What Kevin Durant staying with Nets means for the Jazz
By Rustyn Burnside, ESPN 977
The NBA offseason is one of the most fun off seasons in professional sports. Not only is it pretty short lived, but it also is typically jam packed with excitement. That anticipation was justified as on June 30th, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant officially requested a trade from the franchise. This tore through the NBA like wildfire. Every team in the association immediately thought about what they could offer for Brooklyn’s disgruntled star. Durant, although 33, was a game change for any team that may have the resources to land him. The issue was, that in order to get the 12 time All-Star, the Nets would expect the haul of all hauls in exchange. Brooklyn felt no pressure to ship him without their demands being met. Phoenix and Miami were immediately pegged as the favorites to land Durant.
Then on July 6th the Utah Jazz traded Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler (the #24 pick from the 2022 draft), Jarred Vanderbilt and four first round picks over the coming years, with a pick swap in 2026. This was the definition of a haul. A Godfather offer for Rudy Gobert. If Utah could get that, then Brooklyn wanted more for their star. It froze the entire offseason. Everything paused as the basketball world centered around Kevin Durant. Teams interested in Kevin Durant’s services failed to meet a lot of Brooklyn’s trade demands. Phoenix, Miami, Toronto and Boston all tried. Washington, New Orleans and Memphis thought long and hard about it. Denver and Milwaukee surprised with reported interest. The future of Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, John Collins, Russell Westbrook and the like all took a back seat as teams threw all they could at Brooklyn trying to get the Nets to budge. This dragged on for what seemed like ages. Free agents stopped signing with teams, the trade market was rumors alone, and nothing would move for weeks on end.
Today, the Brooklyn Nets announced they held a meeting with the Steve Nash, Joe Tsai and Sean Marks in Los Angeles with Kevin Durant and his manager Rich Kleiman. The result of the meeting is that Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets will stick together, and that the trade requests, rumors and hypotheticals are all put to rest. The ongoing chaos from June 30th to now has all been for naught. The Nets are expected to retain a pretty beefed-up team and should be seen as threats to a title despite the disfunction. With Irving and Durant expected to hang around, they will pair with 3-time All-Star Ben Simmons, Sharp shooters Seth Curry and Joe Harris, and a great supporting cast of Patty Mills, Royce O’ Neale, TJ Warren, Nic Claxton and Cam Thomas. So now that Brooklyn has found a somewhat unsettling peace, what of the rest of the NBA?
Reports are already in motion that teams like Phoenix, a strong KD contender, are now looking for a Post up power Forward per John Gambadoro. The Lakers all the sudden have strong trade targets they are looking into instead of just considering. The Heat now need a starting Power Forward to replace PJ Tucker. The free agency rumor mill is picking back up with what players remain unsigned, such as Dennis Schroder now being linked back to a Lakers reunion. The NBA is starting to heal, as teams now resume putting the finishing pieces on their roster. With training camps set to begin in late September, teams that were left waiting in the wind on Kevin Durant news do not have much time to finalize what they want to see to start the 2022-2023 season. Expect Free agency and the trade market to be livelier in the coming weeks leading up to the season. If not livelier, expect more depth in these topics. Everything before was so superficial because it was dependent on Kevin and what happened with him and the Nets. Everyone was waiting for the domino to fall, but now it has been removed completely. Teams are responsible to get things moving themselves now.
For the Utah Jazz, this should be a dream come true. The rebuilding Jazz are in the headlines right now for the ongoing trade talks involving star Donovan Mitchell. New York has long been considered the running favorite, but other teams have been waiting in the shadows such as Charlotte and Washington. No one can offer what the Knicks can offer and with talks resuming only a week ago per Shams Charania and Tony Jones, things are expected to get done at some point. Both Shams and Jones would report recently that New York’s latest offer involved Obi Toppin, Evan Fournier, Salary filler (another player) and 5 first round picks, with only two of those being unprotected. Shams would mention the Jazz would not only reject the offer but wanted a “significant” upgrade from that offer. Much like Batman and the Joker, these teams seemed destined to do this forever.
Until the Durant news broke today that is. Teams like Miami who missed on the Durant sweepstakes might now throw their best offer at Utah as they have shown interest in Mitchell. Teams like Washington who had interest in both Durant and Mitchell might do the same. Fred Katz, a Knicks beat writer made this exact point on twitter. Teams with the assets for Durant might use those for Utah’s star guard. Toronto or New Orleans could even be a dark horse contender from a speculation standpoint. Not only are more potential offers a good thing for a Jazz team that wants young players and picks, but it might light a fire out in the big apple. The Knicks have what Utah wants but that does not make them in control of the situation. Mitchell is now the most available star on the trade scene and teams can pony up intriguing offers if they are dead set on a star. John Gambadoro, a sports radio talk show host in Arizona mentioned that even teams like Cleveland, Brooklyn, and the Lakers are also now added to the mix of inquiring teams. Whether that is legitimate or not I am unsure, but it is easy to assume the pool has got a bit more crowded with KD staying in Brooklyn. These offers and interest may make New York nervous, resulting in the Jazz getting what they came for.
Even outside of the Donovan Mitchell situation, teams are freed from being bystanders to the Durant situation. They feel they can act now without missing out, and this is where the rotation players for Utah come in. What teams cannot benefit from a Patrick Beverly or a Bojan Bogdanovic? In fact, these guys are already being linked to the Lakers of course according to Shams Charania. The Heat and Suns need a forward. Bojan would be a fit there for example. Teams that were hoping for Durant to be moved in order for Irving to be moved might need a steady veteran point guard. How about Mike Conley? Clarkson, Beasley, Gay and others make Utah a prime spot to turn towards for teams who feel they couldn’t land what they wanted too. The Jazz are attempting to rebuild in all but word alone, yet they have an incomplete roster of helpful role players who could make differences to teams trying to compete. The Jazz are now where all eyes will shift towards in the NBA as a place to get that piece you might need. And all little old Utah will want in return is a draft pick or two and maybe a young player with some upside.