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The ongoing drama surrounding the Brooklyn Nets just took another turn.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Kevin Durant “is monitoring the [Nets’] situation and considering options with his future.” Charania added the development “now opens the path for Kyrie Irving to proceed on finding a new home via opt-in and trade.”
Regarding Irving, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the guard has already assembled a list of his preferred destinations in a trade:
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn
ESPN Sources: If Kyrie Irving can’t reach an agreement to stay with Brooklyn, he has a list of teams he’d like them to consider on sign-and-trades, including Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Heat, Mavs and 76ers. None of those teams have cap space to sign him without Nets’ help.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported Thursday on Get Up that “no teams [are] making moves right now to try to clear space to try to make a path to give [Irving] a big contract.” He also said Irving may not be pushing for an exit but rather attempting to “apply pressure to the Nets” to give him the money he wants.
Perhaps Durant is deploying a similar tactic.
The 12-time All-Star is just starting a four-year, $194.2 million extension in 2022-23, but Charania’s report may be a not-so-subtle message to the Nets about how his fate could be tied to Irving’s.
Wojnarowski reported Wednesday how some around the NBA are “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.”
Durant and Irving were a package deal when they arrived, and they might be a package deal when they leave. The Nets have painted themselves into a corner, and their two best players could be all too happy to remind the franchise of that.
Dan Favale @danfavale
i wrote about why the nets cannot and, inevitably, will not punt on kyrie’s future<a href=”https://t.co/yWrSbGcfuj”>https://t.co/yWrSbGcfuj</a> <a href=”https://t.co/WhbHf5MZsw”>pic.twitter.com/WhbHf5MZsw</a>
Sam Quinn @SamQuinnCBS
I think the Nets are going to figure this out. I think Durant, Kyrie and Simmons are gonna be in the opening day lineup.<br><br>But if they don’t, this immediately becomes one of the greatest disasters in roster-building history. To go from favorites to this in ONE YEAR is unheard of.
Charania’s report could also be a boon to Irving’s trade market.
The 30-year-old’s stock is at a nadir following a season in which his decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine had severe consequences for his team. He also had messy divorces from his last two franchises.
Making him one of your cornerstones is a risky venture before factoring in the potential cost of a long-term contract.
Beyond those factors, possible suitors may have been wary of doing what’s necessary to acquire Irving if they thought he didn’t actually want to leave Brooklyn. Why give up draft assets or other sweeteners to free up salary-cap space for a player who’s unattainable?
If Irving looks increasingly attainable, on the other hand, rival general managers may begin working the phones more feverishly to see if they can make a deal work.
Firing up the trade machine to throw together hypothetical moves for Durant is a natural reaction to Thursday’s news. But KD “considering” all of his options still feels some distance away from outright requesting a trade and causing the Nets’ grand experiment to go up in flames.