The Brooklyn Nets (32-20) are just getting started according to reports in the immediate aftermath of trading away star guard Kyrie Irving. All eyes are on Kevin Durant even after the Nets acquired “win-now” pieces in Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith in addition to draft capital.
Marc Stein of The Stein Line reported that the Nets “have not ruled out” possibly moving Dinwiddie to further bolster their roster in hopes of keeping Durant happy. What’s more, Ian Begley of SportsNet New York reports the Nets have already made contact with one potential trade partner, though Durant’s name is not mentioned.
“One thing worth noting here: the Nets, in their conversations on Kyrie Irving, members of the organization have also touched base with Toronto about a subsequent deal,” Begley said. “So, maybe that’s something that could be in play here as the trade deadline approaches.”
Toronto was a team linked to Durant during his trade demand this past offseason and has made several key pieces available for trade.
There is mutual interest in some of the potential pieces involved.
“One of the teams Brooklyn has been most connected to is the Raptors, who have had trade talks with multiple teams involving Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby,” writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. “The Raptors had interest in Simmons in 2021 when the 76ers were shopping him. Though Scottie Barnes’s emergence would make Simmons a strange fit as they’re both non-shooters, he does count as a buy-low, high-value target who could restore his career in time.”
The asking price for Anunoby is expected to be some amalgamation of up to three first-round picks and young players. That deal might have made more sense with Irving still in tow but Brooklyn now has to replace star-level production which Anunoby has only flashed to this point, though he would add to the stout defensive identity the Nets are taking on.
While Barnes is likely their centerpiece, Brooklyn might be able to entice Toronto with Simmons along with some combination of picks as well as young players Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe – they also have Joe Harris’ salary to make up any sizeable gaps.
Here are a couple of deals that might be more likely to go down than Brooklyn landing Anunoby.
Proposed Trade Swaps Ben Simmons for $137M Big Man
Anunoby’s availability and age – he turns 26 in July – will make him highly sought after on the trade market, potentially driving up the price in a bidding war. While he has been viewed as the more gettable asset, Brooklyn might have better luck sending Ben Simmons with picks and Thomas for Siakam.
- Pascal Siakam
- Ben Simmons
- Cam Thomas
- 1st Round Picks x2
Siakam, 28, is averaging career-highs with 24.7 points and 6.2 assists adding 7.9 rebounds for good measure. He is earning $35.4 million in the third year of a four-year, $136.9 million contract meaning any acquiring team would get him for next year at the cost of $37.9 million before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2024.
Of course, getting him is the tricky part even though stein says Brooklyn is interested.
That is why at least two picks – one for Siakam, another to get out from underneath the remaining – in addition to Thomas could be necessary here. Thomas, for his part, has spoken out about his inconsistent role.
He also just dropped 44 points in the Nets’ 125-123 comeback victory over the Washington Wizards and, at just 21 years old, should satisfy the anticipated requirements for a talented young player Toronto is expected to seek. Because of his position, Thomas also brings us to another way this whole thing could go while keeping Durant in Brooklyn.
Proposed Trade Sends Nets $136M Backcourt
Both can be unrestricted free agents (player options) after this season and despite still being young at 24 and 28 years old, respectively, they might not fit Toronto’s new timeline should they decide to blow it up and rebuild around Barnes.
This is where the Nets could step in.
- Gary Trent Jr.
- Fred VanVleet
- Ben Simmons
- 1st Round Picks x2
This time, the Nets hang on to Thomas – though it might behoove them to consider it if the Raptors insist – while not having to increase their draft compensation due to Trent and VanVleet’s looming free agency.
In essence, it is again one pick for the players and one to rid themselves of Simmons.
The 6-foot-5 Trent – whom Stein previously called “undeniably available” is averaging a career-high 18.7 points on 57.7% true shooting with 2.5 boards, 1.6 steals, and 1.5 assists.
He is set to earn $18.8 million next season if he picks up his option.
VanVleet is a small guard listed at just 6-foot tall even leading to some concerns that he will not age well in the latter stages of what figures to be a raise over the $21.5 million that he will earn if he opts in next summer.
The one-time All-Star and 2019 NBA champion is averaging 19.7 points on 54.7% true shooting in a down season that has seen him hit just 34.4% of his triples – he is a 37% career shooter from deep leading to some hope that he can bounce back in that area, especially since he is not great finishing around the rim.
There appears to be any number of ways the Nets can go following the Irving trade with Durant sure to dictate much of it. These are just a couple of possible scenarios.