In what feels like déjà vu, the Phoenix Suns are prepared to pursue Kevin Durant, according to Chris Haynes. That is, of course, if the Brooklyn Nets star becomes available in the coming days prior to the 2023 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 9.
Durant is currently sidelined with an MCL sprain, but new questions about his future with the Nets have sprung up in the wake of the team's blockbuster trade to send Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected first-round pick in 2029 and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029.
While the move makes the Nets much less chaotic and improves their depth on the wing, it also makes them less talented. Irving, for all his faults, is still one of the best offensive players in the league and was putting up 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 48.6/37.4/88.3 shooting splits over 40 games this season. As things stand, the Nets are much less of a title threat than they were with Irving. Per SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, their championship odds have dropped from 11.6 percent to 3.6 percent.
The question, then, is what comes next for the Nets? Will they try to combine some of their role players and picks to bring a different star to Brooklyn to team up with Durant? Or will they go full tear-down mode and instead try to trade Durant for young players and picks?
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On the latter point, it's worth recalling that Durant asked for a trade last summer, but nothing ever materialized due to the Nets' extreme asking price. Will he again push for a trade now that one of his closest friends is gone? If so, would the Nets lower their demands now that Irving is gone? On the flip side, would a team be more willing to meet it mid-season if they feel a title is within reach?
All are fascinating questions that will be answered one way or another in the coming days. If Durant does get moved, the Suns are a serious possibility to acquire him. They were reportedly his desired destination in the summer, and have enough young players, future draft picks and matching salaries to make a deal work. The Nets didn't seem thrilled about their offer in the summer, however, and it's unclear if their feelings have changed.