NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and More
The 2022 NBA offseason has begun, and while new contracts cannot be officially signed until the moratorium period is lifted on July 6, the free-agent and trade landscapes have already drastically changed.
The biggest development since free agency began on Thursday is Kevin Durant's trade request to the Brooklyn Nets. With Kyrie Irving opting in for the 2022-23 season, Brooklyn had appeared poised to run it back with its top two stars, but the 12-time All-Star wants out.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Nets general manager Sean Marks is "working" with Durant to find a trade.
Where might Durant end up? What does his trade request mean for Irving and for the rest of the NBA? Let's dive into the latest buzz.
Suns, Heat Top Durant's Wish List
Durant is a one-time regular-season MVP and a two-time Finals MVP. While things didn't work out for him in Brooklyn, there will undoubtedly be several teams interested in adding his services this offseason.
According to Wojnarowski (h/t ESPN's Tom Bontemps), the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat are at the top of his wish list. Of the two, Phoenix may be Durant's No. 1 choice.
"I believe, ultimately, that Kevin Durant will be a Phoenix Sun," ESPN's Brian Windhorst said Friday on ESPN Radio, according to Sarah Kezele of 98.7 Arizona Sports.
However, this doesn't mean that Durant will wind up in Phoenix—or in Miami, for that matter—if a trade isn't favorable for the Nets. According to Wojnarowski, per Bontemps, the Nets aren't committed to sending Durant to a preferred destination:
"The Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat are among the teams Durant has on his wish list for a potential trade, sources told Wojnarowski. However, the Nets are not tied to honoring any of Durant's preferred destinations and plan to make a deal that allows them the greatest return of assets, sources told Wojnarowski."
In other words, the drama surrounding Durant's trade request is just getting started. We know where he would like to go, but we don't yet know if either Miami or Phoenix will be willing to make an offer that Brooklyn will accept.
We also don't know which other teams could enter the picture, though the Los Angeles Lakers don't appear to be one of them.
Lakers Circling Back to Irving After Durant's Request
According to Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic, a source has put the Lakers' chances of landing Durant at "zero."
However, Durant's request has reportedly reopened the door for a Los Angeles run at Irving.
From Buha and Amick:
"A source close to the situation indicated as much in the aftermath of the Durant trade request, and it makes all sorts of sense that the Durant decision ups the Lakers’ odds here. As The Athletic reported on Monday, Irving was hyper-focused on landing with the Lakers in the days and weeks leading up to his opt-in decision."
This shouldn't come as a surprise at all. The Lakers were eyeing Irving before the 30-year-old signed his player option. Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer told NBA insider Marc Stein that Irving had considered playing on the mid-level exception in L.A. this season.
However, Irving ultimately decided to return to Brooklyn to "fulfill his four-year commitment" to the Nets and to Durant, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
If Durant is out, so too is Irving's commitment to him. This opens the door for an Irving trade out of Brooklyn, and the Lakers appear to be the most logical landing spot—if they can facilitate a trade that the Nets accept while also parting with Russell Westbrook.
If Brooklyn has no interest in taking on Westbrook's contract. A third team will have to be involved somewhere along the line.
The Mavericks, Like the Rest of Us, Are Waiting to See How Durant's Situation Unfolds
The big free-agent development of the past 24 hours involves former Dallas Mavericks standout Jalen Brunson. According to Wojnarowski, Brunson has agreed to a four-year, $104 million deal with the New York Knicks.
According to Charania, the Mavericks never got a chance to make Brunson a firm offer.
Why didn't the Mavericks move more quickly to extend an offer to the budding 25-year-old star? It seems that, like the rest of us, Dallas is waiting to see how Durant's situation unfolds before getting too active this offseason.
"Right now we're waiting to see the ripple effect from the KD request," a source told Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News.
It's unclear whether the Mavericks have any interest in Durant or are simply waiting to see how a potential deal affects the free-agent and trade markets. Either way, Dallas appears to be content playing the waiting game.
Waiting may have cost the Mavericks a shot at re-signing Brunson. According to Caplan, however, fans shouldn't get "too worked up" about Dallas' quiet start to free agency. This suggests that the Mavericks do intend to be players on the market when they deem the time to be right.