This is how the NBA business game is played, sending signals without having to confess.
For the Miami Heat, the latest message couldn’t have been delivered any clearer that it’s Bam Adebayo or a bust when it comes to the Brooklyn Nets’ trade line with Kevin Durant.
Monday was the latest example of how nothing has to be said for the messages to resonate.
Do you think Boston Celtics President Brad Stevens wants to deal with the fallout if Jaylen Brown isn’t moved in a trade with the Nets? It could be even stickier than Deandre Ayton’s impending reunion with the Phoenix Suns after his free agency fiasco.
But there’s no doubt that Nets general manager Sean Marks couldn’t be happier.
The bar is now set after the duel and close reports from ESPN and The Athletic regarding the Celtics’ willingness to include Brown in a package for Durant.
So there it is, said, unsaid, by Marks: Propose a recent All-Star, and then we’ll talk about it. Brown was All-Star in 2021, Adebayo in 2020. Each has worn the designation once.
That’s how it goes, how the NBA trade tables are set.
Despite all the talk of Danny Ainge wanting at least four, five, six or more first-round picks for Donovan Michell, has anyone actually heard him say those words, post them on social media, put them in writing?
And yet, the Utah Jazz couldn’t have been clearer that they’re either coming with draft picks in hand or not wasting effort.
Now it’s the same with the Nets and Durant and Brown.
What the scoop of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Athletic’s Shams Charania did was amplify Marks’ desires for the rest of the NBA to have an offer from a young NBA All-Star. in hand.
So, are the Toronto Raptors now reconsidering Scottie Barnes, who was deemed banned? Or put into play Pascal Siakam (All-Star 2020)?
Are the New Orleans Pelicans returning with a package highlighted by Brandon Ingram (All-Star 2020) or, dare you consider it, Zion Williamson?
And, yes, Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins (2022 All-Star) is looming as a fallback.
Until the revelation with Brown from the Celtics, Durant was thought to be obtainable for less than a dollar on the dollar, especially since he was 34 at the start of training camp and had missed the entire season. 2019-20 due to injury, having won only one playoff series as a member of the Nets.
Now the auction reserve price has been set.
No, some sort of proposed Tyler Herro-Duncan Robinson pick doesn’t close a deal for the Heat. And, no Kyle Lowry, at 36, does not fit the definition of a young All-Star, 11 years older than Brown.
Although not revealing, yes, the Heat had discussions regarding Adebayo in a Durant trade. It’s nothing more than the typical due diligence whenever a major commercial coin hits the market, just like it was when beloved franchise coins Brian Grant and Caron Butler came into play. for Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 or when Eddie Jones received one a year later to complete a championship core.
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But now it’s different than when a specific highly influential member of the franchise recently banned Adebayo. This was before the stakes were officially set. Now that’s what it will take. Because now some part aware of the Nets’ machinations has set the bar high for Jaylen Brown. . . or better. (Although with Adebayo, there’s the sticky situation of not being allowed to be on the Nets’ roster with Ben Simmons, due to a salary cap quirk.)
So with the Heat you start here: is a core of Durant, Lowry and Jimmy Butler a championship core, or at least better than the core last season that got the Heat in one game of the NBA Finals ?
But then you also see how much of the future would be incinerated by moving Adebayo and Herro.
With Butler 32, Lowry 36 and Durant turning 34, you’re probably looking at a two-year window, which coincides with the time remaining on Lowry’s contract.
Then, with Herro, Adebayo and the draft picks handed out, there would be no future, but probably Pat Riley’s passing of the torch.
There is still a path to Durant. . . at the cost of a future shock.
Otherwise, Monday’s revelation regarding Brown made it clear there would likely be no net (net) loss for the Heat moving to Plan B in the offseason.