As if landing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wasn’t already the signature achievement of 2019 NBA free agency, Nets general manager Sean Marks added the cherry on top Monday. Marks engineered a reported sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors that will send Durant and a first-round pick to the Nets in exchange for All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell and two other players.
The trade came together late Sunday night, and the two teams plus the Grizzlies completed the deal Monday afternoon. Instead of losing Durant for nothing, the Warriors will get Russell, who will receive a max four-year deal worth $117 million, plus Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier from the Nets. Golden State will send Andre Iguodala and a protected 2024 first-round pick to the Grizzlies to clear salary-cap space, according to ESPN, which also reported Graham and Napier subsequently were moved to the Timberwolves in a separate trade.
The Warriors also released a statement Monday thanking Durant for his contributions. Owner Joe Lacob said: “As long as I am co-chairman of this team, no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”
The timing of the first-round pick the Nets will receive from the Warriors has not been specified, but Marks’ brilliant wheeling and dealing didn’t stop there. More details emerged about the salary-cap workaround Marks constructed with the aid of Durant and Irving that enabled the Nets to reach agreement with three-time all-NBA center DeAndre Jordan, a close friend of Durant’s, on a four-year deal worth $40 million.
According to ESPN, Irving will sign a four-year deal worth $122 million instead of $141 million. Durant will sign a four-year deal worth $137 million instead of $164 million. That leaves enough money to sign Jordan to a starting salary of $9.3 million.
ESPN cap expert Bobby Marks told Newsday that Irving and Durant might recoup the money they gave up via 15-percent bonus provisions that are considered “unlikely.” Although incentives for Durant and Irving count against the Nets’ salary cap, that restriction does not apply when Jordan signs a deal without incentives.
Although the incentives in Durant’s and Irving’s deals are labeled “unlikely,” that is because they are based on last season. For instance, the 42-40 Nets might be considered “unlikely” to reach 45 wins, but in fact, the addition of Irving makes such improvement very feasible even though Durant will miss next season with a ruptured right Achilles tendon. In essence, Marks created extra cap room for Jordan, and Durant and Irving have a chance to reach full max value if the incentives are achieved.
On the first day after landing two of the biggest free-agent fish, the Nets began reaping the benefits of the attention Durant and Irving will generate. Irving posted a video on his Instagram account that obviously was put together ahead of time with the high production values associated with his new agency, RocNation.
It shows an overview of the Brooklyn Bridge and later shows Irving walking across that span and then walking the streets of Brooklyn with three friends. Irving’s voiceover recalls when he was in fourth grade in West Orange, New Jersey, and was inspired to pursue his basketball dreams by Nets teams that reached the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.
Describing the journey that took him to Cleveland and Boston before joining the Nets, Irving concludes by saying: “In my heart, I knew I always wanted to play at home. Home is where my heart is, and it’s always been there simply because of such a great love that I have for my family and the way I grew up … Home is where my family is, home is where I want my legacy to continue. And I’m happy to be in Brooklyn.”