If the Brooklyn Nets lose Kyrie Irving to a sign-and-trade or NBA free agency, and then Kevin Durant decides he wants to be traded, what could the team acquire in exchange for the former league MVP and two-time NBA champion?
It's not clear if Durant will actually be traded, although he's reportedly "considering options with his future," per The Athletic's Shams Charania. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that some some teams are hoping Irving leaves because it might increase the chances of Durant being available via trade. Irving reportedly has been given permission from the Nets to seek a sign-and-trade.
If we do get to the point where a Durant trade is a realistic outcome, the asking price likely will be enormous. Durant is under contract for four more years after signing a $194 million extension last August. The deal doesn't include any player or team options. The opportunity to acquire a superstar who's arguably the best player in the league would be pretty enticing, especially when he's signed long term.
What kind of asking price might the Nets seek from interested teams? One of the recent trades involving a top 10 player could serve as a template.
"As for a Durant return, I asked a league source a few days ago about such a deal and the reply was, 'Look up the Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers and start there,'" The Athletic's Alex Schiffler wrote Monday.
In case you forgot, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019 and gave up Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, three first-round picks and an unprotected first-round pick swap. So far, those picks have included the No. 4 overall selection in 2019 and the No. 8 overall pick in 2022. Ingram has developed into an All-Star caliber player.
Davis was 26 when the Lakers traded for him. The superstar center did have durability concerns at the time (and still does), but he was very much in his prime. Durant will be 34 years old on Opening Night in October and has played in 90 of a possible 154 regular season games for the Nets over the last two years. But when Durant is healthy, he's still a top three player in the league. He averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 55 games last season. Durant remains a true No. 1 on a championship contender.
The Nets don't have to rush a Durant trade. He's not hitting free agency again until 2026. His leverage here is minimal at best. Brooklyn can take its time and wait for the best package.
It's crazy the Nets are at a point where losing both Irving and Durant three years after they came to Brooklyn is a real outcome this offseason. But that's the NBA in 2022. Everything can change in a year or two, which is why teams must take advantage of any championship window they're lucky enough to be part of.