The NBA offseason is always a crazy, dramatic ride, and this year was no different when superstar Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.
There is no league like the NBA where the players are constantly changing and the stars are always trying to combine into strong super teams. Durant is no stranger to this, as before signing with Brooklyn he joined the Golden State Warriors, who were already a championship team, and was a key wheel in two other Golden State titles.
After a 2021-22 campaign in which he averaged 29.9 points per game on 51.8% shooting, KD is still at the peak of his powers. There’s no doubt that the 33-year-old forward still has a lot in the tank but it seems his future success may come with a different team.
After tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets and was renewed in 2021 when he signed a four-year, $198 million extension. Even when players are bound by their contracts in the NBA, they still have power, something you don’t typically see in any of the other major North American sports leagues.
Durant requested a trade ahead of Thursday night’s free agency period, which caused quite an uproar in the NBA community. High on the list of targets Durant would consider are the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat. On FanDuel Sportsbook, the Suns currently have +600 odds to win the 2023 NBA Championship, while the Heat sit at +950 with sixth-best odds.
Whoever ultimately lands the live-shooting big man will likely see a significant increase in their future championship chances. Even if Durant wants to make Phoenix or Miami his future home, some people are wondering if the Toronto Raptors will join the conversation.
Woj: “I think one team that is lying in wait is Toronto. They have all kinds of pieces you would want and their choices to close a deal for Kevin Durant… I think you keep watching Toronto to see how committed they could be to Kevin Durant.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 1, 2022
The Raptors won their first NBA title in 2019 after landing Kawhi Leonard in a blockbuster trade. Maasai Ujiri can never be completely ruled out in these negotiations. The Raptors certainly have the trade pieces the Nets would be looking for in a Kevin Durant trade, but have you seen how much the Utah Jazz got for Rudy Gobert? A monster pack featuring four future first-round picks and this year’s Minnesota Timberwolves first-round pick in Walker Kessler. If Gobert gets that kind of return, you can expect the Nets to get an even more significant move if Durant is ultimately moved.
The Raptors currently have +5000 odds of winning the NBA championship next season, and that could be a prize worth jumping on if they’re lurking in the Durant conversation.
With the Raptors, Suns, and Heat all potential threats to landing Durant, let’s look at which of the three teams would benefit the most from landing the Superstar.
The Suns have been looking for an ideal cast to play alongside Devin Booker and there’s no doubt Phoenix would be a great landing spot for Durant, who would likely join forces with Booker and Chris Paul to take this team to the top . Durant has a history with Monty Williams, the Suns head coach, one of the reasons Durant likes this fit.
You also have to wonder if Durant wants to take on the Warriors in the west and once again assert his dominance as one of the game’s best players. Significant after Steph Curry and the Warriors added another ring following KD’s departure. Mikal Bridges and Futures would likely be part of the package that nets are interested in here, along with a signed Deandre Ayton.
A trio of Durant, Paul and Booker would seriously jeopardize what the Warriors are currently doing in the Western Conference.
From Shaquille O’Neal to LeBron James, the Miami Heat have found a variety of ways to land megastar talent over the years, and it’s not hard to believe they can do so again. They have great management and an excellent coaching staff along with the luxury of living in South Beach.
Durant has made it clear he would like to play alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, which would pose a definite problem for the rest of the Eastern Conference. Expect a trade to revolve around Tyler Herro and future first-round picks, but Durant has reportedly made it clear he only wants to go to Miami if the three stars remain intact.
With the Heat narrowly falling to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, the addition of Durant would undoubtedly have the potential to put them ahead. They would be the team to beat in the East and NBA title favorites.
This one is interesting because there’s no indication that Durant would be ready to join Toronto, but the same could have been said of Leonard before he joined the Raptors.
The Raptors management team has a knack for selling players around town, and bringing Drake, a close friend of Durant’s, into the franchise certainly doesn’t hurt. You’d think the Raptors wouldn’t want to part ways with Scottie Barnes in a deal, even to land Durant, but there would be few other untouchables on this list. With Nick Nurse being one of the more prominent coaches in the federation, Durant could help put this Toronto team back on the map, depending on what they would give up in a hypothetical trading scenario.
Regardless of which of these franchises Durant lands, there’s no doubt that this sort of move has the potential to shift the forces that currently rule the NBA.