The NBA is the reality TV league, the league that’s embraced an identity of producing gossip and rumors year-round. There is no off-switch on the entertainment side of the league, producing content with tenfold the demand for an analysis of Mikal Bridges’ pick-and-roll passing.
And who could blame the masses? Some drama is Earth-shattering for fans and haters alike, like Kevin Durant’s trade requests. Other drama is just high-quality water cooler talk, like Giannis and the ladder, or low-quality water cooler talk, like #FreeCT. Everybody has their favorite non-basketball NBA moments, whether they realize it or not. (Who could ever forget “police presence”?)
Of course, within this never-ending cycle, there are inevitably some duds, too. Incidents, if you can call them that, whose shelf-life is hardly 24 hours.
That’s probably what Chris Fedor’s (of Cleveland.com) report that the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Brooklyn Nets’ opponent on both Tuesday and Thursday, would prefer to face Brooklyn in the first-round of the NBA playoffs:
“No one inside the organization would say this publicly — and they shouldn’t. But multiple people I’ve spoken to recently are privately hoping for a Brooklyn matchup. It’s easy to understand why.
Brooklyn was 32-20 at the time it dealt Kyrie Irving — a move that preceded Kevin Durant’s departure. While the Nets haven’t completely imploded since those two megadeals, their organizational ceiling has lowered considerably, and they no longer pose the same challenge in a seven-game series.”
At the time of writing, the Cavs sit five games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the conference’s three-seed, so they’re virtually locked into the 4-5 matchup. Meanwhile, the Nets are one loss behind the New York Knicks for said five-seed, although all signs are pointing to the Knicks grabbing that spot. Nevertheless, it’s possible.
When asked the reports at Tuesday morning shoot-around, Spencer Dinwiddie responded with his usual brand of pragmatism:
“If I had the choice of playing a team that just got put together three weeks ago versus playing Giannis [Antetokounmpo], or something of that nature...I mean, I think that’d be the most logical answer you could give. So, I don’t think it’s bulletin board material.”
Granted, this isn’t an either/or situation, with the prize of a potential Cavaliers-Nets playoff series nearly guaranteed to be the right to face Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks. Nonetheless, Dinwiddie didn’t seem to be too concerned with Fedor’s reporting.
Nic Claxton, however, engaged just a tad in some verbal sparring:
“I heard something like that, too. I don’t know if they think it’s sweet, but we’ll match up with anybody. We just try to take it game by game, win as many games as we can and get as high a seed as possible. If that’s our matchup, then we’ll take care of it.”
Claxton, of course, will have a chance to prove how sweet it isn’t when he lines up across from Jarrett Allen (although he is listed as questionable for Tuesday's tilt) and the Cavaliers. On that potential matchup with his former teammate Allen, Claxton had this to say:
“That’s always a good matchup for me. I’ve been having battles against him since I’ve been in the league. Practice, training camp, you know? What he does on the court speaks for itself; he’s an elite rim protector, finishes around the rim. I just got to be the best version of myself.”
Spencer Dinwiddie, predictably, went another route:
“As far as Jarrett Allen, I don’t think anybody in the Brooklyn Nets organization thinks he’s a good rebounder, or is scared of him at all.”— Lucas Kaplan (@LucasKaplan_) March 21, 2023
- Spencer Dinwiddie
Yikes! The reverse “bulletin board” with a twist! From a guy who spent three and a half years in the Brooklyn trenches with JA!
But in terms of an overall Brooklyn response to the fairly innocuous reporting from Fedor, that was it. JA’s former teammates seem to be more excited for a reunion than to start potential beef.
And truth be told, why wouldn’t the Cavaliers want the Nets? No, the other choice isn’t the Milwaukee Bucks, but the New York Knicks who are 12-4 over their last 16, including two blowout wins over Brooklyn. The Miami Heat, just two losses behind Brooklyn and not totally dead in the race for the five-seed, have Jimmy Butler. The Nets, meanwhile, are 7-12 since they dealt Kyrie Irving.
Regardless, it seems doubtful that any extracurriculars, if they happen at all during Brooklyn’s two matchups with Cleveland at the Barclays this week, would be sparked by any of this. But hey, you never know. It’s the NBA, after all.