NBA trade talk for everyone
With your humble correspondent traveling on this Newsletter Tuesday, we lead off the weekly free-for-all Extravaganza with a Spotify Live recording that covers all things Donovan Mitchell
The Utah Jazz appear closer to trading Donovan Mitchell than the Brooklyn Nets do with Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Precisely how much closer, of course, is an inexact science for those seeking to pinpoint it.
Yet we are trying, Jennifer. I tried to do so, in fact, for about an hour Monday evening in a Spotify Live session by enlisting the help of Tony Jones, who covers the Jazz for The Athletic and has been providing some of the best reporting on the Mitchell Mania that began in earnest last week during the Las Vegas Summer League, when it emerged that the Jazz were indeed fielding trade calls on Mitchell after initially signaling they would rebuff them in the wake of Utah's blockbuster deal that sent Rudy Gobert to Minnesota.
Post-Vegas, I am traveling again this week. After a late-night flight Monday, I have two full days' worth of appointments Tuesday and Wednesday because an English soccer team I have been known to mention on occasion (I know you didn't even need a pause before blurting out Manchester City) is in Texas as we speak and required my immediate attention.
To ensure no interruption to the usual publication schedule, I am leaning again on an idea that worked well early in free agency when things were happening too fast to write in-depth about anything. The Tuesday Newsletter Extravaganza thus features the full replay of my visit with Tony, during which we addressed all aspects of where the Jazz are in terms of their willingness to trade Mitchell ... and New York's attempts to win the race to get him.
Just click the orange arrow to get the whole conversation:
Typically only full-fledged subscribers to The Stein Line get a start-to-finish replay dispatched to them on The Morning After a Spotify Live session. It's a small token of appreciation for those who provide such vital support for my work as an independent journalist and might not have been able to join us live.
On this Newsletter Tuesday, though, everyone who has signed up, free or paid, is getting the full recording to listen to at their leisure.
Summer League is over now, as is the bulk of free agency, but there is still much to discuss in the NBA's Transaction Game (as we've been promising). Some of the foremost names on the NBA map — Durant, Irving, Mitchell and the Los Angeles Lakers' Russell Westbrook — are all potential trade candidates between now and the start of the season. With no clarity yet on when any of them might be moved, this is ground we are bound to be covering for weeks.
My visit with Mr. Jones naturally focuses most on the Mitchell situation — why the Knicks are such strong favorites to acquire him, what it's likely to cost them, other teams like Miami and Brooklyn trying to get involved, how the Jazz got here and how much their mindset has changed as a franchise since Danny Ainge arrived as the new CEO in December, etc.
Yet we touch on all the other prime trade topics, too. The first 10 minutes of the session, in all candor, aren't the finest in Spotify Live history while we dealt with a technical issue that delayed Tony's arrival on stage, but I think we rallied nicely. Between my Monday column that laid out why Brooklyn has struggled to date to generate the robust offers it anticipated for Durant and this easy-to-consume convo, you should be caught up on much of where the NBA offseason stands ... at least until the next major curveball.
Please give the chat a listen to get all my freshest NBA thoughts and Tony's considerable expertise on all things Jazz. And thanks again for following me to Substack, reading this newsletter and supporting me in my journalistic endeavors like you do.
The Stein Line is a reader-supported newsletter, with both free and paid subscriptions available, and those who opt for the paid edition are taking an active role in the reporting by providing vital assistance to bolster my independent coverage of the league. Feel free to forward this post to family and friends interested in the NBA and please consider becoming a paid subscriber to have full access to all of my posts.
As a reminder: Tuesday editions, on this and every Newsletter Tuesday, go out free to anyone who signs up, just as my Tuesday pieces did in their New York Times incarnation.
It’s that time of year: Summer travel has begun in earnest!
Just wanted to share that as an advisory for those who do enjoy the chronicling of my travel/dining/coffee/soccer/tennis adventures that will be sprinkled into my ongoing coverage of the NBA offseason … and as a warning to those who might want to skim past it and get right to Numbers Game.
First up is the aforementioned footy trip to Houston underway now to see our beloved Manchester City in a Wednesday night friendly against Club America from Liga MX. I’m able to say “our” for a change because my (nearly) 16-year-old is with me.
This is the truly great part of kids growing up. I whine constantly about struggling to cope with how fast it has gone and how much I missed of my boys’ childhoods that I can’t get back because of the work travel that #thisleague demands, but it is a joy beyond words to have a teenager who wants to watch City as much as me. And who texts me City news he saw on social media somewhere before I had a clue about it. And who just wants to get on a plane as often as we can to indulge in sports nerdity.
It is one of the greatest blessings in life.
As a prelude to the various pictures and travel tales that will populate the Tuesday Newsletter Extravaganza over the next couple months, I’ve decided to include a few meaningful shots from last week’s quick trip to the Las Vegas Summer League to get in the mood:
The NBA postseason reached its conclusion in June with eight current All-Stars missing at least one playoff game through injury or illness — just two shy of the unwanted league record set during the 2020-21 playoffs. Those eight players: Phoenix’s Devin Booker (hamstring), Miami’s Jimmy Butler (knee), Dallas’ Luka Dončić (calf), Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (orbital fracture), Chicago’s Zach LaVine (COVID-19), Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton (knee), Memphis’ Ja Morant (knee) and Toronto’s Fred VanVleet (hip).
After an unexpected callup last summer to the United States’ Olympic team that earned him a gold medal, San Antonio’s Keldon Johnson is having another stellar offseason, landing a four-year, $80 million contract extension from the rebuilding Spurs. (My Bleacher Report colleague Jake Fischer reported Tuesday that it's actually $74 million over four seasons with $1.5 million in annual bonuses for Johnson to play for.)
Four years ago on Monday (July 18, 2018), Toronto acquired Kawhi Leonard from San Antonio with Danny Green and $5 million in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a top-20-protected 2019 first-round draft pick … which became Keldon Johnson.
The NBA, according to Commissioner Adam Silver's estimates, pumps roughly $125 million into the Las Vegas economy with its annual July summer league, filling an estimated 70,000 hotel rooms and selling some 135,000 tickets over 11 days’ worth of games. “It feels like we have a franchise in Las Vegas,” Silver said when referencing all those totals.
The NBA age limit for draft eligibility has stood at 19 dating to 2006. Silver said at a recent news conference in Las Vegas that he will continue to push for the age to be lowered back to 18 — necessitating no time spent at the college level — in the league’s next collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union.
Also while in Vegas, Silver announced that a long-overdue program to help retired ABA players has finally been hatched in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association. An estimated 115 former ABAers who played in at least three seasons and did not previously receive benefits from the NBA’s pension plan will receive “recognition payments” of $3,828 for every season of ABA service time. Example: A player with five years of ABA experience will now receive $19,140 annually from the NBA/NBPA program.
The NBA G League Ignite, which just announced a move from Walnut Creek, Calif., to Henderson, Nev., starting next season, has generated three top-10 picks in the last two NBA drafts. Scoot Henderson should be the fourth next season — joining Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga and Dyson Daniels — after playing in his namesake city of Henderson in 2022-23 at the 5,000-seat Dollar Loan Center.
I ask @KeithSmithNBA a TON of questions about salary cap matters and NBA bookkeeping every week. Thanks so much, Keith, for the infinite supply of answers.