Kevin Durant trade talks have been stalled out among the teams we knew to be at the top of the leaderboard. The Celtics had not significantly increased their offer from what was originally on the table (Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and picks) and had not had serious discussions for a while. The Toronto Raptors still will not include Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in a deal; the Heat would not include Bam Adebayo in a trade offer. Things were stuck.
Enter a new team in the mix: The Memphis Grizzlies.
Via Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Recently, a new team has shown interest in Durant: the Memphis Grizzlies, league sources tell The Athletic. Fresh off a 56-win season, the Grizzlies have made new inquiries to the Nets about Durant, those sources added. Memphis has five first-round draft picks available (four unprotected selections of its own and one protected via Golden State in 2024) to theoretically utilize in a trade as well as young players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, Kennedy Chandler and David Roddy…
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.
Like every other team in the league, the Grizzlies should have called and shown interest. It’s smart to test the waters.
However, this offer does not meet the Nets’ sky-high asking price for Durant. Brooklyn wants an under-25 All-Star level player at the front of the package and if Jackson and Bane are out of the question (as is Ja Morant, obviously), the best player the Grizzlies could include is 26-year-old Dillon Brooks, who is not an All-Star and is older than Brooklyn prefers. To make the salaries match, Steven Adams and Danny Green (out with a torn ACL) would have to be included in the trade.
Because the Nets will have Ben Simmons (and maybe, probably Kyrie Irving) on the roster, and because they traded most of their own upcoming draft picks to Houston to get James Harden, the Nets don’t want a picks-based package. They want players who can help them now, with some picks thrown in.
Memphis already sees itself on the path to a title — they finished second in the West last season and pushed the Warriors to six games in the playoffs with a young roster. Would the Grizzlies risk that trajectory and potential to trade for a 34-year-old Durant?
One question to ask yourself upon reading this report: Who benefits from this news being leaked? Not the Nets. Not really the Grizzlies, who have a young core that loves playing together and could have questions about the team’s commitment to them with this news. Kevin Durant and his camp, by keeping his name and trade talk in the headlines? Durant’s camp as a negotiating tactic because this brings in a new suitor, suggesting broader interest and tries to get the teams already involved — Miami, Boston, Toronto — to up their offers? That makes the most sense.
Expect the rumors to keep coming with KD, but his situation is likely headed to a training camp test of wills.