NBA rumors: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trade talks; Deandre Ayton free agency

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Several NBA executives considering roster moves and agents hoping to negotiate deals for their remaining clients on the free agent market are anxiously awaiting a Durant trade to materialize. However, there’s skepticism around the league that a Durant trade will happen soon, and talks could linger into training camp.

Currently, the Nets are seeking a combination of the best assets from teams, including any All-Star player(s), rising young players with All-Star potential and substantial unprotected draft picks and pick swaps where applicable for Durant, but those trade packages aren’t currently materializing.

After Utah received four first-round picks and a pick swap as part of the Rudy Gobert trade to Minnesota, Brooklyn is holding out for a king’s ransom for Durant.

Five NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype at Vegas Summer League felt Minnesota overpaid for Gobert and increased the price tag for Durant in the process. When asked in general what Durant’s trade value should be worth following the Dejounte Murray and Gobert trades, one NBA general manager told HoopsHype, “Durant is worth a James Harden type of package.”

Several executives who spoke with HoopsHype believe that while at least half the league has reportedly expressed exploratory interest in trading for Durant, the fits for realistic trade partners could be niched to a handful of teams at best. Only teams in playoff contention make realistic sense to trade for Durant, who turns 34 in September.

Both the Suns and Heat, two of Durant’s preferred destinations, would have to expand a potential trade to three or four teams to meet Brooklyn’s asking price.

The Raptors remain hesitant to part with Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any potential trade talks for Durant, league sources told HoopsHype. The Nets would push for Barnes to be included in any trade scenario involving Durant. OG Anunoby is a player Toronto has been reluctant to trade when other teams have inquired, including turning down Portland’s interest in trading for him with the seventh overall pick. It’s unclear if Toronto would include Anunoby in trade talks for Durant. Logically speaking, a package centered around All-Star forward Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. could be Toronto’s starting point in trade talks, but the Nets would certainly push for more.

The Pelicans have assets to get Durant, but multiple NBA executives don’t think a small market team like New Orleans would make a strong push for Durant since they have two young All-Stars in Zion Williamson signed to an extension and Brandon Ingram signed through the next three seasons. Other rival executives believe Durant wouldn’t want to be traded to New Orleans.

The Clippers believe they’re potential title contenders with the healthy duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who are both close with each other, and arguably the deepest team in the league.

The Warriors have several young assets on paper, including Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman and Moses Moody, but Golden State would be reluctant to give up all these assets in a Durant trade proposal, HoopsHype has learned. Andrew Wiggins would be an attractive trade chip and is coming off an All-Star season, but he can’t be included in a Durant trade at the moment, as explained in-depth by our USA TODAY colleagues at For The Win.

So what happens if a trade package for Durant doesn’t materialize by training camp?

“I’d tell Durant we’re not trading you,” one former NBA general manager told HoopsHype.

Durant is signed for the next four years with no player option in his contract, and many around the league believe Brooklyn has the leverage despite his trade request.

“Durant loves to play,” another general manager told HoopsHype. “I don’t think he has it in him to sit out. I’d make him play and try to convince him and Kyrie (Irving) that this is their best chance to win.” 

Keep in mind, Durant has had some input in the roster construction for the Nets since signing with Brooklyn, including vouching for several veteran additions during his time with the team, such as DeAndre Jordan, James Johnson, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Michael Beasley, league sources told HoopsHype.

Expect the Nets to hold onto Durant until they get a godfather offer with the subtle hope that he will change his mind and want to remain with the Nets and fulfill his four-year contract extension.

As one opposing coach for a Western Conference team told HoopsHype, “Durant is the best professional scorer the game has ever seen.”

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