Three first-time All-Stars this season — Bam Adebayo, Luka Doncic and Brandon Ingram — were all named finalists for the league’s Most Improved Player award, while the top two picks in last year’s NBA Draft — New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant — were named as two of the three finalists for Rookie of the Year, along with undrafted guard Kendrick Nunn from the Miami Heat.
August 17, 2022 | 4:55 am EDT Update
With the start of training camp just six weeks away, league sources continue to insist that the Celtics are not close to a deal that would bring Kevin Durant to Boston, and that there have not even been any real discussions of substance.
NBA analyst Brian Windhorst discussed the trade situation earlier this week on ESPN’s Get Up. Windhorst inferred that Durant has lost all of the leverage in the trade talks but so did the Nets. “The dynamic around Kevin Durant hasn’t changed at all. There hasn’t been an urgency in trade talks. There hasn’t been a change in strategy by the Brooklyn Nets,” said Windhorst. Windhorst reported, “I think what we have here is really a study of leverage. First off, the Nets do not have leverage in trade talks with other teams. They are not giving them the offers that they want. They see no reason to increase them. So, they’re not making any progress there. Kevin Durant clearly does not have leverage with the Brooklyn Nets. He is asking for things: ‘Get me traded. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.’ He is being told no. So, when you have denied leverage, you have a stalemate.”
While Kevin Durant continues to prefer a trade from the Brooklyn Nets and the trade offers the team has received haven’t satisfied them, the two parties have remained in limbo throughout the offseason. The Nets will continue to listen to trade offers, but they are also hoping Durant changes his mind and gives their team another chance this season. “What’s kind of developed over those 47 days is we now kind of have two different negotiations,” said Brian Windhorst on NBA Today on Tuesday. “One, of course, is with all those teams interested in Kevin Durant and the Nets. We just haven’t seen significant traction with any of those deals. The Nets’ asking price is very high. Their leverage for getting those teams who are interested in offering so much just hasn’t materialized.
“The other negotiation that is now developing is between Durant and the Nets. That separate negotiation about what it would like for him to come back. That’s what a big part of the discussion he had with owner Joe Tsai in London about 10, 11 days ago was. Joe Tsai and the Nets believe they have a really good team. They don’t believe they have a good trade for Kevin Durant. They want him to consider coming back. But Durant has very clearly made it known he doesn’t want to play for the Nets under the current situation with the current coach and current GM.
That leaves three roster spots, and the Celtics will be required to fill at least two of them. League sources said the preseason essentially will serve as a final audition for a collection of veterans seeking a new opportunity. Rookie guard JD Davison and veteran forward Mfiondu Kabengele will be in training camp on their two-way contracts.
Speculation ran rampant: pundits and fans alike wondered whether he had any desire to play on the team, whether he’d be the first player in NBA history to turn down a max rookie extension, whether he’d prove one of the most significant busts in NBA draft history. Much of the chatter focused uncomfortably on his size. As he’s so often done during difficult times, Williamson turned to his favorite show for guidance. I ask if there’s a point in Naruto’s story that he feels is synonymous with where he is right now. His answer is immediate. “It’s when Sasuke was going rogue,” he says, referring to Naruto’s close friend and rival. “All of Naruto’s friends and teammates came to him like, ‘Dude, you’re gonna have to make tough decisions if you really want to be Hokage.’”