Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both NBA champions and among the most talented offensive basketball players of all time, have both been in trade talks this summer. Durant, the two-time Finals MVP, and 2014 NBA MVP requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets on June 30th, 2022, with his top two destinations being the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat, the number one seeds in their respective conferences last season. Irving, the 2016 NBA Champion, and 2014 All-Star Game MVP opted into his player option on his contract with the Nets, yet it led to a rumor that the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in trading 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and other assets for him. In an off-season filled with head-scratching moves, Rudy Gobert being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a boatload of draft picks being the most egregious. KD deciding to shake the league up again and Kyrie’s surprising loyalty to a franchise seem to be the clear standouts.
On paper, Durant, Irving, and 2018 NBA MVP James Harden on the same team should’ve been guaranteed success. But injuries, lack of consistent supporting cast, and egos clashing lowered that team’s ceiling to a second round exit in the 2021 NBA playoffs. Granted, they were a KD foot behind the three-point line away from making it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but still, where was Kyrie? Harden started getting banged up that year as well. Instead, it’s one of the most dissappointing superteams ever assembled, surpassing the 2004 Lakers, who at least made the Finals that year thanks to Derek Fisher’s iconic 0.4 shot, along with the 2022 Lakers, whom ironically are interested in acquiring Irving’s talents.
The Suns and Heat could package a deal around DeAndre Ayton and Bam Adebayo respectively to trade for KD, but it seems clear that that isn’t enough for Brooklyn, nor is any other offer for the future Hall of Famer. It could be similar to Kobe Bryant’s trade request in 2007, which led to Los Angeles trading the draft rights to Marc Gasol and the most infamous bust Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol, who helped the Lakers win two NBA titles. But is the Nets front office that savvy?
Free agency began the same day that KD requested a trade, yet neither the rumors surrounding him nor Kyrie have advanced. KD is under contract for four more years, so technically Brooklyn doesn’t have to do anything, though it may come at the cost of him refusing to play which would lead to damaging an already broken situation. Kyrie opted in to his contract, which led to KD wanting out, which makes the rumor that the two of them would be interested in reuniting on a different team feel false. The Lakers are the only team aggressively pursuing the all-star point guard, mostly due to how desperate they are to milk LeBron James’ final years and get rid of Russell Westbrook and his enormous contract. James and Irving led a 3-1 comeback against the 73-9 Golden State Warriors, proving their chemistry on the court, and depending on Anthony Davis’ availability, it can be a potentially devastating trio for any team to match up against. KD will most likely be shipped during next season, but who knows if staying could potentially lead to a more formidable, especially if the Nets decide to move Ben Simmons, or what if he played and he fit well with KD and Kyrie? Nothing’s impossible. Kyrie for Russ would be entertaining as hell, so I’d like to think that actually happens.