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Shams: Grizzlies latest to bid for Kevin Durant but offer is mainly picks

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Brooklyn Nets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Same story, different names.

Shams Charania started the week off Monday morning with a report that the Memphis Grizzlies are the latest team to express interest in Kevin Durant, but like others in pursuit of KD, they’re reportedly offering a package centered on first rounders ... and haven’t yet offered any of their top players:

Recently, a new team has shown interest in Durant: the Memphis Grizzlies, league sources tell The Athletic. Fresh off a 56-win season, the Grizzlies have made new inquiries to the Nets about Durant, those sources added. Memphis has five first-round draft picks available (four unprotected selections of its own and one protected via Golden State in 2024) to utilize in a trade as well as young players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke, Kennedy Chandler and David Roddy.

However, Shams also reports the two top names on that list aren’t available so far.

The Grizzlies, so far, do not appear inclined to include Jackson or Bane in a potential offer for Durant, sources said, but rather a package built around their bevy of draft picks.

Shams also recalled a tweet by Grizzlies star Ja Morant when Durant first requested a trade back on June 30 indicating Morant would be on-board.

As John Hollinger, the former Grizzlies exec and Shams colleague, later tweeted, the Grizzlies reluctance to include Jackson would indicate they’re ready to move Steven Adams and Danny Green.

The news was part of an update on Durant, including the latest on proposed offers from Boston and Phoenix in particular, as well as Kyrie Irving who Shams reports the Nets plan on keeping. The problem with all the KD deals is that the Nets continue to ask for the moon and the stars while prospective partners are offering a little house on the prairie ... with a mortgage.

Of the Phoenix interest, Shams reports that the Suns are trying to figure out a multi-team deal that would satisfy both the Nets and Durant, who wants to step into a ready-made contender.

The Phoenix Suns similarly have dangled a package around All-Defensive wing Mikal Bridges and a handful of first-round draft picks, which has not picked up any steam with the Nets, league sources said. With Deandre Ayton signed to a four-year maximum contract and unable to be moved until January, Phoenix has attempted over the past month to make creative proposals to Brooklyn, possibly via three- or four-team trades where an All-Star-caliber player goes to the Nets. But the Suns have yet to find a suitable deal...

Meanwhile, Boston continues to sit atop of the list, at least according to league executives Shams speaks to.

Among the interested teams, the Celtics have been viewed across the league as the clear-cut answer as the team that has the ingredients to make a deal with Brooklyn happen. For now, Boston has not included guard Marcus Smart or center Robert Williams in a proposal, sources said. The Celtics have up to three first-round picks available to trade to Brooklyn.

However, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported Sunday that there’s little traction now and whatever traction existed may not have been what it seemed. Moreover, the Celtics beat writer noted the Celtics have to deal — again — with Brown’s unhappiness at being the lure in big deals Brad Stevens may want to make.

League sources have insisted for weeks that the Celtics have not had any real discussions of substance with the Nets about Kevin Durant, and they’ve communicated with Jaylen Brown about the situation frequently. “[Brown is] going to take it with a competitive mindset, too,” Grant Williams said. “I think that he’s going to come back with a chip on his shoulder and I love that, because I know how he responds and he’s going to be very, very, secure, because he’s secure in himself.”

Similarly, Bill Simmons suggests that despite their European tour, Durant and James Harden don’t appear close to becoming teammates in Philadelphia.

KD and Harden, this is what I heard, they don’t talk after the trade. They basically go radio silent on each other. They run into each other. They hang out all weekend. And by the end of the weekend, KD is sniffing around on Philly. And there’s a whole Philly thing that happens for three days where it’s like basically Harris and Tyrese Maxey and whatever pick and it’s just it’s not even close.

The “hangout,” as Simmons describes it, was more a European tour with stops in London and Barcelona last week.

Shams also seems to break some news, reporting “also in the past month, the Atlanta Hawks offered John Collins, De’Andre Hunter and a draft pick for Durant, according to sources.”

As for the possibility that KD will be on the roster when training camp begins five weeks from Monday with Media Day, Shams didn’t have more to offer, noting the different paths taken by Jimmy Butler in Minnesota and James Harden in Houston (practicing while publicly “disgruntled”) and Ben Simmons (a full-on holdout.)

Marc Stein reported, also Monday, that the Nets seem ready to wait things out.

Hope, they say, is not a strategy, but it appears to be the foundation of Brooklyn’s approach with Durant. League sources maintain that the Nets have not yet lowered their asking price in response to Durant’s trade demand and thus appear to be banking on the idea that there is still time for Durant to soften his trade-me stance and reengage with the franchise he is signed with for the next four seasons at $194 million. The Nets, as well as the rest of the league, thus remain in wait-and-see mode with regard to Durant’s willingness to report to training camp on time and whether he is prepared to make things more uncomfortable for the organization to encourage trade discussions.

Shams also had news on Simmons’ progress, The Athletic writer reports that he is still on the road back from his May 4 back surgery. Simmons, he reports, has been cleared for three-on-three work and “is on track to be cleared for full five-on-five activities in the coming weeks, league sources say.” As the Nets stated following the surgery, Shams writers Simmons is expected to be ready for training camp.

Meanwhile, Shams confirms that the Nets relationship with Kyrie Irving is increasingly on good footing, adding the Nets intend to keep Irving and have told prospective trade partners of their position.

[S]ources with knowledge of the situation say he has been working out with teammates and holding constructive dialogue with the organization this offseason. Brooklyn has made clear to interested teams that they plan to keep the seven-time All-Star, according to sources.

All that — plus the return of a healthy Joe Harris and the additions of Royce O’Neale and T.J. Warren — suggests that the Nets still believe “they have a championship-level team,” Shams concludes.