With time up until free agency began on June 30, Kevin Durant shocked the NBA world when he spoke to Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai and requested a trade after spending the past three seasons with the franchise had spent.
The 33-year-old Durant, who plays some of the best basketball players of his career after tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2019 NBA Finals, is currently focused on the prime of his career. The drama surrounding Kyrie Irving and his vaccination last season, coupled with the constant changing of rotations and an inability to succeed from an internal, organizational perspective, all contributed to Kevin Durant wanting to leave the Nets.
A player like Durant really hasn’t hit the commercial market in eons, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975, is the only parallel that comes to mind in terms of size and talent.
One of the best scorers of this generation and perhaps of all time, regardless of what his all-time scoring numbers say, a trade involving Kevin Durant could happen anytime in the next few days.
Brooklyn continues to make phone calls each day regarding a possible Durant trade. Almost every other organization in the NBA has approached the Nets.
When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski First covering this big story on Thursday, he explained that the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat were among the two teams that Durant had on his wish list. Multiple sources have since confirmed to SI Fastbreak that the Suns and Heat are both interested in trading for Durant and a Dark Horse team remains.
There has been talk in league circles recently that the Toronto Raptors could be preparing to bid on Kevin Durant, and that idea has garnered a lot of buzz over the past 24 hours.
Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri is always keen to put his team in a championship position, and league sources say the idea of bringing Durant to Toronto is very reminiscent of the move the Raptors took to win the multiple all- Bringing Star and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to the team ahead of the 2018-19 season, a year that ultimately ended with the Raptors winning their first championship in team history.
Should Toronto be willing to go all-in in pursuit of Durant, they could offer Brooklyn the most enticing deal. OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. are two young cores who could be used in a trade of draft picks, as is reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, who many in the league believe will be the selling point of the trade could Raptors takes on Kevin Durant.
For Phoenix, Deandre Ayton remains their top trade as he is still a restricted free agent and has not yet signed an offer sheet with any other team. A sign-and-trade deal involving Ayton, Fist Team All-Defensive Wing Mikal Bridges, possibly Cameron Johnson, and multiple first-round draft picks is another possible scenario that has been raised time and again in league circles.
Both Phoenix and Toronto appear to have the best assets of the above three teams as the Miami Heat can only center a trade package around Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and minimal draft compensation.
Bam Adebayo cannot be included in a deal for Kevin Durant to Brooklyn because the rule prohibits a team from promoting two players with designated rookie extensions. Ben Simmons is currently on the Nets roster and has landed this type of deal, having signed a five-year, $177 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2019.
According to a report by The Athletic, Durant would only want to go on the heat if Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry stayed there. These three will collectively earn around $96 million in the 2022-23 season, making it nearly impossible to match Kevin Durant’s $44.1 million salary for the coming year.
It’s entirely possible that another team in the league would sacrifice everything to get their hands on Kevin Durant, but right now the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors are the two most talked about teams among league executives when it comes to a potential Durant act.
Miami Heat Continues “Big Game Hunt”
With their names tied to the Kevin Durant Sweepstakes, the Miami Heat also monitors the status of other All-Stars in the league. With Bradley Beal off the board after making a long-term commitment with the Washington Wizards on a five-year maximum $251 million contract, league sources say the Heat is “lurking in the shadows” regarding Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell. .
As reported back in May, The Heat would be one team on Mitchell’s wish list of teams he would like to play for if he ever requested a trade from the Jazz, and now with All-Star Rudy Gobert traded on to the Minnesota Timberwolves On Friday, a lot of uncertainty clouds Utah’s immediate future.
While they’ve gotten quite a return from Minnesota for Gobert, nothing the Jazz are bringing back really sends a message that they’re capable of winning and currently contending for a championship.
Malik Beasley and Patrick Beverley are two key secondary talents in a playoff roster, but Jarred Vanderbilt is a young forward who still wants to improve, Leandro Bolmaro has barely played in the NBA since he was drafted in the first round in 2020, and Walker Kessler hasn’t played in an NBA game at all, having been drafted just over a week ago.
While the Jazz is still talking to teams about potential trades affecting the rest of their roster, Donovan Mitchell suddenly finds himself an all-star talent on a team that’s sure to rebuild for at least the next few years.
No all-star talent that will be on the road is left vacant, and unless they want to trade for Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets) or Russell Westbrook (Los Angeles Lakers), the Jazz really don’t have any options when it comes to that Trade another All-Star to pair with Mitchell this offseason.
For now, Donovan Mitchell remains loyal to the Utah Jazz and would like to be their focal point in the future, but sources say some in the Utah front office are considering the idea of a “complete rebuild,” much like the rebuild that the Oklahoma City Thunder did currently going through with all their design abilities and a wealth of youthful talent.
Should they miss out on landing Kevin Durant in a blockbuster trade this summer, it won’t come as a bit of a shock to see the Miami Heat go “all-in” on the trade for the Jazz All-Star guard.
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The Atlanta Hawks took over Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and traded Kevin Huerter to the Sacramento Kings on Friday. They continue to discuss all options in front of them this offseason. John Collins remains a name many in the league are eyeing in trade talks, and for the right price, Atlanta seems poised to keep trading the former first-round pick.
The Hawks believe they can fit into the championship picture in the Eastern Conference after pairing Dejounte Murray with Trae Young in backcourt, which is why they remain aggressive and receptive to any teams that have approached them.
With Danilo Gallinari likely to be released by the San Antonio Spurs in the coming days, sources say the Boston Celtics are front runners to move the veteran forward when he goes on the open market. Gallinari has just wrapped up his 13th season in the league and will likely be another big addition to last season’s NBA Finals runner-up alongside Malcolm Brogdon.
Talk about Kyrie Irving’s future continues across the league as many anticipate the All-Star guard will eventually make his way to the Los Angeles Lakers. How this could happen is unknown, however, as Brooklyn has given no indication that they wish to take Russell Westbrook back in a trade with Los Angeles.
As opposed to working with Kevin Durant on a mutually beneficial trade, the Nets seem to want the best possible return when it comes to a potential Irving trade, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst stated on First take recently: “The networks have no interest in accommodating Kyrie Irving.”
James Harden will re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, taking less money than expected and giving the team the flexibility to surround him and Joel Embiid with the talent necessary to make the Sixers the best team in the Eastern Conference, sources say. The 76ers have already settled with Daniel House Jr. and PJ Tucker in free agency and believe a full season of Harden and Embiid with Harris and Maxey by their side could result in the best record in the NBA.