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Getty Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates

The likelihood of the Chicago Bulls emerging as winners of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes could be better than anticipated. They were among the NBA teams that made a call to the Brooklyn Nets regarding Durant, per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, who adds they did not have what the Nets were seeking.

Durant’s request for a trade sent shockwaves across the NBA and has put some business on hold while the situation gets sorted out.

As that happens, more and more details emerge of what the Nets would be willing to take back.

It has always been expected Durant would command a major haul of assets. But what combination of players and picks it would take has been unclear. Could the Bulls wind up with the best offer on the table?

Timberwolves Did the Dirty Work

The Minnesota Timberwolves potentially did the Bulls a couple of favors. They met the Utah Jazz’s asking price for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. This keeps the Bulls’ assets intact and ends the constant trade rumors.

Before landing Gobert, though, the Timberwolves also made their obligatory inquiry into what it would take to land Durant, writes The Athletic’s John Krawczynski.

Brooklyn’s demand for “established All-Stars and a mountain of picks” was too steep.

VideoVideo related to bulls’ chances at landing disgruntled superstar may have just shifted2022-07-02T19:21:42-04:00

Durant has listed the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns as his preferred destinations, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. But his preference to play alongside certain individuals, per The Athletic’s Sam Amick, limits who Miami can offer.

There are also CBA issues at play making a deal including Suns’ center Deandre Ayton unlikely, as the New York Daily News’ Khristian Winfield explained.

Factor in the other pieces around the league that are off-limits – due to Ben Simmons’ presence on the roster, per CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn – and the list of young stars the Nets can obtain for Durant shrinks considerably.

That does not take those teams off of the list, though, and could put an emphasis on draft capital. Winfield tweeted out that the pierce for Durant “just skyrocketed” following the Gobert trade.

Overcompensating for Something

Winfield’s tweet would seem to preclude the Bulls from Durant discussions. They are still in debt to the Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs. They will not control their own first-round pick free and clear until 2028, though, per Quinn.

They do have rights to a Portland Trail Blazers first-rounder the next time they make the postseason and it falls outside of the lottery.

We have already seen different permutations of hypothetical Bulls’ proposals in which they move either DeMar DeRozan or Nikola Vucevic to pair Durant with the newly-minted Zach LaVine.

Perhaps the Bulls can get around their lack of draft capital with able bodies.

A deal centered around both non-LaVine All-Stars satisfies financial requirements using Spotrac’s Roster Manager tool.

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On this day a year ago, @KDTrey5 made history by becoming the only player in NBA history to record at least 45p/15r/10a in a playoff game.

— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 15, 2022

The Nets would likely want to get some longer-term prospects as well. The Bulls could add both Coby White and Patrick Williams. They could take back Seth Curry, 29, who is heading into the final year of his contract, per Spotrac.

That would put the Bulls at 12 contracts.

DeRozan and Vucevic give the Nets a pair of 20-point-per-game All-Stars at their peak, and trade pieces for further deals if they choose to pivot into a full rebuild.

White is a good three-point shooter while Williams is a building block for the future.

Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes offered similar logic in a proposal that did not include Vucevic but did add several pick swaps to offset the actual picks being so far out. But the Bulls would have to lift the protections on their previously traded picks in order to swap the others.

One Giant Leap

Miami and Phoenix aside, teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, and Toronto Raptors could take a view similar to Minnesota’s. Adding Durant might not be worth breaking up what they have built the past few seasons.

After all, the Nets went all-in for him, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving only to find themselves in this predicament, writes the New York Post’s Howie Kussoy.

The Bulls do not have that problem.

They are heading into just the second year of this group leading Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas to push “continuity” all offseason. The projected starting five played just 63 minutes over five games together.

As The Athletic’s Zach Harper writes, the current roster “probably isn’t up for contending” despite their strong start and with LaVine continuing to improve at 27 years old.

Harper’s colleague, Darnell Mayberry, says they “haven’t taken a step forward” this offseason.

Bulls general manager Marc Eversley said during his draft-night media availability that he did not see “one player or one giant leap” that the Bulls could encounter this offseason to put them over the contention hump.

Durant, who was not known to be available at that time, might change that opinion if Eversley was asked today.

And the Bulls are uniquely positioned to go all-in for him.

Welcome to the Danger Zone

This is not the only or even the first time that we have heard similar sentiments. The Ringer’s Logan Murdock offered a warning to both the Bulls and LaVine on the April 30 episode of “The Void” podcast with Kevin O’Connor.

Meanwhile, Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz called LaVine “a little overpaid” but adds that it was “the right move” for the Bulls.

And Forbes’ Jason Patt expressed disappointment in the Bulls’ offseason to this point.

“There are still some bombshells left to drop around the NBA this summer. If the Bulls aren’t involved in anything else, their offseason will have truly been a disappointing dud.”

LaVine has a good relationship with KD … and is not opposed to recruiting … just saying.

— Joe Cowley (@JCowleyHoops) July 1, 2022

Mayberry describes the situation for the Bulls — and LaVine — as “championship or bust”.

A lineup of Durant alongside Lavine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Andre Drummond (pending any subsequent moves) may be their best shot at that. The current landscape of the Eastern Conference does not appear to be shifting in their favor any time soon.

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NBA Insider Dispels Recent Kevin Durant Rumors Following Trade Request News

Getty Coach Steve Nash chats with Kevin Durant.

Ever since the Shams Charania report about the recent meeting between Kevin Durant and Brooklyn Nets team owner Joe Tsai, the Nets forward has been the subject of a lot of criticism. In the meeting, the 12-Time All-Star reiterated his desire to be traded from Brooklyn exactly a year after agreeing to a four-year, $198 million contract extension with the Nets. 

One of the main sources of criticism, aside from being under contract, is that Durant gave Tsai an ultimatum where he had to choose between him or Nets general manager Sean Marks and head coach Joe Tsai. 

“In a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai, Kevin Durant reiterated his trade request and informed Tsai that Tsai needs to choose between Durant or the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, sources say,” Shams Charania of The Athletic shared in a tweet. 

Fans were quick to point out Durant’s public comments about Nash and beliefs that Nash was hired because of Durant. However, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report dispelled that rumor on the August 9 episode of his podcast. 

Durant Not Behind Nash Hiring

Ever since his hire, fans speculated that Nash, a former player with no head coaching experience, was hired to be the coach of this Brooklyn Nets team was because of his relationship with Kevin Durant when he played in Golden State and Nash was on the coaching staff. However, that report seems to be inaccurate. 

“From my knowledge, I don’t believe that to be the case. Obviously, Kevin Durant pre this summer, everything that happened in Brooklyn, Durant stamped. But that doesn’t mean that he was the driving factor behind anything,” Fischer shared on his podcast. “I think that the public and others took his close relationship with [Steve] Nash in Golden State and just assumed that that was the reason why Nash got hired.” 

“From my understanding, Sean Marks’ connections with Nash from their playing days and Marks believing that Nash could be the type of Hall-of-Fame former player figure that could really be the leader to keep this star-studded group together was the driving force behind that hire, and not Kevin Durant.” Fischer continued. 

There are things about the Durant news and offseason, in general, to be upset about, even NBA executives have been quoted as being ‘livid.’ However, the blame that has been placed on Durant for the hire of Steve Nash is a misrepresentation. The hire was made by Marks, but Durant did give a stamp of approval, but he alone did not hand pick Nash, he merely said yes to the name presented. 

Kevin Durant’s Old Comments on Nash Hiring

Kevin Durant himself has already previously dispelled the claims that he was the reason Nash was hired by the Nets in 2020 on The Joe Budden Podcast. 

“First of all, I didn’t pick the Nets coach. We’ve got people in place that do that. I just supported it: Me and Kyrie,” said Durant. “We’re always on the same page. He’s just a hooper. It doesn’t matter.”

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