The Brooklyn Nets have been a disappointing team during the Kevin Durant – Kyrie Irving era, as they have not been able to get past the second round during the two stars’ tenure. Their performance in the postseason this year was particularly poor, as the Nets were the only team who did not manage to win a single game in the 2022 playoffs.
NBA analyst Mo Dakhil perfectly encapsulated the Nets’ current situationpointing out the various poor decisions that have happened over the last few years to lead to their current situation, which is a “complete mess”.
“Signing DeAndre Jordan when they had Allen to appease Kyrie and KD, fire Atkinson because he wanted to play the better center, blessed the Nash hiring, blew it all up for Harden, then had to move him because of all the dysfunction, and now issuing ultimatums. Just a complete mess.”
Perhaps the best move for the Brooklyn Nets would be to start completely over and try to usher in the next era of competitive Nets basketball rather than continue to deal with their current situation. Here is the most realistic starting lineup and roster for the Nets entering next season.
Kevin Durant Wants Out And The Nets Should Trade Him
Boston Celtics Receive: Kevin Durant
Brooklyn Nets Receive: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard, Grant Williams, 2024 First-Round Pick, 2026 First-Round Pick
Kevin Durant has made an official trade request, and there is not much benefit to the Brooklyn Nets keeping him around. Even if he did end up playing for the franchise at the start of the season, Kevin Durant being unhappy could potentially disrupt the locker room and create a negative atmosphere around the franchise. The optimal thing to do would be to move the superstar to avoid that while getting a huge trade package in return to start rebuilding.
The most realistic trade package for the Brooklyn Nets in a Kevin Durant trade likely comes from the Boston Celtics, and Shams Charania noted that a trade package around Jaylen Brown is a “viable” deal for Kevin Durant. Obviously, the Celtics would offer Jaylen Brown as a centerpiece of the deal, alongside solid defensive players such as Marcus Smart and Grant Williams. The Nets would also be getting a good amount of draft compensation with two unprotected first-round picks. Getting an All-Star, good role players, and draft compensation is the perfect return in a superstar trade.
There have been previous suggestions about Jaylen Brown potentially being the best player on the Boston Celtics, and if he were to get moved to the Brooklyn Nets, he’d immediately become the No. 1 offensive option on the team. Perhaps he could truly blossom with a bigger opportunity on the Nets, which is obviously what the team would be banking on when accepting this trade package. They would obviously still have Ben Simmons on the roster as well, and thus the Nets would have a solid foundation on which to build for the future.
When Kevin Durant Is Traded, Kyrie Irving Will Be Done With The Nets
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry
Brooklyn Nets Receive: Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, 2027 First-Round Pick (LAL), 2029 First-Round Pick (LAL)
If Kevin Durant is traded, it is highly unlikely that Kyrie Irving will want to remain with the Brooklyn Nets. Durant and Irving are obviously close friends, which would obviously play into that. However, it is also likely that Kyrie Irving would want to go to a team that has an immediate chance of competing for a championship. A team that Kyrie Irving has frequently been linked to is the Los Angeles Lakers. That move would reunite him with former teammate LeBron James, and the two notably won a championship together on the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
The trade offer from the Los Angeles Lakers would net the Brooklyn Nets two valuable first-round picks. Those would be the key appeal in this scenario, as they could either be used to draft good prospects or be further traded in another deal to improve the team. Russell Westbrook’s contract would be used as the salary base to get this deal done, while Talen Horton-Tucker would be included due to him being the Lakers’ best young prospect.
The Brooklyn Nets don’t really have a lot of incentive to tank currently, as their picks will be going to the Houston Rockets due to the Nets sending out unprotected first-round picks and pick swaps when trading for James Harden. As such, a player like Russell Westbrook could potentially be a valuable acquisition for the team due to his floor-raising ability. He notably helped the Washington Wizards make the playoffs during the 2020-21 season with his elite performances, and perhaps he could have a similar impact on the Brooklyn Nets.
The Final Roster For The Brooklyn Nets
Starting Lineup: Russell Westbrook, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Ben Simmons, Nicolas Claxton
Bench: Talen Horton-Tucker, Patty Mills, Joe Harris, TJ Warren, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards
Future Draft Picks From Other Teams: 2024 First-Round Pick (BOS), 2026 First-Round Pick (BOS), 2027 First-Round Pick (LAL), 2029 First-Round Pick (LAL)
Overall, this roster for the Brooklyn Nets has a combination of star power and depth. Their starting lineup would likely feature a backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Marcus Smart. That would be a solid combination of offense and defense. Russell Westbrook would also ease some of the ballhandling load on Marcus Smart and allow him to not be a full-time point guard.
The forward spots would be occupied by Jaylen Brown and Ben Simmons, both of whom are elite defensively. Jaylen Brown would be the primary offensive force on this roster, and he would likely end up as the highest-scoring player on the team. Ben Simmons would be tasked with playing consistent defense, rebounding, and finishing at the rim while also providing supplementary ballhandling next to Russell Westbrook.
Nic Claxton would close out this starting lineup as the starting center. He is very good defensively, being a solid rim protector while still being mobile enough to bother perimeter players at times. Claxton is also capable of finishing well near the rim, especially if the shots are assisted. He should, in theory be a good fit with Russell Westbrook due to the latter’s passing ability.
Overall, this starting lineup would be one that is competitive in the Eastern Conference. The roster would also have a good number of role players coming off the bench as well, and it definitely seems as though this version of the Nets could potentially be a lower-seeded playoff team or in the play-in tournament.
The Nets Have A Chance To Reset The Franchise
If the Brooklyn Nets were to trade Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they would have a chance to have a “restart” for the franchise and try to remain a competitive team while having a path to becoming a championship-caliber team in the future.
Russell Westbrook is on an expiring contract currently, and if the Brooklyn Nets don’t re-sign him, they would likely be able to amass a good amount of cap space to chase free agents in next year’s free agency. Adding another top-tier player to an already solid roster could make the Brooklyn Nets become a powerhouse once again without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They would also have a number of picks that would allow them to improve their roster.
With these moves, the Brooklyn Nets would end up with two stars and a number of solid defenders. Jaylen Brown and Ben Simmons would become one of the best young duos in the league. Meanwhile, players like Marcus Smart and Grant Williams have both been elite defensively during the Celtics’ run to the NBA Finals. Talen Horton-Tucker would be a solid sixth man for the team and would get the opportunity to really develop. On top of Horton-Tucker, the Brooklyn Nets would have a number of solid players on their bench, such as TJ Warren and Joe Harris.
There is no doubt that if the Brooklyn Nets were to follow through with making these moves, they would be able to bring basketball culture back to the team. They would have a mix of hungry young players and good culture-setting veterans such as Marcus Smart. Many people have felt that the Brooklyn Nets sacrificed their culture when they made their initial moves to acquire their stars, and this could be a good way to get that back.
Generally, one never wants to trade away top-tier stars. However, it is clear that the partnership between Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn was unsuccessful. It may be time to move on and get a head start on rebuilding the roster and the basketball culture for the franchise.