What I Miss? Kevin Durant Wants Out.
Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports
Hello. It's me. I was wondering when in world the Nets will trade KD. Hello. Can you hear me? I know this joke is old, but it's been a while since I've written an article, so please forgive me.
2 months I've been off Twitter. But contrary to popular belief, I didn't live under a rock. News of the hectic NBA offseason still found its way to my phone. But the most painful part of being off social media was not being able to talk about the news, hence this article. Let's start with Kevin Durant's trade request.
Kevin Durant Wants Out
On June 30, 2022, Kevin Durant broke the NBA. An alert of his trade request away from the Brooklyn Nets punched through my phone like it was delivered by Francis Ngannou. My jaw dropped - which hurt because I have terrible TMJ issues - and I ran to my fiancé in dire need to talk about this with somebody.
Stars like, no, superstars, no... mega-stars like Kevin Durant don't become available via trade that often. Yes, it has happened before, i.e. Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, heck even Kobe asked for a trade in 2007. But whenever a mega-star asks for a trade, the NBA world stops, and rightfully so.
When I got the news, my knee-jerk reaction was that KD would get traded within the next three weeks, if not sooner. Fast forward a little over a month later, and it's looking much more likely Durant starts training camp in a month and a half as a Brooklyn Net. But why? While yes, the Rudy Gobert trade ruined Durant's trade market, the biggest reason to me is that teams with the right stuff to trade for him are slim.
Miami and Phoenix were reported to be KD's preferred trade destinations. But Brooklyn has made it clear they want, at least, a legit star and draft picks for Durant. For Miami, is a trade package centered around Jimmy Butler enough? No. He doesn't move the needle enough for Brooklyn considering his limitations offensively - shot 23.3% from 3 last season. Plus, imagine the locker room with Jimmy and Ben Simmons together again. But what about 6th Man of the Year, Tyler Herro? Of course he's a bucket, but he's not a star. Miami would also have to add Kyle Lowry to that deal leaving Miami with no point guard, and Brooklyn already has Kyrie and Ben. On top of all that, Miami doesn't have the draft capital to boost its trade package.
For Phoenix, a Devin Booker or Chris Paul trade is never going to happen, meaning DeAndre Ayton holds all the cards for a possible KD trade. But if I were Ayton, no chance would I play ball with the Suns. Why would I agree to a sign and trade when Phoenix made it clear a max deal wasn't happening? I'd rather force Phoenix's hand and sign with a team who values me properly making the Suns either match or let me walk.
That's exactly what happened. Ayton agreed to a 4 year, $133 million contract with the Indiana Pacers forcing the Suns. But instead of folding, Phoenix called and matched the contract doing exactly what Phoenix said it wouldn't. The kicker is with the Suns signing Ayton, Phoenix can't trade him because of the NBA's recently signed trade restriction. This makes Mikal Bridges the center of a trade for Kevin Durant. While I adore Mikal, and the Suns have the trade assets, a package including Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Jae Crowder is not good enough to trade for KD.
This leaves Boston, Toronto, Memphis, and New Orleans - in my opinion - as teams with enough "stuff" to trade for Durant. Reports stated Boston offered Jaylen Brown for Kevin Durant. Toronto has Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes. Memphis has Jaren Jackson Jr. and/or Desmond Bane. New Orleans has Brandon Ingram. Plus, those teams have enough trade capital.
Boston just made the NBA Finals. Though one could argue the Bucks with a healthy Khris Middleton would have beaten Boston, to reiterate, Boston just made the NBA Finals. Factoring in Kevin Durant's age - 33 years old - compared to Brown's - 25 years old - and how a swap would shrink Boston's championship contending window significantly makes me hesitant to love a KD trade there. But I see both sides of the coin. If a KD and Brown trade happened, Boston immediately becomes the favorite in the East and perhaps the favorite to win it all. Though if that trade doesn't happen, Boston gets to run it back with the same roster that just made the Finals.
Scottie Barnes is really, really good. Toronto also has the trade capital and a good enough package of players to trade for KD. For me, if Barnes is offered to Brooklyn with the right combo of players and picks, I'd take it. But Toronto is hesitant to include Barnes in a KD deal. Toronto's also in a pseudo-rebuilding phase with a roster that's good enough to excite fans, but not good enough to contend for a title. If the Raptors traded for KD, Toronto would need to include several players sacrificing tons of depth. A big 3 of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Kevin Durant are intriguing. Plus, if OG Anunoby isn't included in a deal, adding him to that lineup helps a lot. But Toronto still lacks a big and doesn't have enough depth, even with Bo Cruz.
As much as I love Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., I don't think Brooklyn loves them enough to accept a package centered around one of them - especially with Jaren's injury - and Memphis would say no to a package that has both. New Orleans is intriguing. Brandon Ingram fits that young All-Star which Brooklyn would love. But I don't think Durant would love to play for another dysfunctional franchise.
With all that said, the KD trade most likely to be a win-win is with Boston for Jaylen Brown. Though Durant is obviously the better player, Brown is likely the best available player the Nets could get. He's also still only 25 with room to grow as a player. Brooklyn also wants Marcus Smart in a KD deal. If Smart goes to Brooklyn along with Brown and one or two more players, Brooklyn gets a lot deeper while keeping an intriguing starting 5. So even if Boston won an NBA title with KD, this trade could still be a win for Brooklyn.
But who knows what will happen? We could wake up tomorrow morning to a Woj bomb saying Kevin Durant is a Golden State Warrior, which I didn't analyze because...
We could also start the NBA season with KD and Kyrie still on the Nets - though Steve Nash and Sean Marks might not be. Twitter thinks KD will be a Net at the start of training camp. While I agree, who the hell really knows?
Francis Carlota is a writer for Off the Ball Network and host of NBA podcast The Up & Under. Follow him on twitter @sluggasports, instagram @franciscarlota, and find his podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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