Top NBA trade candidates Kevin Durant (left) of the Nets and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz.
Across the NBA, the frustration is palpable. We’re closing in on the tip of July and never much has happened by the use of blockbuster trades, not because the Celtics acquired Malcolm Brogdon in a six-player trade and the Jazz sent off Rudy Gobert to Minnesota on the identical day, in a trade involving 4 veterans, the Wolves’ 2022 first-round pick (Walker Kessler), 4 future first-rounders and a pick swap, plus Gobert.
Within the interim, we’ve waited eagerly to see what happens with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving of the Nets, in addition to Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz, all who went into mid-July looking like sure bets to be dealt.
Mitchell still looks like certain trade bait. Irving, though, doesn’t, as indications are that he’ll remain in Brooklyn for next season, the ultimate yr of his contract. Durant remains to be a mystery—the Nets can’t get traction on a suggestion for a player who’s one in all the three best within the NBA, but whose situation is complicated by age (34 when next season starts), health and the shocking trade request he lodged on June 30, just ahead of the beginning of free agency.
The impatience around these non-deals shouldn’t be much warranted—not yet, a minimum of. The pace of developments has been snail-ish, actually, but that shouldn’t be unusual for these sorts of trades. Once the primary surge of free agency has passed in early July, it’s typical for subsequent blockbusters to tug into the tip of July and August.
“Nobody is in a rush because there shouldn’t be much reason for them to rush,” one league executive told me. “You will have two months before training camp. You must exhaust every avenue should you’re talking a few huge trade like this. What’s the difference if it happens on July 10 or August 20? None, really.”
There are very significant examples of late-summer trades over the past 15 years:
2007, Kevin Garnett traded from Minnesota to Boston. After Garnett rumors had been heavy on the night of the NBA draft, with offers from the Lakers and Celtics rebuffed and a three-team deal in place that might have sent him to Phoenix (and Amare Stoudemire to Atlanta), Garnett entered the meat of the NBA summer still a member of the Wolves. A trade to the Celtics seemed inconceivable, because Garnett’s agent had already said publicly that Garnett had little interest in playing for Boston. On July 31, though, that each one shifted—Garnett relented on his objection to playing for the Celtics and a six-player, two-pick trade got here to fruition.
Dwight Howard in 2012
2012, Dwight Howard traded from Orlando to the Lakers. All the post-lockout 2012 season had been overshadowed by Howard’s demand to be traded from the Magic, who had turned down offers from the Lakers and Nets through the yr. When the summer rolled around, Howard again pushed the team to trade him, with Brooklyn being the one destination he wanted. But, because the calendar pressed on, Howard reconsidered a trade to the Lakers, and on August 10 (with most NBA eyes focused on Team USA’s efforts within the London Olympics), a mammoth trade finally got here down involving 4 teams, 12 players and 4 draft picks.
2014, Kevin Love traded from Minnesota to Cleveland. This trade was truly one in all attrition, as Love possibilities—the Celtics, the Nuggets, the Warriors, the Bulls—all seemed tantalizingly close throughout the spring only to fizzle once the summer got here around. At one point, Love with the Warriors seemed inevitable, but coach Steve Kerr implored the team to not trade away Klay Thompson, and that deal died. Finally, once LeBron James’ return to Cleveland from his stint with the Heat was in place, a trade to the Cavaliers gained momentum, though even with that, the ultimate three-team deal that sent the previous two No. 1 overall picks (Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett) to Minnesota didn’t land on an agreement until August 7. The trade couldn’t undergo until August 23, the primary day Wiggins was eligible to be traded.
2017, Kyrie Irving traded from Cleveland to Boston. This was a sophisticated situation since the trade request from Irving didn’t come until the center of July, after he’d learned (in line with an ESPN report) that the Cavs had internal discussions about his future, including potential trades, just ahead of that yr’s NBA draft. His initial list of preferred destinations was the Spurs, Heat, Knicks or Timberwolves, but only the Spurs made a reputable offer, which the Cavs rejected. Denver and Detroit were also in the combo, but Phoenix (for Eric Bledsoe and Josh Jackson) seemed to be the most important contender. The Suns’ refusal to part with Jackson, though, squelched that, and a late addition to the list of suitors—the Celtics—ultimately, er, won the Irving sweepstakes. The deal was agreed to on August 22, and was finally enacted on August 31, with the Celtics sending three players (including star guard Isaiah Thomas) and two picks for Irving.
There are other late-summer trades in NBA history, and one—the 2018 Jimmy Butler saga—that dragged painfully into November. But recent history is evident. Yes, it’s late July and the dearth of activity is frustrating for all involved. It’s nothing recent, though.