Big news hit the NBA world Sunday as Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was abruptly traded to the Dallas Mavericks along with Markieff Morris for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, a 2029 first round pick, and two future second round picks.
This deal comes after an abrupt trade request from Irving this past weekend that sent the league into a frenzy trying to value a tremendous talent with his much publicized drama the last decade. The Lakers, Clippers, Heat, Timberwolves, and even the Jazz were rumored as interested parties.
The Mavericks are sending a 2029 unprotected first-round pick, a 2027 second-round pick and a 2029 second round-pick to the Nets, sources @TheAthletic @Stadium. Brooklyn also is sending Markieff Morris to Dallas. https://t.co/EtqlQqQuGq— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 5, 2023
An unsurprising development less than a week removed from the trade deadline prompts a lot of questions: is a Kevin Durant trade request imminent? Who is most threatened by a bolstered Dallas squad? How does the market for guards change?
The Utah Jazz aren’t immune from the effects of this deal as they entertain deals for most the roster outside of Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, and Ochai Agbaji. Understanding the ramifications of this deal can lend insight as Thursday the 9th of February approaches.
The PG Market
One of the hot topics circulating the deadline this season is the point guard market. The LA Clippers are famously interested in adding a guard while the Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat are looking to change faces at the PG position.
Up until this weekend’s trade, even the Dallas Mavericks were discussed as a suitor for play makers at the guard position.
The most popular names to land on new teams continue to be Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, and Mike Conley. The Kyrie trade contracts the market with one fewer team in the hunt. However, Dallas was always a dark horse franchise and none of the popular names have come off the board.
Two of the remaining teams (LAC, MIN) now face a reality where their conference competition (DAL) got a significant bump ahead of the playoffs. There’s real potential that such a proposition encourages more serious bidding around the league.
It’s also worth noting the Clippers and Timberwolves find themselves strapped for assets, likely precluding a serious pursuit of Fred VanVleet.
The Jazz front office will surely leverage this fact in all negotiations. They’re reported to be pursuing the equivalent of a first round pick for Mike Conley as they look to clear way for Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, and the prospective three first round picks in the upcoming draft.
Resetting the Bar
The NBA world routinely cites the Rudy Gobert trade as the deal that “ruined the market”. The surprise package from the Timberwolves that sent 3 unprotected first round picks, another lightly protected first, and a recently drafted rookie set a new bar for star level trades.
It was but one of the reasons an offseason Kevin Durant trade received no traction. That deal, in combination with the affects of the play in tournament on parity, have all but frozen negotiations until the eleventh hour of trade season.
The Kyrie Irving trade is a step in the right direction for resetting the market. The core being a first and rotation players for a top 15 player, massive headache aside, is a harsh dose of reality for the future of the trade market.
As deals become more frequent, the teams will quickly acclimate to the new bar and will naturally grease the wheels on negotiations.
The Utah Jazz will have no shortage of trade partners, especially for coveted assets like Malik Beasley and Jared Vanderbilt. As the market clarifies, a proper bidding war can ensue whereby the front office can execute at their leisure.
The entire league remains in a grid lock with teams jostling for position in the respective conference standings on a nightly basis. Most every team can convince themselves just one move can shoot them into the play-in or a guaranteed playoff spot.
The Kyrie Irving trade accentuates this log jam in the Western Conference. Only 5 games separate the #3 seed Sacramento Kings from the #13 seed Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavericks, positioned in the middle of the pack, hope this move vaults them firmly in the upper echelon with the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies.
The remaining teams must come to grips with how this impacts their playoff hopes. The Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans are especially likely to feel extra pressure with Dallas prospectively climbing the standings.
The Jazz being open for business presents an opportunity for teams. By executing a trade with Utah, they accomplish two initiatives: 1) improving their own team and odds to move up the standings, 2) compromising the Jazz who likely fall out of this tight race.
Certainly opposing teams are aware of this tactic and will look to pounce when a deal best aligns with those two objectives. And Utah will be more than happy to oblige.