The NBA offseason seems to have stalled, with executives on vacation and Donovan Mitchell and Kevin Durant both on the teams they played for in 2021-22.
But the rumor mill never stops churning, and it contains some recent additions worth mulling.
If the Los Angeles Lakers are serious about landing Kyrie Irving, one executive thinks expanding the deal to include Durant might be the key. The New York Knicks aren’t the only team after Mitchell. And extension negotiations could make the futures of Draymond Green and another superstar murky.
Are there any deals to be made on these fronts? Keep on scrolling to find out.
The front offices of the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have seemingly been circling each other (and Kyrie) over a potential trade all summer.
The money part of the equation isn’t hard to figure out. Westbrook and his $47.1 million salary would have to be involved, regardless of whether Brooklyn would keep him or buy him out after the trade.
The sticking point seems to be how much draft capital L.A. would send, and the “Lakers don’t want to give up multiple first-round picks to trade Russell Westbrook,” according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto.
But what if that framework was expanded to include KD and Davis?
“They should offer Davis with Westbrook,” an NBA insider told Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus. “Try and get Kevin Durant. KD for AD and a pick is as close as [the Nets] will get to what they want.”
The resulting superteam with LeBron James, KD and Kyrie might even be worth more than that to the Lakers, who are seemingly always in title-or-bust mode.
Davis is a big concession, but he will turn 30 in March and has a long, troubling injury history. Durant’s is arguably scarier, and he’ll be 34 in September, but he raises L.A.’s short-term ceiling higher than AD, and he’s a better theoretical fit next to LeBron.
The final evolution of the King’s game could include more possessions starting in the post, and the presence of Davis makes that a little tougher. Durant is the kind of player who’ll be draining jumpers like they’re layups well after his playing days are behind him. The kind of spacing he could provide in LeBron’s twilight years would be invaluable.
The upgrade in fit from Westbrook to Kyrie is even easier to see. He’s won a title alongside LeBron, and he’s demonstrated a greater willingness to cede some control of the offense than Russ.
For Brooklyn, this deal only makes sense if Durant is dead-set on leaving (or sitting out until his trade demand is honored). And even though it doesn’t include a pick haul on par with what the Utah Jazz got
Yes, Davis has had to sit out more than his fair share of games. And his production has been in a bit of a free fall since 2019-20, but he’s an eight-time All-Star and a four-time All-NBA selection.
Assuming he can stay healthy (bold, I know), he’s an instant identity creator on defense. And he’s under contract through 2024-25 (which is a player option), so Brooklyn would have a bit of wiggle room with which to build around him.
The Trade: Donovan Mitchell for Terry Rozier, James Bouknight, a 2023 first-round pick, a 2025 first-round pick, a 2027 first-round pick and a 2029 first-round pick
The likeliest outcome of the Mitchell saga still seems to be that he’ll end up with the Knicks.
The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Andy Larsen wrote that the “overwhelming feeling among league insiders is that Mitchell is likely to sign outside of Utah at the first available opportunity in 2025.”
“Mitchell considers New York home,” Larsen continued. “Mitchell has spent the majority of this offseason in New York this year. His skills trainer, Chris Brickley, operates out of a gym in the city. It makes sense that he’d be interested in living there full time.”
But what if that just means the Knicks will be hesitant to include significant draft compensation for a player they can wait to sign outright? Three years is a ways away, but the amount of picks Utah is reportedly demanding is daunting.
So, it’s understandable for New York to be proceeding with at least a hint of caution. As it does, Utah seems to be looking elsewhere.
“The Jazz are continuing conversations with other teams that are interested in Mitchell,” The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania said on The Rally. “Teams like Charlotte and Washington, I’m told.”
If New York wants to haggle over total picks and the protections attached to those, could the Charlotte Hornets swoop in with four of their own to pair Mitchell with LaMelo Ball?
That’s what their offer will be about. Other than Ball, who they’re not trading, there isn’t a ton of young talent on the roster. Adding Mark Williams would be redundant after Walker Kessler went to Utah in the Gobert deal. And after an underwhelming rookie season, James Bouknight is mostly a flier.
Rozier, though a good player in the right situation, is mostly here to satisfy the collective bargaining agreement’s trade rules.
Again, this deal is about picks for the rebuilding Jazz. And if the Hornets can beat New York’s best offer (maybe unlikely), Utah might go for it.
Charlotte’s interest in Mitchell, meanwhile, is a little harder to grasp than New York’s. Yes, he certainly makes the Hornets better in the short term. He and Ball are interesting theoretical fit, thanks in part to the 6’7″ Ball’s size.
But Mitchell probably won’t make them a title contender. And emptying the asset cupboard to go from play-in range to slightly above that is quite a risk.
Taking it would depend largely on the belief that Ball can reach top 10-ish status in the league, which isn’t unreasonable.
The Trade: Draymond Green and a 2026 first-round pick for John Collins
Put this one in the “almost certainly won’t happen” category. Draymond Green is very much a part of the fabric of a Golden State Warriors dynasty that has secured four championships.
Their luxury-tax bill gets more absurd every year, and giving Draymond the max extension he wants would only add to that (according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II, the total cost of the roster could soar as high as $564 million if everyone gets paid), but breaking up this core feels even wilder).
Still, according to Slater and Thompson, Green wants his four-year, $138.4 million extension. And if he doesn’t get it from the Warriors, he “is said to be willing to explore his outside options to get the kind of contract he wants.”
Does all of this mean a trade could eventually be on the table? As hard as it is to imagine Green elsewhere, the possibility of a move at least exists.
And there’s another player who’s been in and out of trade rumors for the last couple of years who might make sense in his place.
John Collins isn’t a good as Draymond right now (particularly on defense), but he’s eight years younger and under contract through 2025-26. Plus, the last year of that deal (a player option) is set to pay Collins less than where Draymond’s salary would start on the extension he’s after.
The Warriors would have to play differently with Collins at the 4. He’s not the same level of creator for others. And again, the defensive identity of the team would completely change (or disappear) without Green.
Collins is a better shooter, though (37.6 percent from three for his career). And he’s much springier as a roll man or receiver out of the dunker’s spot.
Being 24 also means there’s some room for growth as a playmaker and defender. Draymond’s almost certainly on the other side of his prime.
So, why would the Atlanta Hawks do this?
For one thing, they’d get a first-round pick for a player they’ve seemingly been trying to move for a long time. And though Green may be on the decline, he’d instantly add credibility to a defense that has struggled in the Trae Young era.
Suddenly, Atlanta would have three high-end defenders in Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela and Green (possibly four, if De’Andre Hunter hits his potential). And the wealth of passing ability from Young, Murray and Green opens intriguing possibilities on the other end.
The Trade: LeBron James for Kevin Love, Jarrett Allen, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2026 first-round pick and a 2028 first-round pick
All right, now we’re really getting weird.
This feels even less likely than the Draymond move, and it only exists in a world in which the Lakers don’t get LeBron a little more help this offseason, but it can’t be disregarded entirely.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who’s done about as much reporting on LeBron’s career as anyone, already mentioned the possibility of him signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2023 on ESPN Daily.
And if the Lakers can’t beef up their roster or come to an agreement on an extension with LeBron this summer (Rich Paul told ESPN the two sides had “productive” talks on the matter Thursday), they might have to seriously consider moving him.
As ridiculous as that seems, it beats the possible alternative of losing him for nothing in free agency.
So, why not engage the Cavs on the idea? Start by asking for salary filler, Evan Mobley and four or five picks. When Cleveland says, “Nah, we’ll just wait for 2023,” the Lakers can back off a bit. And if they end up with a 24-year-old All-Star and three or four picks, they can at least sell the fans on this being preferable to losing him outright.
For Cleveland, though it’s built something organically that may be painful to break up, this organization owes a lot to James. He ended a decades-long title drought for the city and brought relevance to a franchise that had never reached the heights it did with him.
LeBron’s hometown team ushering him to the end of his Hall of Fame career with Darius Garland, Mobley (assuming he wouldn’t be in the deal) and, oh say, Bronny James, would make for a charming final chapter.
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