NBA Summer League is winding down and league executives are heading home (or on European vacations), making this the time of year when the free agent and trade market typically slows down. This year there are some bigger names still hanging out there — Collin Sexton, Montrezl Harrell, the Donovan Mitchell sweepstakes — but this is the point in the summer when teams have largely assembled their rosters and are looking ahead.
That may be the case in Brooklyn.
Kevin Durant asked for a trade but the first round of offers did not impress the Nets, who saw what Utah got for Rudy Gobert and expected more. Now add in the offer-sheet-then-matching that keeps Deandre Ayton in Phoenix (for now) and it comes down to this simple truth — there is no bidding war for Durant.
So the Nets may head into training camp with Durant and Kyrie Irving on the roster, playing the long game. That buzz was building among team officials in Las Vegas last weekend when I was still there, and now Brian Windhorst of ESPN is talking about it on the GetUp.
“As for Kevin Durant, here’s what there is: nothing. There is no movement here. The executives are leaving Summer League…
“At this point, the Nets’ preferred situation is for Kevin Durant to stay with them. There is no trade they they’ve got that they like. A huge question and what the league is in some ways waiting for is what does Durant feel? He’s the one who asked for the trade. Have his feelings changed with some of the avenues for trades dimming?”
Kyrie Irving, at least publicly, is spinning that he wants to be in Brooklyn. Riiight, like he didn’t spend the entire summer trying to find a new home. Irving’s new attitude is very likely a reaction to the market for his services — only one team is interested, the Lakers, and they have to find a third team to take on Russell Westbrook‘s salary because the Nets don’t want it — plus Irving may realize he’s going to have to play a committed season with the Nets if he wants real options next summer.
What would Durant in a Nets training camp look like? It is a huge risk, but the Nets may be willing to bet that KD is not Jimmy Butler (or James Harden), that he would not be a disruptive force that necessitates an instant trade. It would go against Durant’s “I’m just a baller” persona to blow things up or refuse to play basketball because he didn’t want to be in this uniform.
One reason the Nets want to trade Durant before Irving is just this scenario — KD might be happier to team up with his friend Irving than whoever the Nets would get back in a trade.
Eventually, Durant will get traded (and likely Irving, too). But the Nets know they get one swing at this and are not going to take an offer they feel is less than fair — and the Gobert trade raised the bar on fair. This could drag into the regular season.