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NBA Daily: Will Jarrett Allen Stick in Brooklyn?

Drew Maresca assesses the recent happenings between Jarrett Allen and the Brooklyn Nets.

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It may feel as if Jarrett Allen has been on your radar forever — and, now in his fourth year in the NBA, you’d be right! Still, the Brooklyn Nets’ center Allen is only 22-years-old and, thus far in the 2020-21 season, he’s looked to be on the precipice of stardom. Despite the fact that he’s only started four games, Allen has averaged 11.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 25.8 minutes per game. Per-36, his numbers are even gaudier: 16.2 points, 15.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks.

At those rates, any team would be lucky to have Allen on their roster. And, more than likely, he’d be their starter! So what’s the deal in Brooklyn?

The team’s disconnect would appear to lie squarely with their stars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and their perceived preference to play alongside their friend, DeAndre Jordan. Of course, the now widely-believed rumor could easily be put to bed by Durant or Irving, but neither player has publicly disavowed the idea that they prefer to play alongside Jordan. And, to his credit, Jordan is an established center who, at his best, was an All-Star and an elite rim-runner.

But Jordan, now 32, was an All-Star and elite rim-runner. He’s just not the same player anymore, as his 4.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 17.8 minutes per game can attest.

Through the season’s first two weeks, and while Allen had made it clear he’s the more impactful player, head coach Steve Nash beat back the pressure to start him in order to avoid any drama between players.

“[Jordan] definitely has that relationship with Ky and Kevin,” Nash said recently. “He has that experience as the older player. Caris [LeVert] and [Allen] also have good chemistry. So, it’s a bit of everything.

“It’s just not something I’m belaboring. Jarrett’s going to play a lot. I love him on the floor. I want to be very careful not to make it like a mini-drama because it’s not.”

That said, and if the last four games are anything to go by, he may not have been able to hold back any longer. Since Nash made those comments, Allen has started four straight games and, in his first start against the Utah Jazz, he responded with 19 points, 18 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks against one of the NBA’s best at the position, Rudy Gobert In his four starts, Allen has averaged 15.3 11.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

Looking back at the situation that sparked the discussion of Allen vs. Jordan in the starting lineup, it is widely believed that the debate was a driving force behind former head coach Kenny Atkinson’s departure from Brooklyn. Allen was less than pleased to learn about the coaching change and he reiterated that his former coach was no less effective, at least from his perspective.

“(Atkinson)’s my guy,” Allen said last season after Atkinson’s departure was finalized. “I was ready to fight for him.”

Allen’s name had since surfaced in trade rumors, linking him to the Houston Rockets as part of a hypothetical deal for James Harden. And the Nets could, for sure, trade Allen — and they’d get a pretty good return for the young rim protector. But they can and, if their goal is sustained, long-term success, should attempt to re-sign and extend him — assuming Allen would even want to, given everything that’s transpired since the offseason.

Of course, there are salary cap implications that could alter their decision as well. The Nets are already on the hook for $156 million this season. Next season, before any potential Allen extension, that number is once again expected to be at least $150 million. While owner Joe Tsai doesn’t appear to be bashful as far as spending is concerned, the Nets are expected to pay between $31-$43 million in a luxury tax this season, a figure that might give pause to any execurtive considering back-to-back season’s above the tax level; would he green light a long-term deal that guarantees that sort of penalty for the foreseeable future, even when his stars prefer a different, much cheaper center?

Whichever lane they choose, and regardless of Tsai’s preference, Brooklyn’s deadline would appear to draw ever closer: March 25, the 2020-21 trade deadline. As Allen and the Nets failed to agree to a contract extension prior to the season, he is expected to garner significant interest both on the trade market or as a restricted free agent should the team think they can re-sign him. And, while he may not command a max-extension like draftmates class De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo and Jayson Tatum, Allen, arguably, deserves more than Christian Wood (3 years/$41 million) and Kyle Kuzma (3 years/$40 million).

Bobby Marks, Brooklyn’s former assistant general manager, added fuel to the fire around Allen’s contract controversy: “He’s looking for Clint Capela-type of money,” Marks said to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on a recent podcast. “That would mean $90 million over five years. Capela got that deal back in 2018, when he was two years older than Allen is now.”

Further complicating matter for Brooklyn: with an average age of 27.3 years old — a number drastically different from the average of 25.4-years-old they sported just two seasons ago — the Nets have the seventh oldest roster in the NBA. And, obviously, without the 22-year-old Allen, that figure would look even worse. Do Allen and his development still even fit into the Brooklyn’s timeline? The idea that he’s a priority is certainly no longer a foregone conclusion.

It’s pretty clear that Nash knows who the best center in Brooklyn is. But will inserting him in the starting lineup be detrimental to his team’s synergy? Or, worse, could it create a rift between himself, Durant and Irving? Should Nets’ general manager Sean Marks decide to trade Allen and avoid the potential conflict, will it even matter?

And, most importantly, does Allen even want to be in Brooklyn anymore?

Allen, like most seasoned interviewers, can twist his words in order to reveal as much or as little as he’s like, so it’s hard to gauge his satisfaction with the Nets. Recent events, such as Irving opting out of games this past Thursday and Sunday, could be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the drama that goes along with playing for a contender in the New York metropolitan area. And, while there is no indication that Irving’s absences have hurt any relationships, the scrutiny from the media will only grow once reporters are allowed back into arena locker rooms. And Allen, native to the quiet suburbs of Austin, Texas, might prefer a calmer environment.

Everything could be just peachy between Allen and the Nets. But, in a few short months, we may be more focused on trade destinations for Allen rather than potential contract figures. But, for now, the most we can do is just stay tuned.

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Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.

Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.

Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.

From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.

Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

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Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.

“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.

In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.

Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.

NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.

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Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons

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According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.

However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.

Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.

On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.

Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.

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