The Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant blew up the start of free agency by announcing he wanted a trade on Thursday, June 30. It was just last summer that the 11-time All-Star signed a four-year $194 million contract extension with the Nets, which was set to kick in during the 2022-23 NBA season.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Miami Heat are one of the top destinations for the 33-year-old power forward. Wojnarowski tweeted, “Phoenix and Miami are among two of the teams that Kevin Durant has on his wish list, sources tell ESPN, but the Nets plan to move Durant where they can get the best possible deal. With four years on his contract, there’s no shortage of teams willing to unload assets for Durant.”
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However, landing Durant will not come cheap, and a few of the Heat’s biggest possible trade pieces that cannot be used, unless a third team gets involved. 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.”
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.”
The Athletic‘s Alex Schiffer wrote, “I’m told the Nets want multiple All-Stars in any deal for Durant. I do not count Tyler Herro in that category, despite the year he’s had. So if you’re Miami, how do you acquire Durant?”
John Hollinger, a fellow reporter for The Athletic, stated that everyone is on the table when it comes to Durant. “Some guys who thought they were untouchable are about to find out how touchable they are. It seems crazy for Miami to call the Nets and offer Jimmy Butler… but on the other hand, how could they not?”
Butler Signed a Monster Extension With the Heat Last Summer
Like Durant, Butler also signed a monster extension during the offseason last year, inking a four-year, $184 million deal to stay with the Heat. The six-time All-Star is the defacto leader of Miami’s roster, and his 47-point performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals was one for the Heat’s history books.
For a multitude of reasons, it sounds absolutely absurd that the Heat would trade away their most dominant two-way wing, but it was just a week ago that rumors of Durant landing in Miami felt the same way.
However, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon suggested that Butler’s sideline altercation with the Heat’s head coach likely gave the front office pause in the two-way wing being untouchable.
“Butler nearly broke the Heat this season. Erik Spoelstra was shaken to his core by that infamous blow-up they had on the sidelines in March, during a losing streak,” Vardon said. “The team did well to downplay it at the time, and of course, a deep playoff run healed a few wounds. Butler was mostly great during the postseason too. The Heat generally believe his drama is worth it.”
While Vardon Durant is a better player than Butler, due to the Nets star’s lingering knee issues and age, he turns 34 in September, these two factors could derail him from landing in South Beach.
“Durant has played in 90 regular-season games over the last three years,” he added. “That is not indicative of Heat culture. So while I was initially thinking yes, the Heat would do absolutely anything to get KD, and probably will, I am talking myself into maybe a pause in Butler-for-KD, because there is no guarantee Durant will be available to play on any given night.”
Heat President Pat Riley Is Not Afraid to ‘Make a Major Splash’
NBA analyst Shannon Sharpe predicted Heat president Pat Riley would move mountains should Durant become available during the June 23 episode of Undisputed.
“You know Pat Riley is looking to make a major splash. He’s always wanted Kevin Durant, Skip. Now he thought he had a good chance to get him a couple of years ago,” Sharpe said. “Don’t think he won’t spin the block one more time… The question is what would he (Riley) be willing to give up in order to get him. I believe the only two players that would probably be off-limits is Jimmy and Bam. Because with Jimmy, Bam, and Kevin Durant, you have a potential of an arms race now.”
Durant is arguably one of the best players in the NBA. Last season, the 6-foot-10 forward averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, while shooting 51.8% from the field and 38.3% from beyond the arc.