The Brooklyn Nets started the season with one of the best “Big Threes” in the league, but now the team may be in danger of completely breaking up, which should have the attention of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets went through a very public divorce with James Harden leading to a midseason trade, and now Kyrie Irving’s future in Brooklyn hangs in the balance.
Much has been made about the Lakers potentially making a run at Irving, but the door could be opening ever so slightly for Kevin Durant. New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield reported May 24 that Durant has not spoken to the Nets’ front office since they were swept by the Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Irving can opt out of his current deal to become a free agent this summer, and the Nets remain noncommittal about keeping the point guard for the long term. So if Irving leaves, the Nets could have another unhappy NBA superstar in Durant after dealing with one in Harden.
“That’s a first-round exit at best — if Durant stays to see it, and according to multiple sources, Durant and the Nets front office have not spoken since they were swept out of the first round,” Winfield wrote. “In layman’s terms, if Irving leaves the Nets, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Durant becomes frustrated with the organization’s ability to put championship pieces around him. They failed to do so at the beginning of last season, with none of their top offseason acquisitions — James Johnson, DeAndre Bembry or Jevon Carter — finishing the year in Brooklyn.”
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What Would a Lakers Trade for Durant Look Like?
The Lakers’ LeBron James has made no secret about his desire to play with Durant, who just signed a four-year, $198 million contract extension last August that runs through the 2025-26 season. For the Lakers to have a chance at Durant, they would need him to force his way to Los Angeles.
All hindrances aside, Durant is one of the few players who might be able to prompt James to be OK with the Lakers trading away his good friend Anthony Davis. From the Nets perspective, Davis would have to be the centerpiece of the possible trade, and even this is likely unappealing for Brooklyn. Durant would have to apply the same kind of pressure on the Nets front office that Harden did.
Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker and several future first-round picks would be the starting point for any potential Lakers-Nets deal involving Durant. While the deal works within the salary cap, the Nets are sure to have no shortage of offers if the team explores trading Durant.
Irving Leaving the Nets Could Prompt Durant to ‘Demand Out’: Report
The Irving situation is worth monitoring not only to see what happens with the point guard, but it is likely to impact Durant’s satisfaction with the Nets franchise. Front Office Sports’ Anthony Puccio reported that if Irving leaves the Nets it could open the door “for KD to demand out.”
“As Winfield notes, Kevin Durant and Nets haven’t spoken since the season ended, and things can get ugly if they don’t re-sign Kyrie Irving,” Puccio detailed in a series of May 25 tweets. “Appears Brooklyn is reluctant on giving Kyrie a long-term deal. It’s common knowledge that Durant is committed to playing with Kyrie Irving. Letting him walk would only open the door for KD to demand out. Marks is playing with fire if he can’t find a middle ground with Kyrie.”
Could KD Lure LeBron to the Nets in 2023?
There are plenty of reasons for Durant to be frustrated at the state of the Brooklyn franchise. Durant teamed up with Irving to make the move to the Nets, but the superstar only played in 29 games during the regular season, largely due to his vaccination status. The seven-time All-Star appeared to vouch for Harden, his former Thunder teammate, prior to the Nets agreeing to make a blockbuster deal with the Rockets in January 2021.
Just a year later, Harden was already frustrated and yet again wanted to be traded. The Nets swapped Harden for Ben Simmons who has yet to play a game for Brooklyn as a back injury kept him out to end the season. Durant now finds himself part of a new “Big Three” with two players who spent the majority of last season on the sideline.
Time will tell if any of this is enough for Durant to request a trade, but James’ future with the Lakers could be of interest to the Nets star if he remains in Brooklyn. James not signing a contract extension with the Lakers this summer would make the four-time NBA champion a free agent in 2023.
If the Nets and Durant patch things up, the superstar could try to lure James to Brooklyn but the cap implications would be complicated. According to Spotrac, the Nets are projected to have just $13.79 million in cap space in 2023, and that is without a new contract extension for Irving.
The Nets will do everything in their power to remain on solid ground with Durant, but the Lakers should be the first team to call if the All-Star’s frustration reaches a boiling point. The bigger question is whether Davis and draft picks would be enough for L.A. to get a serious trade discussion going with Brooklyn if Durant requests a trade.