Just when you thought the situation brewing in Brooklyn couldn’t get any more volatile, the Nets are suddenly at risk of losing both of their remaining superstars. Star point guard Kyrie Irving has been attempting to negotiate a contract extension with the Nets for some time, but reports have indicated that talks have reached an impasse. He has now given the Nets a list of teams he would be interested in joining via trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, is said to be “monitoring the situation and considering options with his future,” according to Shams Charania.
Irving’s list of destinations goes six teams deep: the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers have been viewed as the most serious threat to land Irving, and former teammate LeBron James would seemingly relish a reunion with his former point guard. Jumping to the Knicks would allow Irving to remain in New York City. The Heat were on his list of preferred destinations when he asked the Cleveland Cavaliers for a trade in 2017. The 76ers would offer either a reunion with James Harden, the guard who forced his way out of Brooklyn last season due in part to Irving’s hesitance to get vaccinated against COVID-19, or would push Harden out of Philadelphia after the 76ers worked so hard to land him.
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Durant is not known to have furnished the Nets with a list of preferred trade destinations, but his situation is quite different from Irving’s due to his contract. Irving can opt out of the final year of his deal and become a free agent in a week. Durant signed a four-year extension last offseason. That gives him far less leverage to force a deal to a team of his choosing.
All of this represents a steep decline from the lofty perch the Nets occupied last season as the undisputed championship favorite. With Irving, Durant and Harden in place, the Nets looked capable of winning multiple championships. Now, they’re facing the very real threat of entering the 2022-23 season with Ben Simmons as the face of their franchise. Even by the lofty standards set by previous NBA offseasons, this would be among the crazier plot twists in league history.