There was a ton of hullabaloo after the Brooklyn Nets decided to send Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks following the polarizing point guard’s trade request. But teams around the league know that the real trade prize remains locked into a long-term contract in Brooklyn until the end of the 2025-26 season. Thus, it’s no surprise that a bidding war could ensue once more if Kevin Durant decides that trading away Irving was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of his stint with the Nets.
For all the teams in the NBA with championship aspirations, checking on Durant’s trade availability is mere due diligence. After all, Durant’s presence could elevate even the fringiest of playoff contenders into a team with legitimate championship aspirations. The Phoenix Suns, among other teams, have, unsurprisingly, already expressed strong interest in trading for Durant should the Nets make him available.
Thus, even amid the Chicago Bulls’ uneven season marred by reported locker room discord, it only makes sense for them to float around trade offers for KD that could, perhaps, entice the Nets. After all, despite all the criticisms the Bulls have faced this year, having a dearth of trade assets isn’t one of them. So if they really are serious about their current core, they shouldn’t dilly-dally and put their best foot forward in a potential trade for one of the greatest scorers the league has ever seen.
With the NBA trade deadline only a whisker away, it’s now or never for the Bulls to decide on the direction they’ll take for the rest of the 2022-23 campaign. If the Bulls decide to push for the playoffs, here is the ideal offer they should make the Nets for Kevin Durant.
Bulls trade Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Coby White, 2023 POR first-round pick, 2027 CHI first-round pick, 2029 CHI first-round pick, 2026 pick-swap option to the Nets for Kevin Durant
If that looks like a boatload of assets to trade away for Kevin Durant, it’s because that is indeed a boatload of assets. But given the Nets’ leverage, it would take nothing less than a package of that magnitude to pry away KD from Brooklyn. After all, the Nets have a strong incentive to remain competitive after they traded away future first-rounders and pick swaps for James Harden. In addition, the Nets have Durant locked into a long-term contract until 2026.
Even then, it’s rare that a player of Durant’s caliber is available on the trade market. Thus, most teams in the league will be very eager to deal away tons of assets even for a 34-year old Durant, given his still-elite play even after suffering through a plethora of lower-body injuries over the past few years. For the Bulls to acquire Durant, they will have to part ways with their best assets, and it could very well be worth it.
In a potential Kevin Durant trade, the Bulls may prefer to deal away DeMar DeRozan rather than Zach LaVine. And that potential preference is understandable, since LaVine is six years younger than DeRozan and his deal runs until at least the end of the 2025-26 season, so his contract timeline is aligned with that of Durant’s. On the contrary, DeRozan should enter free agency after next season.
Moreover, the on-court fit between LaVine and Durant may be more seamless than that of DeRozan and Durant’s, since LaVine is a better shooter from downtown.
Meanwhile, the Nets could actually find DeMar DeRozan’s skillset to be more enticing a trade return than Zach LaVine’s, since DeRozan should handle the ball as much as he wants in the hypothetical scenario where he lands in Brooklyn.
However, the Nets will want to acquire the best trade assets they could in a KD trade. And for that reason alone, it’s difficult to see the Nets refusing to insist on the inclusion of Zach LaVine in a potential trade.
In addition to an All-Star level talent, the Nets will also ask for a young prospect with tons of potential. Enter Patrick Williams, the fourth overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. This is who, arguably, the Bulls will find it most difficult to let go. Williams is only 21 years old, and he’s shown flashes of being a plus defender. The Bulls, as presently constructed, need more 3 and D players in Williams’ mold.
Nevertheless, it has to be said that this is Kevin Durant the Bulls are trading for in this hypothetical scenario. If the Utah Jazz acquired four first-rounders, a pick swap, and three solid role players for Rudy Gobert, or if the San Antonio Spurs received three first-round picks and a pick swap for Dejounte Murray, then Durant should warrant an even more impressive return.
And for the Bulls’ swing for the fences to end up in a home run, they will have to swing as hard as they could, and this hypothetical offer that includes LaVine, Williams, Coby White, three first-round picks, and a pick swap shows that the Bulls mean business.
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