Nets blow it up, reportedly trade Kevin Durant to Suns
It took years, but starting in 2016 general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson began to transform the Nets from the worst situation in the NBA — a 21-win team that had traded away most of its draft assets — into a playoff roster and culture that, by the summer of 2019, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wanted to join. Brooklyn jumped at the chance and turned the keys to the franchise over to its superstars, brought in James Harden at great cost and...
Wednesday night the Durant/Irving era and experiment in Brooklyn came to an unceremonious and sudden end — crushed under egos and the weight of its own expectations — with just one playoff series win in four years to show for it.
The Nets are trading Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren to the Phoenix Suns for Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cameron Johnson, four first-round picks (2023, 2025, 2027, 2029) and one pick swap (2028), according to multiple reports.
Despite how massive a trade this is, it came together quickly in the wake of Brooklyn trading Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks a couple of before. It was a bold stroke for new Suns owner Mat Ishbia, who has had control of the team for a couple of days but promised more aggressive moves. It caught the players in the deal by surprise.
The trades of Durant and Irving are a seismic shift for Brooklyn, which entered this season hoping to contend for a title, and that winning would cure the ills of a summer where both superstars had asked for trades (Harden forced his way out a year ago). There wasn’t near enough winning to bridge the chasm of issues with this team. The drama was there from Day 1 as the Nets started 2-6, Irving was suspended over a social media Tweet promoting a film with anti-semitic themes, coach Steve Nash was fired, and the tension between Irving and management never went away (particularly with Irving not getting the max contract extension he wanted). Durant watched all this and had grown unhappy and frustrated with the franchise’s direction.
Between the two trades, the Nets end up with enough picks and quality role players that will interest other teams to start a massive rebuilding project, one that at least starts for Marks in a better place than he was in 2016. But the Nets become a cautionary tale for teams adding talent and forsaking team culture, assuming it will all work out.
Durant to the Suns instantly changes the championship picture in a West where no team has looked dominant.
The Suns — with Durant and Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton — have to be considered one of the favorites in the West. If not THE favorite. Durant changes the balance of power that much (he was playing at an MP-level before a fluke knee injury, averaging 29.7 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. GM James Jones and the front office have work to do rounding out the roster after trading most of their best role players away to land KD, but Phoenix now has star power that few teams in the NBA can match.
This is the definition of a blockbuster trade, one that shifts who we consider contenders in the NBA.