As the schedule approaches August and much of the roster maneuvering that happens via the NBA draft and free agency is behind us, the scorching days of the offseason are here. But the uncertain future of superstars Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell continues to loom over the league. The NBA never sleeps.
So, as NBA executives and players scatter around the world for much-needed time off and personal time after shortened 2020 and 2021 offseasons due to the coronavirus pandemic, a full summer gives everyone the time to clear your mind even if the very balance of power for next season and beyond is yet to be determined.
There’s no trade deadline at this time, but deadlines always spawn action, allowing parties to get really serious or decide to walk away from the talks. Now, the start of training camp around September 26 is the unofficial trade deadline. Teams aiming to move players face the late September date to find a move before camp – or they risk having a hanging cloud at the start of the season.
Durant requested a trade to Brooklyn on June 30, sources say, and after active talks between the Nets and interested teams in early July, talks slowed. The Nets have set an incredibly high threshold for the return the franchise wants in a trade Durant — a two-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, a former league MVP and 12-time All-Star — and the teams haven’t come close to hitting their price yet.
Durant has shown no change in his stance, sources say, and all-league executives at the Las Vegas Summer League this month discussed whether his status for training camp could be restored. in question via a refusal if no business developed.
After the Phoenix Suns matched Indiana’s $133 million maximum offer sheet to Deandre Ayton, Durant’s list of suitors became clearer. With Ayton currently unable to be traded, the Suns appear to be virtually eliminated from the Durant draw. The Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat remain among the teams in pursuit – and the Boston Celtics recently offered a package around former All-Star Jaylen Brown for Durant and have emerged as a real threat to acquire Durant, sources say. the league Athleticism.
The Celtics have offered Brown, guard Derrick White and a Nets draft pick for Durant, sources said. The proposal was rejected and Brooklyn asked Boston – in any proposal – to include Brown, Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, draft picks and potentially another rotation player, the sources added. Currently, the Celtics are less inclined to include Smart along with several other players or pick assets, but the franchise is considering next steps on how to approach discussions.
Right now, the Celtics have emerged as a serious possibility as a landing spot for Durant. They have a huge stake in bringing him in and see him as a piece that could get them past that final hurdle. While there’s work to be done, there’s a deal to be done that would be enough for the Nets’ overwhelming demand.
For Boston, fresh off a trip to the NBA Finals, the opportunity to potentially land one of the greatest players in league history is one that President Brad Stevens needs to analyze and explore. However, the Celtics are definitely on the verge of being sensible and keen to ensure the franchise can remain a championship contender for years to come, which is what this current core seems set to do. But it’s Kevin Durantand his greatness could instantly reshape a team’s fortunes from title contender to title winner under the right circumstances.
No Durant deal is imminent, and as August and then September loom, the true desire of interested teams will become clear to the Nets. Brooklyn’s front office, led by general manager Sean Marks, has put a high price on Durant’s market while building a team that gives the organization confidence in its ability to fight if the team brings up the roster, such What, at training camp. It behooves interested parties to come to the table to meet the award of one of the NBA’s greatest players. The Utah Jazz traded Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a multi-player package, their 2022 first-round pick in Walker Kessler, four future first-rounders and a trade in draft picks – which increased the market value somewhat Durant and the Nets’ desire for All-Star caliber players and picks.
Nets star Kyrie Irving has opted for his $37 million player option for next season, committing to the 2022-23 season with the franchise. In Brooklyn, much remains to be settled – and a clearer picture promises to reveal itself as the summer progresses – and the belief that the best path to competing for a championship could certainly be to bring the current roster in the new season.
ESPN first reported on the Celtics entering as an interested suitor for Durant.
Meanwhile, the league’s eyes and ears also remain fixed on the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks engaged in trade talks over Mitchell. The Knicks’ asset pool – up to eight first-round picks and young players such as Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin – gives them a clear opportunity to acquire Mitchell, but sources say talks have been up. now advanced slowly and the sides are far from an agreement. With three guaranteed years remaining on Mitchell’s contract, the Jazz aren’t operating with a sense of urgency and have time to assess the best deals for the 25-year-old.
Mitchell spent the summer in his usual off-season routine: high-intensity workouts and time with family and friends. Sources said the three-time NBA All-Star didn’t ask for a trade or try to force his way out of Utah, but if the franchise is heading for a full rebuild, a contender like Mitchell would prefer to be in an environment focused on winning now, not later.
Besides New York, several other teams have expressed interest in the Jazz for Mitchell, such as Washington, Miami, Toronto, Charlotte, Sacramento and Atlanta, sources say.
Like Brooklyn, the Jazz have held firm to raise the bar on any potential deal with Mitchell, and they expect to be patient throughout the process. For now, the Jazz will continue to assess incoming calls and look for ways to balance their roster.
The unofficial NBA trade deadline for the offseason is two months away, and Durant and Mitchell loom as major dominoes for the entire league.
More NBA news and notes…
Collin Sexton is in the middle of the toughest free agency status — restricted free agency — but the fourth-year guard and his rep, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, have shown so far that they don’t. will not settle in the negotiations. Discussions could continue into training camp and potentially into the season when the league roster landscape changes.
Sexton has a qualifying offer of $7.2 million for the 2022-23 season, which would make him one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market next offseason.
Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. and the organization have a mutual interest in a contract extension before the start of the 2022-23 season, sources said. Porter, the No. 30 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, is entering the final season of his rookie contract. He joined the Rockets on Jan. 29, 2021, and has progressed over the past two years in Houston.
Porter averaged 15.6 points, 6.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game last season while shooting a career-best 37.5 percent from 3-point range.
Los Angeles Lakers
After further conversations, former NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace will no longer join the staff of new Lakers coach Darvin Ham, sources said. Wallace was an assistant under Penny Hardaway at the University of Memphis last season.
Utah, New York and Indiana are among teams that have discussed deals with the Lakers involving Russell Westbrook and the capital draft, sources said. There doesn’t appear to be an imminent deal in those conversations – as the overall trade market unfolds over the next two months of the offseason.
(Top photo: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)