With most of the top players off the board, the trade market has come to the forefront with a blockbuster Rudy Gobert deal, and now all eyes are on Kevin Durant’s next potential destination following his recent trade request.
Below is the latest intel gathered by HoopsHype on talks surrounding Durant, Gobert, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. Plus, behind-the-scenes notes on the free-agent decisions of Donte DiVincenzo, Jae’Sean Tate, Royce O’Neale, Chris Boucher, and Thaddeus Young.
According to rival NBA executives who’ve spoken to the Nets, the asking price remains high for 12-time All-Star Kevin Durant, and is expected to go up following the boatload of draft picks the Timberwolves gave up to acquire Rudy Gobert.
Brooklyn is 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.
Brooklyn’s roster currently has role players and All-Star caliber players in Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving (for now) to field a competitive playoff team upon the return for Durant. Currently, the Lakers appear to have the most trade interest in Irving.
While the Suns and Heat are Durant’s preferred destinations, there are complications to a trade with both teams.
Devin Booker can’t be traded for a year once he signs his supermax extension with the Suns. Brooklyn can’t have Ben Simmons and Bam Adebayo together due to CBA rules. The Nets would have to trade Simmons before any potential acquisition of Adebayo.
With that in mind, the Nets would want more than Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges from the Suns. Tyler Herro, as the main trade chip for the Heat, wouldn’t scratch the surface of what the Nets want. At least a third team would need to be involved for Brooklyn to get all the desired assets it wants for Durant with either of these teams.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned Toronto as a team “lurking” for Durant. Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes would logically be on Brooklyn’s wish list in such a trade scenario, and Masai Ujiri has already swung for the fences and succeeded with Kawhi Leonard in a contract season before, let alone a star under contract for four seasons.
The Pelicans took a step forward last season and could take a monumental one if they can build a package around Brandon Ingram and draft picks of their own and from the Lakers and Bucks in previous trades for Durant and pair him with Zion Williamson in the frontcourt.
If Boston wanted to make a run at Durant, the Celtics could theoretically try and entice the Nets with a package around Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
The Nets plan to wait until they get an offer that accommodates their asking price with Durant’s contract guaranteed over the next four years.
For more on Durant trade scenarios, check out a list of players who can’t be traded in a package with the Nets in a story by our USA TODAY Sports colleagues at For The Win.
Rudy Gobert, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr Trade Talks
Before eventually moving Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves, the Jazz inquired about the possibility of trading for Raptors starters OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr, league sources told HoopsHype.
There was a belief it would take a substantial upgrade at center for Toronto to consider trading Anunoby. Gobert ranked atop Toronto’s wish list ahead of other centers on the trade market, such as Myles Turner, whose name has been mentioned in more rumors over the years than a celebrity in People Magazine and remains a candidate to be traded.
While there have been several reports over the past few years that the Raptors would like to upgrade at center, the team has a bevy of forwards in the 6-foot-7 to 6-foot-9 range giving them elite switching ability on defense.
As noted on a previous Raptors edition of the HoopsHype podcast, Trent Jr. is a player to keep an eye on this upcoming season. He’s effectively in a contract year since he has an $18.79 million player option for the 2023-24 season. If Trent can duplicate or improve upon his numbers from this past season, he’s a candidate to opt out of his player option for a new long-term deal. Toronto will have to decide soon if Trent will remain part of the core or if he’ll become too expensive to retain long-term and be better served as a trade asset.
Donte DiVincenzo, who won two national championships in college and an NBA championship with the Bucks, will have a chance to be a key contributor as the Warriors look to repeat next season.
A few contending teams expressed interest in signing DiVincenzo with the full taxpayer mid-level exception, and one team with cap space offered more money than Golden State, league sources told HoopsHype. In the end, DiVincenzo believed the Warriors were his best opportunity to play on a contender and the team’s willingness to give him a player option made the decision for him.
The Jazz and Nets kicked the tires on a trade involving Joe Harris and Royce O’Neale before the trade deadline, as previously noted on the HoopsHype podcast. Instead, months later, the Nets surrendered a 2023 first-round pick for O’Neale.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding a potential Durant trade and the package he’ll bring back if traded, the Nets view the 29-year-old swingman as a 3-and-D player who can help them to compete this season. Internally, the Nets prioritized getting a wing defender who could guard multiple positions.
O’Neale is owed $18.7 million over the next two seasons, per our HoopsHype Nets salary page.
Chris Boucher agreed to a three-year, $35.25 million deal, his agent Sam Permut of Roc Nation Sports told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Several teams expressed interest in signing Boucher as a free agent, including Eastern Conference playoff teams from last season, including the Celtics, Bucks, Nets and Bulls, before he agreed to a deal with the Raptors, HoopsHype has learned.
Boucher felt Toronto has become his home, he’s had a consistent role and will continue to be given a chance to grow and expand his game.
Before agreeing to a new deal with the Raptors, the Celtics and Pacers expressed interest in signing Thaddeus Young during free agency, HoopsHype has learned.
Young agreed to a two-year, $16 million, per Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. The deal is partially guaranteed for the second year, and because it was an extension for two years or less, there is no trade restriction for either player, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
”He is a smart and versatile player who will continue to provide valuable leadership to our younger players on the court and in the locker room,” Raptors executive Bobby Webster said in a statement.
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