Is Kevin Durant moving on from the Brooklyn Nets? If so, where will he 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 get back a significant return that includes multiple first-round draft picks, young up-and-coming players or some combination of both. A blockbuster deal for Durant could yield a massive haul similar to what the New Orleans Pelicans got from the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade.
Who has the roster 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 preferred destinations.
The 64-win Suns have plenty of young players to trade, including restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton, the first overall draft pick in 2018, who didn’t get a rookie contract extension from the franchise heading into the 2021-22 season.
Durant is also familiar with Phoenix All-Star Devin Booker and has openly praised him on Twitter as a “certified bucket.” They won a gold medal together in Tokyo on the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. Suns coach Monty Williams also worked with Durant previously as an assistant with Oklahoma City in 2015-16.
Miami is another of Durant’s preferred destinations, according to Yahoo and ESPN. The Heat finished with the No. 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 may need to get creative to make the money work, and adding Durant alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry would make the Heat very top-heavy in terms of salary. But that core is a top contender in the East.
New Orleans Pelicans
After a late-season surge and competitive first-round series against top-seeded Phoenix, adding Durant alongside C.J. McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson could help elevate 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 that could amount to an attractive trade offer for the Nets.
Toronto is an intriguing potential destination, as the Raptors could put together an attractive trade package that would allow them to retain 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 willing to part with Scottie Barnes, the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year. Toronto would do everything it could to keep Barnes, but Brooklyn would presumably covet him as the centerpiece of any return for Durant.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Another team flush with draft capital and young players, the Thunder have even more of both than the Pelicans. They could certainly overwhelm the Nets with an offer. However, Oklahoma City would undoubtedly be one of the most awkward spots for Durant.
Would either side be up for a reunion? It’s been six years since Durant left the franchise where he spent his first nine seasons. Perhaps any lingering acrimony has faded. From an on-court perspective, though, Oklahoma City doesn’t appear ready to accelerate its timeline with a win-now veteran like Durant.
Now that Kyrie Irving has opted in with the Nets and Ben Simmons is “feeling incredible” after back surgery, could Durant stay put to give their Big 3 a shot?
Everything about the Nets has been totally unpredictable, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Durant changed his mind and returned to Brooklyn. Durant’s friendship with Irving is said to be strong. Maybe his pal can convince him to come back to the Nets.
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