The Brooklyn Nets started the season with one of the best “Big Threes” in the league, but now the team is in danger of a complete split, which should get the attention of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets have already gone through a very public divorce from James Harden leading to a mid-season trade, and Kyrie Irving’s future is now very much in the balance.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Lakers possibly making a run at Irving, but the door could open ever so slightly for Kevin Durant. Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reported Durant had not spoken to the Nets front office since being swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Irving can opt out of his current contract to become a free agent this summer, and the Nets aren’t committing to keeping the point guard long-term. These are the very first steps in what could be another unfortunate NBA superstar in Durant, a situation the Nets just went through with Harden.
“It’s a first-round outing at best – if Durant sticks around to see it, and according to multiple sources, Durant and the Nets front office haven’t spoken since being swept out of the first-round,” wrote Winfield on May 24, 2022. “Simply put, 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 start of last season, with none of their best offseason acquisitions — James Johnson, DeAndre Bembry or Jevon Carter — ending the year in Brooklyn.
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What would a Lakers trade for Durant look like?
LeBron James has made no secret of his desire to playing with Durant, but this list of players certainly grows as his career progresses. Durant just signed a four-year, $198 million contract extension last August that spans the 2025-26 season.
For the Lakers to have a chance at Durant, the team would need the superstar to not only ask for a trade, but try to force his way to Los Angeles. This is a big step up from simply removing the front office for a few weeks.
All hurdles aside, Durant is one of the few players who would likely make James agree to the Lakers trading his good friend Anthony Davis. From the Nets’ perspective, Anthony Davis should be the centerpiece of the possible trade, and even that probably isn’t attractive to Brooklyn. Durant should pressure the Nets front office as we saw when Harden made his way to the 76ers.
Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker and a boatload of 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 certainly won’t run out of offers if the team considers trading Durant.
Irving leaving Nets could make Durant ‘demand’: report
Irving’s situation is worth watching not only to see what’s going on with the point guard, but it’s 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 ask.”
“As Winfield notes, Kevin Durant and the Nets haven’t spoken since the end of the season, and things can turn sour if they don’t re-sign Kyrie Irving,” Puccio detailed in a series of Tweets from May 25. “It seems like Brooklyn is reluctant to give Kyrie a long-term contract. It’s common knowledge that Durant has committed to playing Kyrie Irving. Letting him walk would only open the door for KD to demand. Marks is playing with fire if he can’t find common ground with Kyrie.
Could KD lure LeBron to the Nets in 2023?
There are many reasons Durant is frustrated with the state of the Brooklyn franchise. Durant partnered with Irving to move to the Nets, but the superstar only played 29 games during the regular season, largely due to his vaccine status. The seven-time All-Star appeared to vouch for Harden, his former Thunder teammate, before the Nets agreed to a blockbuster deal with the Rockets in January 2021.
Barely a year later, Harden was already frustrated and wanted to be traded yet again. The Nets traded Harden for Ben Simmons who has yet to play a game for Brooklyn because a back injury kept him from finishing the season. Durant is now part of a new ‘Big Three’ with two players who spent the majority of last season on the sidelines.
Time will tell if that’s all enough for Durant to ask for a trade, but James’ future with the Lakers could be of interest to the Nets star if he stays 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 implications of the cap would be complicated. According to Spotrac, the Nets should only have $13.79 million in cap space in 2023, and that’s without a new contract extension for Irving.
The Nets will do everything in their power to stay 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 the draft picks would be enough for LA to start a serious trade talk with Brooklyn if Durant asks for a trade.