Will Kevin Durant move from Brooklyn Nets? If so, where would it land?
The 33-year-old Brooklyn Nets star requested a deal Thursday, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the player’s trade request. ESPN and The Athletic first reported the news of Durant’s order.
If Durant trades, the nets can command a significant payout that includes multiple first-round draft picks, up-and-coming players or a combination of both. A massive deal for Durant could yield a huge deal similar to what the New Orleans Pelicans acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade.
Who has the flexibility and assets to acquire Durant? Here are six potential landing points in a trade:
According to Yahoo and ESPN, Phoenix is one of Durant’s favorite destinations.
The 64-win Suns have plenty of young players to trade in, including restricted free-agent position Deandre Ayton, the first overall draft of 2018, who didn’t get a junior contract extension from the franchise ahead of the 2021-22 season.
Durant is also familiar with Phoenix All-Star Devin Booker and has publicly praised him on Twitter as a “certified bucket.” They won a gold medal together in Tokyo on the 2020 US Olympic men’s basketball team. Monty Williams, the Suns coach also worked with Durant previously as an assistant at Oklahoma City in 2015-16.
Miami is Durant’s favorite destination, according to Yahoo and ESPN. The Heat finished with the #1 seed in the East, but Miami fell to the Boston Celtics in the conference finals. Is Durant the offensive weapon they need?
The Heat might need creativity to make the money work, and adding Durant along with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry would make Heat a much more pay-weighted. But this core is the first competitor in the East.
New Orleans Pelicans
After a late-season surge and a competitive first-round streak against top seed Phoenix, adding Durant along with CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson could help lift New Orleans to the top of the Western Conference.
When it comes to recruiting choices and promising young players, Pelicans have plenty of both that could amount to an attractive networking business proposition.
Toronto is an interesting potential destination, where the Raptors can amass an attractive commercial package that will allow them to keep most of their top players. With Durant, the Raptors will be a formidable contender in the East.
The big question will be whether the Raptors are willing to part with Scotty Barnes, a rookie in the NBA. Toronto will do everything they can to keep Barnes, but it is assumed that Brooklyn will covet him as the cornerstone of any Durant return.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Another team full of capital and young players, Thunder has more than Pelicans. They can certainly flood the nets with an offer. However, Oklahoma City will undoubtedly be one of Durant’s most embarrassing locations.
Will either side be willing to reunite? It’s been six years since Durant left the franchise as he spent its first nine seasons. Any residual acuity may have faded. From an on-field perspective, though, it doesn’t look like Oklahoma City is ready to speed up its schedule with a now winning veteran like Durant.
Now that Kyrie Irving has opted to sign up with the Nets and Ben Simmons is “feeling incredible” after back surgery, could Durant stay in place to give the Big Three a chance?
The whole thing about the Nets was completely unexpected, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Durant changed his mind and went back to Brooklyn. Durant’s friendship with Irving is said to be strong. Perhaps his friend could persuade him to return to the net.