Kevin Durant at the Hawks? What a possible swap might like and how realistic it might be

So much for the Atlanta Hawks’ acquisition of Dejounte Murray that dominated the news cycle until the start of free agency. Athleticism Shams Charania reported Thursday afternoon that Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant has requested a trade.

Sam Amick and I reported Wednesday night that Atlanta is seriously preparing for the possibility of Durant asking for his release if things go wrong during Kyrie Irving’s extension talks. After Irving declared he was opting for his player option and committing to the Nets, Brooklyn was expected to return with him, Durant and Ben Simmons. That no longer seems to be a possibility.

The Hawks have made their interest in Durant known behind the scenes, sources say, and they have several young players they could offer the Nets as part of a potential deal to land Durant. Let me be clear on the possibility of landing a player of Durant’s caliber: everyone other than Trae Young (and Murray, who was just acquired and can’t go anywhere) should be on the table in a possible exchange. That includes De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu — two players the Hawks would like to keep long-term — but in a scenario where you can acquire a generational superstar, everything has to be on the table.

Brooklyn has already expressed an interest in Hawks forward John Collins, and Atlanta is still expected to trade him this offseason. If the Hawks eventually land Durant, Collins would likely be in on the deal. The Hawks could offer something like Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Okongwu, their own 2023 first-round pick, a 2024 first-round trade, a 2028 first-round trade, and a 2029 first-round pick. isn’t the only package they could offer, but it’s definitely the best the Hawks can do. A reminder: The Hawks don’t control their 2025, 2026 and 2027 picks because of the Murray trade.

The package is important, but we are talking about Durant, who has shown no signs of slowing down. A trio of Young, Murray and Durant would be one of the best, if not the best trio of players in the NBA. The Hawks would still have a few of their young players on the roster to round out the rest of the roster, but the NBA is all about star acquisition, and Atlanta would be near the top in that category if that were to happen.

A potential ripple effect of the Brooklyn Durant trade could be for the Nets to explore a Simmons trade, but Amick reported that the organization plans to keep Simmons. If that changes, the Hawks were seriously discussing a trade with Simmons at this season’s deadline before the Nets acquired him. Sources within the Hawks organization are known to be fans of Simmons’ defense and believe he would be a perfect fit alongside Young.

Looking around the league, it’s likely that Atlanta doesn’t have the player at the center of this package that would appeal to Brooklyn enough. New Orleans could offer Brandon Ingram in the center of a package, Phoenix has Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, Boston has Jaylen Brown, Utah has Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert, the Clippers could be interesting with Paul George and Memphis has several young players who showed more promise than the group of role players from Atlanta.

Durant has four years left on his contract and doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so Brooklyn, if they wanted, could trade him to any team they want despite him having made his move known. list of favorite destinations. So far, it has only been reported that Phoenix and Miami are on his list of destinations.

One thing we didn’t mention with Durant is that he has a longtime friendship with Young since Young was a kid growing up in Norman, Okla., and had season tickets for the Thunder with his dad. This relationship continued to grow as Young became one of the best high school players in the country and one of the best players in the NBA. Watching how Durant handled criticism in Oklahoma City, how he became a superstar, and how he carried himself was one of the defining chapters in Young’s desire to reach Durant-like heights.

It would be a full circle moment for Young if he were to play with someone he sees as a role model, but the Hawks’ package may not be attractive enough for the Nets to consider a trade for one. of the five best players in the league. .

(Photo by Kevin Durant and Trae Young: Dale Zanine/USA Today)

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