How Does Durant’s Trade Request Impact NBA Landscape?
The NBA offseason is always a crazy drama-filled ride, and this year has been no different, with superstar Kevin Durant requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.
There’s no league like the NBA, where player movement is constant, and stars are always looking to link up to form high-powered super teams. Durant is no stranger to this, as before he signed with Brooklyn, he joined the Golden State Warriors, already a championship team, and was a key cog in two more titles in Golden State.
Coming off a 2021-22 campaign where he averaged 29.9 points per game on 51.8% shooting, KD is still at the peak of his powers. There’s little doubt the 33-year-old forward still has a lot left in the tank, but it appears that his future success will come with another team.
After tearing his Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets and was extended during 2021 when he signed a four-year, $198 million extension. Even when players are locked into their contracts in the NBA, they still have the power, which is something you don’t typically see in any of the other big North American sports leagues.
Durant requested a trade before the free agency period opened on Thursday evening, which caused quite an uproar inside the NBA community. Atop the list of destinations that Durant would consider moving to are the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat. On the FanDuel Sportsbook, the Suns currently own odds of +600 to win the 2023 NBA Championship, while the Heat sit at +950 with the sixth-best odds.
Whoever ultimately lands the sharp-shooting big man will likely see a significant uptick in their future championship odds. Even with Durant looking to make Phoenix or Miami his future home, there are some people wondering if the Toronto Raptors will get involved in the conversation.
Woj: “I think a team that's lurking is Toronto. They have all the kinds of pieces that you would want and their picks to do a deal for Kevin Durant…I think you keep watching Toronto to see how involved they might get for Kevin Durant.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 1, 2022
The Raptors captured their first NBA title in 2019 after landing Kawhi Leonard in a blockbuster trade. You can never quite count out Masai Ujiri in these negotiations. The Raptors certainly have the trade pieces the Nets would be looking for in a Kevin Durant trade, but did you see how much the Utah Jazz got for Rudy Gobert? A monster package including four future first-round picks and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round selection this year in Walker Kessler. With Gobert getting that type of return, you can expect the Nets to receive an even more significant haul when Durant is ultimately moved.
The Raptors currently boast odds of +5000 to win the NBA Championship next season, and that might be a price worth jumping on with them lurking around in the Durant conversation.
With the Raptors, Suns, and Heat all potential threats to land 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 fit to play alongside Devin Booker, and there’s no doubt Phoenix would be a great landing spot for Durant, who would likely team up with Booker and Chris Paul to put this team over the top. Durant has a history with Monty Williams, the head coach of the Suns, one of the reasons Durant likes this fit.
You also have to wonder if Durant wants to go head-to-head against the Warriors in the West and once again assert his dominance as one of the top players to play the game. Significantly after Steph Curry and the Warriors added another ring following KD’s departure. Mikal Bridges and futures would likely be part of the package of what interest the Nets here, along with a signed Deandre Ayton.
A trio of Durant, Paul, and Booker would significantly threaten what the Warriors are currently doing in the Western Conference.
From Shaquille O’Neal to LeBron James, the Miami Heat have found different ways to land mega-star talent over the years, and it’s not difficult to believe they can do so again. They have great management and an excellent coaching staff, along with the luxuries of living in South Beach.
Durant has made it clear he’d love to play alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry, which would create a definite problem for the rest of the Eastern Conference. You have to figure a trade would be centered around Tyler Herro and future first-round picks, but Durant has reportedly made it clear that he’d like to go to Miami only if the three stars stay intact.
With the Heat falling just short in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston this year, the addition of Durant would undoubtedly have the potential of putting them over the top. They would be the team to beat in the East and NBA Title favorites.
This one is interesting because there’s been no indication that Durant would be willing to come to Toronto, but the same could have been said of Leonard before his trade to the Raptors.
The Raptors management team has a gift of selling players on the city, and having Drake, a close friend of Durant, involved with the franchise certainly doesn’t hurt. You would have to think the Raptors wouldn’t want to part with Scottie Barnes in a deal, even to land Durant, but there would be few other untouchables on this roster. With Nick Nurse being one of the more prominent coaches in the association, Durant could help put this Toronto team back on the map again, depending on what they’d give up in a hypothetical trade scenario.
Regardless of which one of these franchises lands Durant, there’s no doubt that this type of move has the potential to shift the powers that currently run the NBA.