NBA rumors: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trade talks; Deandre Ayton free agency

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trade talks; Deandre Ayton free agency

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NBA rumors: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trade talks; Deandre Ayton free agency

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There are three consistent questions asked along the concourse between the Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas when bumping into NBA personnel since the start of NBA Summer League: 

“Where is Kevin Durant going?” 

“What’s going on with Kyrie Irving?” 

“What are you hearing about Deandre Ayton?” 

Below is the latest intel gathered by HoopsHype on trade talks surrounding Durant and Irving and the free agency of Ayton. 

Kevin Durant

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Several NBA executives considering roster moves and agents hoping to negotiate deals for their remaining clients on the free-agent market are anxiously awaiting a Durant trade to materialize. However, there’s skepticism around the league that a Durant trade will happen soon, and talks could linger into training camp.

Currently, the Nets are seeking a combination of the best assets from teams, including any All-Star player(s), rising young players with All-Star potential and substantial unprotected draft picks and pick swaps where applicable for Durant, but those trade packages aren’t currently materializing.

After Utah received four first-round picks and a pick swap as part of the Rudy Gobert trade to Minnesota, Brooklyn is holding out for a king’s ransom for Durant.

Five NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype at Vegas Summer League felt Minnesota overpaid for Gobert and increased the price tag for Durant in the process. When asked in general what Durant’s trade value should be worth following the Dejounte Murray and Gobert trades, one NBA general manager told HoopsHype, “Durant is worth a James Harden type of package.”

Several executives who spoke with HoopsHype believe that while at least half the league has reportedly expressed exploratory interest in trading for Durant, the fits for realistic trade partners could be niched to a handful of teams at best. Only teams in playoff contention make realistic sense to trade for Durant, who turns 34 in September.

Both the Suns and Heat, two of Durant’s preferred destinations, would have to expand a potential trade to three or four teams to meet Brooklyn’s asking price.

The Raptors remain hesitant to part with Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any potential trade talks for Durant, league sources told HoopsHype. The Nets would push for Barnes to be included in any trade scenario involving Durant. OG Anunoby is a player Toronto has been reluctant to trade when other teams have inquired, including turning down Portland’s interest in trading for him with the seventh overall pick. It’s unclear if Toronto would include Anunoby in trade talks for Durant. Logically speaking, a package centered around All-Star forward Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. could be Toronto’s starting point in trade talks, but the Nets would certainly push for more.

The Pelicans have assets to get Durant, but multiple NBA executives don’t think a small market team like New Orleans would make a strong push for Durant since they have two young All-Stars in Zion Williamson signed to an extension and Brandon Ingram signed through the next three seasons. Other rival executives believe Durant wouldn’t want to be traded to New Orleans.

The Clippers believe they’re potential title contenders with the healthy duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who are close with each other, and arguably the deepest team in the league.

The Warriors have several young assets on paper, including Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman and Moses Moody, but Golden State would be reluctant to give up all these assets in a Durant trade proposal, HoopsHype has learned. Andrew Wiggins would be an attractive trade chip and is coming off an All-Star season, but he can’t be included in a Durant trade at the moment, as explained in-depth by our USA TODAY colleagues at For The Win.

So what happens if a trade package for Durant doesn’t materialize by training camp?

“I’d tell Durant we’re not trading you,” one former NBA general manager told HoopsHype.

Durant is signed for the next four years with no player option in his contract, and many around the league believe Brooklyn has the leverage despite his trade request.

“Durant loves to play,” another general manager told HoopsHype. “I don’t think he has it in him to sit out. I’d make him play and try to convince him and Kyrie (Irving) that this is their best chance to win.” 

Keep in mind, Durant has had some input in the roster construction for the Nets since signing with Brooklyn, including vouching for several veteran additions during his time with the team, such as DeAndre Jordan, James Johnson, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Michael Beasley, league sources told HoopsHype.

Expect the Nets to hold onto Durant until they get a godfather offer with the subtle hope that he will change his mind and want to remain with the Nets and fulfill his four-year contract extension.

As one opposing coach for a Western Conference team told HoopsHype, “Durant is the best professional scorer the game has ever seen.”

Kyrie Irving

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving’s trade market is simple: It’s Lakers or bust at the moment.

“I’d say to Irving there was a reason you opted into that player option,” one NBA general manager told HoopsHype at Vegas Summer League. “You didn’t think you could get that money on the market for a reason.”

As written on HoopsHype in November 2021, Irving’s trade value and market were not great then, and the same holds even more true now.

Currently, the Lakers don’t want to give up multiple first-round picks to trade Russell Westbrook, league sources told HoopsHype. In the speculated blockbuster trade of Westbrook and Irving, the Nets would likely want a first-round pick to move Irving and take on Westbrook. The Nets would likely want an additional first-rounder to entice another team like the Spurs or Pacers to take Westbrook as the third team in a deal.

At least one member of the Dallas Mavericks organization believed if there is any coach Irving would want to play for, it would be Jason Kidd, his idol growing up as a Nets fan. The Nets called the Mavericks to gauge their interest level in an Irving trade, league sources told HoopsHype. Dallas, however, didn’t reciprocate much interest in trading for Irving.

Deandre Ayton

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Rival NBA executives believe the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs could be holding onto their cap space to be a part of a blockbuster Durant trade where they’d be a salary dump destination in exchange for draft pick compensation.

Indiana has rarely tendered an offer sheet to a player. The last time was when the Pacers landed former Knicks forward Chris Copeland in restricted free agency. The Pacers extended the offer sheet because New York couldn’t match at the time, and Indiana was guaranteed to get Copeland. It’s also worth noting Malcolm Brogdon was acquired in a sign-and-trade.

A potential sign-and-trade scenario between the Suns and Pacers has also been speculated. It’s worth noting Ayton and Pacers center Myles Turner are both represented by agent Bill Duffy of BDA Sports and WME Sports. Ayton’s co-agent, Nima Namakian, also represents Indiana’s recent sixth overall pick, Bennedict Mathurin.

One NBA general manager who spoke with HoopsHype at Vegas Summer League wondered if Ayton is better served accepting his $16.4 million qualifying offer to go into unrestricted free agency next summer. At that time, there will be more teams with cap space available. Teams with potential max cap space next summer include the Pistons, Rockets, Pacers, Grizzlies, Thunder, Magic, Spurs and Jazz.

According to our HoopsHype salary cap expert Yossi Gozlan, if Ayton signs his $16.4 million qualifying offer, he isn’t eligible to be traded until January 15th, and Ayton would have veto rights to any trade. If Ayton is traded, his Bird Rights revert to Non-Bird Rights, and his new team would only be able to re-sign him to a 20 percent raise from his $16.4 million salary for a total of $85 million over four years. If a team trades for Ayton and has cap space, the team can give him more money.

You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) on Twitter.

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