Kendrick Perkins, who first predicted that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were going to the Knicks, then changed his prediction to the Nets, says James Harden wants to move on from the Rockets and believes he prefers the Nets and 76ers.
Then, Saturday evening, an L.A.-based NBA writer, Farbod Esnaashari, tweeted out what he had heard...
Mind you, I never do these things. This is what I'm hearing right now though good intel. But we'll see what the future holds— Farbod Esnaashari (@Farbod_E) November 14, 2020
And, putting that aside, what to make of Spencer Dinwiddie rumors? He dumped his agent and is now representing himself. Combine that with some cryptic tweets (and retweets) plus a report that several Western Conference teams have had “internal” discussions about him and you have to wonder if he’ll be back.
It’s three days before the Draft and a day before the end of the league-trade moratorium. So expect no less.
We don’t want to dismiss Perkins’ commentary since he played with Harden nor the tweets by Esnaashari who’s a credentialed NBA reporter whose work has appeared on ESPN and Sports Illustrated. But as of Sunday morning, there’s been no confirmation yet of any interest, mutual or otherwise, from the high priests of rumors: Woj, Shams or Steinie (Links are to their Twitter pages. You’ll need them.) Moreover, Esnaashari has not followed up on his bombshell report.
Does it make sense? Depends. The Rockets are owned by Tillman Fertitta whose other businesses have been hammered ... and could use some payroll relief. To be fair, he has said he’s not going to tear down the team. Fertitta has already saved millions with the departure of Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey. He could save more if his acting GM was able to manipulate the salary cap, bringing in less payroll than what Harden earns.
For the Nets, Harden, 31, would be a bona fide “third star” and make them the odds-on favorite to win it all. Harden might even qualify as the “second star” behind Kevin Durant. and ahead of Kyrie Irving. But incorporating this high usage game into the Nets offense might be a bit, shall we say, intriguing. Moreover, the three stars would have guarantees, counting their option years in 2022-23, of more than $350 million.
And in one scenario, the Nets would give up its best young players ... and no doubt multiple picks. They would have to replenish their bench in a matter of days without any cap space. Sean Marks and Joe Tsai would be taking a big risk that would, if it didn’t work out, haunt the Nets for several years.
And it simply wouldn’t be easy. As Brian Lewis writes...
With $131.5 million left on his deal — including a $46.9 million player option in 2022-23 — Brooklyn would need to make the salaries work. Former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks — now at ESPN — cited Brooklyn as one of five teams with the assets and draft capital to satisfy Houston, offering some combination of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince and picks.
And Kristian Winfield noted the same is true from Houston’s perspective...
In Houston, blowing it up is easier said than done. Harden is 31, and Westbrook just turned 32. Both are due $133 million — each — over the next three years of their deals. The final year of their respective contracts will pay $47 million. Each.
Westbrook is no longer the player who won league Most Valuable Player in 2017. Father Time has a way of creeping up on stars, unless they’re named LeBron James.
Then, there’s the issue of how Harden would feel about re-uniting with D’Antoni in Brooklyn. Maybe he does. Maybe that’s part of Perkins’ calculation. We just don’t know. There’s also competition from teams like the Nets division rivals in Philadelphia and Boston or Western Conference powerhouses in Denver or Golden State.
We’d still have to consider this one unlikely. On the other hand, Joe Tsai is all-in on making the Nets dominant and a Harden trade would certainly do that. That may matter more than perhaps anything else. So we wait, but not for long.
Dinwiddie seems to be ready to move on and if the Nets are unwilling to give up LeVert for someone other than a superstar, he would appear to be the Nets most likely trade chip. After all, he’s on the brink of his most productive years and is coming off a season where he averaged 20.6 points and 6.8 assists. Mike Mazzeo, who broke the story of KD trying to recruit Serge Ibaka, thinks all the hints are there, noting that the fan favorite has been “canvassing” teams in the league about their interest in him. You can do that if you’re your own agent.
In the last few days, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Dinwiddie could be available in the right deal, while SNY’s Ian Begley reported multiple Western Conference contenders are interested in acquiring the 27-year-old point guard (No. 26 has a house in San Antonio, and hails from Los Angeles, for what it’s worth).
Dinwiddie, who is currently representing himself, has been canvassing the league with an eye on solidifying his future – which very well could be elsewhere. He’s going into the final year of his deal, and will make $11.5 million in 2020-21. He also has a $12.3 million player option for 2021-22.
Mazzeo updated his story Saturday with a tweet quoting Jay Williams...
Friday on ESPN, Jay Williams said Spencer Dinwiddie has been "sending subliminal messages about not wanting to be in Brooklyn." With Dinwiddie representing himself and trying to secure his long-term future, his tenure with the #Nets could be over soon https://t.co/unuDwA7eLT— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzNYC) November 14, 2020
The Lakers seem to be the leading possibility among the pundits. The Lakers’ point guard situation is somewhat uncertain (unless you consider the NBA’s assist leader, LeBron James as your PG.) Rajon Rondo has opted out of his player option and combo guard Avery Bradley may do the same, He’s already dumped his agent.
The Lakers reportedly had an interest in trading for Dinwiddie before the trade deadline and there are possibilities on the NBA champs roster, perhaps Kyle Kuzma, the 6’9” combo forward. The Lakers took him with the Nets pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, part of the price for D’Angelo Russell. Kuzma has had some issues with the Lakers, mainly due to his inconsistency. As one pundit said of the 25-year-old, “he’s been okay” but he believes he’s worthy of more. Three days ago, Brian Windhorst said this of Kuzma’s payroll dreams.
“Then you’ve got Kuzma, who is extension eligible, still has a year left on his contract but extension eligible. From what I understand, is expecting a sizable deal. Hoping for a sizable deal.”
He’s eligible for an extension. If he isn’t extended, he’d be a restricted free agent at the end of the year. Dinwiddie of course will also be an unrestricted free agent as well next July if he, as expected, opts out. So their situations would be somewhat even.
We’d consider that a serious possibility ... but like most everyone else, we know nothing.
Finally, Victor Oladipo has reportedly told the Pacers he is committed to the organization, so step away from the trade machine on that one!
- 5 potential Spencer Dinwiddie trade packages Nets could entertain, including Jrue Holiday - David Vertsberger - SNY