It’s been two weeks since Kevin Durant reiterated his trade request to Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai in a face-to-face meeting, letting Tsai know that he must choose between his 12-time All-Star player or head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks. It added new dynamism to the biggest storyline of the off-season, an uneasy cloud that began to hang over the franchise when Durant asked Brooklyn on June 30. As far as trade action goes, there is currently no deal closer, but a new admirer has emerged from the Western Conference.
With NBA training camps set to begin in a month’s time, here’s where things stand.
The Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat remain some of the most serious threats to land Durant as they have the kind of pieces needed to meet the Nets’ asking price in a two-time NBA Finals MVP deal. However, no one has yet met Brooklyn’s lofty All-Star price tag, other high-level players, and draft picks — and talks with those three front-runners have been absent of late. The Celtics offered All-Star Jaylen Brown, guard Derrick White and a first-round draft pick in July, according to league sources; the Raptors have refused to make Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes available; and Miami has yet to seriously engage in a package involving All-Star Bam Adebayo.
The Philadelphia 76ers have shown recent interest in Durant, while the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets also inquired with the Nets in late June and early July to gauge the price tag, according to sources. The New Orleans Pelicans also inquired with the Nets on June 30, but deemed All-Star Brandon Ingram untouchable, sources said. Also in the past month, the Atlanta Hawks offered John Collins, De’Andre Hunter and a draft pick for Durant, according to sources.
None of those conversations gained much traction. Durant has four years and $198 million left on his Nets contract.
A major complication of involving logical players in trade negotiations for Durant, such as Utah’s Adebayo and Donovan Mitchell, is that they cannot be traded by Brooklyn with Ben Simmons on the list due to established rookie extension rules.
Recently, a new team has expressed interest in Durant: the Memphis Grizzlies, league sources say the athletic. Fresh off a 56-win season, the Grizzlies have been asking the Nets new questions about Durant, those sources added. Memphis has five first-round draft picks available (four own unprotected selections and one protected through Golden State in 2024) to theoretically use in a trade, as well as young players such as Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, Kennedy Chandler and David Roddy.
Moments later the athletic reported that Durant had requested a transaction in June, a tweet from Grizzlies star Ja Morant drew a lot of attention due to its clear pro-Durant sentiment.
Grizzlies executive vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman, the NBA’s reigning Executive of the Year, has done a masterful job building the team’s foundation around All-NBA star Morant and a strong supporting cast while securing resources. for the present and the future. The Grizzlies will not include Jackson or Bane in a potential offer for Durant, sources said, but rather a package built around their bevy of draft picks.
The Phoenix Suns have similarly dangled a package around All-Defensive wing Mikal Bridges and a handful of first-round draft picks, who haven’t gained steam with the Nets, league sources said. With Deandre Ayton signed a contract for up to four years and can’t be moved until January, Phoenix has spent the past month trying to make creative proposals to Brooklyn, possibly through three or four-team deals where an All-Star player goes to the nets. But the Suns have yet to find a suitable deal — which is largely why they appear to be behind Boston, Toronto and Miami in the Durant sweepstakes.
Among interested teams, the Celtics are seen throughout the league as the clear answer as the team that has the makings of a deal with Brooklyn. For now, Boston has not included security guard Marcus Smart or center Robert Williams in any proposal, sources said. The Celtics have up to three first-round rosters available to trade to Brooklyn. When Brooklyn turned down Boston’s offer last month, the Nets responded by asking Brown, Smart, draft picks and possibly one more rotation player, according to sources.
So yes, Boston has the necessary pieces and Brooklyn has listened, but there is a gap.
For the Celtics, there is a careful balance between improving their roster and maintaining their current status as a championship contender. President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens has patiently and deftly continued to bolster the Celtics’ roster after their NBA Finals berth, adding Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari this offseason.
Will Boston now raise the asking price of the Nets to add in a potentially missing piece that has become available in a way rarely seen in NBA history? We’ll have to wait.
There’s just over a month left in the NBA offseason. The Celtics and other teams looking for Durant have time to make their best proposals and these deals could escalate quickly, but the clock is ticking for everyone involved.
Should no team intensify its pursuit and match Brooklyn’s price tag, Durant has limited options other than to report to Nets’ training camp. However, across the NBA, people are wondering if the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer, who will be 34 when the season starts, will be in training camp if a transaction isn’t completed.
In recent NBA memory, there have been several routes for stars requesting trades. Some have returned to their respective teams and finished the season. Elsewhere, it took Simmons until the February trade deadline to be traded last season when he staged a no-show in training camp and ended up not playing for the Philadelphia 76ers after the 2020-21 season ended. Jimmy Butler and James Harden, meanwhile, were traded within the first month of the season when dissatisfied, in an uneasy environment, and reported playing with Minnesota and Houston in 2018 and 2020 respectively.
For their part, the Nets believe that they have improved the roster and have a championship-level team. The Nets traded for Royce O’Neale, signed TJ Warren and brought back Patty Mills and Nic Claxton while expecting the full return of three-time All-Star Simmons and Joe Harris. All-Star Kyrie Irving also opted for his $37 million player option, committed to the 2022-23 season in Brooklyn, and sources with knowledge of the situation say he has been working with teammates this off-season and engaged in constructive dialogue with the organization. Brooklyn has made it clear to interested teams that they intend to keep the seven-time All-Star, sources said. The Nets were without Simmons and Harris for most of last season, including their playoff series against Boston, but both will give a significant boost to the campaign ahead.
Simmons has been cleared for three-on-three basketball activities after back surgery in May, and he is on track to be cleared of full five-on-five activities in the coming weeks, league sources say. The Nets and Simmons expect him to be ready for training camp by the end of September.
For now, however, the stalemate of the team with its biggest star continues.
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The latest on Donovan Mitchell’s trade talks
The Jazz and Knicks are in talks about a transaction that would send Donovan Mitchell to New York, sources say. A deal is not yet considered imminent, but the Knicks are motivated to take over Mitchell and have introduced new packages to Utah’s new front office headed by CEO Danny Ainge.
New York made a recent offer from Evan Fournier, Obi Toppin, extra salary and two unprotected first round draft picks (five in all), league sources tell me and the athleticis Tony Jones. The Jazz’s asking price was more important than that.
Mitchell has three guaranteed years left on his contract, which will allow the Jazz to include him in the upcoming campaign and take a patient approach to trade talks. The Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards were also among the teams interested in Mitchell, sources said.
Celtics signs Valentine for training camp
The Celtics and free agent guard/striker Denzel Valentine have agreed to an Exhibit 10 training camp, sources said. Valentine will compete for one of the Celtics’ open roster spots in training camp.
Timeline: What has happened since Kevin Durant’s trade request?
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