When the season begins, where will Kevin Durant play?
Chris Hering: Toronto. I still feel the Raptors have a promising roster with players that are young and affordable enough for Brooklyn to take on. (Jaylen Brown is great, but do the Nets want to be responsible for paying upwards of $40 million a year on his next deal two years from now?) It’s just a question of whether Toronto can stand the thought of ditching Scotty Barnes.
Robin Lundberg: Boston. It got to the point where I thought Kevin Durant (and Kyrie Irving) actually staying with the Nets was the most likely outcome due to the apparent lack of enough offers and the years left on his deal. However, the reported Celtics show centered around Jaylen Brown is the most realistic show I’ve seen, so if it wasn’t Brooklyn, I’d say Boston as of today.
Rohan Nadkarni: Memphis. Durant will be in the Grizzlies because that would be the most fun option. KD can supercharge a rookie squad who just happens to be embroiled in a budding competition with his former fellow running warriors. And Memphis has interesting pieces (Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane) that they can send back to Brooklyn as well as picks. Is this possible? Mostly not. But it’s hard to find a difference that makes sense for Durant, and perhaps the most obvious choice (Phoenix) appears off the table due to the signing of Deandre Ayton. And the longer this goes on, the more difficult it will be to build logical Durant deals.
Jeremy Wu: Brooklyn. I can’t say I’m confident Nets has dropped the asking price or met someone else yet. I could see it swing into the season with no change in conditions.
When the season begins, where will Donovan Mitchell play?
salted fish: New York, which has an abundance of future recruiting options and enough young talent to get the deal done more easily. Miami still looks like another logical landing spot, but it is said that the Heat will need to find another club to help them improve their show.
Lundberg: New York. I’ll stay with the Knicks when it comes to Donovan Mitchell. We’ve seen New York used as leverage in talks before but this time it seems more realistic because the Knicks have assets to make a strong showing and Mitchell’s interest seems to be mutual.
Nadkarni: New York. Mitchell will play for the Knicks. New York has the project capital and thirst to make this kind of move. I don’t see Utah prolonging the situation if they want to deteriorate properly this coming season. The Knicks could also send in enough interesting young talent without having to send RJ Barrett, which Jazz probably wouldn’t want to extend anyway. This is very logical for both sides.
Wu: New York. From a purely entertainment value perspective, at this point, if it doesn’t, it’s disappointing. Will that really change the Knicks’ fortunes and get them into the playoffs? I’m not sure.
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When the season begins, where will Kyrie Irving play?
salted fish: Los Angeles. The Lakers, who are understandably desperate to upgrade their points guard after leaving Russell Westbrook’s trial. L.A. doesn’t have a lot of assets – they handled most of what they had to get from Westbrook and before that, Anthony Davis – but if the Lakers are serious about maximizing whatever remains of the LeBron window, they will find a way to get to Kyrie and get out of the Westbrook deal.
Lundberg: Brooklyn. For me, it’s Nets for Kyrie, especially as long as KD stays in BK. But, given that the Nets are clearly no longer in love with Irving based on contract negotiations, if Durant were to be dealt with, Kyrie likely wouldn’t be far behind. In that case, I’m going to have to rely on the Lakers because they seem to be the only team that has a lot of interest.
Nadkarni: Brooklyn. I don’t see Brooklyn taking Russell Westbrook’s contract to pick one of the Lakers… nor do I see LA giving up Irving’s first two coins in the final year of his deal (or wanting to extend his contract when LeBron also enters free agency next summer). I also don’t know of any other team in the league that would be willing to take on Irving and the subsequent drama at this point. The Lakers also apparently have other options, like trying to swing a move for Buddy Hield. I think Irving is starting the season on the Nets roster but he’s sitting at home, he’ll move on – and maybe buy! – Once the season starts.
Wu: Brooklyn. But will he actually play? Who knows. I once had a lot of fun working from home in Brooklyn too.
When the season begins, where will Russell Westbrook play?
salted fish: No proof. This is a very complicated question at the moment. I think it will end up somewhere else, but there is no clue as to where. Whoever trades on his behalf may not be interested in keeping it. Indiana, for example, has been rumored, but someone like Therese Halliburton – one of the sport’s most talented young generals – would certainly benefit from having more responsibility than the watered-down generals he might see playing Westbrook.
Lundberg: Los Angeles. Until the other pieces move in, Ross is a Laker. If the dominoes start to fall, its final destination is hard to predict because it’s not clear Brooklyn will want it. Then it could be a third team like San Antonio (which was mentioned) who would like to take their bargain and see what production they bring in a new situation (that is if they somehow don’t move again through other means).
Nadkarni: Free agent. I think Russell Westbrook will be a free agent when the season starts. If the Lakers manage to trade him, the assumption is that the team that acquires Ross will buy him immediately. And in that scenario, I don’t see anyone rushing to sign Westbrook right away. Brodie will probably need to do some image rehab throughout the league before he can grab a spot. And if he was bought, I can’t imagine he would want to sign on the cheap with any team that isn’t competitive. Who is the competitor he wants? For reasons of nostalgia, I’d really like to see Westbrook in Oklahoma City in a bench role. But it may take some time before we get there.
Wu: Los Angeles. His contract and diminished play make him…very difficult to trade. If the Lakers are willing to push their draft picks as a big weight to get rid of the paycheck, maybe it will. How desperate will they be? we will see.
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