Kyrie to Brooklyn: but who will join him?
Kyrie Irving, by all given indications, is going to the Brooklyn Nets. He was spotted on the streets of New York1 and has publicly expressed his desire to play for the Nets rather than the Knicks.2
Now with the Nets trading Allen Crabbe’s $18.5 million salary for Taurean Prince’s $3.4 million (plus picks on both sides), the young and impressive Brooklyn team have opened up two max spots meaning Kyrie should have a star running-mate to help revive this franchise. But who is going to join him?
D’Angelo Russell (Restricted Free Agent)
The easiest option for the team to re-sign. Russell has shown a renaissance after his acrimonious exit from the Lakers and the public lambasting from Magic Johnson saying that ‘He is not a leader’.
He has shown great personal growth leading this young team to the playoffs with career highs in scoring (21.1ppg), assists (7.0apg) and efficiency (43.4% fg, 36.9% 3pt & 51.2% efg) all whilst playing a career high in minutes (30.2mpg) and nailing some clutch shots.
However if Kyrie comes to Brooklyn, Russell is not going to have the ball in his hands as much and will have to slot into the 2-guard spot, something he’s not really done and is something many experts are not confident in him succeeding in. Young teams such as the Magic and Suns have had significant interest in him and will let him run the offense with the ball predominantly in his hands. These teams also have cap space to burn and are willing to take a chance on this young all-star, which could pose a problem for a Nets resigning.
Kevin Durant (Player Option)
Let us be clear: Durant was the most prized free agent of 19/20 offseason before he ruptured his Achilles. There are still going to be many teams offering max contracts, including the Golden State Warriors per Brian Windhorst, but a fresh start in the less-competitive east may be a more desirable choice in order to rehabilitate his image.
Signing the Slim Reaper would be a huge help for the
Brooklyn franchise. Durant has been previously linked with the Knicks but
heading across the East River to pair with Kyrie may be a more appealing option
utterly dysfunctional slightly flawed front office of the
Knicks still a problem.
Jimmy Butler (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Ah the mercurial Jimmy Butler, possibly one of the more underrated free agents this season. Since his infamous blowup/trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves he has been a surprisingly stabilising presence for the Sixers, before only just losing to the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors, in the playoffs this year.
His stats were slightly down from his previous full season with the Wolves (18.7 vs 21.3 ppg, 4.0 vs 4.9 rpg) but he has been asked to do less and has still hit some spectacular clutch shots, including the now-famous game winning 3 to beat Brooklyn. His off-the-ball play is solid, he can handle the ball if needed and plays ferocious perimeter defence at all times; making him (on paper) to be a great fit next to Kyrie. He may take minutes away from the rapidly improving Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie but could also prove to be a great mentor for these youngsters.
Will he butt heads with Kyrie? Probably. Will the fallout (if it happens) be spectacular? Absolutely. Is it still worth trying to sign him? Definitely.
Tobias Harris (Unrestricted Free Agent)
Another traded Sixer that is up for Free Agency and also had an impressive season; putting up career highs in points (20 per game), rebounds (7.9 per game) and other advanced stats (Offensive Rating, True Shooting % and PIE). He has been rumoured (per The Athletic) to have an interest in joining the Nets, an interest that has been reciprocated.
He would embody a vast improvement over DeMarre Carroll and Jarred Dudley (except in the Ben Simmons trash talking component) and brings more playoff experience into the fold. The Nets would also have to sign (very) big man Boban Marjanovic as well, so that the Bobi and Tobi Show can continue, but he would be a valuable backup to the high-flying ‘fro of Jarret Allen.
All statistics have been taken from NBA Stats
All trade rumours have been taken from Hoops Hype.