The Brooklyn Nets seem likely to have a dramatically different look next season, with Kevin Durant requesting a trade on Thursday and Kyrie Irving—who already was seeking sign-and-trade scenarios before ultimately exercising his player option—likely to follow him out the door.
One team that has been regularly linked to Irving is the Los Angeles Lakers, but they likely would need to get a third team involved to absorb Russell Westbrook's huge contract in any potential deal.
Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News noted the Charlotte Hornets could be one team that got involved in any talks though added that the Nets reportedly wouldn't be interested in receiving Gordon Hayward:
"What the Lakers are able to fetch for Westbrook would ultimately be re-routed to Brooklyn in exchange for Irving. The Nets might be willing to accept a deal that includes a combination of sharpshooting point guard Terry Rozier, versatile wing Kelly Oubre Jr., former first-round pick P.J. Washington and draft compensation. The Nets are unlikely to accept Gordon Hayward back in an Irving deal, according to a league source, as Hayward is due in excess of $60M over the next two seasons and has had a number of injuries that have kept him off the floor the past two seasons."
The Nets find themselves in a tough spot with Irving. If the veteran point guard makes it known that he plans to sign with the Lakers next summer in free agency, teams around the league aren't going to be inclined to give up much for a one-year rental.
The Lakers, in turn, have basically two options for acquiring Irvin: Get rid of Westbrook or give up Anthony Davis.
The latter is nonsensical, so if the Lakers want Irving, they'll need to find a third or fourth team to take on Westbrook's huge contract. That alone is going to cost them draft capital to get a team to take on that deal, more than likely, while finding a team that has pieces that the Nets will be interested in.
So it's going to be a complicated situation, although the alternative for the Nets is Irving existing in limbo for a year before Brooklyn likely loses him without getting anything in return.
As for the Hornets, it's curious why they would want to take on a ball-dominant point guard like Westbrook when they already have a young star in LaMelo Ball at the position. Taking the rock out of Ball's hands seems like a very poor idea.
Hayward, 32, would be the logical piece to move in the potential trade, given his $30 million cap hit next season. But injuries have majorly limited Hayward in recent years, and he averaged just 15.9 points in 49 games last season and has only exceeded 20 points per game in a season once in his career despite his lucrative contract.
So it isn't shocking that the Nets reportedly aren't interested in bringing him back in an Irving deal, especially with Gordon under contract through the 2023-24 campaign.
But it is going to take a third team for the Lakers to end up with Irving this season. It's going to be one wild July in Brooklyn.