Is Kevin Durant moving from the Brooklyn Nets? If so, where will it land?
The 33-year-old Brooklyn Nets star asked for a trade on Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about a player’s trade request. ESPN and The Athletic first reported the news of Durant’s request.
Should they trade Durant, the Nets could recoup a sizeable return that includes multiple first-round draft picks, young up-and-coming players, or a combination of both. A blockbuster deal for Durant could yield a huge win, similar to what the New Orleans Pelicans got from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade.
Who has the flexibility and assets to acquire Durant? Here are six potential landing spots in a trade:
According to Yahoo and ESPN, Phoenix is one of Durant’s favorite travel destinations.
The 64-win Suns have plenty of young players to trade, including restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton, the first draft pick in 2018 who didn’t receive a rookie contract extension from the franchise for the 2021-22 season.
Durant is also familiar with Phoenix All-Star Devin Booker and has openly praised him as a “certified bucket” on Twitter. They won a gold medal on the 2020 US Olympic men’s basketball team together in Tokyo. Suns coach Monty Williams previously worked with Durant in 2015-16 as an assistant at Oklahoma City.
Miami is another of Durant’s favorite travel destinations, according to Yahoo and ESPN. The Heat ended with the No. 1 East, but Miami fell to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals. Is Durant the offensive weapon they need?
The Heat may need to get creative to make the money work, and the addition of Durant alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry would make the Heat very top-heavy salary-wise. But this core is a top candidate in the East.
Pelicans from New Orleans
After a late-season rebound and a competitive first-round series against top-seeded Phoenix, the addition of Durant alongside CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson could help propel New Orleans to the top of the Western Conference.
When it comes to draft picks and promising young players, the Pelicans have plenty of both, which could make for an attractive trade for the Nets.
Toronto is an intriguing potential destination as the Raptors could put together an attractive trade package that would allow them to keep most of their top players. With Durant, the Raptors would be a formidable contender in the east.
A big question would be whether the Raptors are ready to part ways with reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes. Toronto would do anything to keep Barnes, but Brooklyn would presumably covet him as the centerpiece of any Durant return.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Another team brimming with draft capital and young players, the Thunder have even more of both than the Pelicans. You could certainly stun the networks with an offer. However, Oklahoma City would undoubtedly be one of the most uncomfortable places for Durant.
Would both sides be willing to meet again? It’s been six years since Durant left the franchise in which he spent his first nine seasons. Perhaps any lasting sharpness has faded. From a court perspective, however, Oklahoma City doesn’t seem ready to accelerate its timeline with a win-now veteran like Durant.
Now that Kyrie Irving has signed up for the Nets and Ben Simmons “feels incredible” after back surgery, could Durant stay to give his Big 3 a chance?
Everything about the Nets was completely unpredictable, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Durant changed his mind and returned to Brooklyn. Durant’s friendship with Irving is said to be strong. Maybe his mate can convince him to return to the Nets.