When the OKC Thunder selected Josh Giddey with the sixth pick of the 2021 NBA draft, it was met with mixed emotions. The Australian…
Kevin Durant dropped a bombshell on the NBA a couple of hours before the start of free agency by requesting a trade from Brooklyn.
The superstar forward is likely to yield one of the biggest, if not the biggest, trade packages of all time for the Nets, whose experiment of bringing in Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden has blown up in spectacular fashion.
Durant has reportedly requested Phoenix and Miami as his preferred trade destinations.
The 34-year-old is under contract for four more seasons worth $US193 million, so any franchise which can negotiate a deal with the Nets can do so with the knowledge that they don’t have to worry about him leaving early.
The Suns could put together a package around a sign-and-trade for former No.1 pick Deandre Ayton with the disgruntled centre keen to leave Phoenix while Miami could offer young shooters Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.
Brooklyn are reportedly already exploring trade deals with other franchises and whichever team lands Durant will need to stump up at least two or three blue-chip prospects and multiple unprotected first-round picks and swaps like the Lakers did when they dealt for Anthony Davis from New Orleans three years ago, widely considered the biggest haul in NBA history.
Irving opted into the final year of his contract earlier this week after being unable to negotiate a long-term extension with Brooklyn and the departure of his close friend is likely to lead to the All-Star guard also leaving the Nets.
It’s clear Durant was peeved at Nets management’s negotiations with Irving with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting KD had no contact with the Nets after his teammates opted into his deal and there was “a sense of inevitability” that he would demand a trade.
Brooklyn had reportedly only found out about Irving opting in via the media.
Boomers guard Ben Simmons, who was traded to Brooklyn midway through last season but controversially failed to play a match for them due to a back injury, is set to be starting next season without either of his fellow All-Star teammates.
Australian veteran Patty Mills opted out of his $6.2 million player option with Brooklyn to become a free agent but will return to the franchise on an upraded $14.5m contract.
Another Boomers star, Joe Ingles, has inked a deal with Milwaukee Bucks with his wife Renae tweeting the good news.
Ingles is rehabilitating his knee after tearing his ACL midway through last season with Utah.
The veteran forward will be a more than handy addition for Milwaukee as they look to go back to the NBA Finals following their Eastern Conference semi-final exit at the hands of Boston which ended their championship defence.
“Sources very close to free agent @Joeingles7 can confirm that he has agreed to a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. CEO of the house, Renae Ingles, is thrilled for Joe and their family. Joe himself, is said to be very bucking happy.”
Joe replied to his wife’s tweet with the eyes emoji and “breaking news”.
Also on the Australian front, former Boomers coach Brett Brown has sealed a deal to return to San Antonio as Gregg Popovich’s assistant. The former 76ers coach could succeed Popovich as Spurs head coach in the coming years when he eventually retires.
With the official start to free agency starting on Friday morning AEST, the announcements have been coming thick and fast.
Every team in the NBA will be doing their sums to see if they can put together a deal that will tempt the Nets to strike a trade.
Whoever it is will need to add multiple first-round picks and swaps but the race is now on to see which young prospects will catch Brooklyn’s eye.
The Nets don’t want to go into a full rebuild as they owe picks to Houston over the next few years from their Harden trade. As you read this, the Rockets are popping champagne bottles in Texas with the Nets’ Durant plan falling apart.
Preferred options: Phoenix could offer Deandre Ayton, Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges and still be left with Chris Paul and Devin Booker to give Durant a shot at a championship with the Suns.
Miami cannot trade All-Star centre Bam Adebayo due to a rule which prevents Brooklyn from having two players on designated rookie extensions. However, the Nets could bring him in if they also ship Ben Simmons out. Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson are good young scorers but Miami will need a lot more to offer Brooklyn to get a deal done.
Philadelphia cannot be ruled out with their president, Daryl Morey, known for executing blockbuster deals. Rising star Tyrese Maxey would be their best asset unless Harden was sent back to Brooklyn or a third team became involved.
Teams who can throw mega deals: Durant’s old team Oklahoma City could throw as many picks as Brooklyn wanted plus they have plenty of young prospects, including No.2 pick Chet Homgren, guard Shai Gilgeous Alexander and Boomers playmaker Josh Giddey. In theory, KD and Kyrie could both go to the Thunder and quickly build a title contender but it’s unlikely.
New Orleans also have a huge stash of future picks and rising stars on their roster but would have to give up Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram in a deal.
Memphis are another team that could package plenty of young talent, including Jaren Jackson jnr, but would not be willing to trade their face of the franchise, Ja Morant.
Denver could also give up the likes of Michael Porter jnr or Jamal Murray to pair KD with Nikola Jokic but with both those players coming off serious injuries, Brooklyn would be wary.
Toronto have a surplus of young talent with All-Star forward Pascal Siakam a potential centrepiece of a Durant trade. They shocked the NBA world by getting Kawhi Leonard a few years ago so they can’t be written off.
Other likely contenders: New York will be desperate to get KD and potentially Kyrie as well after missing out three years ago. But the Knicks don’t have many assets that could entice Brooklyn and the Nets will be unlikely to cut a deal with their cross-town rivals. It won’t stop Knicks fans from dreaming though.
The LA Lakers are always a candidate for a star free agent but what can they give the Nets apart from the final year of Russell Westbrook‘s albatross contract. They’d have to include Anthony Davis in a deal for Durant and even though LeBron James would love to pair up with KD in the final years of his career, it appears pretty unlikely.
The LA Clippers have several solid NBA rotation players and potentially Paul George or the newly acquired John Wall they could throw into a package for Durant but the Nets can find better value elsewhere.
Boston, after making the NBA Finals, could offer up Jaylen Brown to put KD next to Jayson Tatum and throw in young centre Robert Williams and an established guard in Marcus Smart.
Portland would also not have the draft capital to get Durant to link with Damian Lillard while Atlanta, after trading for Dejounte Murray to form an All-Star backcourt with Trae Young, would also struggle to get involved unless they got very creative.