With the NBA trade deadline (Thursday, 3 p.m. ET) drawing near, we all brace for the potential flurry of last-minute activity. This is when things can start getting crazy. Not that they already aren't pretty tipsy after the quick turnaround between Kyrie Irving's shotgun trade demand and subsequent shipping to Dallas. Brooklyn got back Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and might not be done deal, and it might not be done dealing.
That's a good place to start with Tuesday's latest NBA trade rumors.
Kevin Durant unlikely to be moved
Unlikely to be moved before Thursday's deadline, that is. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that while Durant and the Nets are having ongoing discussions about the direction of the franchise, the Nets have "thus far" told interested parties that they do not plan to move Durant before Thursday's trade deadline.
In aftermath of Kyrie Irving trade, the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant are having ongoing conversations on the direction of the franchise, but organization has thus far told inquiring teams that they’re not planning to trade him before Thursday’s deadline, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2023
Whether he'll remain in Brooklyn after this year is another question entirely. ESPN's Zach Lowe spoke to both timelines on his podcast, The Lowe Post, with fellow Insider Brian Windhorst joining him.
"I've been saying since the James Harden trade, that it just feels like the inevitable end of this is that (Durant) asks for a trade a second time, having already done it for the first time. I just don't know how likely that is, or when it would happen," Lowe said. "Around the league, I think there would be some surprise -- even within the Nets -- if it happened in the next four days. Because that's an avalanche of stuff happening in a very short amount of time that all of the league needs to prepare for if it becomes a thing."
This is not a report. This is Lowe's opinion. But it's an educated one. He's as plugged in as anyone. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report is hearing the same.
There has been no indication a Durant trade request is coming soon. And until that day comes, the Nets, as they did last offseason — even after Durant asked to be moved elsewhere — will continue to try and upgrade Brooklyn's supporting cast around their MVP candidate.
All this said, the Nets don't have any incentive to tip their hand here. Everyone is already calling about Durant. It isn't a situation where they need to drum up interest. And the mere possibility that Durant could be moved, whether before the deadline or this summer, is going to have teams who might be in the market to pursue him thinking twice about using up their ammo on a different deadline deal.
For instance ...
OG Anunoby market softening?
For a while, it looked like the Raptors were going to reap the benefits of a bidding war for Anunoby, whom multiple teams, via multiple reports, have been trying to acquire. But so far nobody has met Toronto's price, and now that Durant could become available, these teams could be more inclined to keep their assets in the chamber.
The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Knicks, Pacers, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Suns and Nets have all been linked to Anunoby in recent days. Although the Raptors, sources said, have communicated asking prices for Anunoby that rival front offices feel are quite steep.
There appears varying interest in the talented 24-year-old wing, who emerged as an early-season Defensive Player of the Year candidate. But officials from multiple teams also told Yahoo Sports they expect the number of front offices quietly preparing for Kevin Durant to become available via trade this offseason will likely dampen the Raptors' bidding war for Anunoby's services, at least to some degree.
Why would Phoenix, for example, mortgage multiple first-round picks for Toronto's swingman and eliminate itself from any potential Durant sweepstakes come July?
The combination of Anunoby's market potentially softening and the Raptors' higher asking price for him, Fred VanVleet has become the more likely guy to be traded from Toronto, per Fischer.
Several opposing executives have since labeled VanVleet as the most likely Raptor to be traded ahead of Thursday's deadline. A pair of Western Conference contenders in the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns have been often mentioned as VanVleet suitors. The Lakers, Magic and Timberwolves have also registered interest in VanVleet, sources said. VanVleet is expected to decline his $22 million option for the 2023-24 season in search of a pay raise that approaches a maximum salary and certainly north of $30 million.
Celtics looking to use trade exception
Celtics reporter Keith Smith spoke with numerous sources about Boston's discussions so far and potential activity leading up to the deadline. He says the Celtics, like everyone else in the league, has mapped out what an offer for Durant might look like, but it's unlikely to get beyond the exploratory stage.
Grant Williams, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard are touched on as potential trade candidates, but Smith's sources don't see any of those guys ultimately being moved.
The expected play is Boston using its $5.89 million trade exception to add to the roster. From Smith:
The Celtics have a TPE of $5,890,000 from the Dennis Schroder trade at last year's deadline. Using that TPE has been the focus for Boston at the deadline.
One source told CelticsBlog, "We haven't talked a player who makes more than $6 million with Boston. They're offering picks and minor players for our low-salary guys. They want to use that TPE."
Another rival team said, "It's clear to us that Brad (Stevens) has the go-ahead to add tax money, because all of our conversations would be TPE trades for them. We just don't have anyone that's a fit for that kind of deal, but the Celtics are trying to use it."
Keep an eye on the Celtics potentially sending a protected first-round pick, or two second-round picks, in exchange for a player that makes under $6 million to fit in the TPE. It seems like Boston has no plans to let it expire.
After the deadline passes, Boston will also have a leg up in the buyout market with a $3.2M Disabled Player Exception from the Danilo Gallinari season-ending injury. If the Celtics were to trade Gallinari, that DPE will go away. So don't expect a Gallo deal. The Celtics want that DPE bullet come buyout time, which will allow them to outbid most competitors if it comes to that.
Heat trade Dewayne Dedmon to Spurs
This is not a rumor. This is an actual trade, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. This is a cash move for the Heat, first and foremost. By not taking a player back, they are $5M under the luxury tax line. If they use the open roster spot, it will almost certainly be for less than that amount. They may just end up converting the two-way deal of Orlando Robinson into a standard contract.