Nets’ Sean Marks wants a huge comeback for Kevin Durant
Spurs received three first-round picks for Dejounte Murray and the Jazz topped that by essentially bringing back five for Rudy Gobert – setting the bar for Kevin Durant. The Nets are expecting an Elon Musk-level fortune in exchange for their star, who demanded a trade, and they could get it.
No, make them have to get it. The return of a royal ransom for Durant will be GM Sean Marks’ one and only chance to salvage what is a dire situation, to make it an on-the-fly retooling rather than a long and arduous rebuild.
This situation has essentially frozen much of the league, including the Nets, until they decide what to do with Kyrie Irving. It remains to be seen where the Nets will send Durant and how much they will get for him. The Jazz await the answer, both as a model for picks the Nets might get and as a potential three-way trade partner.
The Nets are believed to be looking for a young All-Star as the centerpiece of the deal, along with a host of picks. ESPN reported that not only did more than half of the teams in the league call Marks with offers, some even came back to raise their offers before even getting a counter offer. It’s an unusual circumstance, but the whole situation is an unusual circumstance.
Players like Durant don’t usually become available. Durant asked to leave Brooklyn not only because of the melodrama with Irving, but also apparently because he didn’t see enough infrastructure and leadership in the franchise, Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported on NBATV. But wanting to go out and going where he wants are two different things.
Durant has four years left on his contract and, surprisingly, he doesn’t have a player option or no-trade clause. This has already reduced his influence in choosing a landing spot, and the volume of offers the Nets receive will reduce it even more. They’ll likely decide on one of those offers before deciding where to trade Irving and his expiring contract.
While the Nets will clearly work with Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman to find a suitable destination, Marks has proven unsentimental and will ultimately take whatever offer suits the organization best.
The easiest, cleanest moves might be to New Orleans (around Brandon Ingram and picks) or Toronto (based around Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and picks). Raptors boss Masai Ujiri traded for Kawhi Leonard in 2018 and won a title the following season. What would he give for four years of Durant?
There are glaring issues with Durant’s favorite teams, the Suns and Heat, which could force the expansion of the trade to involve one or two other teams. It’s no stranger to Marks, who hit an NBA record with five teams.
The Nets can’t take over the Heat’s best piece, center Bam Adebayo. The collective agreement will not allow them to trade for a player on a designated rookie extension, such as Adebayo, as they already have Ben Simmons on such a deal. (Remember that ABC quirk. It’ll be back. And again.)
And Durant would only want to play for Miami if it’s alongside Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry, according to The Athletic.
The Nets can’t take Devin Booker from the Suns and aren’t supposed to like taking Phoenix’s restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton in a sign-and-trade. But Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reported that Utah was exploring a trade for Ayton to replace Gobert. Phoenix could then redirect incoming picks, as well as their own and forwards Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson.
But the Jazz might be relevant in another way, because of superstar goaltender Donovan Mitchell.
After Utah let go of Mitchell’s lifelong pal Eric Paschall, the Nets traded for his friend Royce O’Neale and the Jazz traded Gobert, signaling they were rebuilding. This could prompt Mitchell to ask for a trade. If that happens, it could prompt the Nets to quit Simmons to make any three-way deal possible for Mitchell.
There is a lukewarm market, at best, for Irving. And because any deal for Durant will likely be more complex and will certainly be bigger, the Nets intend to work that out before sending Irving to the Lakers or elsewhere.