Let’s push the jokes and schadenfreude aside for a moment, Warriors fans. There’s serious basketball business at hand.
Kevin Durant wants out of Brooklyn, per every major NBA news breaker. And per ESPN, he requested a trade directly to the Nets’ owner. He’s all-in on this trade request, and in this star-driven league, that means it’s just a matter of time before he’s dealt.
This has been a possibility that had been developing for more than a week now, and according to Yahoo, Durant has been explicit on where he wants to go: The Phoenix Suns.
Yeah, I don’t think those jokes about Durant’s failed tenure with the Nets will be as funny if he heads to one of the Warriors’ biggest Western Conference rivals.
To be clear, the Nets do not have to trade Durant, who has four years remaining on a contract extension he signed last year.
They also don’t have to trade him to where he wants to go.
But if he lands in Phoenix — or with any other Western Conference contender, for that matter — that’s obviously a big problem for the Warriors in their quest to repeat at champions.
There’s a million hypotheticals on how such a trade with the Suns would go down — it might require a third of the league to be involved — but Durant could give Phoenix exactly what they were lacking in last year’s postseason: Someone who can handle double-teams and win any one-on-one matchup.
For a team that made the NBA Finals two years ago and had the best regular-season record last season, adding a player of Durant’s caliber would only bolster their title chances and hinder the Dubs.
That’s scary stuff for the Warriors, who are the title favorites for next season with both FanDuel and DraftKings, but who have ample competition.
Now, the good news is that Durant is also reportedly interested in a move to Miami.
Root for that, Dubs fans.
Root for any Eastern Conference team, because if it’s not the Suns, then the Memphis Grizzlies could also make an exceptional trade offer for Durant.
Does Durant want to go to Memphis? Probably not, but that’s not the Nets’ problem.
And the Grizzlies — who arguably gave the Warriors their toughest challenge in this past postseason — would be even more formidable with Durant.
It would also take the budding Warriors-Grizzlies rivalry to a new level.
Now, what about Durant to the Warriors? Jump the line, right?
Well, it’s certainly possible. There aren’t many teams that can present a viable trade package to the Nets for Durant, but I argue that the Warriors could provide the best package in the sport.
But I seriously doubt the Dubs would pull the trigger on it.
Why? Because the Dubs have a two-timeline goal. They’re winning now, but they want to keep winning in the future. Chase Center won’t fill itself when Steph Curry and company’s era is over. Durant is part of that era.
The Suns, meanwhile, have never won a title. They rarely compete for a title — they’ve only won the Western Conference three times in more than 50 years of existence. And their current title window is limited — tied to 37-year-old Chris Paul.
There’s a conversation that other teams will need to have about the long-term viability of Durant in a trade. He’s entering his 16th NBA season and had a full Achilles tendon tear at age 30. He’s played 90 games in the last three years.
But that’s not a conversation the Suns need to have. Their time is now, Durant is still one of the best players in the league today, and if they can land him, he’d be a pain in the side of the Warriors next year and beyond.
Contributed by local news sources