The signs are everywhere.
Last week, Brian Lewis, quoting a “source close to Kyrie Irving,” wrote that the Nets guard has “every intention” of playing in Brooklyn next season. “Kyrie wants to play. … He wants to win a championship, and he wants to play,” the source told The Post, adding of the Durant situation, “I think when KD said he wanted a trade, he didn’t say I’m going to trade to where Kyrie goes.”
On the weekend, Jake Fischer said something similar. “From my conversations with people in the league, seems pretty clear Kyrie’s accepting the fact that he is overwhelmingly likely to be back in Brooklyn,” Fischer said on his podcast.
Then, Monday morning on Get Up, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers aren’t just focusing on Irving, that talks between Brooklyn and L.A. are “not dead yet,” and that there’s a “good chance” Irving will be back with the Nets “to start the season if Kevin Durant is back in Brooklyn.”
“I think the Lakers will make a deal, maybe more than one deal,” said Woj. “It may not be for Kyrie Irving, it may not be for an All-NBA player, an All-Star... players like Eric Gordon in Houston, Buddy Hield in Indiana, players like Patrick Beverly who came to the Jazz in a trade from Minnesota who are role players on winning teams. What is the price for those kinds of moves? They’re going to continue to be active on those things.
“It’s not completely dead with Brooklyn, but I think so much depends on what happens with Kevin Durant. The Nets are more focused ... they are focused on trying to find a deal for KD before they make any move on Kyrie Irving. And I think there is a good chance Kyrie Irving is back in Brooklyn to start the season if Kevin Durant is back in Brooklyn. I don’t think the Lakers are done.”
Woj also said that Lakers GM Rob Pelinka is trying to keep his unprotected 2027 and 2029 unprotected first round picks, despite what may be pressure from LeBron James to get things done. How many picks the Nets would want and how many the Lakers would give up (if any) has reportedly been part of discussions centering on Irving and Russell Westbrook.
There’s also a question of just how much talk has actually gone on between Pelinka and Sean Marks. Woj said on Friday, the two “did touch base but there’s not been ongoing discussions,” while his ESPN colleague Dave McMenamin reported Saturday, “Los Angeles has engaged Brooklyn in trade talks in recent weeks ...“Thus far, those talks have not progressed toward an agreement.”
On the KD front, Woj said that the Nets “wouldn’t consider” any offer from the Raptors that doesn’t include Scottie Barnes and that Toronto has no interest in dealing the NBA Rookie of the Year.
“Toronto doesn’t want to part with Scottie Barnes. That’s their stance,” he said. “Brooklyn, right now, wouldn’t consider a deal without Scottie Barnes.”
“And I think as long as you have an owner committed to getting the type of trade package you want, you can play this out over time, and that’s my sense in Brooklyn,” said Woj.
Similarly, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports in Toronto reports the Raptors are unwilling to give up the maximum number of first round picks they can trade.
In general, Woj said the Nets would welcome KD back, but are trying to find the best deal for him.
“The Nets are still trying to find a deal for Kevin Durant. I think if Kevin Durant came to Brooklyn and said: ‘Hey, I’ve changed my mind. I want to be here, I’m committed to this,’ of course they would want him to stay,” Woj told the Get Up panel.
“But, if Kevin Durant’s not doing that, you’re still trying to trade him. You want players who want to be there. You don’t want the environment to be filled with players who are unhappy, who don’t want to be a part of it. But they’ve gotta get value for him, and they’ve got to get significant value for him.”
However, Marc Stein suggests NBA general managers fear that they won’t be able to satisfy Durant.
The persistent scuttle around the league, though, is that clubs interested in Durant mostly fear their ability to keep him content more than they feel any concern about his advancing age.
“If the Nets can’t keep him happy, after everything they’ve given him, how are we supposed to?” one Western Conference team official told me...
[M]ore teams than not are asking themselves this question: If we trade for Durant, how long before he wants to go somewhere else?
Finally, Adam Zagoria quoted a “league source” as saying both superstars understand they may wind up back in Brooklyn.
“They know behind the scenes that it’s difficult, that it’s unlikely to happen,” a league source said, adding that “the Nets also knew that they’re going to make it so hard in the sense of the demands they’re looking for in return, no one’s going to meet that.
“That’s why there’s nobody commenting on it. [Durant and Irving] are never shy for words.
“I think initially they plotted [to leave],” the source added, “and then they realized very quickly that it wasn’t going to work.”
Zagoria’s source added that Irving will need to play well — and often — to earn his next big contract when he hits free agency in July, comparing his fate with that of Yankee slugger Aaron Judge who’s also on an expiring deal in the Bronx.
“Especially Kyrie,” the source said. “He’s in a contract year like Judge. The Yankees are going to have to pay a boatload full of money at the end of the year.”
Of course, it’s a long way between now and training camp at the end of September ... 68 days to be exact. Durant has been in Portland, Oregon, watching a pro-am tournament in his friend, Mike James’ hometown, and Irving helping out at Laker assistant coach Phil Handy’s basketball camp.
Kevin Durant in Portland. pic.twitter.com/FQjDTQDlV3— . (@PsgKD7) July 18, 2022
Let’s go! @KDTrey5 Probably In Lab Going In! @KyrieIrving Go In! 7/11/11/7 Type Shit. https://t.co/AfBCwaPNpe— KC (@KhariConception) July 19, 2022
As for other trade possibilities, both Lewis and Woj reported that the Nets are not interested in trading Joe Harris, who is rehabbing from his second ankle surgery back in May.
Lewis told Stein: “They don’t want to trade him. They are not shopping him and he is not a salary dump. I’m told that they want to keep him. It’s just a matter of, Can they keep him in whatever deal might be upcoming for Kyrie?”
The Nets have stockpiled 3-point shooters since Harris went down in the Nets 14th game last season, trading for Seth Curry and Royce O’Neale and re-signing Patty Mills. Assuming that doesn’t change, the Nets would go into the season with the first, (Curry), second (Harris), 22nd, (Irving) and 29th (Mills) best career 3-point shooters in the league.
- Nets trying to trade Kevin Durant but deal not imminent: report - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving ‘know’ a trade is ‘unlikely to happen,’ league source says - Adam Zagoria - Newark Star-Ledger