The Kevin Durant Saga Continues

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On July 27th, Kyrie Irving opted into his final contract year with the Nets. For about 72 hours, Brooklyn Nets fans had hope that 2023 would be the year they finally brought home the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy, then Kevin Durant requested a trade. 

Durant’s time in Brooklyn was chaotic, to say the least. The hope was for a Nets team led by Durant and Irving to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. With these two leading the way, there were championship aspirations, but in three years they only won a playoff series once. The duo only played 58 games together during their tenure with the Nets. 

With Durant looking to play for a new team in 2023, let’s break down some possible trade scenarios that could happen for the Nets: 

Potential Kevin Durant landing spots: 

Kevin Durant is the most sought-after player in the league at the moment. Durant averaged 29.9 PPG last season, with 7.4 rebounds per games, and 6.4 assists per game. Every team wants the former MVP and 2-time NBA champion, but which organizations can put together an enticing package that the Nets would accept? It is reported that Durant is interested in going to Miami or Phoenix so let’s explore those scenarios. 

Brad Penner, Brad Penner | Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Durant to Miami Beach: 

Miami can create an appealing package, but it is not a straightforward one. For starters, any trade that involves Bam Adebayo would also need to include Ben Simmons. Due to a CBA provision, two teams cannot have two “designated rookie” contracts that have been acquired by trade.

The obvious answer here is to include Jimmy Butler in a potential trade for Durant, but Durant wants to go there and play alongside Jimmy Butler, not get traded for him. This begs the question, would Durant even accept a trade to Miami if Jimmy Butler was included? 

A package of Lowry, Herro, two-firsts, and some number of pick swaps is not likely enough for the Nets to accept. Do the Nets accept Adebayo, Lowry, Herro, Strus, and 2-4 first/pick-swaps for Durant, Simmons, and Seth Curry? This would be one of the biggest deals in NBA history, but it would work with the salary cap and CBA provisions. The bigger questions are, do the Nets think they get more for Durant and do the Heat want to give up this many assets? 

KD and Booker? 

The Suns reportedly are Durant’s top choice. Going out west and teaming up with Devin Booker would create one of the best offensive duos this league has ever seen. What can the Suns offer the Nets to get them to accept? 

Kevin Durant #7 and Devin Booker #15 of Team United States celebrate following their victory over France in the Men’s Basketball Finals game on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 07, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

For any trade to work between the Nets and Suns, there would need to be a third team involved willing to take Ayton. The Nets are too far past the luxury tax to receive Ayton, but a team who might be interested in Ayton is the Utah Jazz. 

After acquiring six first-round picks over the weekend, the Jazz is still focused on building around Donovan Mitchell. They could acquire Ayton and send a significant portion of their draft capital to the Nets with a player like Bogdanovic, Conley, or newcomer Malik Beasley. In addition, the Suns will need to include a package of Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson (or something along those lines) to balance salary cap problems. 

Would the Nets accept Bridges, Johnson, Bogdanovic, and four first round picks for Durant? 

Durant to Canada? 

Of all the destinations other than Miami and Phoenix, the one that makes the most sense is Toronto. They have young, talented players in Siakam, Barnes, Van Vleet, Anunoby, and Trent Jr. The Raptors could offer two of these players in addition to significant draft capital for KD. 

Siakam, Trent Jr, and 3-firsts might be enough. ROY award winner, Scottie Barnes, might be the most appealing player on this list, so if the Raptors want to avoid giving up significant draft capital they will want to include him. 

Oftentimes we see teams trading their big-name players to the other conference, not the same division. Would this be an issue for Brooklyn as they do not want to have to face Durant four times during the regular season and potentially in the early rounds of the playoffs? The bigger question remains though: does Durant even want to play for Toronto? 

Dark horse teams: 

The Warriors, Bulls, 76ers, Pelicans, Clippers, Lakers, Celtics, and Blazers are all dark horse teams to land Durant with the players they have available on their teams and potential draft capital they could give up. The list does not stop there, as almost every team would be willing to give up immense draft capital for a player like Durant. 

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