Durant, Lakers, Warriors – Big questions ahead of NBA trade deadline
The latest Kyrie Irving saga is over with time to spare before the trade deadline, but how will it impact the rest of the NBA?
The Dallas Mavericks agreed a trade for Irving and Markieff Morris on Sunday, sending Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Brooklyn Nets.
That shake-up had been anticipated as Irving pursued a trade, yet it leaves plenty to ponder ahead of Thursday's deadline.
Stats Perform considers the week's key questions as those hoping to be in contention respond to the Mavs' big move.
How does Durant react?
Irving and Kevin Durant arrived in Brooklyn together in 2019 but, for myriad reasons, the Nets never saw the best of them as a pair as they started only 71 regular season games together.
Durant repeatedly stood by Irving as various controversies threatened to derail the team, yet he has now been left behind.
While the package the Nets received from the Mavs should ensure they have enough to put around Durant and remain competitive, what does the two-time Finals MVP want for himself?
The suggestion over the weekend was the Phoenix Suns – under new ownership – would be keen on making a move for Durant if he became available, and there would be other potential contenders who would see the attraction of a genuine superstar to get them over the line.
Durant has failed previously to force his way out of Brooklyn, but his situation is certainly worth watching.
What now for the Lakers?
If not the Mavs, the Los Angeles Lakers seemed the most likely destination for Irving, with Russell Westbrook and two unprotected first-round picks said to make up the package offered to the Nets.
The Nets were understandably unconvinced by Westbrook's ability to have an impact in 2023, however, and now the Lakers must regroup.
Superstar LeBron James could be forgiven for being far from impressed with the team's inability to secure a trade he had pushed for, and his cryptic Twitter posts as news broke of the Mavs deal would suggest that is the case.
It is expected the Lakers will remain active ahead of the deadline, but Rob Pelinka's promise to only use the team's draft picks in "a move that puts us as a front-runner to get another championship" somewhat limits their potential moves.
The Utah Jazz and the Toronto Raptors have plenty of players they could move, yet none that fall into that category. Someone like Bradley Beal could perhaps be a possibility if the Lakers are determined to go all-in on helping James.
Do the Warriors have a move?
As the Mavs moved for Irving, news elsewhere indicated another shift in the Western Conference: Stephen Curry's leg injury is set to see him miss multiple weeks.
The Golden State Warriors are the defending champions but also cannot afford to be without Curry, given their middling 27-26 record.
This team looked set up to succeed long term, balancing the veteran brilliance of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green with a cast of exciting young talents, led by Jordan Poole.
But between the drama of a clash between Green and Poole, Curry's repeated fitness issues and the Warriors' generally middling form, there was already no room for error before the reigning Finals MVP went down again.
With an upturn required and Curry missing, Golden State may have to deal some of their young prospects – former number two pick James Wiseman being an obvious candidate – in order to improve their roster.
Is Anunoby as big as it gets?
With the Raptors seen as willing sellers, O.G. Anunoby has been popular in trade rumours for weeks now. As the deadline nears, it seems inevitable he will move.
A number of teams with designs on winning the title would benefit from the versatile Anunoby and his ability on both ends of the floor, averaging 16.9 points and 2.1 steals per game.
The New Orleans Pelicans and the Memphis Grizzlies appear to provide the most likely landing grounds.
But will that be it? If Durant stays put, will Anunoby be the most significant mover of the final days before the deadline?
After the Irving trade, that seems very low key, but the NBA always has the facility to surprise...