Steve Nash: Nets traded Jarrett Allen in part due to financial reasons

James Harden and Jarrett Allen in Brooklyn Nets v Cleveland Cavaliers
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The Nets have holes at center.

LaMarcus Aldridge has produced and just got his desired promotion to the starting lineup. But that happened in part because Blake Griffin has really struggled. Nicolas Claxton is battling illness. Paul Millsap, who missed time for personal reasons, hasn’t found a rhythm. Rookie Day'Ron Sharpe isn’t ready.

Meanwhile, Jarrett Allenwho didn’t get enough appreciation in Brooklyn – is shining for the Cavaliers on his new $100 million contract.

Greg Logan of Newsday:

Nets coach Steve Nash was a rookie head coach last season, but when asked at the Monday morning shootaround how tough it was to send back Allen as part of the Harden trade, Nash said, “For sure. We loved him and wish him a lot of success and are happy for him to get a contract. The reality is he was probably out, we couldn’t probably have re-signed him anyway. Looking at the marketplace, he probably would have gotten a lot of money, and it would’ve been a huge gap compared to some of the other priorities.

“So that was part of the decision in being able to let something like that go. Obviously, the other part is James Harden is a special, special player. But no question we still root for [Allen] and support him.”

Asked if he has been surprised at all by Allen’s play this season, Nash said, “No, we know he’s got a bright future. He’s a terrific player, and I think he’ll have a great career here in Cleveland.”

The Nets had Allen’s Bird Rights and could have re-signed him under salary-cap rules. He was also a restricted free agent, limiting his ability to unilaterally leave. Well above the cap, Brooklyn faced minimal opportunity cost in terms of team-building if paying to keep Allen.

It would have just cost a ton in luxury tax.

If they somehow assembled their current roster but with Allen (on his current contract) rather than one of their minimum-salary players… the Nets’ luxury-tax liability would have been about $109 million higher. Plus, they would have had to pay Allen’s $20 million salary.

And that’s just this season. Brooklyn projects to be deep into the luxury tax for years to come if James Harden and Kyrie Irving stay with already-extended Kevin Durant.

Of course, the Nets didn’t just dump Allen. They used him – along with three first-round picks, four first-round pick swaps and Caris LeVert – in a package for Harden, a star. Even Allen said he would have made the trade.

But maybe Brooklyn could gotten Harden without surrendering Allen.

The Nets could have dealt another first-rounder (though one fewer swap). They still had several second-rounders. They also had Landry Shamet, who was later traded to the Suns for the No. 29 pick in this year’s draft and Jevon Carter.

The Rockets didn’t even covet Allen, who got re-routed to the Cavs in the deal.

Playing out that hypothetical, Nets owner Joe Tsai theoretically could have approved the luxury-tax expenditure.

It sounds as if Brooklyn preferred trading Allen to re-signing him. The Harden trade just happened to be the Allen deal that made most sense.

Maybe the Nets wouldn’t have acquired the same supporting players if keeping Allen. Their payroll could have gone the other way, though. Brooklyn dealt four second-rounders to dump DeAndre Jordan‘s contract. If those picks got included in the Harden trade, they wouldn’t have been available for a Jordan trade, leaving the payroll even higher.

To be fair, the Nets are spending big. They have the NBA’s second-highest payroll (behind the Warriors). We also don’t know Brooklyn could have gotten Harden without including Allen.

But if they were more open to paying Allen, it’s at least possible the Nets would be even better.

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.

Three things to know: Joel Embiid returns, scores final 11 vs. Hawks

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Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.

1) Joel Embiid returns, scores final 11 vs. Hawks in 76ers win

The 76ers went 3-1 with Joel Embiid sidelined by a left mid-foot sprain, but they are so much more a dangerous team with him.

Embiid scored the 76ers’ final 11 points of the game against the Hawks, including the go-ahead 10-foot jumper with 18.6 seconds left, to cap a 30-point night and lift the Sixers past the Hawks 104-101.

Embiid was making critical defensive plays down the stretch as well.

Embiid finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. That’s five straight 30+ point games for Embiid, who picked up right where he left off before the injury.

Well, not exactly pick up at the start as Embiid was 1-of-7 shooting to open the game, and he wasn’t the only Sixers rusty at the start. Embiid seemed focused on sharing the ball early but settled into an offensive balance as the game went on. Philly was saved by a solid defensive night.

The 76ers continue to pick up wins with James Harden and Tyrese Maxey out, which is a good sign going forward.

That’s three-straight losses for the Hawks, a loss that stings because they should have been able to dominate the shorthanded 76ers backcourt and get the win.

2) Karl-Anthony Towns goes down with concerning leg injury

Let’s hope the optimistic report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is right and this isn’t as severe as it looked. Because it looked bad.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony simply was pushing off to run back upcourt when he fell to the ground — without contact — grabbing his knee and calf.

Towns was helped back to the locker room and did not return, with the Timberwolves officially saying he was out for the rest of the night with a calf strain.

A calf strain would be the best possible outcome. An MRI Monday will tell us more.

Towns’ stats are down this season as he adjusts to the odd fit of playing next to Rudy Gobert, but he is still averaging 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game.

The Wizards got a monster night from Kristaps Porzingis — a career-high 41 points — on their way to a 142-127 victory. When Porzingis is on this Washington team is tough to beat.

3) Big shots fall at Lakers’ game

Two big shots defined the night at the crypto.com arena Monday.

First, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 with a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

The second one hurt the Lakers more. Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.

The Lakers got lost in the scramble. On the initial action, Russell Westbrook doubled Bennedict Mathurin in the corner, which left the screen setter Myles Turner open at the top for a clean look at a 3 — but he was short and came off the front of the rim. Tyrese Haliburton out-hustled everyone to the rebound and tried to create his own shot but saw Nembhard wide open and kicked him the rock.

Ballgame.

The Pacers split their two games in Los Angeles at the start of a seven-game road trip through the West.

The Lakers had won 5-of-6 against a soft part of the schedule but that is about to change and over the next few weeks we will get a sense of where this 7-12 team really stands.