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Windhorst asks should Nets abandon contention, get past controversies and rebuild?

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

No one had better — and more balanced — reporting on the Nets since the KD and Kyrie sagas than Brian Windhorst of ESPN. It didn’t appear that he was carrying water for anyone ... player, GM or owner.

Now Windy suggests that even though the Nets seem to be one happy crew with a 3-1 record in their last four games under new head coach Jacque Vaughn, and there’s movement on Kyrie Irving’s return, a lot of things that stand in the way of a successful season, which unless things have changed is still defined as the Larry O’Brien Trophy and a parade down Flatbush.

There’s the Kyrie Irving crisis which still has a way to go and all the detritus left over from Kevin Durant’s trade request in the summer, Ben Simmons physical and mental issues, the firing of Steve Nash, the aborted hiring of Ime Udoka, etc., etc. Is it time, Windhorst asks, for a rebuild starting with a KD trade that would bring back a bevy of draft picks.

Here’s his logic...

“I want to be clear this is just something that league executives are talking about and, frankly, the Brooklyn Nets’ front office has to seriously start considering. And that would be a potentially nuclear option of beginning a blow-up to this roster this season. …. They owe the next four drafts, essentially, to the Houston Rockets. A pic swap this year, (Brooklyn’s) pick unprotected next year, another pick swap in two years, and in three years, their pick. But of those four, this year is interesting.

“If this Nets team is not going to rebound, if Kyrie Irving isn’t able to satisfy the Nets and bring him back, if Ben Simmons’ knee and returning from his back issue is too big of a hurdle for him to be an impact player, maybe they need to look at what would happen if they took advantage of the pick swap this year, because the Houston Rockets are one of the league’s worst teams. And with Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson in this year’s draft, they’re going to stay one of the worst teams.

“If the Nets elected to go down the path of an instantaneous rebuild, they could get their pick into position where even if it swaps with the Houston Rockets this year, it’d still potentially be a lottery pick in a very deep draft. It would also potentially bring Kevin Durant back on the market to be traded. And so if the Brooklyn Nets did this, they would potentially have the assets they got from a Kevin Durant trade, potentially a very good lottery pick, and potentially other pieces and parts from other players they could trade this year.”

The Nets indeed have a shortfall in the Draft as we pointed out back in September. We’ve also pointed out that historically, in superstar trades, the best return is usually a young developing player as well as picks. (See what the Pelicans got for Anthony Davis: Brandon Ingram. Lonzo Ball, Kevin Hart and three first round picks.)

But would they do it? Joe Tsai and Sean Marks don’t seem that interested. After all, we have entered the era of good feelings in Brooklyn with Kevin Durant playing the best basketball he’s ever played at the beginning of a season. Only this 3-point shooting is down significantly from his norms. He is also showing signs of leadership and has been a positive presence even with this best friend still outside the building looking in.

Indeed, Durant’s trade value right now is as high as one could expect He is a legitimate MVP candidate, he has almost four years left on his contract and he isn’t demanding a trade as he was in the summer. All that makes him a highly valuable trade asset. No doubt the Nets would be making at least as high demands of other teams as they did in the summer with names like Jaylen Brown, Scottie Barnes and Ingram on Marks’ list.

There is plenty of time for the Nets to decide a future course of action. First deadline will arrive whenever Irving steps back on the court ... and everyone sees how things are working. Does the team’s recent success continue? Then, December 15 is the first date that any talks are likely to turn serious. That’s when about a third of the league’s 450 players — the free agents signed this summer — will become eligible to be traded. If you’re engaging in complicated, maybe multi-team scenarios, those extra assets could come in handy. Finally, there’s the trade deadline, February 9 which is a long time away.