After six weeks of hot air, we’re proper back where we started. Kevin Durant isn’t getting traded this summer. Move alongside, nothing to see right here.
So, uh … now what? And by the best way, how did we find yourself right here once more?

In the tip, I don’t assume the Rudy Gobert commerce was what made it so onerous for Brooklyn to maneuver Durant. Yes, the truth that Minnesota was keen to (over)pay so much for Gobert was a complicating issue, one which stoked the Nets to begin negotiations by asking for the moon.

But in the end, the true problem was that the Nets weren’t keen to rebuild. Trading Durant would have been comparatively uncomplicated if the Nets had related targets to the Jazz, trying to max out on draft fairness whereas sacrificing short-term wins. Alas, with Houston proudly owning the Nets’ subsequent 5 drafts, that choice was by no means practical. Even a one-year tank, which I alluded to earlier this summer, would have been a troublesome dance step to execute.

Instead, Brooklyn needed to stay aggressive, and the way precisely do you do this whereas buying and selling a 33-year-old All-Star on the similar time? As it seems, you don’t. The solely pathway was to ask for any individual nearly pretty much as good as Durant plus a complete bunch of different goodies on high, and no person got here near assembly that worth. Forget groups buying and selling their greatest participant for Durant. The solely group we all know of that was keen to commerce its second-best participant was Boston. Once the Nets deemed Jaylen Brown an insufficient return, there was no chance of a trade.

With no clear pathway to becoming a member of one other contending group and a holdout looming as his solely leverage level, Durant made peace with the Nets in a not-awkward-at-all assembly with the coach and GM whose firing he recently demanded. He’ll be a Brooklyn Net this 12 months in spite of everything…

… Or will he? This isn’t essentially over, in fact; we’ve seen too many Dwightmares rekindle from embers to declare this hearth extinguished. But for the needs of the 2022 offseason, the most important domino simply fell. There will probably be no Durant commerce, a minimum of till Deandre Ayton is trade-eligible in January (geese).

In flip, meaning a number of NBA enterprise that had been locked in a holding sample till a Durant commerce can now be accomplished. Several groups had pressed pause on any potential transfer whereas they waited to see how the Durant saga performed out, together with the Nets. With that out of the best way, among the remainder of the summer time’s unfinished enterprise might regain momentum between now and the opening of coaching camps in 5 weeks.

Here are some things to maintain your eye on as the times get shorter:

The Kyrie Irving non-situation

The largest knock-on consequence of Durant burying the hatchet (after first eradicating it from his GM’s again) is that Irving is now all however sure to stay a Net as properly. There had been constant hypothesis {that a} Durant commerce would additionally outcome within the Nets trying to transfer Irving, particularly if they might get two unprotected first-round picks from the Lakers as a part of the deal. That no longer appears to be on the table.

Irving’s long-term state of affairs stays unsettled. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and whereas the Nets might probably signal him to an extension to take that chance off the desk, they’ll probably wish to see some tangible proof of improved reliability from Irving earlier than chopping that test. (For his half, Irving might earn more money if he has an All-Star season and waits till summer time.) As a lot because the Durant state of affairs dominates the current, the Irving state of affairs might develop into far more outstanding for Brooklyn within the close to future.

The Lakers’ Westbrook state of affairs

L.A.’s desperate attempt to move on from Russell Westbrook simply bought much more sophisticated. The worth the market has demanded in nearly any Westbrook deal is the Lakers’ unprotected first-round picks in each 2027 and 2029. That was maybe acceptable if Irving was coming again in return to reunite with LeBron James. For a non-All-Star, although, that’s a bitter capsule to swallow.

Now, alas, the Lakers are taking a look at a area of accessible gamers who’re a lot much less scintillating than Irving. Does a combination of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner transfer the needle sufficient to justify the worth of two unprotected firsts? (Narrator voice: No.) Is there some strategy to cut up the infant in order that the Lakers solely give up a kind of picks? Not probably with the paucity of property on the remainder of the roster.

It could also be onerous to remain affected person with the candle burning out on LeBron James’ prime. However, it nonetheless appears from this nook that the Lakers’ best choice is to journey with Russ till the commerce deadline, as uncomfortable as which may be. By then, his expiring contract will probably be seen as much less poisonous, and thus the price of shifting it much less onerous.

Nonetheless, count on the conversations to warmth up within the coming days. Irving being off the desk simply put a number of different choices again on it.

Indiana and Utah fireplace gross sales

Speaking of the Pacers, the subtraction of the Durant endgame ought to kick much more spice into the commerce motion for the remaining high quality veterans on their roster, in addition to the Jazz’s. While Utah’s largest domino (Donovan Mitchell) remains something of an obstacle in the case of the Jazz, there is no such thing as a cause they need to wait on his endgame earlier than shifting on offers to ship out vets corresponding to Bojan Bogdanović, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley and Mike Conley.

Or … say, Patrick Beverley, whose title was in my first draft of this column earlier than he was traded to the Lakers late Wednesday. That commerce, for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson, was the primary post-Durant domino to fall however looks as if it would simply be the start.

For occasion, the Lakers would possibly think about eventualities the place they give up one thing lower than the 2 first-round picks famous above, together with Westbrook, to take again a package deal corresponding to Bogdanović and Conley.

Miami’s quest for an influence ahead

As lengthy as Durant talked about Miami as a hoped-for touchdown spot, the Heat have been a minimum of going to maintain their choices open to accumulate him. Durant additionally would have stuffed probably the most obtrusive gap on the roster, an empty spot on the 4 now that P.J. Tucker left in free company.

Subtracting Durant eventualities makes it extra believable the Heat would possibly handle this spot in one other approach, particularly with the Duncan Robinson or Kyle Lowry contracts that will have been key to any Durant swap. It’s not onerous to see the Heat and Jazz getting on the cellphone, as an illustration, to debate Robinson for both Bogdanović or Beasley. The probably price can be Miami’s 2023 first-round decide, which the Heat is likely to be extra keen to relinquish as soon as Durant (and, um, Mitchell) potentialities vanish from their board.

Toronto’s apron dance

When I questioned on Twitter a week ago why the Raptors hadn’t but signed second-round decide Christian Koloko, reader Anil Gogna made a good point. Signing Koloko for greater than two years or greater than the minimal would come out of the Raptors’ midlevel exception cash, which, when mixed with the $6 million already spent on Otto Porter, would then set off the luxury-tax apron. That apron is irrelevant for the Raptors in the intervening time however might shortly develop into an issue in the event that they have been taking again extra wage than they despatched out in a Durant commerce.

Well, scratch that concern from the record. Toronto can go forward and signal Koloko and never fear about potential KD ramifications as a result of there aren’t any. (The Raptors can use their biannual exception too if there’s anyone left on the free-agent market who’s value it.)

More typically, minus Durant eventualities, the Raps can maybe extra readily dip into their asset pool — one that features all their very own future first-round picks — to shore up a few of their different weaknesses.

For occasion, Thaddeus Young and Khem Birch are trade-eligible, and pairing both with Svi Mykhailiuk and Malachi Flynn (and a future decide, in fact) lets the Raptors take again most middle-class salaries. Could Clarkson be a match right here behind Fred VanVleet? Beasley, maybe? Or might they pivot from “Project 6-8” and make the leap on a rim-protecting middle in Turner, playing they’ll re-sign him subsequent summer time? Without Durant-maybes lurking within the background, it’s a lot simpler to ascertain these alternate endgames.

Brooklyn’s personal roster

Last however not least, the Durant decision permits Brooklyn to proceed attacking its personal offseason, one thing that principally floor to a halt in early July together with his commerce demand. Aside from that wee little bit of drama, the Nets really had a good offseason. They traded for 3-and-D wing Royce O’Neale, nabbed T.J. Warren as a high-upside reclamation venture and re-signed Patty Mills, Nic Claxton and Kessler Edwards.

They’re not accomplished, although, not with a minimum of two open roster spots. In explicit, now that Durant and Irving are staying round, the Nets can determine what to do about their paucity of choices within the center. With Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo looming as potential playoff opponents, Brooklyn strains up with a middle combo of (gulp) … Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe.

Playing Ben Simmons as a small-ball 5 is one doable choice to absorb middle minutes, however the Nets want some actual beef too. Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge stay unsigned, and the Nets may also take a look at bruising plodders corresponding to DeMarcus Cousins, Tristan Thompson, Dwight Howard or Embiid’s BFF Hassan Whiteside.

Bigger image, you surprise if that is an space that requires the Nets to do some in-season work to get a extra playoff-valuable improve. Mills and Seth Curry, most notably, appear considerably redundant, so it’s straightforward to think about one being packaged for a giant.


Related studying

Amick: Durant-Nets reconciliation was always the right call
Schiffer: Five things to watch going forward in Brooklyn
Harper: Winners and losers of Durant-Nets saga

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(Top picture: Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)



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