After Kyrie Irving opted into the final year of his deal, it seemed like Kevin Durant would stay with the Brooklyn Nets for at least one more season. Turns out that KD has had enough of playing in the black and white and has officially requested out.
Now it’s up to the Phoenix Suns to offer the best package since Durant has four years left on his deal.
People want to compare this situation to Anthony Davis’ request back in 2019 but Davis had only one more year on his deal so he had a lot more agency in where he went. Durant has four whole years with no option so the Nets don’t have to just send him where he wants to go. They need the best package they can get for their pseudo rebuild.
What do the Suns have to give?
In order to see if this is even possible, let’s look at the Suns’ options. Obviously Booker and CP3 are not on the table here but Deandre Ayton is the key. We all know Ayton wants out due to the Suns’ lack of commitment to him so he has to be in the trade. Also some of the younger suns like Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Cam Payne all have to be at least considered. Not to mention draft compensation.
For this exercise we can examine previous superstar trades to get a gauge of what this will take.
In 2019, Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, the number 4 pick in 2019 as well as picks/swaps in 2022, 2023, 2024 (or 25). And this was for a player on the last year of his deal. Now granted he was 26 while Durant turns 34 this year but this should be what I expect the Nets want for their superstar.
Except that the Pelicans were rebuilding and were gonna acquire Zion Williamson. The Nets still have Simmons and (for now) Kyrie and will want to try and make the playoffs still since Houston owns all of their draft picks. For that reason I could see this Suns trade working out.
A lineup of Simmons, O’Neale, Bridges, Johnson and Ayton may not be a playoff team but it is pretty close to the point that the picks the rockets are getting won’t be as good as they want them to be. Not to mention that the Nets would be getting some Suns picks as well.
The problem with the Ayton-KD trade
In order to trade Ayton it has to be a sign-and-trade since he is a restricted free agent right now. When a team acquires a player via sign and trade, they are immediately hard capped at a little over the luxury tax line. The Nets would be over that line, after that trade. So if the Nets trade KD for Ayton and Bridges they will be hard capped while they still have Simmons’ max and Kyrie (or whatever they get for him) on the books as well. They would have to shed salary (Harris, Kyrie) just to be able to play.
So if this is a real issue for the Nets (to be determined) then the Suns are automatically out unless DA is not involved or it becomes a three teamer which gets a lot tricker.
A Durant trade not involving DA? Bridges, plus any $12+ million combo of Cameron Johnson, Cam Payne, Dario Saric, Jae Crowder, Torrey Craig and Landry Shamet... plus even more picks.
The Suns can also conceivably send out up to 7 years of first round picks, alternating actual picks with the right to swap (if the Suns pick is better than the Nets that year).
If you’re really sure the Nets have been drinking some nasty stuff, any combo of $33 million in Suns contracts makes the math work. But don’t get your hopes up of keeping Bridges if Ayton isn’t going there.
Overall it does seem like the Suns have one of the better odds to acquiring the league’s most prized trade asset this summer but it is not as simple as it appears and best believe there are dozens of other teams that will do everything they can to stop it.