Report: Some with 76ers “felt strongly” about exploring Durant trade

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Kevin Durant will get his wish — a trade out of Brooklyn. More than one of the game’s greatest scorers ever, Durant also understands how to play the game off the court: He knew a “me or Steve Nash and Sean Marks” ultimatum — and especially leaking it publically — would result in Nets owner Joe Tsai backing his coach and GM. However, Durant may have miscalculated if he thought that added pressure would speed up the process. No team will take the Nets off the hook now and increase their offer.

Three teams are known to be in the mix for Durant: Miami, Boston, and Toronto.

Some in the 76ers front office would like to get in that group, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

As of earlier this week, there were high-ranking members of the Sixers who’ve felt strongly about engaging with Brooklyn on a Durant trade. It is unknown if Brooklyn and Philadelphia have made any recent progress on a trade…

The Sixers would almost certainly have to include Tyrese Maxey in a trade for Durant. Given the dynamics at play, you’d think that Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and other players/draft picks would be included.

76ers GM Daryl Morey is a big game hunter, and this rumor shouldn’t be a shock.

Before going all-in on the Durant trade idea, Philadelphia has a couple of questions it needs to ask itself. First, after Harden forced his way out in Brooklyn, are he and Durant all good and willing to be teammates again? Maybe so. Maybe Harden’s move out of NYC was born out of frustration with Kyrie Irving and the Nets organization, not Durant. But the 76ers need to be sure.

Second, after upgrades this summer with P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and DeAnthony Melton, the 76ers are already contenders. Do they want to mess with that? No doubt a healthy Durant is an upgrade over Harris at the three/four and makes the 76ers title favorites, but are they willing to bet on Durant’s health? Plus, trading Maxey means losing a bridge to the future after Embiid steps away. It may be worth all that to open that championship window wider right now, but it is a risk.

Philadelphia’s offer may not be enough, depending on how Brooklyn rates and values Maxey. The young point guard would be the star of the deal. Harris is a solid player but is only in this potential trade because of his salary (he is owed $76.9 million over this season and next, fully guaranteed), and Thybulle is an excellent young defender to throw in (but is an offensive liability at this point). The 76ers have limited first-round picks they can trade, but there are a couple.

Would the Nets see the Maxey offer as better than a Jaylen Brown-centered offer out of Boston? Probably not. The 76ers also could not beat a Scottie Barnes Raptors offer or a Bam Adebayo Heat offer, although neither of those players are currently on the table. (Would Brooklyn rate Maxey higher than the Heat’s Tyler Herro? Because the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is available for a Durant trade.)

One thing Morey and the 76ers have in common with the Celtics/Heat/Raptors front offices: Nobody is upping their trade offers after Durant’s ultimatum. Teams will let the pressure mount on the Nets as they head toward training camp, waiting for the Nets’ sky-high trade demands to fall back to earth.

Pelican’s Green says Zion ‘dominated the scrimmage pretty much’

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The Zion hype train keeps right on rolling. First were the reports he was in the best shape of his life, then he walked into media day and it looked like he is.

Now Zion has his own hype man in Pelicans coach Willie Green, who said he dominated the first day of team scrimmages. Via Andre Lopez of ESPN.

“Z looked amazing,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said on Wednesday afternoon. “His strength, his speed. He dominated the scrimmage pretty much.”

“What stood out was his force more than anything,” Green said. “He got down the floor quickly. When he caught the ball, he made quick decisions. Whether it was scoring, finding a teammate. It was really impressive to see.”

Reach for the salt shaker to take all this with — it’s training camp scrimmages. Maybe Zion is playing that well right now — he’s fully capable, he was almost an All-NBA player in 2020-21 (eighth in forward voting) before his foot injury — but we need to see it against other teams. In games that matter. Then we’ll need to see it over a stretch of time.

If Zion can stay healthy this season, if his conditioning is where everyone says it is, he could be in for a monster season. Combine that with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and a strong supporting cast in New Orleans, and the Pelicans could surprise a lot of people — and be fun to watch.

 

PBT Podcast: What’s next for Celtics, Suns? Should NBA end one-and-done?

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NBA training camps just opened and teams have yet to play a preseason game, but already two contenders are dealing with problems.

The Celtics have the suspension of coach Ime Udoka as a distraction, plus defensive anchor center Robert Williams will miss at least the start of the season following another knee surgery.

The Suns have the distraction of a suspended owner who is selling the team, plus Jae Crowder is out and demanding a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not seem happy.

Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and myself go through all the training camp news, including the wilder ones with the Lakers and Nets, breaking down what to take away from all that — plus how good Zion Williamson and James Harden look physically.

Then the pair discusses the potential of the NBA doing away with the one-and-done role and letting 18-year-olds back in the game — is that good for the NBA?

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six
Harry How/Getty Images
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In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

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In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.