August 8, 2022
Can the offseason's biggest blockbuster trade actually happen?

LAS VEGAS — The player mentioned most here at the NBA‘s Summer League isn’t even here.

Those on the court are trying to get jobs or improve their standing in the job they already have. But even their opportunities could be impacted by the name that stirs the NBA drink this summer, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

The team that gets him is likely to have a number of openings, depending on how much it sends out in the trade. But even clubs that aren’t involved want to see how the dust settles. Some players included in a deal to make the numbers work could be waived or bought out (as with Danilo Gallinari), and others could become available from teams that miss out on Durant.

In any case, a KD deal, if one comes to pass, is bound to be complex.

“Everybody would love to have him,” one general manager told Heavy Sports, “but almost no one has enough to get him. And I’ll bet you right now that the team that does get him will have to get a third team involved to make the trade work. Brooklyn is asking for more than really anyone can give. I’m not if anyone will meet their price, but I guess they’re hoping someone will get creative and get them the quality player — or players — and picks they want.”

Another league exec echoed what is becoming a more popular opinion around here: that the Nets may just hold the line and go into training camp with both Durant and Kyrie Irving still on the roster.

“We’ve talked to them, and they don’t seem to be in any hurry,” he said. “They’re not panicking, which is very smart.”

There are differing thoughts from sources on whether Golden State is truly interested in re-acquiring Durant.

Said one, “I think they’re worried about where KD might wind up. (The Warriors) are in a good spot. They’ve got young guys behind their veterans, and they could be really good for a long time, so I’m not sure they really want KD. But I think they’re worried he might go someplace and beat them — if that team isn’t all depleted from what they have to do to get him.”

Said another ranking front office person from another club when told of that concept, “Oh, I think they’d take KD in a heartbeat. They want to make sure they win more championships with the veterans they have. They want to squeeze more out of this core.

“You never know what can happen down the line, so when you have a chance to win, you have to do everything you can to get it. Look at all the injuries they had to get over from the last couple of years to win this time.”


Former Celtics, Nets Star Pitching in for HBCUs

The NBA held the first of what it plans to be an annual HBCU showcase Monday. With scouts from the league looking on, 28 players from those schools went through drills were broken into four teams for scrimmages.

Kenny Anderson, a 14-year veteran, most prominently with the Nets, Celtics and Trail Blazers, is now the head coach at Fisk University in Nashville and led one of the groups here. He was appreciative that the players were getting the exposure, showing their skills on the floor at Thomas & Mack Center before the start of the NBA Summer League games.

“I’m trying to build a program,” Anderson said. “I love doing what I’m doing. It’s a challenge, but I love it.”

And he still loves the NBA, though he said he couldn’t watch the Brooklyn-Boston series.

“I like to root for my teams and those are two of them,” he said. “It was too hard for me. I root for both of them. I got love for both of them. I’m a really loyal guy. You know that’s how I was born and raised: be loyal. The Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers and New Jersey Nets are my teams.

“It’s sad to see what the Nets are going through with Durant and Kyrie Irving. They got great talent, but they just don’t want to be there. And that’s sad. That’s sad.

“But it’s all a lot different now — a lot more money, the lane is wide open, and they’re shooting 3’s all the time. The game has changed. But it’s great. I still love the game of basketball, but the league has changed.”

Once the Nets and Boston were no longer playing each other, Anderson followed the Celtics on through their Finals loss to Golden State.

“I really love (Marcus) Smart and the way he plays the game, but I think Boston really needed another point guard to add to him. Smart’s a hell of a player, All-Defense team, but they needed another one, and they got one in Malcolm Brogdon. I love the pick-up. He’s going to do great.”


Family Forgiveness Slow in Coming for Ainge

It’s become an accepted part of sports, certainly in the NBA, that players are able to get away from their teams and even miss games to be present at the birth of their child.

Brad Stevens mentioned Derrick White being away from the Celtics’ Game 2 playoff win in Miami to greet his new son, Hendrix.

“I’m glad Derrick went,” Stevens said. “It’s good for him. It’s good for his family. That’s the most important thing.”

Such events were viewed differently long ago, though sometimes circumstances simply got in the way.

For example, Danny Ainge noted that he missed the birth of son Austin, now assistant general manager for the Celtics, while he was fighting to become a Celt. The team and the Toronto Blue Jays were in court in New York arguing over whether Ainge was still contractually bound to the baseball club.

“September 29th, 1981,” Ainge said. “Michelle (his wife) went into the hospital, but I thought I needed to be there while the case was going on. They ended up ruling for the Blue Jays, and we didn’t get things settled until December.”

Asked if he’s resolved things with his father yet, Austin joked, “We’re working on it.”

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