In the final hours of the NBA trade deadline on February 10, the Brooklyn Nets sent All-Stars James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers, and in exchange, they received Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond. The Nets also received two first-round draft picks from the Sixers, acquiring their unprotected 2022 first-round pick, (which they elected to defer to 2023) and a top-8-protected 2027 first-round pick.
The Nets made the trade for Simmons with the expectation that he would play for them for at least some portion of the regular season and definitely with the expectation that he would suit up in the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, neither of those things came to fruition.
And after letting their forward Bruce Brown walk in free agency, and testing the trade market for Kyrie Irving, in addition to Kevin Durant’s trade request, it appears the Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks could have a rebuild in mind. NBA Insider Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports says that the Nets have also poked around on a Ben Simmons trade to the Utah Jazz.
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Nets to Command ‘Utterly Absurd’ Package for Durant
A Simmons trade to Utah wouldn’t be the first splash that the Jazz have made during this free agency period. On July 1, they traded their All-Star center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a gargantuan amount of first-round picks, including their 2022 first-rounder, Walker Kessler. Liam McKeone of “The Big Lead” says because of that trade between the Timberwolves and Jazz, the Nets are likely to demand an “utterly absurd” amount of capital in exchange for Durant.
“If the Timberwolves ponied up that much draft capital and talent for Gobert, nothing will stop the Nets from demanding an utterly absurd package for their superstar. We’re talking about another superstar-level talent to go along with six or more picks as the baseline here. That isn’t really news, per se, but seeing what Gobert went for really puts into perspective how much the Nets can reasonably ask for Durant,” McKeone writes.
“And that might stop any trade talks in its tracks. There is no team in the NBA that could field a half-decent roster if that’s the price to acquire Durant.”
Timberwolves Made Calls About Durant Before Gobert Trade
Durant is one of the best talents to enter the NBA, and with him officially on the trade block, teams are lining up to win the sweepstakes for his services. While the Nets are expected to honor his trade request, multiple reports have suggested that Tsai and Marks do not intend on doing Durant any favors in a potential deal.The Nets want the best trade possible for their superstar, and with KD set to enter the first year of a 4-year/$198 Million max extension in the 2022-23 season, Brooklyn is not obligated to move him.
John Krawczynski of “The Athletic” says that before making the trade with the Jazz for Gobert, the Timberwolves tested the waters on a potential deal for Durant. However, nothing materialized as Minnesota remained firm in their stance not to trade their All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns or their breakout star Anthony Edwards.
“The Wolves also made several calls to Brooklyn on Kevin Durant, sources said, but the Nets were asking for established All-Stars and a mountain of picks,” Krawczynski writes. “Minnesota was unwilling to part with either Edwards or Towns in a KD-centered deal, so there was no traction. Had they gotten more aggressive with San Antonio in talks for Dejounte Murray, they could have outbid Atlanta. But they didn’t, making it clear that they always valued Gobert more.”
It appears that if the Nets are going to lose Durant this offseason they are willing to break their franchise down to the buds and prepare for a full-on rebuild. It could be a decision they regret for years to come.