LAS VEGAS — The trade request is fast approaching ACL injury status on the list of NBA worries.
Teams are forced to scramble and fan bases are left to feel jilted when elite players ask to be moved. We’re currently in the midst of the Kevin Durant saga, with the Nets having been through this just months ago when James Harden pushed his way out of Brooklyn — 13 months after pushing his way out of Houston.
There are already NBA followers who get upset when stars exercise their collectively bargained rights to change teams as a free agent, and it galls even more folks when a player under contract wants out. There is not only the loss of that player, but also the uneasy period between the request and the time a trade is executed (see: Simmons, Ben).
But Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in a conversation with Heavy Sports at the NBA2K23 Summer League, stated his belief the situation may actually be improving.
“I think it’s happening less,” Cuban said. “I think some of the old school guys are still in that mode, but the younger guys. … I can’t comment on any one player, but you’re seeing some of the younger guys sign extensions with no player options.”
The supermax deal Ja Morant has agreed to with the Memphis Grizzlies reportedly has no such out.
As for whether players forcing their way out of town is bad for the league and putting teams in a tough position, Cuban said, “You know what? You’ve got to separate reality from talk, right? When a guy’s got three or four years left, the team’s got the choice.”
He, of course, didn’t mention Durant specifically, but the current Net would fall into this category — which is why the club is under no great pressure to make just any trade.
And also to be considered in the question of whether this kind of drama is helpful to the enterprise, it should be noted that it’s July and the league is major topic of discussion internationally as people seek to figure where players will land and debate the merits of potential transactions.
“Anytime people talk about the NBA, it’s a good thing,” said Cuban with a smile.
Latest on a Potential Jakob Poeltl Trade
You might want to tap the breaks on any Jakob Poeltl trade talk — if not stop the car entirely and put it in park.
There was the sense when the San Antonio Spurs traded away Dejounte Murray for Danilo Gallinari (since waived), three first-round picks and a potential pick swap that the club is going for a severe teardown and rebuild. Teams have come knocking at the Spurs’ door looking to acquire present talent for future reward (first-round picks and developmental pieces).
But those teams have found that the door isn’t quite as open as they might have expected — particularly when it comes to the 7-foot-1 Poeltl, who truly came into his own this year, averaging 13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds in a relatively modest 29 minutes per game.
One general manager told Heavy Sports, “The sense we got is that, yes, they’re rebuilding, but they don’t want to burn the thing to the ground and start from there. Poeltl’s the kind of guy that can give them a solid presence inside and make things better from a competitive standpoint when you’re trying to develop the guys who are going to be out there with him.”
There’s also the fact that Poeltl is 26 and is himself still developing. The Spurs would obviously not want to see him grow into something even more prominent elsewhere.
“We looked into it,” another league exec said. “The sense we got is that they ain’t moving him.”
Which isn’t to say that San Antonio wouldn’t deal Poeltl for the right price. It’s just that said price would have to be quite high.
Teams were interested in Poeltl at this past February’s in-season trade deadline, but they found a heavy ask from the Spurs in the range of a rotation player and a first-round pick.
Considering Poeltl’s averages improved after the deadline to 14.2 points on 62.7% shooting and 9.9 rebounds (in 29.3 minutes), the ask is presumably even higher now.
Payton Pritchard’s Run-In With Security at Summer League
There was a bit of an awkward situation at halftime of the Boston Celtics‘ summer league game Saturday when Celtics guard Payton Pritchard attempted to walk into a restricted area around the baseline by the Boston bench so he could join teammate Jayson Tatum and the club’s coaches on the opposite sideline.
Not in possession of a hanging pass — and clearly not recognized as a key member of the Celts’ rotation — the youthful-looking Pritchard was stopped by two security guards.
There was no commotion or anything of that sort, and the misunderstanding was cleared up when team vice president of communications Taylor Kielpinski-Rogers came over and explained that Pritchard is, indeed, a Celtic.
But it wasn’t the first time he’d encountered such an “indignity.” As part of a team-produced video that ran at TD Garden during a few timeouts, players were asked who they’ve been mistaken for. In his cut, the 6-foot-1 (maybe) Pritchard says, “I don’t know if I’ve been mistaken (for) anybody, but, like, when I walked into the gym sometimes, especially at Oregon, they would think that I was, like, a manager.”
The security people were obviously just doing their jobs here and can’t be expected to know the face of every player in the NBA — even one who just played in the Finals — but, hey, Pritchard was named to the first-team All-Summer League squad here last year.