NBA Ruminations…

Let me begin today with a comment about the rumored trade between the Nets and the Lakers which would exchange Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving – – along with other guys to make the deal financially allowable.  I have no idea if this exchange of disgruntlement will happen, but I think people are looking at the possible outcomes from such a trade incorrectly.

Most of the reports seem to focus on the potential reunion of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving who had been teammates in Cleveland when the Cavs won the NBA Championship.  That relationship soured to the point where they parted company, but a lot of sand has dropped through the hourglass since then.  LeBron James wants to win another title – – remember he is still two titles behind Michael Jordan and tied in the number of titles with Steph Curry – – because “The Chosen One” needs to be in a class of his own.  Kyrie Irving has not even sniffed another championship since leaving Cleveland.

While that is an interesting storyline that might make the basis for a screenplay and a short film feature, I think the more interesting thing to do is to ponder the Nets’ situation should such a trade take place:

  • The Brooklyn Nets would have Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons and possibly Kevin Durant on their roster as their “Big Three”
  • Kevin Durant is a great player – one of the best ever.  He can score and he will play defense even though he is not a great defender.
  • Ben Simmons is a “reluctant shooter” which is a good thing because when shooting outside about 6 feet from the basket he is a bad shooter.  Simmons is a demon on defense though…
  • Russell Westbrook has never seen a shot he was reluctant to take, and he plays defense as enthusiastically as someone looks forward to a pay cut.

To me, that situation could create great synergy – – or it could collapse like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  If that image does not immediately come to mind, here is a refresher for your memory; the refresher only takes 1 minute and 13 seconds…

One other trade speculation involving NBA teams has it that the Knicks would like to acquire Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz.  It surely appears from afar that the Jazz are seeking to do a full “tear-down and rebuild” to the team.  Coach Quin Snyder left town after the Jazz were eliminated from the playoffs; the team traded Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for 4 first round picks plus the guy the Wolves took in the first round this year.  Mitchell should be an asset that carries a similar value to Gobert’s; so, let the bidding begin…

Let me be clear that I like Donovan Mitchell a lot; having said that, I do not think the Knicks are the best team for him.  I think there are several important reasons why the Knicks should be looking elsewhere to land a star player:

  • Mitchell is signed to a contract that runs through the end of the 2024/25 season with a player option for the next year.  He will make between $30.4M next year and up to $34.8M two seasons after that.  The option year would be at a salary of $37.1M.  The Knicks just signed Jalen Brunson to a deal with over $100M so they are not about to trade him.  But they must come up with a package of picks plus players that approaches $30M for the trade to be permissible.
  • That salary stipulation puts RJ Barret’s name front and center as a player the Jazz might be happy to have either to build around or to flip in yet another trade.  The Knicks’ problem is that Barrett is the best player they had prior to signing Brunson.
  • Mitchell and Brunson would be a strong backcourt tandem to be sure – – but the NBA is not won by small guards with questionable support from “the bigs”.  And if Barrett is gone, the best of the remaining “bigs” would probably be Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson.  That tandem elicits a Meh! from these quarters.
  • Randle is the only Knick under contract whose salary in 2022/23 is nearly sufficient to allow a trade for Mitchell; Randle will make $23.9M next year.  The Jazz CEO for Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge, would have to be on some sort of psychedelic trip to consider a Randle for Mitchell swap – – and he may not even want Randle at all given that the Jazz will be rebuilding, and Randle has been in the NBA for 8 years now.

Unless the Jazz value whatever draft capital the Knicks have very highly, acquiring Donovan Mitchell would either gut the Knicks of whatever young prospects they have on the roster and/or denude them of draft picks in the future.  [Aside:  Please see what I said about the NBA not being won by small guards alone…]  Donovan Mitchell would surely be an upgrade for the Knicks – but I do not think it is a good fit for Mitchell or the Knicks in the long run.

Then again, I am not an NBA GM…

One other NBA note today.  The Wizards signed Bradley Beal to a max contract over 5 years worth $251M.  The Wizards had a similar experience with John Wall and a “max contract which they traded away to get Russell Westbrook on a max deal who they then traded away.  You would think that the Wizards would have learned from those experiences that players of that style do not hold up well as they age.

Like I said, I am not an NBA GM…

Finally, having just mentioned Russell Westbrook I ran across an interesting stat about him and his contract with the Lakers.

Assuming Westbrook plays the entire 2022/23 season with the Lakers, he will have made a total of $91.3M in salary from the Lakers.

In 1979, Jerry Buss bought the Lakers franchise PLUS the LA Kings franchise PLUS The Forum from Jack Kent Cooke for a total of only $67.5M.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “NBA Ruminations…”

  1. “Ben Simmons is a ‘reluctant shooter’ which is a good thing because when shooting outside about 6 feet from the basket he is a bad shooter.”

    That is a hoot of a line.

    And did you just make an 80+-year old reference without giving the year (Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 1940)? Will there be a quiz at the end of July?

    1. TenaciousP:

      No quiz at the end of July – – but there might be a final exam at the end of 2022… 😉

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