1st Down: It was a big, big day off the field (and court), and Kevin Durant’s request to be traded by the Brooklyn Nets has to be a major reason for that. The 33 year old has made this decision after Kyrie Irving elected to opt in and remain with the team for another season. He (Durant) had signed an almost $200 million, four year extension with the team back in 2021, so they are under no real pressure to cave into his demands as far as a potential landing spot are concerned. It’s being reported that he prefers to go to either Miami or Phoenix, and while the team are willing to deal him, they are said to only be interested in moving him for the best deal rather than his preference. We’ll see how it shakes out, but the ‘big three’ in the Big Apple certainly didn’t work out.
2nd Down: The Pac-12 just got weaker. A whole lot weaker. As of 2024, it could be two teams down as it emerged on Thursday that both USC and UCLA were going to be departing the conference in favor of joining The Big Ten. The deal comes after the Trojans and Bruins failed to re-up their television deals with the Pac-12 on numerous occasions, setting the stage for such a move. The Big Ten has unanimously welcomed the pair of schools into the conference, continuing a recent trend that has seen many teams switch conferences in a bid to remain relevant and on top of the landscape.
3rd Down: Nikola Jokic is now the owner of the largest contract in NBA history. His agents reported the news on Thursday that the two-time defending MVP had signed a five-year $270 million ‘supermax’ extension with the Denver Nuggets, giving him a guaranteed $303 million over the next six seasons. Jokic has earned this deal by becoming one of the best centers of all time, mixing in his scoring ability with a knack for playmaking and also strong rebounding skills. In beating out Joel Embiid for MVP honors last season, he amassed 27 points per game, almost 14 rebounds per game, and also dished out just shy of eight assists in each game. He’s come a long way from being a second-round pick, that much is for sure!
4th Down: Elsewhere, we had guards shoring up their future plans as the Phoenix Suns signed Devin Booker to a four-year supermax extension that will be worth $224 million. Booker was drafted 15th by the team back in 2015 and has steadily grown into a superstar on a team that is a bonafide contender in the Western Conference. Jalen Brunson’s agents also confirmed their client’s intentions as he has agreed a deal with the New York Knicks that will be worth north of $100 million for four years. The Dallas Mavericks would have been anticipating this loss, but it’s still going to take some doing for them to plug the hole he leaves as they attempt to build around Luka Doncic.