Nets ‘Angling’ To Land Star Forward in Kevin Durant Deal With East Rival

Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving

Getty Andre Drummond, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant

The NBA world was left shell-shocked when Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant requested a trade from the franchise. Just last summer, the 12-time All-Star signed a 4-year, $198 million extension that ties him down with the franchise until 2026. So, in theory, the Nets are not obligated to move him. Still, they have opted to honor their franchise player’s trade request, but only if it is for a substantial return on their investment.

One of the teams that have shown interest in the All-Star forward ironically enough, is the Toronto Raptors. For those who may be tardy to the party, KD ruptured his Achilles Tendon against the Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, an event many believe contributed to him leaving the Golden State Warriors and joining the Nets. 

Trade talks between the Raptors and Nets were short because of Toronto’s reluctance to include Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in the deal. However, NBA insider Michael A. Scotto of HoopsHype says that the Nets are “angling” to get the Raptors to include Barnes in a potential deal.

“If they put in Scottie Barnes, which they haven’t done to this point, then I think you have a real conversation. That’s who Brooklyn is angling for (in trade talks with the Raptors),” Scotto writes per HoopsHype.

“I don’t know if Brooklyn would be okay with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Gary Trent Jr. is also a guy who could be in a contract year. He has a ($18.8 million) player option. If he plays the way he did last year, I’d expect him to opt out and enter free agency.”

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Scotto: Westbrook, Kyrie Swap Will Likely Include Third Team

The other half of the Nets star duo, Kyrie Irving, is also a name that has been mentioned in trade talks this summer. Earlier in July, Chris B. Haynes of “Yahoo Sports” said that the Nets had engaged in trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers on a potential deal that would reunite Kyrie with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, LeBron James. But Scotto notes that for that swap to happen, a third team would have to be involved.

“When it comes to any potential Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving trade talks, or if the Lakers are moving Westbrook to any team, both future first-round picks have to be included. You already saw Indiana decline multiple second-round picks (in addition to one first-round pick),” Scotto added.

“If the Nets were going to get Westbrook, my assumption would be there will be a third team involved, and one of those first-round picks would go to a team with salary cap space like the Pacers or Spurs, for example. They’d likely have more of an appetite for buying him out to get a first-round pick.”

Ben Simmons Has Big Shoes To Fill

The Nets have already suffered a major loss this offseason after free agent Bruce Brown signed a two-year deal with the Denver Nuggets in July. 

After the Nets completed a blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to the Sixers in exchange for Ben Simmons, Brown’s level of play expanded exponentially. Per Stat Muse, he averaged 13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 27 games for the Nets during that span. 

Brown’s play elevated even more once the Nets made it to the postseason. Per Stat Muse, he averaged 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics.

Although the Nets will miss Brown’s contributions, Scotto says that the looming return of three-time All-Star Ben Simmons could help Brooklyn fill the void he left.

“There’s a thought that Simmons will guard the best player one through five, really probably four, not the five. He can play a little bit of the Bruce Brown role on offense,” Scotto added. “They want him out in transition getting easy looks for Durant and Irving. I think he’ll help them defensively, no question.”

The Nets have a lot of unanswered questions to address before the start of NBA training camp. It will be interesting to see how the roster looks on opening night.

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