With free agency about to begin (6:00 p.m. ET Thursday), the Nets situation remains uncertain. While Kyrie Irving has decided to opt in, numerous pundits suggest that he may still be moved and Kevin Durant still hasn’t been heard from ... at least on his future in Brooklyn.
As Brian Windhorst said Wednesday...
“When Kyrie announced he was opting in, I was like ‘okay, we can move on. This won’t be a thing,’ said Windhorst. “But that’s not what my phone was telling me. That’s not what the executives were telling me. That’s not what the agents were telling me. They are saying this ain’t over, because the Nets made it clear to everybody they did not want the status quo. If nothing else changed, they were not going to be happy. They were not sure if that this satisfied that situation.”
He went so far as to say he would not be surprised if the Nets would ultimately consider a trade centered on an exchange of Irving for Russell Westbrook at draft compensation. Meanwhile, Frank Isola said on ESPN Radio Thursday morning that he wouldn’t rule out a Kevin Durant trade. Things are that unsettled.
Adding to the speculation about Irving-to-the-Lakers, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said Irving did seriously consider taking the taxpayers MLE.
Kyrie Irving definitely was considering taking the taxpayer mid-level exception to play for the Lakers before he opted in. That’s just the truth. He was definitely talking about it with people in his circle. And people on the league, we’re talking about that reality, because that was the only way for him to get to the Lakers this season.
While rumors fly that the Nets are interested in several free agents, players like Isaiah Hartenstein, Otto Porter Jr. and DeAndre Ayton, among others, in each case there will be competition and a degree of difficulty in getting things done.
Their own free agent situation is a little less cloudy with word that Nic Claxton is likely back (unless he’s a trade piece) and Patty Mills has opted out of his player option but hasn’t ruled out a return to Brooklyn. As for Bruce Brown, there is little information on his free agency other than he reportedly was at the Vera Institute of Justice gala honoring Clara Wu Tsai on Wednesday night. Such are the things we look for.
A few things do seem likely: Blake Griffin is likely gone, reportedly preferring one of the two L.A. teams, per Marc Stein. As for Goran Dragic, a Slovenian reunion seems in the cards for Dragic and Luka Doncic in Dallas. No word whatsoever on LaMarcus Aldridge. As for Andre Drummond, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports he is the Bulls’ radar as well as other clubs:
The Bulls are one of many teams who are expected to join the market for veteran center Andre Drummond. If that marriage were to happen, expect a veteran’s minimum salary.
Among those other teams: the Knicks.
Of the free agent names most associated with the Nets, Otto Porter Jr. will not be back with Golden State according to various reports but there will be a lot of competition for the 29-year-old small forward, including from the Heat. Isaiah Hartenstein is being pursued by the Bulls and the Knicks, tweets Jake Fischer. And as unlikely as it seems, he may be willing to take less money to stay in L.A. Nic Batum is supposedly in line to sign a three-year, $30 million deal to stay with the Clippers.
The Nets were also identified as one of three teams perennial free agent — and three-time NBA champion — Javale McGee is interested in. But the 33-year-old wants a multi-year deal at presumably more than the vets minimum...
Hearing Javale McGee wants a multi-year deal and has several teams interested - Milwaukee, Dallas, Brooklyn. Not sure if Phoenix would go two years. Miami has emerged as the favorite for Jae Crowder.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) June 30, 2022
KD and McGee were teammates both on the Warriors and Team USA. And indeed, Brian Lewis reports that there is “mutual interest” ...
I'm told there is mutual interest between the #Nets and JaVale McGee. Can also confirm report by @IanBegley that Brooklyn free agent center Andre Drummond is getting feelers from the #Knicks. #nyk #NBA— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) June 30, 2022
Add the Jazz small forward Royce O’Neal to list of teams the Nets might be interested in trading for, says Fischer, adding that the Hawks and Raptors may be as well.
And there are more rumors that Joe Harris has been dangled as well as Cam Thomas for DeAndre Ayton, with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated agreeing with Quinton Mayo that Nets have interest in the 6’11” center...
Brooklyn, in need of athleticism in the frontcourt, likes Ayton and could piece together a package headlined by Joe Harris.
John Hollinger, however, suggested that such a deal is “almost impossible.”
Reminder: The Nets almost certainly cannot acquire Deandre Ayton in a sign-and-trade because any realistic salary for him would put them over the luxury tax apron.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) June 30, 2022
Hawks, Celtics, Mavs, Nuggets, Warriors, Clippers, Bucks, Jazz also likely blocked from inbound sign-and-trades.
To which Mayo responded 18 minutes later...
Reminder: Nothing is impossible in the NBA— Quinton Mayo (@RealQuintonMayo) June 30, 2022
Meanwhile, at least one of the “Big Three” is in Brooklyn and “feeling incredible.”
Keep checking back.
- Nets could target these three players in NBA free agency - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Evaluating the Nets’ potential targets with the taxpayer exception in free agency - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic