A few years and Warriors championships are going to pass before we know who won this week’s trade between Philadelphia and Boston for the first pick. Time could show that Danny Ainge took the best player with the third selection, or Boston could have to watch as Markelle Fultz becomes the greatest playmaker of the draft class. Other decisions, like Dan Gilbert failing to retain David Griffin, have no clouds in the mystic ball, just the word "MISTAKE" in Comic Sans.
As the chaos continues to shake up the NBA landscape (or, at least, the NBA Twitter landscape), we’ll be keeping track of who various moves and rumors are good for right here, live.
Pacers and Lakers in Talks Over a Potential Paul George Deal
(Not) Good for: the Lakers’ asset collection
The Lakers want to speed up Paul George’s anticipated move to La La Land, and the Pacers are listening, ESPN reported.
Sunday, The Vertical reported that Paul George told Indiana executives that he was planning on leaving when his opt-out kicks in next summer. It was comforting news for the Lakers: His interest in relocating to Los Angeles has been well-documented, and now the organization wouldn’t have to give away assets to acquire him. It appeared like waiting for the hometown kid to return on his own was exactly what Magic Johnson planned on: Ramona Shelburne reported that the Lakers showed no "inclination yet of surrendering anything for a player they can get in free agency."
But it didn’t even take a spin cycle for other teams, like Boston and Cleveland, to enter the conversation for trading the one-year rental, and they’re reportedly joined by the Clippers, Rockets, and Wizards. That might have been enough to jump-start the Lakers front office into acting now, confronted with the risk of unnecessarily bargaining to secure a player today that could very well be theirs in a year.
Even considering the frenzy around PG right now, the price makes sense for the Lakers only if it’s significantly lower than what a player like George would typically yield. And maybe what Indiana hopes for as a return has declined significantly after Sunday, especially with Los Angeles reportedly "adamant" that neither its second pick nor Brandon Ingram will be moved. A young guard like D’Angelo Russell seems a fair start as a package, though even that may not be a smooth ask.
Phil Jackson Not Ruling Out a Kristaps Porzingis Trade
Good for: everyone outside of the New York Knicks
Remember last summer when you blindly retweeted an unbelievable Woj bomb and it turned out to be a fake account? This isn’t one of those times:
That’s a real tweet, and this is a real sentence: Phil Jackson, reportedly, is not ruling out trading away the Knicks’ most valuable asset in large adult son Kristaps Porzingis. Could this be mind games from Jackson after Zingis skipped his Knicks exit meeting, the GM equivalent of waiting for a text back from a new flame only to hold out a few minutes longer before replying to seem just as uninterested? If so, grow up: As ESPN’s Ian Begley reported in April, Porzingis channeled Ferris Bueller on purpose, skipping the meeting to signal that he was over the team drama created by Jackson. (In that case, the latest episode was Phil openly telling the world after the season that "the direction with our team is that [Carmelo Anthony] would be better off somewhere else.")
All year the plan was to build around Porzingis. If Phil is really shopping his unicorn, buy blood pressure pills like they’re bread before a storm, New York, and remember the two rings he gave you.
A Couple of Fake Porzingis Trades
Good for: Trade Machine Picassos
This day has sent us into overdrive, crafting proposals in our Slack. Some highlights, ranging from the seriously considered to the seriously delirious, all with a common ending:
Phoenix trades Devin Booker and the fourth pick for Kristaps Porzingis
Not wild, unless you saw this:
You’d really have to be convinced about KP’s unicorn upside.
Boston trades the third pick for the eighth pick and Kristaps Porzingis
Consider that Danny Ainge just told the world that he thinks the player he would have taken with the first pick will still be there at the third pick. In that sense, Boston would be dealing the no. 1 pick in the draft.
Boston trades the third pick, Jae Crowder, the 2018 Brooklyn pick, and the Lakers/Kings pick for Kristaps Porzingis
Phil Jackson does love Jae Crowder.
Washington (in a sign and trade) trades Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. for Kristaps Porzingis
The tiny remaining ounce of depth that the Wizards have would be gone, but imagine KP with John Wall. Who needs a bench? Who needs a sub in the middle of the second quarter? Who needs a fifth player on the court?
Los Angeles trades the second pick, D’Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram for Kristaps Porzingis
Magic is so attached to the second pick and Brandon Ingram that he is reportedly refusing to offer either for Paul George. But would he consider moving either for the younger, cheaper Knicks star with more years left on his contract?
Jimmy Butler Prefers the Cavs
Good for: Jimmy Butler, the Cavs
Jimmy Butler wants to take his talents to Northeast Ohio, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported, and the Bulls centerpiece has been chatting with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James since last week.
Showing any inclination other than staying put is new; Butler spent the regular season telling the Chicago front office that he didn’t want to be traded. But becoming a Cavalier makes all the sense in the (Warrior-run) world: Of the teams Butler was linked to Monday, Cleveland is the most appetizing. Boston is on the cusp, especially considering possible free-agent acquisitions like Gordon Hayward, but a team prepackaged with LeBron James wins out for now.
Kyrie and Jimmy and LeBron and (whoever replaces Kevin Love at the 4) and (non-Finals) Tristan Thompson: Would this be a superteam, Bron? Griffin orchestrated the start of these discussions with the Bulls, as he was reportedly working on getting Butler up until the hour he parted ways with the team. If Chicago actually commits, it’ll be a bittersweet victory for Griffin in the same tune as Sam Hinkie’s ever-continuing process in Philly.
Pau Gasol to Opt Out for Longer, Cheaper Spurs Deal
Good for: San Antonio, maybe Chris Paul
Pau Gasol could opt out of his $16.2 million deal for this season, per Adrian Wojnarowski, in lieu of a longer deal with the Spurs. It’s the first major crack in the clay that is San Antonio’s stuck salary cap: Giving Gasol longevity will allow the Spurs to pay him less annually, maneuvering more room for the 2017–18 season.
Clearing a portion of that $16.2 million, or any amount of cap space, still won’t allow the Spurs to offer Chris "seriously considering San Antonio" Paul more money than the Clippers, but it is a start should he decide to take less and become another California-to-Texas transplant. Los Angeles can give the 32-year-old a five-year maximum contract worth about $205 million, while the most the Spurs can offer is an estimated $152 million over four years. There’s more clearing to do: Gasol is one of seven players on the San Antonio roster that could be at the end of contract, though Jonathon Simmons is a restricted free agent, Manu Ginobili might be retiring before next season, and Dewayne Dedmon has already declined his player option.
Dwyane Wade Leaning Toward Staying With Bulls
Good for: Wade
Jimmy Butler was linked to more teams with reported trade interest in a five-minute span Monday than he was this entire season. That’s four — Boston, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Phoenix — and the reports could have swayed Wade from picking up his $24 million player option.
Wade told the Bulls that he didn’t want to be involved in a team rebuild at the end of this season, according to ESPN reports. Moving Butler, the biggest star on the Bulls, changes the entire identity of the team. But even after rumors of his departure yesterday, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that as of Tuesday, Wade is still "leaning toward" staying with the team.
It makes sense that Wade would try to check the front office, as he and Butler were often sided together during Chicago’s reported locker room turmoil last season, but the 35-year-old would benefit most from staying put, even amid a reboot. Twenty-four million isn’t walking through that door from any other team: Wade missed 22 games to injury last season, including an 11-game streak during a push for the playoffs and averaged the fewest on-court minutes of his 14-season career.
Wade never made as much in one season during his entire stint with the Heat, and in committing to another year, he will hit free agency next summer, when [conspiracy corner] his good friend LeBron James does.