The New York Knicks may currently be favored to sign both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving via free agency this summer, but the latest from Bleacher Report suggests that it’s possible for a few other teams, including the Boston Celtics, to acquire Durant via an “opt-in-and-trade” deal in the 2019 offseason.
As explained by Bleacher Report‘s Dan Favale, it does appear “easier” and more logical for Durant and Irving to team up on the Knicks, as the team has enough salary cap space to sign both incoming free agents to maximum contracts. He noted, however, that the Celtics could theoretically make a move for Durant despite their lack of cap space. This would require the Golden State Warriors forward to opt in to the second and final year of his current contract, with Boston giving up one of their key veteran players in Gordon Hayward and this year’s first-round draft pick in return.
Explaining why he believes Hayward should be the centerpiece of this hypothetical trade package, Favale wrote that the 29-year-old wingman has “perked up” after a recent slump following the All-Star Break, and that the Warriors could benefit tremendously if Hayward regains the form he showed before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first game of the 2017-18 NBA season.
As Hayward still would have two years and $66.9 million remaining on the four-year contract he signed with the Celtics in the summer of 2017, Bleacher Report‘s Favale suggested that the Warriors could also ask for more than just a 2019 first-round pick to make the deal more enticing. Per Spotrac, Durant is on a two-year, $61.5 million contract with the Warriors, with a player option for the 2019-20 season and a 15 percent trade kicker.
As for the Celtics, Favale opined that the Celtics could also reap the rewards of such a trade, as the team could still have enough “assets” to offer the New Orleans Pelicans if they push forward with a trade attempt for Anthony Davis, while also “guaranteeing” that All-Star point guard Irving would return to the team.
In addition to the above scenario involving the Boston Celtics, Favale also proposed that the Warriors could get even more in return via an “opt-in-and-trade” deal by sending Durant to the Miami Heat for point guard Goran Dragic and shooting guard Josh Richardson. While Dragic and Richardson play the same positions as Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, respectively, Favale suggested that it could be “intriguing” if these players end up teaming with Draymond Green to make up an undersized, yet potentially high-powered “small-ball” lineup.