Analysis: NBA teams going all-in, and that’s what it takes

Jul 1, 2022, 9:14 PM | Updated: Jul 2, 2022, 9:27 am

FILE - Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against ...

FILE - Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Indianapolis. Kevin Durant has requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, according to a person with direct knowledge of the seismic decision that undoubtedly will have teams scrambling to put together enormous offers for the perennial All-Star. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

The 2023 NBA playoffs are more than nine months away, and one thing is already clear.

There will be chaos.

The Minnesota Timberwolves grabbed a megaphone and announced that to the world when they traded multiple players and several first-round picks — one of them in 2029, which means that youngster is currently 12 and probably can’t dunk yet — to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gobert.

And with that, Minnesota is officially added to a list of legit Western Conference title contenders. There are solid arguments that can be made for no fewer than seven teams right now when debating who’ll represent the West in this coming season’s NBA Finals: defending champion Golden State, along with Phoenix, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis, Denver and Minnesota are all on that list.

Remember, at least three of those teams won’t get past the first round next spring. At least three.

But give the Timberwolves credit for what they did, because this is the way of the NBA world now. Organizations are either all-in or all-out.

Some team is about to send another massive package of players and picks to Brooklyn for Kevin Durant, unless the Nets somehow change his mind about wanting to be traded elsewhere. And that team — doesn’t matter which one — will instantly see its title hopes soar even higher by adding perhaps the most unguardable player in the game today. Durant is owed nearly $200 million for the next four years, is about to enter his 15th season (not including one missed for injury), will turn 34 this fall and teams are still lining up to bet it all to get him in their uniform.

“The ones who were locked in that gym with me know what it is, they know what I’m about,” Durant tweeted on Saturday, his first public comment since requesting a trade from the Nets. “If u haven’t been in there with me, ask around.”

Cryptic in some ways, clear in others. Durant wants more rings. In other words, somebody better go all-in.

That’s what it takes.

Golden State spent somewhere around $340 million this past season on a championship-winning roster, about half of it in salary and the other half in luxury tax. Sure, the Warriors are deep-pocketed. But such is the price of doing business right now, especially in an NBA coming off a year where a record $8.9 billion in basketball related income was generated.

And the Timberwolves are the latest team to embrace that reality.

Gobert is owed $170 million over the next four seasons. Karl-Anthony Towns is owed $295 million over the next six seasons, after guaranteeing most of that in an extension that was struck a few hours before the Gobert trade happened. Anthony Edwards, a star in the making, is on pace for a massive rookie extension next summer. Minnesota, a team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2004, is swinging for the fences. New owner Alex Rodriguez, he of the 696 career home runs, must be proud.

Someone is going to get Durant. It’s not reckless to think that Kyrie Irving could want a trade now as well, and if the Nets move Durant, they may as well move Irving instead of losing him for nothing next summer. Imagine Irving reuniting with LeBron James, this time with the Los Angeles Lakers, trying to recreate what they did in 2016 when Cleveland got to celebrate a title. If Irving goes there, add the Lakers to that list of legit West contenders, too.

New Orleans will have things to say about the playoff chase. So should Portland, assuming Damian Lillard is Damian Lillard again, and there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case. And who knows what Utah will be without Gobert, especially with speculation now surrounding whether the Jazz will choose to turn their roster remodeling into a complete teardown and trade Donovan Mitchell as well.

Keep in mind, moves are happening in the East, too.

Eastern Conference champion Boston significantly upgraded its depth by landing Malcolm Brogdon — another example of big spending, with $67.5 million and three years left on his deal — and Danilo Gallinari.

Miami, the No. 1 seed in the East playoffs this past season, is known to be in the Durant sweepstakes and Pat Riley is always, always, always looking for more stars. It wasn’t a free-agent move, but Atlanta believes it got better by trading for Dejounte Murray to play alongside Trae Young. James Harden delivered his most significant assist as a 76er by opting out and giving Philadelphia the freedom to go get P.J. Tucker; Harden is now expected to sign a new deal in Philly, and that cements them as another contender. Milwaukee spent to keep Bobby Portis, meaning most of the title-winning-core around Giannis Antetokounmpo remains intact.

Signings can’t even happen for a few more days. Training camps won’t start until late September. The season doesn’t start until mid-October. And then it’s six more months until playoffs.

That’s when the big, bold and best moves of this summer might pay off.


Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org


More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Analysis: NBA teams going all-in, and that’s what it takes