December 9, 2022

Nets trying to trade Kevin Durant but deal not imminent: report

FILE – Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant is shown during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center, Sunday, Apr. 10, 2022, in New York. Durant has requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, according to a person with direct knowledge of the seismic decision that will undoubtedly have teams scrambling to put together enormous offers for the perennial All-Star. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) (Seth Wenig, File, AP Photo)

There has been no traction on any Kevin Durant trade now more than two-and-a-half weeks removed from his June 30 request for the Nets to deal him to one of his preferred destinations.

The latest updates from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski don’t provide much new information: The Nets want the kitchen sink, the stove and oven, the refrigerator, the island and the floorboards in any deal for the two-time NBA Finals MVP, and most teams have been unwilling to meet Brooklyn’s asking price because doing so could very well remove them from championship contention after acquiring Durant in a trade.

Which means the Nets and Durant could be in stalemate territory: It’s unclear if Durant would consider rescinding his trade request and returning to Brooklyn amicably. If he is firm in his request out of Brooklyn, this situation could drag into September training camp. Remember: The Rockets infamously dragged James Harden’s trade request into the regular season before Harden made things awkward in media availabilities. Houston eventually conceded and traded Harden to Brooklyn.

But it cost the Nets immensely: Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince were involved in the Harden deal, as were the rights to every recognizable draft pick through 2026. Rudy Gobert’s trade to Minnesota and Dejounte Murray’s trade to Atlanta reset the trade market. Few if any teams have the resources to pull off a deal for Durant and still have the pieces to compete for a championship.

“Brooklyn has an owner in Joe Tsai who, in my sense, is not interested in taking a diminished trade package to just move [Kevin Durant] on,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s Get Up on Monday. “And I think as long as you have an owner committed to getting the type of trade package you want, you can play this out over time, and that’s my sense in Brooklyn.”

Woj also said the Miami Heat remain “a very motivated team” in the Durant sweepstakes, but a deal with Miami remains complicated and would likely require two additional teams because as long as Ben Simmons is on Brooklyn’s roster, the Nets cannot acquire Bam Adebayo (or Donovan Mitchell) due to the collective bargaining agreement rules on players who sign rookie max contract extensions.

Durant’s path to Phoenix, which the Daily News reported was his preferred trade destination, has also been complicated now that the Suns have matched Deandre Ayton’s $133M offer sheet, the largest in NBA history. Now that Phoenix has matched Indiana’s offer, the Suns cannot trade Ayton until Jan. 15, cannot trade him to Indiana for a year, and cannot trade him anywhere without his consent.

The Toronto Raptors have been unwilling to trade reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in a deal for Durant, which is a nonstarter for Brooklyn.

“There are still other teams out there,” Wojnarowski said. “There’s no deal imminent for Brooklyn, but they are still trying to find a trade for Durant.”

The risk, however, comes into play the closer the Nets creep toward training camp, and on Monday, the team announced its four-game, early-October preseason schedule: Oct. 3 in Brooklyn against James Harden, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers; Oct. 6 in Brooklyn against the Miami Heat; Oct. 12 in Milwaukee against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks; and Oct. 14 in Minnesota against Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves.

Is Durant the type of player who, when met with an unrealized trade request, will pull a Ben Simmons? Will Durant no-show training camp? Will he hold-out and put pressure on the Nets front office to move him?

And will opposing teams weaken their offers if this situation becomes more toxic when all parties return from vacation to kickstart the season in Brooklyn?

The longer the Nets wait to strike a deal, the more prone they become to getting off to a poor start to the season if a disgruntled star is in a city he no longer wants to represent.

JOB NOT FINISHED

The Nets are not finished building their roster, even if Durant was to stay. Brooklyn acquired TJ Warren and Edmond Sumner in free agency and traded a 2023 first-round pick to Utah for three-and-D wing Royce O’Neale, but the Nets still have their taxpayer mid-level exception available.

That mid-level exception is worth a maximum of $20M over a three-year deal and can be split between multiple free agents. As it stands, Brooklyn’s biggest remaining need is depth at the center and at the point guard spot with Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic both leaving for the Chicago Bulls.