Russell Westbrook to Houston for Chris Paul and picks

cheech13

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Not so sure that OKC is going to tank this year. They have too many good players to be bad: Paul, SGA, Gallinari, Adams, Roberson and Schroder. Even in a stacked Western Conference that could be a playoff team. Presti will probably be opportunistic and move a guy if the package is right, but there's no incentive right now for a fire sale. They'll do a smaller deal to duck under the tax, but after that I think they'll let the season play out and assess what they have. They have enough future draft capital now that they can go a variety of directions, including getting into superstar trades if they so desire.
 

DrewDawg

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Story today is that Harden pushed for this deal, that he wanted to be reunited with RWB.

Could be spin, but it's going to be interesting.
 

lovegtm

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Not so sure that OKC is going to tank this year. They have too many good players to be bad: Paul, SGA, Gallinari, Adams, Roberson and Schroder. Even in a stacked Western Conference that could be a playoff team. Presti will probably be opportunistic and move a guy if the package is right, but there's no incentive right now for a fire sale. They'll do a smaller deal to duck under the tax, but after that I think they'll let the season play out and assess what they have. They have enough future draft capital now that they can go a variety of directions, including getting into superstar trades if they so desire.
Of course they’ll try to extract the most value in trades, but there’s a lot of value in being near the top of the lottery. My impression was that Presti’s main barrier to tanking was the ongoing commitment to taking one last shot with Westbrook. With that gone, they likely look to move guys and lose
 

Eddie Jurak

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In theory, you could have 12 minutes per game of the Russ show, and 12 minutes per game of the Harden show. It will just be working out what to do with the rest of the time that will be the challenge.
 

nighthob

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Of course they’ll try to extract the most value in trades, but there’s a lot of value in being near the top of the lottery. My impression was that Presti’s main barrier to tanking was the ongoing commitment to taking one last shot with Westbrook. With that gone, they likely look to move guys and lose
But they don't need to tank, they're in the Boston boat, they can continue to compete and wait for the prime picks to start coming in in a few years. And getting rid of useful roleplayers on the terrible "We're contenders, we need these guys to stay in contention" contracts would actually cost them picks. Why pay someone to eat the Adams or Schroeder deals when they could use them on better players instead? Or...

Not so sure that OKC is going to tank this year. They have too many good players to be bad: Paul, SGA, Gallinari, Adams, Roberson and Schroder. Even in a stacked Western Conference that could be a playoff team. Presti will probably be opportunistic and move a guy if the package is right, but there's no incentive right now for a fire sale. They'll do a smaller deal to duck under the tax, but after that I think they'll let the season play out and assess what they have. They have enough future draft capital now that they can go a variety of directions, including getting into superstar trades if they so desire.
This. They can't actually use the 14 picks they have coming over the next seven years, I expect them to be major RFA poachers over the next three years and look to land the next Russell or Brogdon to jumpstart the rebuild.
 

Kliq

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At the surface, neither guy will have to carry as big of an offensive workload, which should help Westbrook's efficiency and prevent Harden from wearing down as much during the season. Westbrook's contract is a bugaboo based on the idea that he is going to decline athletically and thus be a significantly worse player by the time his contract is up. However, without an OKC-level workload, that could at least flatten that decline a bit, at least in theory.
 

bowiac

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Yikes. there are some bad contracts in the NBA, but Paul has to be in there for just its sheer size/length/age related decline and roster crippling power (like the Wall deal)

The bolded would blow up the Twitter-sphere, but I agree with it 100%. Be prepared to get plenty of push back around here :unsure:
Depends on your twitter followers. ;) Disdain for the Durant contract is more or less the consensus within my circles, which isn't to say I wouldn't have done it if I'm the Nets due to his upside. In like 80% of outcomes, Durant comes back in his age 32 and 33 seasons, and plays like the 20th-30th best player in the league or something (e.g., the Khris Middleton, Danilo, Otto Porter level), in exchange for which you've paid him $120M, and are on the hook for another $40M the next year. Some of the time, he comes back even worse of course. And then in the 90th percentile scenario, he beats the odds and comes back as a Top 10 player or something. You haven't really gotten much of a bargain for him, since you've spent $60M/year for his services, and he can then opt out of his deal if he doesn't like how things are going.

You do it if you're the Nets despite all this, since that 10% outcome gives you a title window for a couple years, but that contract is mostly downside it seems to me.
 

luckiestman

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Depends on your twitter followers. ;) Disdain for the Durant contract is more or less the consensus within my circles, which isn't to say I wouldn't have done it if I'm the Nets due to his upside. In like 80% of outcomes, Durant comes back in his age 32 and 33 seasons, and plays like the 20th-30th best player in the league or something (e.g., the Khris Middleton, Danilo, Otto Porter level), in exchange for which you've paid him $120M, and are on the hook for another $40M the next year. Some of the time, he comes back even worse of course. And then in the 90th percentile scenario, he beats the odds and comes back as a Top 10 player or something. You haven't really gotten much of a bargain for him, since you've spent $60M/year for his services, and he can then opt out of his deal if he doesn't like how things are going.

You do it if you're the Nets despite all this, since that 10% outcome gives you a title window for a couple years, but that contract is mostly downside it seems to me.

This analysis seems to assume that asset value and cash flow are independent of players. Is that true?
 

cheech13

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Depends on your twitter followers. ;) Disdain for the Durant contract is more or less the consensus within my circles, which isn't to say I wouldn't have done it if I'm the Nets due to his upside. In like 80% of outcomes, Durant comes back in his age 32 and 33 seasons, and plays like the 20th-30th best player in the league or something (e.g., the Khris Middleton, Danilo, Otto Porter level), in exchange for which you've paid him $120M, and are on the hook for another $40M the next year. Some of the time, he comes back even worse of course. And then in the 90th percentile scenario, he beats the odds and comes back as a Top 10 player or something. You haven't really gotten much of a bargain for him, since you've spent $60M/year for his services, and he can then opt out of his deal if he doesn't like how things are going.

You do it if you're the Nets despite all this, since that 10% outcome gives you a title window for a couple years, but that contract is mostly downside it seems to me.
Is it the same with Klay, in that he's going to miss a year and might come back at less than full strength? I was surprised to see him on your list of worst contracts. It doesn't seem like ACL injuries result in that much damage long-term.
 

Cellar-Door

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Depends on your twitter followers. ;) Disdain for the Durant contract is more or less the consensus within my circles, which isn't to say I wouldn't have done it if I'm the Nets due to his upside. In like 80% of outcomes, Durant comes back in his age 32 and 33 seasons, and plays like the 20th-30th best player in the league or something (e.g., the Khris Middleton, Danilo, Otto Porter level), in exchange for which you've paid him $120M, and are on the hook for another $40M the next year. Some of the time, he comes back even worse of course. And then in the 90th percentile scenario, he beats the odds and comes back as a Top 10 player or something. You haven't really gotten much of a bargain for him, since you've spent $60M/year for his services, and he can then opt out of his deal if he doesn't like how things are going.

You do it if you're the Nets despite all this, since that 10% outcome gives you a title window for a couple years, but that contract is mostly downside it seems to me.
The problem with this is that the max cap means healthy Durant is worth much much more than his contract healthy, 90th percentile Durant is probably worth what 80M? 100M? maybe even more. A top 10 player is worth 60M easy, even a top 20 player is worth more than the max.
 

the moops

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Lakers would be a fascinating spot for Paul, but unsure how that could ever work. Green + KCP + McGee + Kuzma gets you close. Would need a 3rd or 4th team though to really make something work
 

bowiac

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This analysis seems to assume that asset value and cash flow are independent of players. Is that true?
Not sure I follow the question (in particular the cash flow part). I'm not talking about profit maximizing behavior here, though that's certainly a reasonable angle to take.
 

cheech13

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How crazy is it that OKC drafted Westbrook, Durant, Harden and Ibaka and didn't win a single title with them. That's arguably a better top four than the historically great Golden State Warriors roled out for the last three years and they had all of them on rookie deals. For as great as Presti was at drafting all of those guys the roster management thereafter was very spotty.
 

bowiac

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The problem with this is that the max cap means healthy Durant is worth much much more than his contract healthy, 90th percentile Durant is probably worth what 80M? 100M? maybe even more. A top 10 player is worth 60M easy, even a top 20 player is worth more than the max.
Converting talent to dollars is much harder in the NBA than in baseball, but I don't know that it passes the smell test that fully healthy Durant is worth $100M. For a team to spend to the cap ($109M), and spend $100M of that on Durant, that would mean filling out roster spots 2-15 with Brad Wanamaker types. That would be a terrible team, no matter how good Durant is.
 

bowiac

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Is it the same with Klay, in that he's going to miss a year and might come back at less than full strength? I was surprised to see him on your list of worst contracts. It doesn't seem like ACL injuries result in that much damage long-term.
The Klay assessment isn't about long-term damage as result of the ACL tear as it general skepticism of how good he is. He has not graded particularly well on various plus/minus or box score metrics, and while the Warriors are truly such a unique circumstance that it's hard to totally make sense of that, I would not be buying. He's a spectacular shooter, but hasn't graded very well defensively. Here's his career PIPM arc to date (overall PIPM in green; red is offense, blue is defense).

25204

I'm not sure this is someone I'd be investing in for their age 30-32 seasons.
 

Cellar-Door

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Converting talent to dollars is much harder in the NBA than in baseball, but I don't know that it passes the smell test that fully healthy Durant is worth $100M. For a team to spend to the cap ($109M), and spend $100M of that on Durant, that would mean filling out roster spots 2-15 with Brad Wanamaker types. That would be a terrible team, no matter how good Durant is.
yeah to be clear I'm talking about more, when you start caring about paying a guy 40M, Durant would have to be a lot less valuable than he is now before you start getting to a point where his deal isn't worth it. Something like 50% worse?
 

AMS25

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How crazy is it that OKC drafted Westbrook, Durant, Harden and Ibaka and didn't win a single title with them. That's arguably a better top four than the historically great Golden State Warriors roled out for the last three years and they had all of them on rookie deals. For as great as Presti was at drafting all of those guys the roster management thereafter was very spotty.
Yep, it's crazy. I was happy to see Ibaka get a ring with the Raptors, and of course, Durant got two with the Warriors. The Thunder have always struggled to put together a decent bench and set of role players. Their motto has been "draft and develop." Some picks were good (e.g., Adams, Sabonis, Roberson ); some crashed and burned (Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis, Cameron Payne). Heck, the Thunder went into one season with Semaj Christon as their back-up point guard. Sigh.
 

lovegtm

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The Klay assessment isn't about long-term damage as result of the ACL tear as it general skepticism of how good he is. He has not graded particularly well on various plus/minus or box score metrics, and while the Warriors are truly such a unique circumstance that it's hard to totally make sense of that, I would not be buying. He's a spectacular shooter, but hasn't graded very well defensively. Here's his career PIPM arc to date (overall PIPM in green; red is offense, blue is defense).

View attachment 25204

I'm not sure this is someone I'd be investing in for their age 30-32 seasons.
Hmmmm, this just smells slightly wrong, given Klay’s defensive reputation. Generally my heuristic is that when a player has a really good reputation AND his team wins in the playoffs AND metrics have a hard time reconciling those, I tend to side with the league’s evaluation. Didn’t Kawhi seem to be slipping by a lot of metrics recently?

DeMar DeRozan types are a totally different case, because most GMs wouldn’t want him at his price, and he’s consistently underperformed in playoff situations.

That said, it’s entirely possible that Klay had the decline showed there post 2016, and it was masked by the team having Durant.
 

Tony C

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Yeah, along this same line was surprised to see in the new DRAYMOND ratings both Kawhi and Paul George being ranked just slightly above average over the last 5 years. I'm as suspicious as anyone of the "but my eyes don't lie" analysis, but...I don't buy that for a second -- by my eyes, by their rep etc.
 

bowiac

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Hmmmm, this just smells slightly wrong, given Klay’s defensive reputation. Generally my heuristic is that when a player has a really good reputation AND his team wins in the playoffs AND metrics have a hard time reconciling those, I tend to side with the league’s evaluation. Didn’t Kawhi seem to be slipping by a lot of metrics recently?
The traditional explanation with respect to Klay is that he is a strong one-on-one defender, but poor at defensive switches and other aspects to team defense. Given the importance of these switches, he does not grade well. The flip side of this is someone like Jokic, who has always graded well defensively, but struggled with the "eye test", and he has exactly the opposite profile - strong team defender, but not a great iso guy.

The "team wins in the playoffs" point doesn't really carry much weight for me in this case. The team has had like two top five players, and another top 10 player on the roster. Given all that talent, you don't need to think Klay is also a megastar in order to explain three titles. If anything, they underperformed by historic standards in winning only three titles (albeit largely due to injury this year).

With respect to Kawhi, his defensive metrics have fallen off the last few years in the regular season, but have been monstrous in the playoffs. That looks pretty typical for a megastar taking on a bigger load on offense - he was taking it easy in the regular season on defense and saving his efforts for the playoffs. Klay's metrics do not display the same pattern - he grades pretty meh defensively in the playoffs as well (and he doesn't really have much call to be taking it easy on defense in the regular season anyway, as he's the third option on offense).
 

bowiac

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Yeah, along this same line was surprised to see in the new DRAYMOND ratings both Kawhi and Paul George being ranked just slightly above average over the last 5 years. I'm as suspicious as anyone of the "but my eyes don't lie" analysis, but...I don't buy that for a second -- by my eyes, by their rep etc.
From digging into it, DRAYMOND is not a very good defensive metric for perimeter defenders (it has some value for interior defense however). However, as mentioned above, I'm pretty sure what's going on there with guys like Kawhi, George, and LeBron is they're mostly taking it easy defensively in the regular season, and saving their efforts for the playoffs. That same explanation doesn't really work for Klay.
 

luckiestman

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Not sure I follow the question (in particular the cash flow part). I'm not talking about profit maximizing behavior here, though that's certainly a reasonable angle to take.
Ok. When you said the contract was bad I misunderstood what you meant by bad. I now take it you just mean expected wins over the life of the contract? Expected wins could be higher without Durant but I think Expected finals appearances and titles has to be higher with Durant ( I think you agree with this from how I interpret what you wrote).
 

nighthob

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Hmmmm, this just smells slightly wrong, given Klay’s defensive reputation. Generally my heuristic is that when a player has a really good reputation AND his team wins in the playoffs AND metrics have a hard time reconciling those, I tend to side with the league’s evaluation. Didn’t Kawhi seem to be slipping by a lot of metrics recently?

DeMar DeRozan types are a totally different case, because most GMs wouldn’t want him at his price, and he’s consistently underperformed in playoff situations.

That said, it’s entirely possible that Klay had the decline showed there post 2016, and it was masked by the team having Durant.
He's still OK in individual matchups with SGs, but the constant switch defenses neutralizes a lot of Klay's value. He doesn't guard up or down effectively, so he's going to get dinged on the sort of team defense things that most defensive metrics try to measure.
 

PedroKsBambino

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yeah to be clear I'm talking about more, when you start caring about paying a guy 40M, Durant would have to be a lot less valuable than he is now before you start getting to a point where his deal isn't worth it. Something like 50% worse?
Agreed, a bunch of the analyses I see don't account for surplus value above the max contract, and that's a fundamental miss.

The other thing to remember, and it's related though distinct from that, is you need apex (e.g. top 5? 10?) talent to win NBA titles. So a rational team will pay for guys who are (or have a reasonable probability to be) in that group because it's close to a necessary condition for a title and many of those guys are never truly available to you. A team can be very economically efficient in every other 'tier' of spending, but a model which doesn't account for the far-right end of the talent distribution being uniquely impactful is not going to track championships---though, it might track (say) regular season winning percentage reasonably well. There's a reason Morey---as smart as anyone writing analysis and better supported by the best of the analysts than anyone writing publicly--keeps selling out for the apex guys.
 

sezwho

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Ok. When you said the contract was bad I misunderstood what you meant by bad. I now take it you just mean expected wins over the life of the contract? Expected wins could be higher without Durant but I think Expected finals appearances and titles has to be higher with Durant ( I think you agree with this from how I interpret what you wrote).
This is why I think the pure WS based approach to measure worst/best isn't the best one as Championships are the goal. Clustering my WS into the same season will get the best outcome, and knowing year 1 is a near write off ahead of time (Nets are 40:1 to win it all for example) sucks of course, but CP3/Wall/Wiggins/etc are going be a huge value drags for the entire contract, making it extremely difficult for their teams to be contenders. KD and Klay generate (hopefully, they seem like decent people after all) all 'negative value' in a single year and move their teams towards Championships status for the remainder of the contract.

Of course if you think they never really return to their prior elite status then its irrelevant as they won't be contributing to a Championship much either.
 

lovegtm

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This is why I think the pure WS based approach to measure worst/best isn't the best one as Championships are the goal. Clustering my WS into the same season will get the best outcome, and knowing year 1 is a near write off ahead of time (Nets are 40:1 to win it all for example) sucks of course, but CP3/Wall/Wiggins/etc are going be a huge value drags for the entire contract, making it extremely difficult for their teams to be contenders. KD and Klay generate (hopefully, they seem like decent people after all) all 'negative value' in a single year and move their teams towards Championships status for the remainder of the contract.

Of course if you think they never really return to their prior elite status then its irrelevant as they won't be contributing to a Championship much either.
Yeah, bowiac factored the championship odds part pretty clearly into his explanatory Durant post.
 

maufman

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How crazy is it that OKC drafted Westbrook, Durant, Harden and Ibaka and didn't win a single title with them. That's arguably a better top four than the historically great Golden State Warriors roled out for the last three years and they had all of them on rookie deals. For as great as Presti was at drafting all of those guys the roster management thereafter was very spotty.
Ownership wasn’t willing to pay luxury tax to win a title. I think that was a shitty decision strictly as a business matter — bring in a minority investor if you need cash; you’ll more than earn it back with the equity that comes with a championship.

That said, Presti didn’t execute well on management’s direction — he should’ve moved RWB instead of Harden, and even if you think that’s 20/20 hindsight, he got a pitiful return for Harden.
 

lovegtm

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Ownership wasn’t willing to pay luxury tax to win a title. I think that was a shitty decision strictly as a business matter — bring in a minority investor if you need cash; you’ll more than earn it back with the equity that comes with a championship.

That said, Presti didn’t execute well on management’s direction — he should’ve moved RWB instead of Harden, and even if you think that’s 20/20 hindsight, he got a pitiful return for Harden.
So re the Westbrook vs Harden point, I heard Lowe saying on a podcast once that the buzz was that if the team had to choose one, they thought Westbrook was a better culture fit. Harden had (and has?) more of a reputation as a partier, whereas Westbrook was thought of more of as a team guy/hard worker.

Obviously they chose completely incorrectly on all counts (trading Harden and choosing Westbrook over him), just interesting to look back on what the thought process might have been.
 

cheech13

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You can't expect a front office to nail every single move, but the real mistake was trading Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins and lavishing him with a huge extension. Had they not made that deal they would have had the money to pay Harden as well. That one mistake set off a chain reaction of moves that prevented them from winning a title.
 
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InstaFace

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Yeah but then we traded Jeff Green for some complex series of protected picks that have brought us enormous entertainment rooting against Memphis for the last few years.

It all balances out.
 

nighthob

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Yeah but then we traded Jeff Green for some complex series of protected picks that have brought us enormous entertainment rooting against Memphis for the last few years.

It all balances out.
He’s talking about OKC’s errors, not Boston’s brilliant recouping of value for Green.
 

InstaFace

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I'm well aware, I just wanted to have another laugh about that trade.

Hard to believe Perk's already retired at 34. I wonder if Danny would undo the Perk-Green trade himself if he could, given how the 2011 and 2012 Heat playoff series went.
 

HomeRunBaker

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The problem with this is that the max cap means healthy Durant is worth much much more than his contract healthy, 90th percentile Durant is probably worth what 80M? 100M? maybe even more. A top 10 player is worth 60M easy, even a top 20 player is worth more than the max.
A player of Durant’s stature is going to increase his teams ancillary revenue than other players with his type of contract. When he returns these games are going to be THE place to be in the city with courtside and suite ticket prices reflecting that demand. It won’t make up the $60m per year but running numbers through my head I’m guessing that ticket sales alone can account for at least 1/3rd of that and in the 50% range when you include the playoff revenue (which I expect him to be ready for this year reducing that $60m AAV).
 

nighthob

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Hard to believe Perk's already retired at 34. I wonder if Danny would undo the Perk-Green trade himself if he could, given how the 2011 and 2012 Heat playoff series went.
I don’t know, Kendrick Perkins and a pair of #2s for Carsen Edwards, a 2020 #1, and the Memphis lottery pick is a pretty good deal.
 

InstaFace

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It is, but maybe we have another banner flying in the Garden if we'd figured out a way to get under the cap, given him the money OKC ended up giving him, and kept him. I find those kind of what-ifs a bit more haunting than "what if KG's knees hadn't been toast in 08-09", which isn't something Ainge had any degree of control over.
 

bowiac

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A player of Durant’s stature is going to increase his teams ancillary revenue than other players with his type of contract. When he returns these games are going to be THE place to be in the city with courtside and suite ticket prices reflecting that demand. It won’t make up the $60m per year but running numbers through my head I’m guessing that ticket sales alone can account for at least 1/3rd of that and in the 50% range when you include the playoff revenue (which I expect him to be ready for this year reducing that $60m AAV).
That's all fair. I should have clarified I was discussing on-court impact, as opposed to whether a player makes business sense for a profit maximizing entity. Signing a player of Durant's stature has a lot off-court impact as well.
 

lovegtm

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That's all fair. I should have clarified I was discussing on-court impact, as opposed to whether a player makes business sense for a profit maximizing entity. Signing a player of Durant's stature has a lot off-court impact as well.
Also, if we're staying on-court, if he comes back and looks good, that drastically increases the odds that a disgruntled star would want to be dealt there and then re-sign. That's far from hypothetical, since Brooklyn has/will have plenty of salary to match, and has some interesting players still on roster in LaVert and Dinwiddie.