For the past two months the Miami Heat have gone from a destination of choice for Kevin Durant, to a team on the outside looking when it came to a potential trade, to the Heat themselves making it known they were prepared to move forward with the roster in place.
Now it appears the eight weeks of scuttlebutt have landed Durant, the Brooklyn Nets and the Heat back where the process started, with nothing having changed or to change.
At least that appears to be the latest fallout from the soap opera that has dominated the NBA offseason since Durant’s trade request first became public on June 30, just hours before the start of free agency.
Tuesday, the Nets released a statement that addressed previous reports of Durant seeking from team owner Joseph Tsai either the dismissal of Brooklyn General Manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, or a trade with four seasons remaining on his contract.
A statement from Marks, the former Heat center, released through the team read, “Steve Nash and I, together with Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, met with Kevin Durant [and Durant business manager] Rich Kleiman in Los Angeles yesterday. We have agreed to move forward with our partnership. We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.”
While the Heat initially stood atop Durant’s relocation wish list, the Heat made clear an unwillingness to part with center Bam Adebayo, who last summer teamed with Durant to deliver Olympic gold to Team USA.
Still, with the names of Heat players such as Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry swirling in such rumors, the team last month stressed that management and ownership were content moving forward with a roster that lost only power forward P.J. Tucker from the core that advanced within one victory of the 2022 NBA Finals.
The Heat’s 2022-23 roster then appeared to be finalized, barring a trade, with the Sunday announcement by team captain Udonis Haslem that he will return for a 20th season. While Haslem’s return brings the roster to 14, one shy of the NBA regular-season limit, it puts the Heat hard up against the punitive luxury tax. The Heat also will carry two players on two-way contacts, with those salaries not counting against the salary cap or luxury tax.
The Heat, however, continue to be linked to a possible trade of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, with Herro mentioned as the potential linchpin of such a deal. However the Heat do not appear to have the desired draft capital being sought by Jazz executive Danny Ainge.
For now, the Heat stand with a potential opening-night roster of Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Dewayne Dedmon, Haslem, Herro, Haywood Highsmith, Nikola Jovic, Lowry, Caleb Martin, Victor Oladipo, Robinson, Max Strus, Vincent and Omer Yurtseven, with Darius Days and Marcus Garrett on two-way deals.
The Heat open training camp the final week of September, with their regular season opening October 19 against the Chicago Bulls at FTX Arena.
The Heat’s first scheduled meeting against the Nets, and now likely Durant, is a preseason game on Oct. 6 at Barclays Center. The Heat’s first regular-season game against the Nets is Jan. 8 at FTX Arena.
Should Durant remain with the Nets, and should Brooklyn back off a potential trade of mercurial guard Kyrie Irving, who has been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, it would leave them with a formidable roster of Durant, Irving, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Patty Mills, Nic Claxton, T.J. Warren and Royce O’Neale, among others.
Listed with 18-to-1 odds for the 2023 NBA championship by Caesars Sports Book ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, the Nets were then moved to 9-to-1, sixth in the odds beyond only the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat continued to be listed at 14-to-1, as the No. 8 choice, behind the Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.
The uncertainty with Durant had brought the NBA free-agent market to a crawl in recent weeks, with potential moves now likely to resume. Among those remaining unsigned is forward Markieff Morris, who spent last season with the Heat.