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Kevin Durant Trade Rumors: Ja Morant's Grizzlies Interested In Nets Star

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2022

Kevin Durant (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Memphis Grizzlies have reportedly stepped up their efforts in pursuit of a potential blockbuster trade for Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday that the Grizz made "new inquiries" to the Nets and, while they "do not appear inclined" to include Jaren Jackson Jr. or Desmond Bane in the offer, they are hopeful their five available first-round draft picks can entice Brooklyn.

In addition, Charania noted that a Twitter post by Memphis All-Star Ja Morant after KD requested a trade in late June "caught a lot of attention for its obvious pro-Durant sentiment."

Ja Morant @JaMorant

easy money

The 12-time All-Star is the one player on the trade market with the potential to significantly alter the NBA's landscape if dealt before the 2022-23 season, and that would certainly be the case if he heads to a Memphis squad that doesn't give up any of its core players.

A lineup of Durant, Morant, Jackson, Bane and Dillon Brooks would be lethal. Memphis also counts Steven Adams, Tyus Jones, Danny Green, Brandon Clarke and Ziaire Williams among its role players, though some of them would likely be included alongside the picks in a KD deal in order to even out the salaries.

The Nets have held firm on their sky-high asking price since the 33-year-old University of Texas product made his trade request, but the key question over the next two months is how the situation develops if he embarks on a holdout during training camp.

It's the only way for Durant's side to garner some leverage, since he's under contract through 2025-26 as part of a four-year, $194.2 million contract.

That deal puts Brooklyn in a power position, because the acquiring team would be getting the 2013-14 NBA MVP for an extended period rather than a short-term rental, thus increasing what they can ask in return.

Memphis also faces plenty of competition on the trade market. The Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors remain the "most serious threats" to land Durant, per Charania.

If the Nets can't convince him to return, it may become a situation where the first team to push its chips all-in gets one of the league's best players.

The Grizzlies don't necessarily have to make that type of move. They have a terrific young core and can bet on some natural progression over the next few seasons that could put them atop the championship conversation even without Durant.

That said, the opportunity to land an elite scorer who could open up a ton more space for Morant to operate is an attractive option despite the likely cost of every available first-rounder.

Is it time for the Grizzlies to mortgage future assets for perhaps the final piece of the puzzle or will they remain patient in their title pursuit? An answer may be on the horizon.

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