The Suns remain in contention for megastar Kevin Durant, but Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks and team owner Joe Tsai are in no rush and remain determined to explore all trade options to get the best deal, league sources said Sunday.
Nets GM Sean Marks is reportedly expecting a young All-Star and several draft picks, which means the Suns will need to include a third team as a trade partner as Phoenix is unlikely to be willing. to lose Devin Booker.
The 12-time All-Star Durant has four years left on his $198 million contract but is exploring a trade package.
However, ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported the same day that the Nets have been in “constant contact” with the Suns and Miami Heat after Durant requested a trade on the first day of free agency. on June 30.
It has Phoenix and Miami among its top destinations of choice, but the deal might require a suitable third or fourth business partner to make it happen.
But the trade is not considered imminent or at an advanced stage.
“Two of the teams that Kevin Durant would like to play with — the Phoenix Suns, the Miami Heat — they’ve both been in pretty constant contact, I’m told,” Wojnarowski told SportsCenter.
“I think both teams, individually, may not have enough to make a deal with Brooklyn without being able to go out there and move some pieces in three-team, four-team trades.”
Superstar players have a recent track record in choosing their next ideal landing spot when applying for trades. That includes James Harden from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets in January 2021, and then from the Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers in February. Anthony Davis forced his way out of New Orleans to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in July 2019, and Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Los Angeles Clippers that same month.
But the Nets apparently have a head start on where Durant could go next.
Wojnarowski added that the Nets are evaluating what trades Durant could generate in return after several All-Star player trades since free agency began.
The Utah Jazz traded center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for five players and five draft picks, including four first-rounders (for 2023, 2025, 2027, 2029 protected) and a 2026 pick trade on Friday.
The day before, the Atlanta Hawks acquired former San Antonio Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray and center Jock Landale, and Atlanta received four draft picks, including three first-round picks (protected 2023, 2025, 2027). and a 2026 pick trade.
The Nets have no first-round picks in the next five years and they had none in the June draft. That’s because of the acquisition of Harden from Houston. When the Rockets traded Harden, the Nets sent the Rockets their unprotected first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026, as well as their unprotected first-round pick trades in 2023, 2025 and 2027.
“I think Brooklyn will try to exhaust four, five first-round picks, four pick changes, but also at least one All-Star-level player,” Wojnarowski said.
“You look at who’s available, how they do those deals, usually they’re going to be complex deals and it’s going to take time to put them together, but Brooklyn knows they have time on their side now, not just in the offseason, but Kevin Durant has four years left on his contract. Brooklyn will speak throughout the league and get what they know must be a monumental deal if they’re going to trade Kevin Durant.”
The Suns won’t have their All-Star Devin Booker on any trade offer because he’s still on his rookie-max contract, and there’s a CBA rule that prevents a roster from having two players on rookie-max contracts from their previous team. The Nets got three-time All-Star Ben Simmons from the Harden trade, and Simmons was on a max rookie deal from the Philadelphia 76ers before he left for Brooklyn. Also, Booker just agreed to the terms of his four-year, $224 million supermax extension on Thursday, so he will stay in Phoenix.
The Suns have control over their future first-round picks for the next five years and beyond, which could be in a trade package for Durant.
There has been widespread speculation that the Nets could see Phoenix’s starting flank and this year’s Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Mikal Bridges in a trade package, and possibly the Suns’ other All-Star, Chris Paul. The Nets are reportedly not interested in restricted free agent Deandre Ayton for a Phoenix sign-and-trade due to CBA statutes, and he would instantly be hard-capped in the luxury-tax “apron.”
And it’s not just because of the 23-year-old’s skill set.
The CBA has a rule called “base year compensation,” which reduces a player’s outgoing salary to half of his new starting salary.
Ayton is coming off his four-year rookie deal, and a top offer for him would start at around $31 million. If he signs a max deal with a team that traded him, the value of his outgoing salary from the Suns’ side would represent half the amount he will earn in the first season of his new deal.
Platform-wise, any team that can get Ayton in a sign-and-trade cannot exceed the 2022-23 season luxury tax threshold set at $150.26 million in salary immediately after or at any time after the trade.
That’s why there’s been a lot of speculation about a three- or four-team trade involving potential suitors with salary-cap space. The cap is $123.65 million for teams next season.
This pending Durant trade could take place during the summer or later, not in a matter of days as the Suns or fans of other teams might expect.
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