It’s been almost two weeks since Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant requested a trade, sending shockwaves around the league and forcing teams to scramble in the wee hours of free agency to see if they had what it takes to put a trade package together. Durant listed the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat as his preferred destinations, but the Nets haven’t received any trade offers they find worthy of Durant’s stature. But while no adequate trade offers have surfaced, Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Heat have been the most determined team in trying to acquire the former league MVP.
However, it won’t be that easy for the Heat to pull off a trade for Durant. A deal for K.D. would almost certainly have to involve sending star big man Bam Adebayo to the Nets. However, due to the Designated Rookie rule, teams cannot trade for a player on a Designated Rookie deal while already rostering a player they acquired on such contracts. In this case, that would mean Adebayo and Ben Simmons, who Brooklyn acquired in the James Harden trade last season, couldn’t both be rostered by the Nets.
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This is where things get tricky for the Heat. As Wojnarowski reports, a trade for Miami would have to include a third or fourth team to meet Brooklyn’s asking price, because certainly Tyler Herro and some assets isn’t going to get it done for a Nets team that has lamented it wants to compete next season. Of course, Simmons could be dealt elsewhere while the Nets take on Adebayo, but that’s where this trade opens up to a multi-team deal, which is always complicated to pull off in the league.
Another variable that now comes into play which could steer the Heat out of the Durant sweepstakes: The Utah Jazz are reportedly open to listening to trade offers for All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. Miami has been interested in Mitchell for quite some time, and before the Jazz even traded All-Star big man Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Heat sent a trade offer to Utah for Mitchell, per the Salt Lake Tribune. That offer was turned down as the Jazz felt it was “insufficient.” It’s unclear what was involved in that trade package, but perhaps the Heat may find trading for Mitchell, who has less trade value than Durant, would be easier.
Meanwhile, another team rumored in the running for Durant, the Toronto Raptors are showing an unwillingness to include reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in a deal for the two-time Finals MVP, per Wojnarowski. That’s understandable from the Raptors’ perspective as Barnes could blossom into an All-Star-level player and the centerpiece of the franchise down the line. While Durant could certainly boost Toronto’s title odds, it has to weigh the value of selling its future for short-term gain.
Between the Heat — and Phoenix Suns — needing help in facilitating a trade, and the Raptors apparently shutting the door on including Barnes in a deal, it doesn’t sound like a Durant trade is happening anytime soon.