Masin-Moyer: NBA shakeups paint interesting narrative for league’s future
Lucas Masin-Moyer | Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Over the past week, three major stories have broken relating to NBA stars and what teams they’ll be playing for in the coming years — Anthony Davis’ trade request, Kristaps Porzingis’ trade to the Dallas Mavericks and Kyrie Irving’s statements that seemed to distance him from a potential future with the Boston Celtics.
In today’s Sports Authority, I’ll be tackling what each move means for the players, the teams they’ll be leaving and the teams to which they’ve been linked.
Davis leaving New Orleans
Anthony Davis is, without a doubt, one of the top-10 players in the NBA. Yet during his time on the New Orleans Pelicans, he has consistently been held back from larger success by his supporting cast, playing with teammates who have failed to deliver consistent results or who have left him immediately after achieving any semblance of success (e.g. Boogie Cousins dipping to the Warriors before this season). It’s easy to see why Davis would want to move on to greener pastures, giving himself a greater chance at a title.
The front-runner for Davis’ services seems to be LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers. After their initial offer was turned down, the Lakers have made an even stronger bid for Davis, reportedly offering up a whopping package which includes young stars Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram, in addition to draft picks and salary-cap relief for the Pelicans. If both teams pull the trigger on this move, it would be a sign that the Lakers want to win now, as they would be essentially mortgaging their future for Davis.
Whether they would actually win immediately is another question. While having two of the best players in the NBA on a roster certainly wouldn’t hurt, the Lakers would be trading away their best point guard option in Ball and would be letting go their brightest young player in Kuzma. It’s a risky move that could potentially benefit both teams, but so much depends on how quickly James and Davis can work together and whether or not the prospects that the Lakers would be giving up could develop.
Porzingis to Dallas
Very shortly after requesting a trade, New York Knicks center Kristaps Porzingis, along with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee, were traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks.
For the Mavericks, the deal is a slam dunk; once he recovers from his ACL injury, Porzingis will pair perfectly with rookie phenom Luka Dončić, creating a perfect young core for the Mavericks going forward as they continue their streak of recruiting top-class European talent.
For the Knicks, the move seems like just one in cascade of catastrophic decisions that have plagued the organization recently. By giving up its best player, New York is essentially going all-in on tanking, but this tank seems like a significantly worse version of the Sixers’ “Process,” as the Knicks seem to have no real direction. Sure, they will probably have one of the top picks in next year’s draft with the chance to take Zion Williamson, but with the lottery that’s no guarantee. The success of this deal will largely hinge on whether or not the Knicks can sign a marquee free agent, like Kyrie Irving, next summer with the new cap space, but the reasons a top player would want to come to this franchise are few and far between outside of the market.
Kyrie out of Boston?
The final big NBA news out of this week came from Boston, as guard Kyrie Irving said to “ask him on July 1” — the date NBA free agency starts — about whether he would re-sign with the Celtics.
Irving notably left LeBron James and the Cavaliers in 2017, just one year after winning an NBA title. Irving made the move because he wanted to be the star of a franchise, but he seems to have realized that winning is actually pretty difficult when you aren’t flanked by the greatest player of all time. He is now looking to move somewhere more successful as the underperforming Celtics currently sit at fifth in the Eastern Conference.
There’s been talk of Irving trying to team up again with another superstar in free agency, a move that would likely help bring Kyrie back to his best as he would be able to play off another superstar. There are some intriguing options — including pairing up with Davis, Jimmy Butler or another big name in New York should the Knicks land Williamson. But I think the most intriguing option involves Irving taking a trip out to Los Angeles and getting back together with James, attempting to reconcile with the teammate whom he so recently spurned.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.