Celtics, Heat, Raptors: Breaking down three leading Durant trade options


Kevin Durant still wants to be traded out of Brooklyn. Nets owner Joe Tsai backed his coach and GM over Durant-desired shake-up, continuing down a path of feeling he needs to take back control of his franchise culture.

In many ways, this leaves us exactly where we were before Tsai and Durant met in London: Durant’s trade request will be granted. Eventually. However, the market is not offering what the Nets see as a fair price for an MVP-level player (when healthy) under contract for four more years, especially considering where the Rudy Gobert trade set the market. Other teams see the asking price as too steep and have not gotten in a bidding war (and third teams aren’t jumping in to facilitate a deal). The Nets are being patient. With training camps not opening until Sept. 27, there is little pressure on either side to get a deal done today (or in the near future). There are questions about whether Durant will show up to training camp if not traded yet, but both sides are now clear about where this story arc is headed.

The big question now isn’t whether a team ups its offer or the Nets lower their demands to get a deal done (or, a little of both), but rather what team?

Boston, Miami, and Toronto are the three teams Shams Charania of The Athletic mentioned in the story that broke the Durant/Tsai meeting news. That’s not an accident. They are the three frontrunners, let’s break down their chances.


If you connect the dots, this appears to be where Durant sees his best future now, even if Boston was not on his original two-team list of destinations (Miami and Phoenix). Every anonymously leaked story — as Charania’s story on the Durant/Tsai meeting was sourced — comes from someone talking to a reporter because they want to control the spin. I don’t know who Charania’s source (or sources) is, but reading it and looking at the phrasings, much of it clearly comes out of the Durant camp. This is where we start connecting the dots: 1) The phrasing “Boston’s package centering around All-Star forward Jaylen Brown is seen as a viable deal” suggests the Durant camp thinks offers are not getting much better than that; 2) A discussion of how well Durant gets along with Celtics coach Ime Udoka, going back to their Team USA days, was added at the end of the story.

Those aren’t just throw-away lines. That’s not how a well-sourced Charania writes, especially when he can’t just come out and say something directly. This sounds like the Durant camp recognizing the best offer on the table can land the star on a title contender in Boston.

The question is which Celtics offer is “viable.” The Nets reportedly offered Brown, Derrick White and a first-round pick. The Nets allegedly countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart and more picks — Brooklyn has said it wants to get every asset it can in this deal. There was some back-and-forth (we don’t know the Celtics’ final offer) but Smart proved to be more than the Celtics seemed willing to surrender.

Boston’s biggest question: Should they trade Brown for Durant at all? The Celtics are a top-tier contender already, an NBA Finalist last season who upgraded with the additions of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. On the one hand, if Durant is healthy, he is an upgrade over Brown, providing an elite scorer and shot creator next to Jayson Tatum, plus KD plays solid defense. With him, Boston is the clear title favorite.

On the other hand, Brown is 25 and Durant is 34 — this trade shrinks the Celtics’ title window from five-to-seven years down to two-or-three, but if KD is healthy it opens the window wider for those years. If the Boston front office believes last season’s Finals run was not a fluke, should they get older or go with the guys they drafted and developed themselves?


It’s not a superstar trade scenario unless Miami is involved — Pat Riley is the ultimate big game hunter.

Miami came within a Jimmy Butler 3 of returning to the Finals last season after having the best record in the East — they are contenders, and with Durant title favorites. The problem in trading for Durant is the offer Miami can put together. Right now, that offer is, at its core, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, another player or two, and up to three first-round picks (to get to three they would have to work out a deal with Oklahoma City to loosen conditions on a 2025 first-rounder, but that is doable). Sources have told NBC Sports for a while the Nets are lukewarm on that Herro-based package. The Heat have hunted for other first-round picks to sweeten their offer,

Bam Adebayo is the wildcard. He would be the best player Brooklyn could get back in a Durant trade, but two things stand in the way. First, Miami hasn’t included him in any trade talks (and may never do so — they see Adebayo at the core of their post-Butler teams). Second, due to the Designated Rookie rule in the CBA — stating a team can’t have two players that they traded for on max extensions of their rookie contracts at the same time — Ben Simmons and Adebayo can’t both be on the Nets. The same Simmons who hasn’t stepped on the court in a year and forced his way out of Philly. If the Heat became willing to put Adebayo in a trade (and they may never go there), they would either need to take Simmons back in the deal, or find a third team that would welcome him.

Adebayo being offered in a deal is highly unlikely, which brings us back to the Herro/Robinson trade package and the Nets shrugging.


Toronto can put together a serious trade offer based around Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and multiple first-round picks. One can argue that Siakam is an upgrade over Brown (he has an All-NBA season averaging  22.8 points and 8.5 rebounds a game), but Siakam is also three years older. Still, that is a substantial offer.

What the Nets have wanted is reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes back in a Durant trade. Masai Ujiri and the Raptors have shot that down and kept him out of trade talks. So far. If that changes the Raptors can jump to the top of the Durant sweepstakes.

Toronto has been down this road before, trading fan favorite DeMar DeRozan to rent Kawhi Leonard — and it paid off with a banner. Would the Raptors try to catch lightning like that again? How long would Durant be happy in Toronto? The Raptors have a legitimate offer.


Not included in the big three above was the other team on Durant’s initial wish list, the Phoenix Suns. Since they matched the offer sheet and kept Deandre Ayton (who now can’t be traded until Jan. 15), they took themselves out of the Durant running. Technically, Phoenix can offer Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and a couple of other young players for KD, but that package is far below the others on the table. The Suns are out.

No, a Warriors reunion with Durant is not happening. It’s not even worth discussing.

New Orleans lurks in the shadows of the Durant trade talks, and if they included Brandon Ingram in an offer they could get serious consideration. So far, the Pelicans have not offered up Ingram. There are likely two reasons for that. First, they want to see how good they can be with Ingram, CJ McCollum, and a healthy Zion Williamson. This is a well-built roster without KD and the Pelicans would like to see just what they have. Second, and maybe the more significant concern in the Big Easy: Even if they traded for Durant, how long could they keep him? Is Durant going to be happy in New Orleans? Even with the argument of a good basketball fit, it feels like this would end poorly and quickly. The Pels recognize that.

Watch Trae Young get ejected for launching ball at referee


Trae Young screwed up and he knew it.

“It’s just a play he can’t make,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said via the Associated Press after the game. “I told him that. He knows it.”

With the score tied at 84 in the third quarter, Young had a 3-pointer disallowed and an offensive foul called on him for tripping the Pacers’ Aaron Nesmith. A frustrated Young picked up a technical foul for something he said.

Then walking back to the bench, Young turned and launched the ball at the referee with two hands. It was an instant ejection.


“There wasn’t a single part of him that tried to rationalize what happened,” Snyder said.

Young can expect a fine for this. It also was his 15th technical of the season, one more and he will get an automatic one-game suspension.

The Hawks went on to win 143-130, improving Atlanta to .500 at 37-37 and keeping them solidly as the No. 8 seed in the East.

Report: ‘Strong optimism’ Anthony Edwards could return to Timberwolves Sunday

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
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What looked so bad when it happened may only cost Anthony Edwards three games.

Edwards rolled his ankle last week but could be back Sunday when the Timberwolves travel to Golden State, reports Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports.

Edwards is averaging 24.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a game this season, and he has stepped up to become the team’s primary shot-creator with Karl-Anthony Towns out for much of the season. The Timberwolves have been outscored by 3.4 points per 100 possessions when Edwards is off the court this season.

Towns returned to action a couple of games ago, and with Edwards on Sunday it will be the first time since November the Timberwolves will have their entire core on the court — now with Mike Conley at the point. With the Timberwolves tied for the No.7 seed in an incredibly tight West (they are 1.5 games out of sixth but also one game out of missing the postseason entirely) it couldn’t come at a better time. It’s also not much time to develop of fit and chemistry the team will need in the play-in, and maybe the playoffs.

Nets announce Ben Simmons diagnosed with nerve impingement in back, out indefinitely

NBA: FEB 24 Nets at Bulls
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Ben Simmons — who has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup all season and often struggled when on the court — is out indefinitely due to a nerve impingement in his back, the team announced Friday.

A nerve impingement — sometimes called a pinched nerve — is when a bone or other tissue compresses a nerve. Simmons has a history of back issues going back to his time in Philadelphia, and he had a microdiscectomy about a year ago, after he was traded to Brooklyn.

With two weeks and nine games left in the season, logic would suggest Simmons is done for the season. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Thursday that Simmons has done some individual workouts but nothing with teammates, however, he would not say Simmons is shut down for the season or would not participate in the postseason with Brooklyn.

Simmons had not played since the All-Star break when he got PRP injections to help deal with ongoing knee soreness. When he has played this season offense has been a struggle, he has been hesitant to shoot outside a few feet from the basket and is averaging 6.9 points a game. Vaughn used him mainly as a backup center.

Simmons has two fully guaranteed years and $78 million remaining on his contract after this season. While Nets fans may want Simmons traded, his injury history and that contract will make it very difficult to do so this summer (Brooklyn would have to add so many sweeteners it wouldn’t be worth it).

The Nets have slid to the No.7 seed in the West — part of the play-in — and have a critical game with the Heat on Saturday night.

Frustration rising within Mavericks, ‘We got to fight hard, play harder’


If the postseason started today, the Dallas Mavericks would miss out — not just the playoffs but also the play-in.

The Mavericks fell to the No.11 seed in the West (tied with the Thunder for 10th) after an ugly loss Friday night to a tanking Hornets team playing without LaMelo Ball and on the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas is 3-7 with both Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić playing, and with this latest loss fans booed the Mavericks. What was Jason Kidd’s reaction? Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“We probably should have been booed in the first quarter,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said…. “The interest level [from players] wasn’t high,” Kidd said. “It was just disappointing.”

That was a little different than Kyrie Irving’s reaction to the boos.

Then there is franchise cornerstone Luka Dončić, who sounded worn down, by the season and the losing in Dallas.

“We got to fight hard, play harder. That’s about it. We got to show we care and it starts with me first. I’ve just got to lead this team, being better, playing harder. It’s on me….

“I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes I don’t feel it’s me. I’m just being out there. I used to have really fun, smiling on court, but it’s just been so frustrating for a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”

Dončić would not elaborate on what, outside basketball, has frustrated him.

Look at seeds 5-10 in the West and you see teams that have struggled but have the elite talent and experience to be a postseason threat: The Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker, plus Kevin Durant is expected back next week), the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry and the four-time champions), the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis and maybe before the season ends LeBron James).

Should the Mavericks be in that class? On paper yes, they have clutch playoff performers of the past in Dončić and Irving, but an energy-less loss to Charlotte showed a team lacking the chemistry and fire right now that teams like the Lakers (beating the Thunder) and Warriors (beating the 76ers) showed on the same night.

The Mavericks feel like less of a playoff threat, especially with their defensive concerns. They don’t have long to turn things around — and get into the postseason.