Day one of 2019 NBA free agency was absolute mayhem from start to finish, with the majority of top-tier players making their decisions. Perhaps the biggest domino fell in Brooklyn, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving electing to spend the next few years with the Nets. While there are interesting machinations involving the Golden State Warriors and a sign-and-trade involving Durant and D’Angelo Russell, the free agent choices made by Irving and Durant actually have a direct impact on the Atlanta Hawks.
As part of the trade involving Taurean Prince and Allen Crabbe, the Hawks acquired Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round draft pick with lottery protection. For clarity’s sake, Atlanta will receive that first-round selection from the Nets if Brooklyn makes the playoffs (and the pick would roll over to 2021 if the Nets fall short) and, while many assumed the pick was likely to convey based on the 2018-19 performance of Kenny Atkinson’s team, there was gray area based on free agency.
Now, with Irving and Durant on board things appear to be a bit clearer. It should be noted that Durant is not expected to play for the vast majority of the 2019-20 season and, without him, Brooklyn shouldn’t be quite as potent. Still, the Nets have more than enough talent to make a playoff run, with most projecting the team as a comfortable playoff contender, even if not one that appears poised to join the elite tier in the Eastern Conference.
For reference, Brooklyn’s roster includes Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie at the lead guard spot, the sextet of Prince, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs and Garrett Temple on the wing, and an interesting collection of big men including Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan and rookie Nic Claxton. That probably isn’t a 55-win roster without Durant but, in the same breath, it would be difficult to put together eight teams in the Eastern Conference that project to be better.
Ideally on Atlanta’s side, Brooklyn would squeak into the playoffs without home-court advantage and, as such, the first-round pick would convey somewhere in the No. 15 to No. 20 range. A lot has to happen in order for that reality to come together but, in short, the actions of the Nets on Sunday should help the Hawks when it comes to garnering another intriguing asset.