Things are certainly looking up for the NBA in Los Angeles.
Leonard certainly kept us guessing, and we thought he might head to the Lakers to team up with LeBron and Davis. But now he has his own team and his own second star in George, and the rivalry at Staples Center is going to be bigger than ever.
To that end, former Lakers executive and player Magic Johnson says that he thinks that L.A. is the new king of basketball.
LA has just become the king of basketball with the Lakers adding AD, Cousins, Danny Green, JaVale McGee, and KCP and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joining the Clippers. It’s going to be awesome to watch NBA basketball in LA this season!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 6, 2019
This is completely fair given that the Mecca of basketball — New York — still doesn’t have it’s marquee team competing at the level the NBA would like. Until James Dolan decides to sell the Knicks franchise, it’s unlikely that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will have true rivals in Brooklyn.
The timeline for superstar teams is shorter than we expect, but the next couple of years in Southern California should be wild to watch.
The Dallas Mavericks wanted guard depth, ideally a guy who can play off the ball some, defend multiple positions, and give coach Rick Carlisle options.
They got that in Delon Wright.
Wright was a restricted free agent with the Grizzlies, who are sending him to Dallas in a sign-and-trade, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Dallas Mavericks are acquiring Memphis Grizzlies restricted free-agent point guard Delon Wright in a sign-and-trade agreement on a new three-year, $29 million contract, agent Greg Lawrence and team sources told ESPN.
The Grizzlies will receive two future second-round picks in the deal and preserve financial flexibility to pursue other options at point guard.
Memphis continues to just stockpile assets in the rebuild, and save a little money.
Dallas lands a secondary shot creator who showed something after going to Memphis last season, averaging 12.2 points per game in the 26 games he played there. He knows how to attack and get to the rim. Before that he spent time in Toronto and played well next to Kyle Lowry because he has good size (6’5″) and can defend multiple positions. That will translate on a team where Luka Doncic has the ball in his hands much of the time.
The problem is Wright is not much of a shooter — 29.8 percent from three last season. Play him with Doncic and Wright is a guy teams will help off of, something that could become an issue.
The Mavericks got a quality rotation guard at a fair price, that’s never a bad move.
Kevin Durant is a member of the Brooklyn Nets. In his journey eastward he’s apparently decided to not only leave the Golden State Warriors, but to change his number as well.
For the entirety of his career — first with the Seattle SuperSonics, then with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and finally with the Warriors — Durant has worn No. 35. But according to a post to Durant’s Twitter page on Sunday, that’s all over.
When Durant takes the floor for the Nets, whether next season or in 2020-21, it looks like he will be wearing No. 7.
This is quite a turnaround. It’s not just that Durant has always worn 35: his Twitter handle, has the number in it, and his 35 Ventures company is named after it.
Why is Durant changing numbers now? It’s hard to say. Even in the release about the number change, Durant didn’t give more information to help us.
Of course, Durant was seen wearing a hat with a “7” on the front of it during these last playoffs, so naturally folks are drawing their own conclusions about whether this was a long time coming.
This is a new chapter for Durant, so perhaps he wants to try to reshape the marketing around the previous iteration of his public persona? We’ve seen LeBron James go from No. 23 to 6 successfully. Michael Jordan famously came back to the Chicago Bulls wearing No. 45 in 1995.
Other instances of this haven’t worked as well. Kobe Bryant changed from No. 8 to 24 for the 2006-07 season, just months after settled his Colorado sexual assault case in March of that year. It was viewed as Bryant trying to control the marketing narrative around him.
Whatever Durant’s motives, he’s going to sell a ton of jerseys — especially those Nets Coogi ones — and it doesn’t matter which number is on it.
Durant is going to have his 35 retired by the Warriors here soon enough. Perhaps he will be able to dominate the Eastern Conference enough to get his 7 retired at Barclays Center?
Only time will tell.
Things have felt a little rocky between Andre Iguodala and the Golden State Warriors as of late. The former NBA Finals MVP was apparently told that he would not be retained if the Warriors could not keep Kevin Durant. Of course, Durant chose the Brooklyn Nets in free agency this summer, and Iguodala was shipped off to the Memphis Grizzlies.
During a book tour this offseason, Iguodala has said some unflattering things about the Warriors organization. One that caught our eye in particular was Iggy saying that Golden State misrepresented his leg injury in the 2018 playoffs. At the time, the team said he had a bone bruise, but during his book tour Iguodala said it was actually a fracture.
The trade of Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies was completed on Sunday, and during the announcement Golden State owner Joe lacob appeared to try to make amends. He had previously announced that no player would ever wear Kevin Durant No. 35, and now Lacob wants to retire Iguodala’s No. 9 as well.
Golden State Warriors‘ Joe Lacob says the franchise intends to retire Andre Iguodala’s No. 9 jersey, in statement thanking Iguodala.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 7, 2019
This is a reasonable gesture and one that makes sense in terms of announcement timing more than Durant’s.
Iguodala is closer to the end of his tenure in the NBA, and spent three more seasons with the team than Durant. It never felt as though Iguodala was a hired gun for Golden State the way Durant was. He’s a Warriors through-and-through. Durant? Not so much.
In any case, Golden State is free to do whatever it wants and it makes sense that Lacob would try to heal some wounds by saying he will honor Iguodala in this way.
Bobby Portis is now a member of the New York Knicks, and he has a shiny new 2-year, $31 million contract. Across town, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have teamed up on the Brooklyn Nets. Durant likely won’t be able to play until 2020-21, but for now it appears Brooklyn is the big dog in the Big Apple.
Meanwhile, Portis was apparently able to make his decision to sign with New York thanks to some outside information about Irving and Durant.
Speaking with The Athletic this week, Portis said that he knew in February of 2019 that both players were going to sign with the Nets. That apparently gave him the leg up he needed to choose the Knicks.
Via The Athletic:
“I knew what was gonna happen in February,” he said. “We all knew that (Durant and Kyrie Irving would go to Brooklyn). Everybody knew that. I just don’t think the media knew that. Us basketball players, we all knew that.”
(No, he won’t tell you how he knows. Even players don’t reveal their sources. “I’m not going to leak my source,” he said. “But we all know where they were going. I’m protecting mine, but we all knew where they were going.”)
Durant and Irving were rumored to be heading to Brooklyn for quite some time. Murmors around the NBA media sphere were abundant, with reports dating back to the summer of 2018 that the Nets were going to pursue Irving. We also got word in May of this year that Irving’s camp was going to try to push him toward Brooklyn, and Caris LeVert said he thought his team could be a top choice for Durant in March.
We didn’t know for sure, and perhaps Portis did. The reality of NBA players as they know more than we do basically at all times, despite the best reporting available. That’s the nature of the game.
It’s an interesting report from Portis, and if true it wouldn’t surprise us in the least. The line between conspiracy theory and fact in the NBA is often simply how much information you’re privy to.