Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant sent shockwaves through the NBA June 30 after announcing he wanted a trade. It was just last summer that the 12-time All-Star signed a four-year, $194 million contract extension with the Nets, which is set to kick in during the 2022-23 season.
However, before Durant could land with the Heat — presumably in a trade for Bam Adebayo — the Nets would have to trade Ben Simmons, as well.
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Explaining why, Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman tweeted, “As @BobbyMarks42 has pointed out this week, the Heat cannot include Bam Adebayo in any deal for Durant, since the Nets already have Ben Simmons as a designated-contract player. Only way for Bam to go to Nets in a Durant deal would be for Nets to also trade Ben Simmons.”
The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang explained, “That’s because of the Designated Rookie Extension rule: A team can’t have two players acquired via trade who were signed to that type of extension. Simmons also falls into that category.”
On Tuesday, July 5, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz encouraged the Nets to make a “simple trade” with the Dallas Mavericks to unload Simmons because “could help facilitate” Durant’s “trade to the Miami Heat (with Bam Adebayo involved).”
Swartz’s trade proposal has Brooklyn sending Simmons to Dallas in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Maxi Kleber, 2025 first-round pick (lottery-protected) and a 2027 first-round pick (lottery-protected).
“Although the Nets are giving up the best player in this deal with Simmons, there’s a good reason to do so,” Swartz wrote, noting how the trade would opens doors for Durant to also land with the Denver Nuggets or the Golden State Warriors. “For Dallas, adding a playmaker like Simmons helps ease the pain of losing Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in free agency. A backcourt of Doncic (6’7″) and Simmons (6’11”) would potentially be the biggest in the NBA, combining two of the best playmakers the league has.
“The Nets aren’t just dumping Simmons, either, as Dinwiddie returns to the franchise that made him into a high-level starting point guard. The 29-year-old averaged 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 0.7 steals between the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks last year.”
Simmons Deactivated His Instagram Amid the Rumored Reports
Simmons, a three-time All-Star, has yet to play a game with the Nets since he was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers in the middle of last season, and he missed the start of the season to focus on his mental health. Amid all the drama surrounding the Nets — it’s possible both Durant and Kyrie Irving get traded this offseason — the former No. 1 overall pick from the 2016 draft deleted his Instagram account late on July 3.
Even if the Heat don’t land Durant, there’s a good chance Simmons starts the 2022-23 playing on a team that looks very different from the one he initially signed on to join. Brooklyn’s new “Big 3” era of him, Durant and Irving could be gone before it even had a chance to happen.
If Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks are looking for a true rebuild, Simmons, who was unable to help the team during their playoff run, could very well be on the trade block. Bally Sports’ NBA insider Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson tweeted on July 2, “Keep your eye on Utah! @WindhorstESPN was on to something! Nets have pondered Ben Simmons, Utah Jazz.”
The Heat Need to ‘Get Creative’ In Order to Land Durant
Wojnarowski gave an update on why the Durant trade seems to be getting dragged out during an appearing on the July 3 episode of “SportsCenter.” “I think the Nets are trying to create an outline for the rest of the league about the kind of package they would want back in a Kevin Durant trade,” Wojnarowski said. “I think the Rudy Gobert trade to Minnesota started to frame that.”
“The market is still taking shape,” Wojnarowski said. “I think it’s incumbent on some of the other teams to be creative and start bringing to Brooklyn ideas, going out and seeing if they can get players, picks that would put the kind of package together it would take to get Kevin Durant.”
While the Nets have their demands, so does Durant. The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported on Friday, July 1, that “it seems [he] would only want to play on a Heat team that includes Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and Kyle Lowry. So even if the Heat were willing to move Butler in a deal as a way of satisfying the Nets’ (understandably pricey) request, doing so would leave Durant discontented from the start,” Amick wrote.
While Durant joining a starting lineup that includes Lowry, Butler and Adebayo sounds incredible, the likelihood of that happening seems highly unlikely.