For the Nets, trading Kevin Durant correctly is a lot more important than doing it quickly.
League personnel who spoke to The Post said Nets general manager Sean Marks — and by default team owner Joe Tsai as well — are adamant about getting back All-Star caliber talent in return for Durant. And with their disgruntled star having four years left on his contract, the Nets are in no rush to deal.
The Nets obviously can’t get like-for-like value for Durant, or bring an MVP back to Brooklyn. But the Nets are aiming high — reportedly eying the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Edwards — so they’ve told opposing GMs to loop third and even fourth teams into the mix to cobble together the pieces they want.
So far, league sources have said nothing is imminent, or even at the advanced stage.
Durant has expressed a preference for Phoenix and Miami, with Marks and Tsai at least somewhat willing to work with Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman. But seemingly every contender has touched base on Durant, with some even showing tepid interest in Kyrie Irving. Philadelphia spoke with the Nets, although a source told The Post “nothing happened there.”
League executives who spoke with The Post said Toronto was not only well-positioned, but confident of being able to put together the best package. The Raptors have balked at the notion of putting Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any deal, although those same executives opined that could be a negotiating ploy by savvy Masai Ujiri, who has a history of pulling off huge trades.
Even recently crowned NBA champion Golden State has shown interest in bringing Durant back to the Bay Area for a Warriors reunion, according to ESPN.
Legion Hoops claimed that the Nets had follow-up conversations with the Raptors, Boston, Dallas and Memphis.
It seems clear the Heat and Suns don’t have the pieces to entice Marks, although Phoenix might have the assets to get them; ie, reroute Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, a trove of first-round draft picks and swaps, and a sign-and-trade for center Deandre Ayton.
That could mean sending most of that package to Utah and having young Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell — a New York native — end up in Brooklyn. Former Nets GM Bobby Marks — now an ESPN front office insider — opined about separating that aforementioned Suns package, with Ayton heading to Indiana while Pacers center Myles Turner joined Johnson, Bridges and a host of picks in Brooklyn.
Wherever Durant ends up, this process will likely grind free agency to a crawl, the same way the Kawhi Leonard saga did three summers ago. When Leonard agreed to join the Clippers on the condition they added Oklahoma City forward Paul George, L.A. had to ship assets to the Thunder.
A similar scenario could be playing out now, with the entire league watching to see the intersection of Durant’s wants and Brooklyn’s needs.
Meanwhile, Irving may have to patiently wait out the process. The Nets are less inclined to work with the point guard as they are with Durant, with his market more tepid and the return less important.
Irving has consistently broadcast his intent to end up with the Lakers, be it via trade or signing next offseason. That has tanked his value even further.
While league chatter of an Irving-Russell Westbrook swap has been incessant for the past week, the Pacers’ Turner could be included in a three-way deal there as well. Creativity is going to be the key to this.
The 76ers — who are currently negotiating with James Harden — are keeping an eye on Irving, a source told The Post. And with former Nets point guard Goran Dragic spurning Dallas to ink a one-year deal with Chicago — according to Boardroom, which is owned by Durant — The Athletic reported that the Mavericks are also showing interest in Irving.
The Nets’ coaching staff has finally been updated on the team’s website. Other than the expected departures (Jordan Ott, Amar’e Stoudemire, David Vanterpool and Adam Harrington, the latter departure hitting Durant hard), the staff otherwise stayed the same. Jacque Vaughn, Royal Ivey, Brian Keefe and Ryan Forehan-Kelly are all back, although incoming coach Igor Kokoskov was not listed.
Credit: Source link