With him doubling down on his trade request — and throwing in an ultimatum for good measure — Monday, Kevin Durant appears to be as good as gone from Brooklyn.
And with the Celtics, Raptors, and Heat being “the most significant candidates to acquire Durant,” where the two-time Finals MVP ends up next could have grave consequences for the Chicago Bulls.
Though one stop feels particularly dire.
With all due respect to Pascal Siakam, the Raptors seem to be a bonafide bucket-getter away from serious contention.
But while that’s a role Kevin Durant is overqualified to play, Toronto isn’t willing to part ways with the one player, Scottie Barnes, the Nets want in return.
As such, another team would have to get involved in order to make a deal exclusive of the rookie of the year worth Brooklyn’s while. However, according to Ian Begley of SNY, teams aren’t exactly lining up to help the Nets.
And even if the Raptors change course, they’d have to include other valuable members of their core just to compensate for Barnes’ rookie-scale contract.
Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum would be the best mashup this side of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. But the pairing of one All-NBA forward with another won’t come cheap.
The Celtics could offer Jaylen Brown and as many as three unprotected first-round draft picks and two pick swaps. But the Nets are reportedly asking for Brown, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, picks, and the kitchen sink in return.
Still, for all his future Hall-of-Fame luster, Durant can’t push the reigning Eastern Conference champions any further ahead of the Chicago Bulls than they already are as presently constituted.
The Eastern Conference runner-up, on the other hand, is a different story.
Kevin Durant would effortlessly juice Miami’s half-court offense in ways Jimmy Butler’s go-for-broke style simply cannot.
Because Bam Adebayo and Ben Simmons are on designated rookie extensions, the Nets and Heat would need a third team to facilitate a trade. As previously mentioned, no one is jumping at the chance to help the Nets.
Yet, if the three-team trade idea from Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report ever makes it to the actual bargaining table, Indiana could have a change in heart. In Swartz’s proposed blockbuster, the Pacers would receive Simmons and offload Myles Turner, who’s on an expiring contract and doesn’t seem long for the Hoosier State.
Meanwhile, the Heat would get Durant as well as Turner and the Nets would make off with Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Nikola Jović, and three unprotected first-round picks.
It’d be interesting to see how far the Heat’s defense slips without Adebayo and P.J. Tucker, who signed with Philadelphia this summer, if at all.
But a version of the Heat with Durant, Turner, Butler, and Kyle Lowry could be just as much of a problem for the Bulls as the one who took four games off them last season.
Ultimately, whether it’s the Celtics, Raptors, or Heat who pry Durant away from the Nets, the Bulls will still have one of the five-best players in the Association on their side of the pool.
Durant docking in South Beach, though, feels like the one splash the Bulls could least afford.