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Report: Raptors believe they can make best offer for Kevin Durant

The Toronto Raptors may be a sleeper pick in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes because a trade would make sense for all three parties involved.

Kevin Durant may have given Brooklyn a two-team wish list with his trade demand — Phoenix and Miami — but the Nets are under no obligation to abide by his wishes. Durant is under contract for four more years, and the Nets’ priority must be to get the best return in a trade package they can.

Which is why the Toronto Raptors are in the conversation.

The Raptors — rightfully — believe they can put together a more enticing trade package than any other team, reports Michael Grange at SportsNet.

On top of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting Friday that the Raptors are ‘lurking’ in the background of the Kevin Durant trade discussions that have held the NBA hostage in recent days, I can confirm that not only are the Raptors ‘lurking,’ but they also feel they can put together the best package of assets the Brooklyn Nets are likely to get. Confidence isn’t the word for it, but optimism might be.

The Raptors’ offer would be based around All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam and wing OG Anunoby, plus three first-round picks. Other players could be in the mix on both sides — the Nets are looking to trade players such as Joe Harris as well — but Siakam and Anunoby would be the core of any offer. That would still leave the Raptors with Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and plenty of other talent that would form a title contender.

The Nets likely will ask for Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, but that may be a step too far for the Raptors.

The Raptors have remained fixed on keeping rookie of the year Scottie Barnes out of any package they are offering. Can they hold fast to that and still acquire the NBA’s second-leading active scorer?

As one person with knowledge of the situation put it: “That’s the billion-dollar question.”

Beyond Barnes, two other big questions loom over the Raptors bid.

First, would Durant be okay with a trade north of the border? Any answer to that is pure speculation. However, as noted above Durant has limited leverage because he has four years remaining on his contract — if he wants to get paid, he has to show up wherever he is traded. More importantly, the Raptors have shown before with Kawhi Leonard they are willing to bring in a superstar who does not want to be there in pursuit of a title (and that worked out pretty well for Toronto).

Second, what do the Nets prefer? The Suns are considered the frontrunners for a Durant trade, and their offer is built around a Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade packaged with Mikal Bridges and three future first-round picks. Those are younger but less established stars than Siakam and Anunoby. If the Nets want to try and rebuild around Ben Simmons and who they get back in this trade, which offer appeals to them more? Or is it a third team not discussed, such as a Clipper offer built around Paul George? Or a Celtics’ offer with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece?

The Suns have options.

But the Raptors may have the best offer on the table and a difficult one to turn down.