Nets Rumors: Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris Not Being Targeted for Max ContractsJune 25, 2019
If Kevin Durant doesn't want to join Kyrie Irving with the Brooklyn Nets, apparently the team isn't sold on giving huge contracts to the remainder of the free-agent crop.
"The idea of Kyrie as a solo act is not what this plan has been. It's been about getting that second star; it's about KD," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Tuesday. "...that will be the question about not just will they still take Kyrie Irving without a second star but whether it's Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, let's go down the list of free agents. I don't think they want to max any of those players out. Tobias Harris? Perhaps. But could they get those guys at a lower number to keep some salary-cap flexibility?
"There's going to be a moment of truth if KD doesn't come and Kyrie says I'm ready to go. As an organization, it may not be what you intended but you say: 'You know what? We have a chance to improve this team dramatically, and we'll take on that second star who may not be of All-NBA caliber.'"
Harris and Butler are both expected to command max-level salaries, whether it's from another team or the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers acquired both players during the 2018-19 season and reportedly want to retain them on the open market.
The Nets are the favorite to land Irving, who appears to be a near-lock to leave the Boston Celtics in free agency. Brooklyn has positioned itself to have two max-level contract slots for Irving and another free agent, and the team is also the favorite to sign Durant, who could miss the 2019-20 season with an Achilles injury.
The Nets are also playing a precarious game with D'Angelo Russell, their All-Star guard who will be a restricted free agent. The overwhelming sentiment is that Brooklyn would renounce Russell if Irving commits. However, if the Nets have to make a decision between maxing Irving and another lesser player or keeping Russell at a friendlier number, it could be a conversation in the Nets front office.
Essentially, free agency is a bunch of interconnected dominoes that are going to fall into place in rapid succession come June 30.