The possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers landing Kyrie Irving becomes realistic again.
The league-wide offseason chatter about a potential Brooklyn Nets roster explosion had mostly dissipated since Kyrie Irving picked up his $36.5 million player option Monday afternoon – when until Kevin Durant requested for a trade away from the Nets come Thursday, roughly three hours prior the start of the free-agent negotiating period.
While the league briefly rumbled about potential Irving and Durant trade scenarios Monday—with the Durant trade being a perceived possibility if Irving chose to opt out and join the Lakers—two teams were often repeated to Bleacher Report by league figures as the All-NBA forward’s preferred destinations: the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat.
Brooklyn did not entertain rival inquiries for Durant earlier this week, sources told B/R, but Nets personnel made it clear Brooklyn’s asking price would be massive in the event Durant ever did request to be moved. If Dejounte Murray drew two unprotected first-round picks, plus a third first rounder and an additional pick swap.
How much should Durant be worth on that scale?
Whatever the outcome, there will be many moving parts, and this transaction could very well become one of the largest blockbusters the NBA has ever seen.
In spite of Irving’s recommitment to Brooklyn, league sources continued to whisper about Irving’s mutual desire to reunite with LeBron James in Los Angeles this week. For that to happen anytime soon, the Lakers would likely need to find a third or even fourth team that would be willing to absorb Russell Westbrook’s $47.1 million salary and still find players to compensate Brooklyn for Irving.
Now, perhaps Irving could find a way to Los Angeles, while the Nets explore every option on their roster.
“This gives the Lakers their best chance at Kyrie,” one team cap strategist said.
From Brooklyn’s viewpoint, sources said, there is no deal to land Durant in Phoenix that does not start with sending back Devin Booker to Barclays Center. The Suns, of course, would likely hold the line firm. Nevertheless, early indications are the Nets brass is not particularly inclined to take a sign-and-trade that brings back restricted free agent Deandre Ayton.
Therefore, if Brooklyn’s best offer does come from Miami, that would likely indicate Simmons would need to find a new destination.
As far as Miami, Brooklyn’s request would likewise start with Bam Adebayo. But taking back either Adebyo or Booker would open up a whole new can of worms. As first mentioned by Keith Smith of Spotrac, Brooklyn could not acquire Adebayo or Booker and retain Ben Simmons, as league rules prohibit teams from rostering two designated rookie-scale-contract players acquired via trade.
Elsewhere around the league, name a potential trade partner, pick their best player under 30 years old and see where an offer for Durant would have to start. The Anthony Davis package New Orleans landed from Los Angeles in 2019 would be the closest benchmark in recent memory.
The only team that NBA sources with knowledge of the situation have indicated is not a tangible option for Durant is Golden State. In addition, the Warriors likely do not have a package of win-now pieces that would strike Brooklyn’s interest anyhow.
The Nets will not be required to acquiesce to Durant’s desired landing spots, either. They will listen across the league, and Brooklyn will assuredly look for one of the largest compensation packages for a superstar in NBA history. Moreover, as sources told, the Nets will continue to conduct business with a goal of contending for a championship.
“More than half”… of NBA Teams have reportedly called the Brooklyn Nets about acquiring KD, according to the latest news.
Durant, a 12-time All-Star and four-time scoring champion, averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists for the Nets last season.
The 15-year NBA veteran is also a two-time NBA champion; two-time NBA Finals MVP and three-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA.
It is no surprise the Nets are receiving plenty of calls about one of the game’s superstars.
Durant considers the Phoenix Suns, who sported the league’s best record last season, a “preferred trade destination,”
While, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported the Miami Heat are on Durant’s list as well.