Kevin Durant is under contract with the Brooklyn Nets for four more seasons, but there have been reports this week that he could request a trade if Kyrie Irving does not remain with the team. Even if that is a long shot, rivals are not ignoring the possibility.
Zach Lowe said teams around the NBA are preparing for Durant to request a trade.
“I can tell you this: Teams are already operating under, not the assumption, but, ‘We need to prepare for the contingency that Kevin Durant is available via trade in 6-7 days,’” Lowe said.
The timeline coincides with the deadline for Irving to make a decision about his player option for next season. Irving has a $36.9 million player option, and many expect him to decline it. He could either sign an extension with the Nets at that point or become a free agent. There is also a chance that Irving will opt in to facilitate a sign-and-trade. He has reportedly given the Nets a list of teams he would want to play for if he leaves.
Durant may be trying to do what he can to help Irving secure a long-term contract. If both stars do leave, however, there will probably be a more intense battle for Durant than for Irving.
In 55 games this past season, much of which were without Irving, Durant led the Nets in points per game (29.9) and assists per game (6.4). He also led the team with 26.3 points per game in their first-round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics.
While Durant and Irving have a close relationship, it appears that the Nets’ reported hesitancy in committing to Irving for the long-term may not close the door on Durant’s time in Brooklyn as well.
We do not know exactly where Durant’s head is, but his commitment to the organization clearly is not ironclad right now. This was a major fear the Nets had when it emerged that Irving’s return was not a sure thing.
Durant has spent three seasons with the Nets. He missed the entirety of the first one due to injury, and the Nets were swept in the first round of the playoffs during his third campaign. Only the second season, which saw a narrow loss to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the conference semifinals, could be considered anything close to a success.