Kyrie Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. In return, the Brooklyn Nets, who will also send Markieff Morris to Dallas, get Dorian Finney-Smith, old pal Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas' 2029 first-round pick and two future second-round picks.
There's a chance, perhaps a good one, that neither team is done dealing before Thursday's deadline. The biggest domino that could potentially fall? Kevin Durant.
There are a number of ways the Nets could go from here. I would argue they are a better team today with Finney-Smith and Dinwiddie than they were with Irving, all things considered, and they could decide to go into the postseason with this roster.
Dinwiddie is a nasty iso scorer, so the Durant double-teams can still be punished and Brooklyn maintains great spacing in lineups that don't feature both Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton. Finney-Smith, meanwhile, gives Brooklyn another floor spacer and a tough, switchable perimeter defender, the latter an invaluable asset come playoff time.
Maybe Durant likes the looks of this fit. He doesn't have a second elite scorer to just take possessions off now, but he has a pretty airtight two-way support system to fully thrive as the go-to guy, both as a scorer and playmaker; the defensive help he'll get from DFS can't be overstated. Durant works his backside off defensively, and Brooklyn could be pretty formidable with those two plus Royce O'Neale and Claxton as backside rim protection.
The Nets could still package what they got from Dallas with more future picks and go second-star hunting (Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan?), or continue to fortify the support system with sub All-Stars. They own Philly's 2027 first-rounder (top-eight protected) and would have the lesser of their own pick and Houston's pick in 2027 as well, plus their own pick and this Dallas pick in 2029.
Brooklyn is now positioned to make a significant move if they choose:— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) February 5, 2023
2027 1st via PHI (Top-8 protected)
2029 1st via DAL (Unprotected)
2029 1st (own)
Five or more 2nds
Mid-sized contracts in Joe Harris, Seth Curry, and Patty Mills + a coveted young prospect in Cam Thomas. https://t.co/tmqLtH1td3
How about three of those picks in a package for OG Anunoby? Per SNY's Ian Begley, Brookyn has reached out to Toronto about a "subsequent deal" in the wake of the Kyrie trade.
A couple of notes on Nets & Kyrie Irving, including members of BKN touching base with TOR on a deal during their negotiations with teams on Irving: pic.twitter.com/B85X5iliCH— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 5, 2023
I'm telling you, the Nets are in a good spot here. But if Durant still wants a marquee co-star (that's why he went to Brooklyn with Irving in the first place) rather than embarking on a lone-star mission, well, you can do the math. The chance, however slim, that he could decide to reissue his own trade demand from last summer has teams around the league getting their ducks in a row.
Among those teams is the Phoenix Suns, who are prepared to make Brooklyn an offer for Durant should he become available before Thursday 3 p.m. ET deadline, per Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes. With Phoenix, Durant would have a second star in Devin Booker. The West is open for the taking. That's why Dallas made the move for Irving. Just about anyone can win this thing.
The Suns are known to be a preferred destination for Durant, who, we'd be remiss to point out, is currently in the first year of a four-year contract with the Nets. They don't have to move him even if he demands out, which, we'd also be remiss not to point out, he hasn't done or even indicated he plans to do.
This is all speculation, but it's educated speculation. Durant already asked out once. There are reports that he's "less than enthralled" with Ben Simmons.
That said, I think Brooklyn is set up to be a very formidable team come playoff time with just what they got back from Dallas, and if the Nets make even more moves, it'll be to raise the ceiling even higher. This is a great opportunity for Durant to have his own team again. No more super-teams. Durant is in a position to just go out and play basketball, free of drama, and frankly, relatively free of expectations.
Problem is, his own expectations are higher than anyone else's. He wants a non-Warriors title. That is quite understandable for a player of his caliber. I'm just saying, the Nets, when it's all said and done on Thursday, might still give him his best chance to get that done this season. Then he can reevaluate this summer.