Two days in the past, famous person ahead Kevin Durant demanded a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.

Oh, you’ve heard?

As others have already touched upon, there’s a lot to unpack right here. One of Durant’s most popular locations, Miami, appears extremely unrealistic for causes that our Sam Amick explored here. Formulating a direct commerce to ship him to his different goal vacation spot, Phoenix, has related problems that we chewed over two days ago.

Additionally, there’s the attitude from Brooklyn. “What do the Nets actually want out of this?” is a query that maybe isn’t being requested sufficient. With the Houston Rockets controlling Brooklyn’s subsequent 5 drafts on account of the bounty despatched out within the James Harden commerce, and with Nets proprietor Joe Tsai having sugar-plum visions of Warriors-like revenues, this doesn’t really feel like a tanking situation. Thursday’s commerce of a future first-round decide for defensive stopper Royce O’Neale bolstered that time.

Yes, the Nets will demand draft picks to assist rebuild their stockpile and, maybe, use in future trades. But their largest hope from a Durant commerce would doubtless be actual, precise basketball gamers who might help them win video games proper now. The hoped-for haul of two All-Stars in all probability isn’t taking place, except it comes with a particularly broad definition of “All-Star” (I can simply think about the Knicks calling up and saying “hey, we’ll give you Julius Randle and Derrick Rose!”), however one All-Star-caliber participant and one good participant in his 20s doesn’t sound loopy.

Or does it? One of the important thing issues with Brooklyn’s hope for an Anthony Davis-type commerce haul is the truth that Durant is already 33 years outdated. Yes, he’s signed for 4 extra years, which is an incredible benefit for the receiving crew, however it’s not lifelike to count on him to be the “best player on a contender”-level good for greater than two of them. Trading for Durant is a pure win-now transfer, whereas buying and selling for a 26-year-old Davis provided each win-now and win-later home windows. On the opposite hand, that didn’t cease Minnesota from successfully dropping 5 firsts for Rudy Gobert; that doubtless will set a better bar for Durant trades.

The different, ultimate issue right here is Durant’s happiness in his ultimate vacation spot. For a participant with 4 years left on his deal to submit a wish checklist with solely two groups on it’s fairly unrealistic. This isn’t a Davis-type leverage play the place he’d depart for nothing a 12 months later if the Pelicans didn’t deal him straight away. Brooklyn goes to take calls from different groups (many, many different groups), and at the very least a pair will hope they’ll persuade Durant to offer their metropolis a strive.

Also lurking within the background is the Kyrie Irving query. Surely the Nets are buying and selling him, too, after he spent the final three seasons laying waste to every little thing they’d constructed from the ashes of the disastrous Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett commerce. While one end result appears massively extra doubtless than the remainder (to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook and picks, maybe with Joe Harris and Kendrick Nunn thrown in to even wage), the Nets can have the approaching return from an Irving deal behind their minds as they strategize Durant trades.

With all that mentioned, I’ve pored over the league and the cap sheets, and I solely see 5 lifelike locations for Durant to finish up. That doesn’t imply solely 5 groups can be calling Brooklyn. Surely each crew within the league is at the very least asking some questions on what it might take, and it’s enjoyable for followers of, say, the Pelicans or Grizzlies to think about Durant of their uniform.

Not that we’re not tapping these entrance workplace’s cellphone traces. While I’ve guessed at what could be a practical payout for every crew, there may be going to be a number of haggling backwards and forwards on a deal of this measurement, significantly over draft picks and protections.

The tough Phoenix deal

This one is out right here for so long as Deandre Ayton stays unsigned, however there are a number of problems.

For starters, an precise direct commerce with Phoenix will get tripped up nearly instantly by two bits of wage cap arcana: first, that the Nets are too far previous the luxurious tax apron to take again Ayton in a sign-and-trade; and second, that Ayton’s “base-year” standing prevents Phoenix from taking again all of his first-year wage as a match.

The Nets, for what it’s price, appeared to actively rain in on the Ayton parade with their different strikes in free company. Adding O’Neale and paying Nic Claxton starting-center degree cash makes it harder to remain under the apron in an Ayton sign-and-trade, and likewise removes a few of their motivation so as to add him.

This is why one other kind of Ayton deal now appears the extra doubtless end-game: One the place the Suns commerce Ayton to get Durant, however to not the Nets. A 3-way Ayton-Durant commerce is massively easier as a result of it takes the apron out of play. Obviously, the Utah Jazz could be the important thing middleman right here after just trading Rudy Gobert to Minnesota.

Phoenix would nonetheless be sure by the “base-year” rule relating to Ayton trades, but when we assume a beginning wage for Ayton within the $25-27 million vary, the Suns may get to a wage match on Durant by including about $22 million in wage along with Ayton. They may do it with both Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, or with Jae Crowder, Cameron Payne and Cam Johnson. To do that similar transfer and skirt the luxurious tax, Phoenix may add Landry Shamet to the deal.

Here’s the place it will get enjoyable. Utah can pull off this deal by folding the Gobert commerce and this one right into a single megadeal, the place they purchase Ayton, ship a few of the draft fairness they acquired from Minnesota to the Suns, and ship out one other $15-20 million in wage (Say, Bojan Bogdanovic, or Mike Conley, or certainly one of Malik Beasley or Patrick Beverley and Rudy Gay).

The haggling of who will get what out of this may be fairly intense. The Nets would ask for first-rounders and decide swaps from Phoenix, whereas the Suns would ask the identical of the Jazz. The scrumptious prospect of the first-rounder decide the Nets despatched out to Utah for O’Neale boomeranging all the way in which again to them lurks within the distance. Regardless of the way it performs out, Phoenix would doubtless be surrendering a similar draft pick haul to the Gobert deal (firsts in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029) to get this performed. For a crew this shut, it’s price it.

Meanwhile, the gamers within the deal nonetheless matter. Suns would attempt to dangle on to Bridges, however I can’t see the Nets doing this deal with out him. At some level, the events would doubtless ttry to rope in San Antonio or Orlando to take a contract or two (Shamet, Gay and Torrey Craig loom as prospects).

Some of you would possibly marvel right here about Donovan Mitchell being within the deal because the piece going again to Brooklyn. Don’t maintain your breath. Mitchell can’t go to Brooklyn so long as Ben Simmons is a Net, on account of an obscure CBA provision that forestalls a single crew from having two “designated rookie” contracts that each had been acquired by commerce.

The Miami megadeal

Trading Durant to his different most popular selection, Miami, is equally sophisticated. For starters, Durant desires to go there to play with Jimmy Butler, to not be traded for him. Second, Bam Adebayo can’t be a part of a commerce so long as Ben Simmons is a Net, on account of that very same CBA provision on “designated rookie” offers that scuppered our Mitchell eventualities above.

There is a method round this, nonetheless: Put Simmons within the commerce. I doubt Miami desires him, however powerful noogies. If you need Durant, that is what it’s important to take with him. Simmons could be Miami’s DeAndre Jordan.

If that’s the case, then all of a sudden we will get to Miami trades that truly work. How about one the place Miami sends out Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, two unprotected firsts (2023 and 2028) and three picks decide swaps (2024, 2027, and 2029) for Durant, Simmons and Seth Curry?

It nonetheless appears tough. The Heat would possibly argue they don’t want to incorporate this a lot draft fairness, and would certainly search for eventualities to keep away from together with Adebayo in any respect. Since these eventualities principally don’t exist, it may be a conservation-ender. Even if it wasn’t, Simmons would develop into a man the Heat needed to rely on — yikes — they usually wouldn’t have a middle.

But they might have Kevin Durant.

The Laker double function

Durant by no means put the Lakers on his vacation spot checklist, and you may see why once we discuss “legacy” considerations. Post-Golden State, I’m unsure he’s involved in going to a different place the place he’d be perceived as using any individual else’s coattails.

On the opposite hand, if he’s using with Kyrie, that is the one place the place they’ll maintain using. And one can argue that with LeBron James getting on in years, it’s nonetheless an opportunity for Durant to stamp it as “his” crew.

How wouldn’t it work? There’s actually just one manner: by sending Anthony Davis to the Nets. This is the one finest participant Brooklyn may get in any lifelike Durant commerce situation, and he’s signed for 2 extra years. Brooklyn has to at the very least give it some thought, proper? The total bundle could be Davis, Russell Westbrook, unprotected firsts in 2027 and 2029, decide swaps in 2026 and 2028, 4 second-round picks and Max Christie, for Irving and Durant.

You can poke holes on this one fairly simply, beginning with the ensuing crew in L.A. having no person to play heart besides James (and, um, Damien Jones), and the return maybe nonetheless being underwhelming for the Nets in comparison with another offers on the desk. It appears so much much less doubtless than the Phoenix eventualities above, particularly, and one situation under that we’re about to get to. But we will’t rule it out.

The Kawhi combo

Let us recall that on Kawhi Leonard’s free-agent tour in 2019, his first name to crew up with a wingman wasn’t to Paul George … it was to Kevin Durant.

Could Durant abdomen becoming a member of “Kawhi’s team” with the Clippers, realizing that he’d be part of a top-notch group with an elite wingman and have a practical probability at burnishing his legacy with a couple of extra rings? That he may say he’d led the once-mocked Paper Clips to their first ring?

Unlike a few of the above eventualities, the phrases of a commerce listed here are hammer-to-the-head apparent: Paul George goes again to the Nets, permitting them to reside one other day. Like Davis above, he has two years left on his deal. Brooklyn may doubtless get a couple of extra concerns from the Clippers, including Terance Mann, Brandon Boston, a 2028 unprotected first, and swaps in 2027 and 2029. Maybe they may stuff a Norm Powell-for-Joe Harris swap into the deal as properly.

Whatever the ultimate value, the Clippers ought to completely be blowing up the Nets’ telephones about George-Durant offers (after which vociferously denying it publicly, after all). George is actually good; Durant is an all-timer. Come June, that distinction issues. For a crew that’s as all-in because it will get, this commerce is the final word all-in cherry on prime.


Would Pascal Siakam or Scottie Barnes be included in a deal for Durant? (Brad Penner / USA Today)

The Northern Exposure

Of all of the non-Phoenix locations, nonetheless, the one which appears essentially the most lifelike is Toronto. The Raptors have a number of attention-grabbing items, plentiful choices for wage matching, personal all their future picks, and are unafraid to spend into the tax for a winner.

The query: Where is the road for the Raptors? Is it price surrendering Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes? I’ll go along with “hell no” on that one, truly, because the Raptors could be buying and selling a decade-plus window with Barnes for a short-term supernova with Durant. Keeping Barnes, alternatively, is the factor that will make surrendering a ton of future draft fairness for Durant palatable.

Toronto can nonetheless construct a very robust bundle, even with out Barnes or a zillion firsts, in the event that they’re prepared to incorporate two of Pascal Siakam, Fred Van Vleet and OG Anunoby. But I’m guessing in the event that they’re going all-in round Durant, they’d moderately solely embrace certainly one of them.

If that’s the case, the choices slender. A swap of Siakam – an All-NBA participant signed for 2 extra years — and Gary Trent, Jr. for Durant and Joe Harris would nonetheless doubtless require important draft fairness (say, three firsts and two picks swaps), however we’d be in the appropriate ballpark.

Anunoby is the opposite possibility that might make sense; he’s not so good as Siakam however is youthful and has a extra favorable contract. His wage is low sufficient that the match turns into extra problematic; Toronto would doubtless want so as to add each Trent and Khem Birch in that case and never take again Harris. Which gamers would the Nets worth extra between Siakam and Anunoby? For that matter, which one do the Raptors worth extra enjoying subsequent to Durant? I believe Siakam is the Nets’ reply and Anunoby is the Raptors’ reply, which is why I believe the Siakam formulation is a little more doubtless.

Again, all this can require some haggling between the Nets and Raptors. But the sheer proven fact that there are such a lot of potential Toronto commerce outcomes that could possibly be palatable to the Nets has to make this feature considerably attention-grabbing. Durant didn’t have Toronto on his authentic checklist, however being The Man for a complete nation definitely is a legacy transfer, and he’ll have a rising wingman subsequent to him in Barnes. He ought to be persuadable.

(Photo of Bam Adebayo and Kevin Durant: Eric Espada / Getty Images)



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