The leaguewide offseason chatter about a potential Brooklyn Nets roster explosion had mostly dissipated since Kyrie Irving picked up his $36.5 million player option Monday afternoon—that is until Kevin Durant requested a trade away from the Nets come Thursday, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, roughly three hours before the start of the free-agent negotiating period.
And now, the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers landing Kyrie Irving becomes realistic again.
While the league briefly rumbled about potential Irving and Durant trade scenarios Monday—with the Durant trade being a perceived possibility if Irving chose to opt out and join the Lakers—two teams were often repeated to Bleacher Report by league figures as the All-NBA forward’s preferred destinations: the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat.
Brooklyn did not entertain rival inquiries for Durant earlier this week, sources told B/R, but Nets personnel made it clear Brooklyn's asking price would be massive in the event Durant ever did request to be moved. If Dejounte Murray drew two unprotected first-round picks, plus a third first-rounder and an additional pick swap, how much should Durant be worth on that scale?
Whatever the outcome, there will be many moving parts, and this transaction could very well become one of the largest blockbusters the NBA has ever seen.
Despite Irving’s recommitment to Brooklyn, league sources continued to whisper about Irving's mutual desire to reunite with LeBron James in Los Angeles this week. For that to happen anytime soon, the Lakers would likely need to find a third or even fourth team that would be willing to absorb Russell Westbrook's $47.1 million salary and still find players to compensate Brooklyn for Irving.
Now, perhaps Irving could find a way to Los Angeles, while the Nets explore every option on their roster.
"This gives the Lakers their best chance at Kyrie," one team cap strategist said.
From Brooklyn's perspective, sources said, there's no deal to land Durant in Phoenix that doesn't start with sending back Devin Booker to Barclays Center. The Suns, of course, would likely hold the line firm. But early indications are the Nets brass is not particularly inclined to take a sign-and-trade that brings back restricted free agent Deandre Ayton.
As far as Miami, Brooklyn's request would likewise start with Bam Adebayo. But taking back either Adebyo or Booker would open up a whole new can of worms. As first mentioned by Keith Smith of Spotrac, Brooklyn could not acquire Adebayo or Booker and still retain Ben Simmons, as league rules prohibit teams from rostering two designated rookie-scale-contract players acquired via trade.
So if Brooklyn's best offer does come from Miami, that would likely indicate Simmons would need to find a new destination.
Elsewhere around the league, name a potential trade partner, pick their best player under 30 years old and see where an offer for Durant would have to start. The Anthony Davis package New Orleans landed from Los Angeles in 2019 would be the closest benchmark in recent memory.
The only team that NBA sources with knowledge of the situation have indicated is not a tangible option for Durant is Golden State. And the Warriors likely don't have a package of win-now pieces that would strike Brooklyn's interest anyhow.
The Nets won't be required to acquiesce to Durant's desired landing spots, either. They will listen across the league, and Brooklyn will assuredly look for one of the largest compensation packages for a superstar in NBA history. And, as sources told B/R, the Nets will continue to conduct business with a goal of contending for a championship.