Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesFeatured Columnist IVJune 30, 2022
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    Three years after joining the Nets, Kevin asked to leave. The first day of the free-agent negotiating period was disrupted by his trade request, which was first reported by The Athletic and Shams Charania.

    There is no time to waste since free agency is on hold. We have to figure out where he will end up.

    KD has four fully guaranteed years left on his contract, and he spent a lot of time last season looking like an NBA Most Valuable Player. It will be a huge haul for the man.

    Paul George was traded to Oklahoma City for five first-round picks and two picks. In the same year, Anthony Davis traded the New Orleans Pelicans Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers. George and Davis did not have the same amount of years of team control as KD did.

    A lack of franchises with both the combination of assets and the desire to sacrifice their long-term draft stash for a player in his mid 30s could keep the market from getting out of control. We're likely to see a package that is similar to what it took to get George and Davis.

    Let's get started.

    Jim McIsaac/2021 Jim McIsaac

    The Miami Heat are second-to-none in their talent-acquisition ambition, so they would have belonged near the top of a KD landing-spot list even if he had not chosen them.

It doesn't make sense to explain how or why a player fits on a team. KD has worked with a variety of superstars throughout his career, winning titles and collecting an award.

The damage he can do to a defense on or off the ball will follow him wherever he goes. He's a genius with a lot of power.

You can't find a team that would allow his game to get in the way of someone else's. The guy is a good fit and he makes everyone happy. We don't need to know if the acquiring team has what it takes to make a good offer.

Back to the Heat.

If he has a say in it, he would prefer Jimmy to not be involved. It would seem that the point of going to Miami is to team up with another star in pursuit of a title, which would take away from the value of the person.

A rule that prevents teams from having more than one player on a designated rookies max contract is the reason why Bam Adebayo can't be acquired by the Nets.

Everything should be on the table in Brooklyn, so we shouldn't rule out a Simmons trade, but that construction is impossible at the moment.

If Miami doesn't expand into three-team territory, the best thing it can do is have Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and a few other rookies.

The Heat are better equipped to fill the backcourt gaps created by Herro's departure than anyone else. The players would flock to Miami, already among the league's most desirable destinations, to join a core that included Adebayo.

With KD in the fold, Miami's need for improved half-court offense would be gone, making last year's No. 1 seed in the East even more dangerous.

The Nets will get Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, rookies, and three first-round picks in exchange for Kevin Durant.

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    The Phoenix Suns were one of the teams that had been listed as a preferred destination by KD. The Phoenix Suns disappointed last year by finishing with a 64 win regular season and losing in the second round of the playoffs, and they have every incentive to make a better offer.

    The one guy Phoenix can't part with may be the one the Nets want.

    "From Brooklyn's perspective, sources said, there's no deal to land Durant in Phoenix that doesn't start with sending back Booker to the Nets," said the report.

    You could forgive the Nets if they tried to set a negotiating baseline that was borderline unreasonable. If Booker isn't available, another team might decide its own comparable young All-NBA stud could be worth a swap for KD.

    We talked about how much precedent the Nets might get in a trade for KD. It is possible that Brooklyn's stance is true.

    Things get complicated if Deandre Ayton is involved. The Nets would not be able to exceed the hard cap at any point during the season.

    Ayton's potential $30 million salary in 2022-23 would make just half of it count for matching purposes from Brooklyn's end. The Nets will have to cut costs elsewhere in order to get under the $157 million ceiling.

    Pickers could get it done. If the Suns are operating as if they're going to lose Ayton for nothing in restricted free agency anyways, it would help soothe the sting of trading 40 percent of a starting five that made the Finals in 2021. Bridges is an elite three-and-D weapon on a reasonable deal that will top out at $24.9 million in 25 years, and his longevity would satisfy Nets GM Sean Marks' desire for players who can play team basketball and be available.

    Phoenix needs to shore up its depth after sending out Ayton and Bridges. The Suns should be able to get more value out of their exceptions and minimums than most teams.

    The Brooklyn Nets would get Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, three future first-round picks and two swaps for Kevin Durant.

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    We're going to have fun. They should be on the list. Ja Morant appears to be on board.

    Ja Morant @JaMorant

    easy money

    The news that Jaren Jackson Jr. will be out for up to six months with a stress fracture in his foot could affect the Nets' interest in him. Morant is the bigger star, but you'd have to assume he's not going anywhere unless the Nets figure out how to clone KD and send two of them back to the Grizzles.

    Memphis could get Jackson with a lot of picks. The Golden State Warriors' top-four protected 2024 selection is owned by it.

    It's not uncommon for small-market teams to sacrifice several years' worth of picks for a win-now move, but the Grizzlies are already knocking on the door of contention and may view giving up as many as five or six first-round picks as worth the risk.

    The extra salary Memphis would need to include to make the deal work could help keep one or two of the picks. A package of Jackson, Williams and, say, four future firsts isn't that far away from what it took for the Oklahoma City and New Orleans teams to move their players.

    If the Grizzlies want to skip some developmental steps, vault to no-questions-asked contention and laugh about the rotation upgrade from free agent Kyle Anderson to KD, they have the right stuff.

    Morant's ability to collapse the defense would be the same as that of a young Russell Westbrook, with the bonus of Morant actually passing with a purpose.

    Steven Adams is a former teammate of KD's and his lack of spacing would probably go unrecognized with KD spending a lot of time at the 4.

    The Brooklyn Nets would get Jaren Jackson Jr., and four future first-round picks for Kevin Durant in a trade.

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    The Toronto Raptors seem committed to experimenting with lineups composed entirely of players between 6'7" and 6'9", but they would probably make an exception for the right player.

    The half-court offense was a weakness last season. The Raptors ranked 26th in points per possession against a set defense, which would be addressed by the presence of KD.

    "Get me a bucket when everything breaks down and the shot clock is at four seconds" is one of the more dangerous lists.

    At the very least, he is at the top.

    Scottie Barnes would be the first name mentioned by Sean Marks on any trade call with Toronto. We shouldn't rule out Brooklyn asking for Barnes and Anunoby, though Gary Trent Jr. seems like a logical addition.

    Adding more first-rounders would make the package more palatable. The only outgoing obligation of Toronto's future selections is a second-round pick from Memphis in 2024.

    It's possible for the Raptors to get four firsts and two swaps, assuming they don't want to take a chance on a player like KD. Losing Barnes and Anunoby would be a bitter pill to swallow for a team that has had so many hits in the past.

    It would be fascinating to see what Nurse could do with the help of a switchable defense. The Raptors don't have the same five-guys-in-a-blender system as the Warriors teams for which KD played, but they could approximate the defensive switchability.

    Toronto is as enjoyable as any destination.

    The Brooklyn Nets will get OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., four future first-round picks and three swaps for Kevin Durant.

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    We all saw the picture of the two of them in the jerseys.

    Even if the brother of KD shot it down, the idea of adding him to the team would make perfect sense.

    Dame, Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant, KD and Jusuf Nurkic are some of the people that could have been. The Portland group could compete with anyone in the Western Conference despite the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets are getting healthy. We're pretty sure the Blazers could cobble together enough assets to pull off a deal without sacrificing the other four players.

    It may be difficult to execute.

    The Ayton situation with Phoenix would almost have to be included in the building of something around a Simons sign-and-trade if it were to be built.

    We're not close to enough salary for Shaedon. Josh Hart's $12.9 million would help, and the Blazers might really be in business if they could work out a way to move Eric Bledsoe's non-guaranteed deal, though Brooklyn may not see enough to be impressed.

    Portland owes the Chicago Bulls a first-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft. That could free up additional firsts to add into a KD trade, and if there's a franchise willing to punt on nearly a decade's worth of picks, it's probably the one that will give him another $100 million in an extension.

    The Blazers are committed to this relatively short window, and with Durant's own prime unlikely to stretch into the late part of this decade, the timing works here.

    The Brooklyn Nets would get Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Josh Hart, three future first-round picks and three swaps.