deal and left Brooklyn the same flexibility to sign Jordan and do everything else this summer.

My best guess: Durant wanted to show a shared sacrifice with Irving. That’d be in-character for Durant.

There are a lot of good vibes coming from Brooklyn right now.

Watch Trae Young drop 31 at Drew League, lose to Montrezl Harrell who has 46

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The Drew League in Los Angeles is one of the premiere — for my money the best — summer pro-am basketball league in America. There is some serious talent getting run on that court.

But drop in NBA talent and it’s another level.

That’s what happened Saturday in Los Angeles. Atlanta’s Trae Young showed up, went head-to-head with the reigning Drew League MVP Frank “Nitty” Session (who has embarrassed guys like Denzel Valentine in Drew games), and dropped 31.

But Young’s team lost because Clippers’ stud  Montrezl Harrell dropped 46.

You can see the highlights above thanks to BallisLife.


Manny Pacquiao says he has thought about buying part of NBA team when he retires

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At age 40, Manny Pacquiao is not retiring. Even if you and some boxing pundits think he should. Tonight (Saturday) he fights Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and is expected to pull down about a cool $26 million for his trouble. If you’re getting paid like that, why retire exactly? He has said he wants to fight another five years or so.

After that, he’d like to buy part of an NBA team.

That’s what he told TMZ in a pre-fight interview.

He said he has thought about buying a piece of an NBA team after he retires. Pacquiao, a basketball nut who uses the sport as part of his training, owns an entire semi-pro league — the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League — in the Philippines (one of the most basketball-crazy nations on earth). Pacquiao said he thinks his experience with that league would help him as an NBA owner, that some of the skills will translate, which is likely true. Pacquiao said it’s about finding the right opportunity.

Forbes estimates that Pacquiao will have earned, after Saturday’s fight, more than $500 million in his career. Various websites estimate his net worth in the $200 million range. He’s got the money to jump in as a part owner.

In an NBA that loves personalities and characters — and one always trying to gain more traction in Asian markets — don’t be shocked if this happens someday.

Once Pacquiao retires.

C.J.McCollum, Eric Gordon both withdraw from USA Basketball for World Cup

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First Anthony Davis. Then James Harden.

Now add C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon to the list, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t be surprised if a couple of new players are added to the USA roster for training camp.

The loss of those four stars strips the Team USA of some international experience. As pointed out by John Schuhmann of, now only four members invited to USA camp have played in the World Cup or Olympics: Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry — and Lowry just had thumb surgery and is questionable for the playing in China.

USA Basketball can still roll out this starting five:

Damian Lillard
Bradley Beal
Khris Middleton
Tobias Harris
Andre Drummond

Then off the bench have Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez.

That’s still enough talent, coached by Gregg Popovich, to win the World Cup. The USA remains the heavy favorites for a reason.

USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Then the team heads overseas for the World Cup, which begins in China on Aug. 31.

James Harden reiterates it was ‘false talk’ he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.