By virtually all accounts, the Brooklyn Nets are not done. As of 4:00 p.m. ET Monday, the Nets and Mavericks had not officially announced that their trade is complete. Is it because of some bureaucratic issue, travel, or is it possible that the Nets want to keep the trade open so they can expand it? Don’t know. No one is saying.
ALL that said, what do the pundits say about how the Nets — and Mavs — did in their reported deal. You know, trade grades, the letters fans await after every big deal. At this point, there’s a wide variety of opinion on who won, who lost in the exchange of Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and three picks. Here’s the summary. In general, the Nets get good grades with ESPN, USA Today and Bleacher Report giving Sean Marks et al an A grade or higher...
Add in an unprotected first-round pick timed for after Doncic can become an unrestricted free agent, and this seems like a strong return for Brooklyn, given the circumstances. Of course, only one person’s opinion about this trade really matters: Durant’s. Whether he believes this supporting cast can help him win a championship with the Nets is the most important piece of this equation...
Given the ticking clock on Doncic’s free agency, I understand the urgency for Dallas to take a risk in order to win now. However, based on Irving’s track record of becoming unhappy with his team at inopportune moments, I wouldn’t risk my superstar player’s prime betting on him.
Brooklyn Nets: B+
Very good haul for Brooklyn given that Irving dropped this trade bombshell on them so close to the deadline. It’s hard to say how intense the bidding war got for Irving because of how dicey his contract situation is. Dinwiddie is a very solid player who has looked good playing off Dončić in Dallas. His three-point shooting has vastly improved, and he makes sense next to Durant. Finney-Smith is an upgrade over Ben Simmons and gives Brooklyn a very good 3-and-D wing...
Dallas Mavericks: C
Is Irving really the player you want to pair with Luka Dončić at this stage of the young star’s career? The on-court fit is less than ideal. Both need the ball to be effective. Irving lessens Dončić’s burden, though the Mavs probably will still be an iso, switch-hunting heavy team. A Luka-Kyrie backcourt will also be an adventure defensively. And on top of that, Dallas is giving up its burliest wing defender in Finney-Smith.
Brooklyn Nets: C
It’s hard to fairly grade the Nets without knowing what comes next. There are positive outcomes available to them here. There is also the looming specter of Durant’s last trade request in July. If he asks out again, the next few years of Brooklyn Nets basketball suddenly look pretty depressing. The Nets can’t tank. Doing so would only benefit Houston.
Dallas Mavericks: B+
All of your misgivings about Irving are warranted. He’s controversial. He’s injury-prone. He’s expensive and is seemingly expecting another long-term commitment. All of that is true, and it pales in comparison to the reality that Luka Doncic wanted help. After losing Jalen Brunson in free agency, the Mavericks have asked Doncic to carry an unsustainable offensive burden.
Brooklyn Nets: Grade: B … as long as Durant is happy
The key to all of this deal comes down to Durant, though. He wants to hoop. He wants to be healthy and continue to play his game. And he has historic, all-time ability. But he came to Brooklyn with Irving, and now the Nets have to manage how he takes this. He could be annoyed with Irving wanting out when things were just going well enough. He could be relieved the distraction — even if it is his good friend — is gone. He could be mad the Nets didn’t do enough to keep a guy like Irving feeling supported.
Dallas Mavericks: C+
This is a team that has struggled defensively all season, while the offense has been in the top 10. Is the hope that Irving elevates the offense to the elite of the NBA and the defensive struggles just disappear? Finney-Smith was one of their few defensive-minded players, so you can expect that side of the floor to struggle even more. But maybe the scoring ability of these two all-time players makes it easier to figure out each night and in the playoffs. It’s a big risk.
Brooklyn Nets: B-
Great as Durant has been this season, are Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith enough to keep this team among the top four in the East? Will Durant again want to move on?
There’s no doubt that Sean Marks and the Nets’ brass considered everything when executing this deal, but if Durant has one foot out of the door again, perhaps Brooklyn would have been better off pushing for one more piece, perhaps a young player like Dallas’ Josh Green or a wild card in Jaden Hardy.
Dallas Mavericks: B+
It’s far from a secret that Doncic has carried a historically heavy workload for Dallas this season. And as a result, rumblings of his frustration and discontent with the franchise have grown louder and louder.
Whether or not there was substance to the rumors of Doncic’s unhappiness, going out to acquire Irving reaffirms the franchise’s commitment to building the best team possible around its generational talent.
Brooklyn Nets: A+
The NBA is about star power, and most championship teams across history have at least two. Through that lens, this deal may set Brooklyn back, as Dinwiddie and DFS are solid but not stars.
But Irving is far from your typical NBA star. For nearly four seasons, it’s felt like Brooklyn was held hostage by his various whims. Even in a stretch of relative calm, like the last few months, we were all just collectively waiting for the next “thing.” This week, we got it.
Dallas Mavericks: C
Both Luka and Kyrie have reached some absurd postseason heights, and having them together means Dallas has a decent chance to have the best individual player in any given series. That’s often the deciding factor in the playoffs and something that could be especially true in this parity-packed campaign.
But that’s the best-case scenario, and there are seemingly limitless other possibilities here.
Brooklyn Nets: A-
Another year, another disgruntled star who wants out for this franchise, but look at the return here considering how public this became: Dinwiddie comes back to the franchise in which he broke out. Finney-Smith had become an important floor-spacer and defensive player alongside Luka Doncic and the Mavs. And who knows if that 2029 first-rounder will be a high one given that it’s unprotected.
Dallas Mavericks: B
The Mavs, to this point, should have been a better team considering how good Doncic has been. But entering Sunday, they’re the No. 6 seed in the West, among underachievers like the Suns and Warriors.
Does this move get them into a top-three spot? It’s not as certain as you’d think. I do think Doncic and Irving can complement each other and can take a lot of pressure off Luka.