On the white-knuckle ride that is the NBA offseason, what looks like a sure thing one day is being ridiculed and thrown overboard the next. Things change fast around the NBA in July.
The Phoenix Suns appear to be the frontrunner to trade for Durant, and there are a few reasons why.
First, Durant wants to go there, and while the Nets can ignore his wishes — Durant is under contract for four more years — things go more smoothly if everyone is happy. Second, there are multiple paths to a trade with Phoenix, most prominently a Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade with Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and three future first-round picks. Of course, considering what the Timberwolves
overpaid traded for Rudy Gobert, the price might have gone up.
But in terms of the personal dynamics, his close relationship with Suns coach Monty Williams may top the list. The two of them were together for one season in Oklahoma City, that 2015-16 campaign when Williams was an associate head coach under Scott Brooks and Durant was in his final Thunder days before heading for Golden State in free agency.
The Suns are the frontrunners, but they are not the only teams in the race.
Durant listed the Heat as the other franchise he wants to play for. The problem is, Durant wants to go there without Miami surrendering any of the guys he wants to play with, which makes the trade next to impossible. Again from Amick.
Durant, it seems, would only want to play on a Heat team that includes Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry. So even if the Heat were willing to move Butler in a deal as a way of satisfying the Nets’ (understandably pricey) request, doing so would leave Durant discontented from the start.
The Heat could put together a Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson-based trade package, but there is zero chance the Nets would take it. As discussed on this site before, the only way to make a Durant to the Heat trade work is to include Jimmy Butler in the package. If that’s off the table, the deal is DOA.
The Nets’ other move is to go with a team not on Durant’s list that puts together the best trade package. Toronto can do that — Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes or All-NBA Pascal Siakam with OG Anunoby and a series of first-round picks will work. The Clippers can build an interesting package around Paul George if they want. Brooklyn is not locked into what Durant wants.
But, what he wants is the Suns, and that may be the best offer on the table. At least right now.