Harden has been brilliant as a Net. He’s already second in franchise history in triple-doubles, which is both amazing and a little funny. Someday, the voting body might buck precedent and award MVP to someone traded in-season. I’m skeptical Harden is or should be that player. Just getting on the ballot is going to be hard — for Harden, Lillard, Curry, and others. Everything will change if Durant continues to miss major time, or if Irving does — and Harden lifts the Nets. Even then, Harden winning seems a stretch given what Jokic, Embiid, and James are doing. With or without Harden as a serious candidate, the next two months figure to give us a rollicking MVP debate.
September 25, 2021 | 3:23 am EDT Update
Sources maintain the Cavs don’t have any “untouchables.” However, prized rookie Evan Mobley and rising point guard Darius Garland are closest to that designation. The likelihood of either player being moved is incredibly low. That leaves Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro and future first-rounders to help cajole a Simmons deal.
LaVine is eligible for an extension but he likely won’t sign it. This is solely because the four-year, $105 million extension he is currently eligible for is far below the projected five-year, $207 million maximum contract he can re-sign with the Bulls for next summer. While Chicago could’ve used cap space to renegotiate LaVine’s $19.5 million salary to a maximum salary and extend him for an additional four years, they correctly utilized their flexibility to build the best possible team they can around him.
Even if the Bulls fail to make the playoffs again, he is still a good bet to re-sign with them given how little cap space there is elsewhere. Vucevic is also currently eligible for an extension worth up to three years, $85.5 million. He can only sign it during the offseason.
According to sources, the 76ers would want limited or no protections on those firsts in hopes of flipping them for an All-Star caliber player around the deadline. That, alone, would be incredibly risky for Cleveland — a still-rebuilding team that’s won 60 combined games over the last three years and is only projected to win around 26 this season. Even the addition of Simmons wouldn’t change the 2021-22 forecast that much, as the Cavs wouldn’t have enough short-term floor-spacers or shooters around the limited Simmons. Any deal would mean rejiggering the roster quite a bit.
Because Gupta has been elevated from inside the organization, it is conceivable that the Wolves can move right along and continue their talks with the Sixers without much of a diversion. Gupta and Morey worked together for years in Houston so there is background there, and sources say Gupta was involved in some of the talks with the Sixers earlier this summer before the conflict with Rosas reached its head.
The Raptors acquired Dragic in exchange for Lowry and his status with them has been reported as potentially headed towards a buyout. While Dragic is too talented to simply be waived, the Raptors will be hard-pressed to find a team eager to pay him $19 million this season. He could be headed towards a buyout if he’s still on the roster past thetrade deadline. Alternatively, he could be used as salary ballast as part of a larger deal and then subsequently bought out by his new team.
According to a report from Superbasket, free-agent big man Greg Monroe is among the names that Virtus Bologna is considering after the injury of Ekpe Udoh, who’ll most likely be sidelined for the season. Monroe spent last season with Khimki in Russia, averaging 16 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in VTB League.