Why the Nets are getting low-ball offers from every team in Kevin Durant trade sweepstakes

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Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets on June 30 just hours before free agency was set to open. As the NBA offseason begins to draw to a close, Durant remains on the Nets with no serious momentum building towards a deal.

Durant reiterated his desire to be traded to Nets governor Joe Tsai during a meeting in August. KD reportedly told Tsai to chose between himself and Brooklyn’s braintrust of Steve Nash and Sean Marks. Durant’s ultimatum did not accelerate trade talks the way he planned, and at this point it’s certainly possible the Nets try to bring him back when training camps open around the league on Sept. 26.

When Durant first asked out of Brooklyn, the widespread assumption was that there would be a massive bidding war to get him that could lead to the biggest trade package in NBA history. That has not transpired. While Durant is locked into a new four-year, $196 million contract extension that starts this season, his age (he’ll be 34 years old to start the season), injury history, and massive cap number are just a few reasons teams haven’t been willing to offer their best packages to this point.

The Nets reportedly hope to bring back KD for next season, and believe he can lead a team that competes for a championship alongside Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, and new additions like TJ Warren and Royce O’Neale. Whether Durant will agree to that — or try another accelerant tactic like holding out — remains to be seen.

As reporting around the Durant negotiations has continued, it’s been clear that the Nets are not going to get the return they’re looking for if they do trade Durant. Here’s what’s been reported so far:

The Grizzlies won’t include Desmond Bane or Jaren Jackson Jr. in Kevin Durant trade packages

The Grizzlies are the latest team to show interest in Kevin Durant, per The Athletic, but not if it’s going to cost them any of their core pieces. In reporting Memphis’ interest in Durant, Shams Charania noted:

The Grizzlies will not include Jackson or Bane in a potential offer for Durant, sources said, but rather a package built around their bevy of draft picks.

The Pelicans are unwilling to include Brandon Ingram in Kevin Durant trade packages

Forget about Zion Williamson getting traded for Durant — the Pelicans won’t even give up Brandon Ingram. From Christian Clark of NOLA.com:

If Durant gets moved, the New Orleans Pelicans could be players in the sweepstakes, but that would likely require them to surrender Brandon Ingram. League sources say the Pelicans are unwilling to do so.

The Raptors won’t include Scottie Barnes in Kevin Durant trade talks

Toronto could likely land Durant if they offered reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, but the Raptors have maintained that Barnes is off the table. Charania confirmed that again on Monday by writing “the Raptors have refused to make Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes available.”

The Celtics won’t include Marcus Smart in their Kevin Durant trade offer

Boston reportedly offered Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and one first round pick to Brooklyn for Durant. Brooklyn reportedly asked for Marcus Smart, more picks, and another rotation player.

The Heat can’t offer Bam Adebayo for Durant unless the Nets move Ben Simmons

This is because of the Designated Rookie Rule which states that teams can’t acquire two players on five-year extensions after their rookie contracts via trade.

The Suns were reportedly unwilling to include all of their draft picks for Kevin Durant

Durant wanted to play for the Suns, but a deal became more complicated once Deandre Ayton re-signed in Phoenix. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst originally reported the Suns weren’t willing to include every draft pick and pick swap they own to land KD.

The Hawks are the latest team to low-ball the Nets for Durant

Per Shams: “Also in the past month, the Atlanta Hawks offered John Collins, De’Andre Hunter and a draft pick for Durant, according to sources.”

Atlanta already traded three first round picks to land Dejounte Murray this offseason. Nah, Collins, Hunter, and a pick isn’t getting it done.

Why isn’t Kevin Durant traded yet? Because teams refuse to offer their best package for several reasons.

The biggest reason the trade market is cool on Durant is because of his age and injury history. He’s about to 34 years old, and has only played 90 games the last two years after recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals.

Durant’s general unhappiness the last few years is another reason why teams are scared to put their best assets on the table. First Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder after they drafted and developed him into a league MVP. KD picked the Warriors in free agency, won two championships in Golden State, and still seemed generally miserable as fans accused him of taking the easy path to rings. Now he’s upset with Brooklyn after the organization refused to lock up Kyrie Irving on a long-term deal. If Durant can ask out of Brooklyn with four years left on his deal, why won’t he ask out of his next situation?

Then there’s the question of desperation: with a relatively wide open title picture, none of the Durant suitors like they need to make an all-in push at a championship right now. The Celtics will be one of the top-five favorites to win it all even if they don’t trade for Durant. Toronto, New Orleans, and Memphis drafted and developed young cores that should be able to compete for a long time. I believe Phoenix should be all-in on Durant, but they apparently don’t feel the same pressure to win a title immediately.

Ultimately, Brooklyn may have to trade Durant if he’s truly unhappy. If that’s the case, it’s possible one of these teams — with Boston, Toronto, and Miami being the favorites — can get KD without surrendering even their second and third best players.

The ball is really in Durant’s court now. The Nets are not going to give him away for a package they find unsatisfactory. Brooklyn wants to bring back KD and Kyrie for next year and see what happens. Durant’s only move might be to hold out the way Ben Simmons did last year in hopes of forcing a trade.

Is it possible the Celtics can eventually land Durant without giving up Smart or Robert Williams? Is it possible the Raptors can get him while keeping Barnes? The hope for Durant suitors is that the Nets ultimately feel forced to do a KD trade, and have to pick from a group of underwhelming offers.

The Durant trade saga continues to linger. At this point, don’t expect it to end any time soon.

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