Kevin Durant has reportedly requested a trade out of Brooklyn, just hours before NBA free agency is set to open on Thursday. It's about as big a news story as they get and what happens from here is anyone's guess. We know he considers the Heat and Suns among his preferred destinations. We also know Damian Lillard likes the idea of Durant joining him in Portland.
Still, the possibilities seem to be just about endless. With that in mind, here are five teams that could make sense in basketball terms and why...
Not only are the Heat a team that Durant evidently would like to play for, and not only do they have the lifestyle of South Beach to sell him on, they also both badly need a lead scorer and have some fairly enticing pieces to offer. Basically, they could justify letting anyone go not named Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo. So, say it's something like Tyler Herro, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and a treasure trove of first round picks. Does that get it done? Maybe not, but they are close enough to winning a title that you could see why they would take what would ultimately be a fairly big risk. Durant is still amazing, but he's 34 and under contract for four more years.
Phoenix has Mikal Bridges and restricted free agent Deandre Ayton to offer, which isn't a bad starting point at all. Throw in some first round picks and you could see why Brooklyn would give it some thought. As long as they keep Devin Booker and Chris Paul, Durant would show up and immediately raise the ceiling for the Suns, who already had the best record in the West this past season. Durant and Paul could help each other polish off their Hall of Fame resumes, while Booker and Durant trading buckets would be super fun to watch.
Portland Trail Blazers
Maybe it's wishful thinking on Lillard's part, but he clearly must be serious about the possibility of playing with Durant by posting that picture of them in Blazers jerseys on Instagram. Portland also happens to have one of the better young players in the NBA in Anfernee Simons, plus they just drafted Shaedon Sharpe seventh overall. Simons alone wouldn't get a deal done, but the Nets might not be able to do much better than that if a young potential star is what they seek as part of the return. Meanwhile, Lillard and Durant would be must-see TV and the Moda Center, already one of the liveliest arenas in the game, would be a place worth traveling to.
Raptors president Masai Ujiri has proven he's willing to take some major risks by trading for Kawhi Leonard, who won Toronto an NBA championship before leaving in free agency. It would probably cost a lot more than they gave up for Leonard, but say it's a package centered around Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, plus a draft pick or two. The Raptors would keep Fred VanVleet, plus reigning rookie of the year and future star Scottie Barnes. Durant would come in and instantly make them title contenders, if not favorites. Barnes would have to grow up quick, but he's got as much talent as any young player in the league.
Yeah, let's go there. First of all, there are two major hurdles to Durant coming to D.C. For one, he had no interest in playing at home back in 2016. He would have to change his mind. The Wizards also don't have a young star like many of the aforementioned teams do to offer. However, here's why it's worth noting. Durant is clearly still maligned by many basketball fans and national media members for joining the Warriors. Stephen Curry winning Finals MVP this year somehow became an indictment on Durant on every national talk show. Well, LeBron James was in a somewhat similar boat for joining the Heat. But then he went home and ended the title drought in Cleveland. Few athletes have the opportunity to do the exact same thing, but Durant happens to be one of them. If he took the Wizards even to the conference finals, it would be the best season for the franchise since the 1970s. Generations of fans are starving for a winner and, if he won in D.C., Durant would arguably be immortalized to a greater degree here than he would anywhere else.