Denver, alongside the Milwaukee Bucks, reportedly, inquired with the Nets in late June and early July to gauge the price tag, according to Shams Charania, The Athletic. None of those conversations gained much traction and the asking price for Durant was way higher than these established teams could offer.
To be fair, Brooklyn seems rather confident that they’ll receive a haul in exchange for the 33-year-old forward. With their eyes set on a major trade package, Denver might not have what it takes to swing a deal.
Perhaps sensing his loss of leverage, KD made his trade request a choice between he and Sean Marks and Steve Nash (you can read what I think about that here). It’s that desperation that suggests he really doesn’t want to play in a Nets jersey next season, so if a deal must be done, what would the asking price be?
From the Denver Nuggets’ point of view, it all has to start with Michael Porter Jr. and his trade value. The injury-riddled wing is entering the first year of the five-year, max extension that he signed last offseason and at only 24 years old, he’s one of the more promising scoring forwards in the league.
If the Boston Celtics include Jaylen Brown in a deal or the Toronto Raptors trade Scottie Barnes, there’s an argument to be made that they’re both better prospects than MPJ but third place in the trade asset race is quite good for a team in Denver’s position.
A straight swap of MPJ for KD wouldn’t work financially and the only players Denver can trade that don’t tip Brooklyn over the hard cap line are Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji. Luckily (or unluckily) for Calvin Booth, that’d be all of the Nuggets’ young prospects.
Does a team with Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kevin Durant, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokic win an NBA championship? At first, you’d say yes, of course. But then when you take a look at the bench, Denver would be relying a lot on Ish Smith and DeAndre Jordan.
Is there a trade that the Nuggets can make that keeps some of the young talent on the roster? Probably not. If Brooklyn said no to the Nuggets after these early, exploratory conversations, this would’ve been the framework of a reasonable offer.
If Denver wants to add an extra first-round pick, they’ll only be able to throw in an unprotected 2029 first-round pick when the season starts. After trading a protected 2027 first-round pick in the JaMychal Green salary dump, Booth is constrained in terms of what he can move on the draft pick front.
Denver are able to trade Christian Brown and Peyton Watson but draft picks are usually less valuable after being converted into a player. If Booth did include one or both of these players, he’d be facing some major roster spot issues by moving five players for one.
Brooklyn Nets owner, Joe Tsai, has made it clear that he’s not firing his two staff members and the sentiment around the Nets right now is that they want to take it into the season and see if they can win a title while at full strength.
The only way I see a change of mindset is if a team sends out more than has been currently offered. Since the Nuggets can really upgrade their offer in a significant way, a bidding war would only push them further down the pecking order.