Smart teams in the NBA are forward-thinking. They know when stars are going to hit the free agent market, so they plan ahead. The Lakers have done that, and now can add two superstars who want to join forces this summer.
The Brooklyn Nets just did that for the Summer of 2019. By trading Timofey Mozgov and his terrible contract to Charlotte for Dwight Howard, the Nets will now be able to afford two max contracts in 2019, when several big names could hit the market: Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and of course, LeBron James.
Half those guys could be on the move THIS summer and be taken off the board, but it matters not to the Nets. My guess is the guys they want to target is Kyrie Irving and his buddy, Jimmy Butler.
Irving is a New Jersey native, and it is no secret that the point guard loves the NYC area. Yes, he’d love to play for the Knicks, but they’re very inept at navigating the salary cap. Unless the Knicks hustle, they’re not going to be players to land anyone in 2019.
Irving is tight with Butler, who can opt-out of his Minnesota contract next summer. Butler has long wanted to play in LA because of his love for Hollywood and movies and that scene, but my guess is he gladly would take his talents to Brooklyn to play with his USA Basketball team pal Kyrie Irving.
In the downtrodden East, Kyrie and Butler can certainly be a contender to get to the Finals.
As for the Hornets, it’s unclear what Michael Jordan and Mitch Kupchak are doing. (That’s been the case for several years now.) Zach Lowe said it well: You’re adding a year of Mozgov’s deal just to avoid the luxury tax next season?
The Hornets will probably be able to unload Kemba Walker’s deal here shortly, but they’re going nowhere fast. Recent 1st round picks like Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist haven’t shown much. The Hornets feel like a 30-35 win team every year.
This trade is a huge win for the Nets.