A package of Norman Powell, Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac, plus draft compensation, could do the trick. If the Clippers do not want to part with Zubac, they could possibly package Reggie Jackson, Robert Covington, Powell and picks. A rotation of Kyrie, PG, Kawhi, Luke Kennard, Morris/Covington, Terance Mann and/or Zubac is a top-five rotation in the league at worst.
Brooklyn taking back Jackson, Powell and Covington would be a nice return of players to fit around Durant, but it still fails to replace the talent of Kyrie. If the Clippers, who also lack draft capital, can put together an enticing enough package to land Irving, this would be an optimal landing spot for him.
NEW YORK KNICKS
The Knicks have been linked to almost every available player via trade or free agency. They have longed for a superstar since the Carmelo Anthony era, and it just so happens that a point guard is also a position of need for the historic franchise.
In order for this to work financially, the Knicks would have to part with some combination of Alec Burks, Kemba Walker, Nerlens Noel, Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose. The Nets would do well to come away with Noel, Walker and Burks in terms of roster fit, but that return is hardly enough talent-wise for Brooklyn. Including the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft — plus one of Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin or Cam Reddish — may be required.
Kyrie staying in New York and swapping local teams may make some sense on paper, but it would be a step backwards in pursuit of a championship for Irving. At this point in his career, championship rings appear to be the goal for Irving, and he’d be better off working it out with the Nets than making a move to the Knicks.
A team with a long shot to land Irving would be the Washington Wizards, but the franchise has made it known that it is going to do whatever it takes to make Bradley Beal happy. Wizards president Tommy Sheppard mentioned using the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft to acquire a veteran point guard. It has been reported that the Wizards have also been in contact with the Thunder, Pacers and San Antonio Spurs in regards to the price point of their point guards. While Brogdon may be the better fit next to Beal, acquiring Irving is an opportunity that does not come around often.
The Wizards could send Kristaps Porzingis, No. 10 and either Corey Kispert or Deni Avdija to the Nets. Brooklyn could then use the 10th pick to acquire a veteran point guard themselves.
This deal, of course, relies upon Beal opting into his player option rather than the current reports that he has declined his option to pursue unrestricted free agency. The Wizards have not been afraid to swing for a big trade, and may have the ammo to do just that here.
Ultimately the best possible destination for Irving is the Nets. Durant handpicked him as his running mate for another championship, and it is in the best interest of all parties involved to figure this out. As mentioned above, the trio of Kyrie, KD and Simmons has yet to take the floor together; the Nets and the NBA world need to see how that would play out. Kyrie can still get paid, the Nets can still be contenders and in the end, they would keep Durant happy, which should be priority No. 1 for Marks.
Trade speculation is fun, but it is often merely speculation in the end. Kyrie is a Brooklyn Net with a player option that would net the highest possible payday he could receive for the 2022-23 season, as it is unlikely anyone offers him a max contract.
Maybe Irving and Marks find an acceptable restructure of his contract that is more incentive-laden, or maybe he opts in for the full amount. At the end of the day, there is a next-to-zero chance the Nets get a package in return for Kyrie that matches his talent level.