Report: Kevin Durant Traded to Suns, Nets Get Bridges, Johnson, Crowder, 4 Picks
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The rebuild is well and truly underway for the Brooklyn Nets.
Bleacher Report’s Chris B. Haynes reported Thursday morning that the Nets would be sending the superstar to the Phoenix Suns for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four first-round draft picks, and a further pick swap.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the four picks (2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029) are all unprotected. He also noted that forward T.J. Warren is going to Phoenix in the deal.
Brooklyn successfully avoided the doomsday scenario in the offseason when it opted in to the final year of his contract and Durant walked back his trade request.
Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets
The 2022-23 season got off to an inauspicious start for the Nets. They opened with a 2-6 record before Irving was suspended by the team for promoting an antisemitic film on social media and initially failed to apologize.
Brooklyn’s poor record also resulted in the firing of head coach Steve Nash. Ime Udoka was almost immediately linked with the job, only for his candidacy to fizzle out.
NBA insider Marc Stein reported that “strong voices” told majority governor Joe Tsai to look elsewhere, with Udoka serving a season-long suspension from the Boston Celtics after engaging in an improper relationship with a fellow employee.
With Irving back on the court and the interim tag removed from head coach Jacque Vaughn, the Nets steadily began finding the stability that had long eluded them since starting their superteam era in 2019.
Irving brought that to an end when he requested and was granted a trade, getting shipped to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and picks. The question immediately became whether the return, which was solid under the circumstances, would convince Durant to stick around until at least the offseason.
However, rival teams obviously smelled blood in the water.
Derek Bodner @DerekBodnerNBA
* I think the Nets did well given the position they were placed in.
* I think the Nets are a less dangerous playoff team than they were last week.
* The key is what Durant thinks, and whether it’s enough to prevent him from looking elsewhere, not just this week but this summer.
The Nets called Durant’s bluff last summer, due in part because he was just beginning his four-year, $194.2 million extension. Irving’s presence allowed them to plausibly argue they still had a championship window in the short term.
This time around, Brooklyn had little choice but to acquiesce if KD made it clear he wanted to leave. The organization didn’t have much of a vision to sell in the short term, and there was no use in delaying the inevitable.
Plus, Durant’s trade value was never going to be higher than it is now.
The Nets are staring at a bleak future. By making this deal, they were at least able to recoup some of the draft assets they sent to the Houston Rockets in the James Harden trade.
Tommy Beer @TommyBeer
The Rockets own the rights to or can swap picks with Brooklyn in each of the next 5 years:
2023 Nets 1st round swap
2024 Nets 1st rd pick
2025 Nets 1st round swap
2026 Nets 1st rd pick
2027 Nets 1st round swap
And every single one of those picks is UNPROTECTED.
Now that the dust has settled, the Nets’ superteam experiment was a complete failure. They didn’t advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals, and a combination of injuries and turmoil involving their biggest stars meant fans rarely got to see them at their best.
For a long time, Brooklyn will serve as the biggest cautionary tale for any general manager who wants to load up with as much talent as possible and worry about the consequences later.
The outlook couldn’t be much more of a contrast for the Suns. Especially with no one contender separating itself from the pack, Durant could single-handedly tilt this season’s championship race.
The 13-time All-Star quickly showed he hardly lost a step following his Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals, and he continues to perform at an elite level at 34 years old.
Through 39 games with the Nets in 2022-23, Durant is averaging 29.7 points and shooting a career-high 55.9 percent from the field.
As you’d expect, the future Hall of Famer isn’t the same kind of athlete he was during his prime. He has used his supreme on-court IQ to work around that and remain almost unstoppable on offense.
“What stands out now is the speed and calm with which Durant dissects defenses,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote in December. “Nothing is forced. He’s making the right read on time, every time. He sees everything before it unfolds.”
From Phoenix’s perspective, this trade carries obvious risk. Just because he’s under contract through 2026 doesn’t mean he won’t request another trade before then. And while his production hasn’t fallen off, the injuries are starting to add up. An MCL sprain was the most recent issue to sideline Durant for a prolonged stretch.
Still, this is an opportunity the front office couldn’t afford to pass up.
Phoenix was one of the most frequently speculated landing spots when Durant first requested a trade from the Nets. The last few months have only made it clearer how the Suns would benefit from shaking up the roster.
Chris Paul isn’t getting any younger and is having a more and more difficult time fending off Father Time. Deandre Ayton hasn’t really hit a different level on the court, and the offseason drama between him and the team has always lingered in the background. Devin Booker had missed more than a month because of a groin strain.
There’s a chance Durant’s arrival isn’t enough to offset all of the depth the Suns sacrificed to acquire him. Maintaining the status quo probably wasn’t going to get Phoenix anywhere, though, so you can understand why president of basketball operations James Jones is going all in.