Zach Lowe: Biggest questions in another wild NBA offseason

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The NBA has been spinning out of control since the Finals, and we’ve only now reached the main event: the kickoff of what should be a wild free agency period, even with a flattened cap that squeezed available room around the league.

The NBA knew the cap would skyrocket thanks to its mammoth new national TV deal. Teams at first expected multiple spikes: a huge one last summer, as

The market opens on Saturday, and NBA free-agency and trade news is coming in fast. Stay up to date with the latest rumors and rumblings across the Association.

Which players are on the move this summer? We have a rundown of the latest trades throughout the league.

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Start here: Dismiss the possibility of Boston signing Hayward, acquiring George, and then somehow signing George to an extension — regardless of how they order the moves. They just can’t open the room to do both without trading Al Horford.

If Boston trades for George, they will do so knowing he could be a rental. That limits the price they are willing to pay. Despite reports to the contrary, Boston has not included any of the following in its offers to the Pacers, per league sources: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, the 2018 Nets pick, and the Lakers-Kings pick Boston snared from Philly in the Markelle Fultz blockbuster.

My best guess on Boston’s standing George offer: Jae Crowder, Smart and Indiana’s choice of protected first-round picks Boston owns from the Clippers and Grizzlies. That doesn’t meet Indiana’s goal of nabbing a top-10 pick or an equivalent talent. The Celtics will be reluctant to bid any higher given the risk of George bolting to the Lakers in a year.

Boston may have to trade Smart anyway to free up max-level cap space for Hayward. The deflated cap killed them. If both Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic come over, there is no way for Boston to pry open Hayward-sized space — about $29.7 million — without dealing a Smart-sized salary. Even stashing Yabusele, waiving Jordan Mickey, and dumping both Demetrius Jackson and Terry Rozier — Boston’s Roddy Beaubois! — would leave them a hair short, depending on where precisely the cap falls. Hayward could take slightly less than the max.

Snaring George before free agency would complicate Boston’s pursuit of Hayward, since they might add something like $5 million of 2017-18 salary to their books. That would require dealing Avery Bradley into someone’s cap space, or in exchange for a player making about $3 million.

Losing Crowder, Smart and Bradley — plus Kelly Olynyk, a cap casualty — would hurt. It would chip away at Boston’s depth. But don’t overthink this. Boston would be acquiring two All-Star starters in place of two departed starters, and they’re ready to rely on Brown, Rozier and Zizic for real minutes off the bench. They’d be in dire need of big men, but these are sacrifices you make to hunt LeBron. You can’t have everything, or pay everyone. And they’d still have Tatum, the Nets pick and the Lakers-Kings pick.

This is all very doable, depending on how brave Indiana is about going into the season with George. (Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reported Indiana is asking for both the Nets and Lakers/Kings picks, which is not going to happen.) Boston can always add one of its own picks to sweeten the deal. If they yield on either the Nets or Lakers/Kings pick, George will be a Celtic.

Utah is worried about Hayward, and they should be. The constant injuries to Rodney Hood, George Hill, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks — plus Dante Exum’s scattershot development — have the roster around Hayward and Rudy Gobert looking more rickety than it did a year ago. Utah has $16 million in cap space to take in a starting point guard replacement for Hill ahead of July 1, and they are looking.

Hayward is less than a 50-50 bet to stay, with Boston and Miami in pursuit. (It wouldn’t shock me if a secret fourth team scheduled a last-minute meeting with him, either.) Utah’s hammer, a five-year deal, doesn’t even amount to much of an edge; Hayward can sign a three-year deal with any suitor, nearly match what he’d earn with the Jazz over that time, and re-enter free agency after 10 years of service — at which point players become eligible for a larger max contract. The same math applies to Blake Griffin, who appears to be a legitimate flight risk for the Clippers.

Heat fans have big dreams of snaring both Hayward and Griffin, but that doesn’t appear feasible while keeping Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic.

The Heat also have to earmark money for James Johnson or Dion Waiters. (The bet here is on Johnson.) Tyler Johnson is a key trade piece to watch, this summer and going forward, as the Heat seek flexibility. His salary jumps to $19 million in 2018-19 thanks to terms of Brooklyn’s offer sheet from last summer, and the one-year prohibition on the Nets trading for him expires soon. Brooklyn has more than enough cap room to fit Johnson. It also has a stocked, guard-heavy roster light on bigs in the wake of the D’Angelo Russell deal.

Utah isn’t out of this yet. Hayward loves Quin Snyder, and leaving the only franchise he has ever known might prove too wrenching when it comes time to make that final call. If Hayward does leave for Boston, perhaps the Jazz could salvage something in a sign-and-trade — a scenario that would allow Boston to stay over the cap, and keep Smart and Olynyk.

Boston faces more varied competition for George. The Wizards would likely sign-and-trade Otto Porter, with one protected pick attached, to rent George, according to league sources.

Cleveland would swap Love for George straight up, sources say, but as our Marc Stein and Chris Haynes reported over the weekend, that doesn’t Read More…

Via:: NDTV – Sports


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