Celtics

Report: Teams hope Kyrie bolts Nets to create chance of Durant trade

Celtics

The Brooklyn Nets once looked like team of the future. As recently as February, this team had Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden on its roster.

Three superstars with as much offensive talent as almost any other player in NBA history.

Fast forward a couple months and it's possible that Durant could soon be the last man standing. But is there a chance all three are gone at some point?

Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February. Irving might be the next player to leave Brooklyn. He can become an unrestricted free agent by declining the 2022-23 player option in his contract. The Nets reportedly prefer to give Irving a shorter term contract than he wants.

Irving, who's 30 years old, might not get another chance at a long-term max contract.

If Irving does leave the Nets, what happens to Durant? Could he be acquired via trade in that scenario? It's a situation teams are monitoring, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

"There are teams rooting for Irving to opt-out and walk away from the Nets, believing it would give them a chance to cobble together trade packages to acquire Durant," Wojnarowski wrote in a story published Wednesday.

 

"As much as Durant asking out hangs over the Nets, there's also the reality that four years on his contract will mean he has little, if any, voice on when or where he would be traded. This would be a small-market team's dream, robbing a goliath of an MVP-level talent whose contractual circumstances would leave him little choice but to play for them."

Durant signed a four-year, $198 million extension with the Nets in August. The deal includes no options, per Spotrac. He won't become a free agent again until the summer of 2026.

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If Irving leaves, trading Durant wouldn't be the craziest idea for the Nets. It's unlikely they would win a championship with Durant, Ben Simmons and a roster that got exposed by the Boston Celtics during a first-round playoff sweep in April. The Nets could start over by trading Durant for a package of players and draft picks. It would be a lackluster ending to the Durant-Irving era in Brooklyn, but the Nets must do what's best for their future.

Durant is 34 years but remains one of the top five players in the league. He averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game this past season. He would significantly upgrade any team. 

While a Durant trade is a fun scenario to ponder, it's also quite possible that Irving goes back to Brooklyn and the Nets try to make it work with him, Durant and Simmons. This trio has still never played in a single game together. 

The team to watch this offseason is the Nets. There are so many juicy storylines that could unfold over the next couple weeks.