The biggest domino of the NBA offseason is still standing. Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is still with the team despite his trade request ahead of free agency. Durant has four years left on the contract he signed but he has clearly had enough of Brooklyn’s drama.
It’s not clear exactly what drove Durant to make this decision, but it’s safe to assume the organization pulling Kyrie Irving’s contract extension off the table was part of it. The Nets, to be fair, have acquiesced to Durant’s every desire outside of the Irving contract. According to Chris Haynes, Durant named the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat as his preferred destinations. Haynes also reported Durant has not been in communication with other players around the league who have inquired about his mindset and thought process. Here’s where things stand at the moment.
The Suns were forced to make a decision on Deandre Ayton when he signed an offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers, throwing a major wrench into their plans for Durant. Ayton would’ve likely been a centerpiece of any Durant trade, but Phoenix matched his offer sheet and he can’t be traded until the in-season deadline. That means Phoenix has to come up with a large amount of salary without including Ayton, Chris Paul or Devin Booker. Mikal Bridges is the natural centerpiece of a Durant trade now but the Nets are going to need more. And Durant might not want to join Phoenix without its best defender. The Heat can’t offer much in a Durant trade, but they will come close in terms of salaries.
Two other teams to watch are the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans. Both have better players to offer (Scottie Barnes and Brandon Ingram) than Phoenix and Miami, and both have draft capital to fill out a trade package. Durant doesn’t want to go there, but he doesn’t have much of a say in Brooklyn’s decision.
The Nets appear to be trying to resolve the issue and believe they can bring Durant back to camp, where things will eventually work themselves out. We’ll see if that happens, but the Nets don’t have a firm deadline when it comes to moving Durant. He’s under contract for four years, and the Nets can deal him at any point in that span. This could be a truly lengthy trade process.