Before any dreams crystalize of Kevin Durant and Nikola Jokic rolling down a championship parade route like the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday morning, understand that there’s a significant impediment to the Nuggets getting involved in the Durant sweepstakes.
Durant blew up the start of NBA free agency on Thursday afternoon when he reportedly requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Despite four years left on his deal, Durant apparently didn’t want anything to do with the dumpster fire he, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons helped light in Brooklyn.
News of his trade request rocked the league only hours before free agency officially started. Durant, according to numerous outlets, already has designs on playing in Phoenix or Miami. According to ESPN, the Nets will take the best deal possible rather than heeding Durant’s request.
Of course, the Nets are under no obligation to acquiesce with the request, either. To see how that worked, you need only look at how the last year of Ben Simmons’ career played out, first in Philadelphia and then in Brooklyn. Simmons didn’t play a game last season after making his displeasure with the 76ers well known.
Simmons, ironically, would be the major impediment to the Nuggets getting involved in the Durant sweepstakes. League rules stipulate that teams can’t have two players on a rookie scale max extension that have been acquired via trade. The Nets already acquired Simmons (who fits that designation) in their James Harden trade.
Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who signed a five-year max rookie extension prior to last season, also fits that description. Unless the Nets traded Simmons, and according to The Athletic, that’s not happening, the Nets couldn’t trade for Porter in a potential Durant deal. Because of the same criteria, Jamal Murray couldn’t be involved, either.
The same goes for Miami’s Bam Adebayo or Phoenix’s Devin Booker.
Finding a match for Durant might slow the start of free agency league-wide, but it shouldn’t impact Denver’s plans.
They still have designs on reaching an agreement with Nikola Jokic on a new five-year, supermax extension that will be the largest deal in NBA history. Consider it a quality consolation prize.