The NBA offseason had a chance to become thoroughly chaotic if Kyrie Irving decided to leave Brooklyn.
Declining his player option with the Nets would have allowed Irving to hit free agency, and his market might have been very robust had he been open to a relative discount. But perhaps more significant would have been the chain reaction, specifically as it relates to Kevin Durant.
Irving reportedly was using Durant as his primary source of leverage while he tried to have his foremost desires satisfied. The dynamic was pretty straightforward: If Irving walked, Durant very well could want out of Brooklyn as well.
And if a situation came to pass where KD demanded a trade from the Nets, the Atlanta Hawks reportedly were prepared to take action.
“While the (Dejounte) Murray talks were evolving, sources say the Hawks were monitoring Brooklyn’s situation closely and — like so many other teams around the league — seriously preparing for the possibility that Nets star Kevin Durant might ask for a trade,” Chris Kirschner and Sam Amick wrote in a column published to The Athletic on Wednesday. “While Kyrie Irving’s decision to opt in for the final year of his contract brought a quick end to the Durant chatter, the Hawks’ interest spoke volumes about the scope and urgency of their search.”
Atlanta ultimately worked out a deal for Murray, who yielded a trade package for the Spurs that features three first-round picks and Danilo Gallinari. The Celtics might end up reaping the benefits of this transaction, as Boston reportedly will pursue Gallinari in the event he’s released by San Antonio.