As the NBA trade deadline nears today at 3 p.m., Wednesday was moving day, as the Lakers traded Russell Westbrook to the Jazz.
BK Nets Trade Kevin Durant
But what happened in the wee hours of Thursday morning was a complete power shift as the Brooklyn Nets traded superstar Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns for forwards Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and four unprotected first-round draft picks.
The move suddenly makes the Suns the prohibitive favorite in the West with a nucleus that now consists of the aforementioned Durant, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and center DeAndre Ayton.
On Wednesday during new Suns owner Mat Ishbia’s introductory presser, he stressed wanting to be the best, and that meant taking chances.
“But I want to be the best, the best in class, the elite franchises in the NBA and WNBA,” Ishbia said. “We’re gonna focus on winning, community impact, culture and fan experience.”
Ishbia put his money where his mouth is by pulling off a deal to land one of the best players of this generation and in the history of the game.
Full Kevin Durant trade details:
Suns ➡️ KD
Nets ➡️ Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, four first-round picks and additional draft compensation
(via @ShamsCharania) pic.twitter.com/5QrTOrys86
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 9, 2023
Over the summer, Durant requested a trade, and after weeks of little traction outside of the Suns, he rescinded his request, but the writing was on the wall.
KD had no intention of staying in Brooklyn if he could get out, and especially if Irving had already skipped town during the season.
Nets ‘Big Three’ Was A Failure
The Nets once possessed what many thought was a can’t-lose “Big Three” of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
That group never lived up to expectations, and last season Harden was traded to the Sixers at the trade deadline. This was supposed to finally be the year where Durant and Irving stamped their joining forces in 2019.
But with Irving’s off-the-court antics, plus injuries and other things, the two never really played much together. With owner Joe Tsai refusing to give Irving the max contract he covets with his expiring deal, Irving asked to be traded last Friday.
Dont Let The Door Hit Ya
On Sunday, Tsai traded the talented but mercurial Irving to the Mavericks. The move ended three-plus seasons of Durant and Irving being teammates with just 74 games played together. The move left KD with an uninspired Ben Simmons in Brooklyn, and time waits for no man at age 34.
KD knew if he had any hope of winning more championships he needed to get out of Brooklyn. That team isn’t beating Boston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Miami in the East. The Brooklyn experiment had run its course and it was time to move on.
How Do The Suns Now Stack Up In The West?
With Durant heading to the “Valley of the Sun,” it shakes up a very competitive Western Conference.
With just four games separating the fourth-seeded Mavericks and 13th-seeded Lakers, the Suns themselves are just four games behind the second-seeded and sputtering Grizzlies. As of now, only the Nuggets seem solidified in their top seed. They’ve been the best team out West all season.
But none of that means much when you put Durant with a Suns nucleus that had a 2-0 Finals lead over the Bucks in 2021 only to lose four straight and the title behind a dominant performance by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
And that’s exactly where a player like KD comes into play. His skill set will make things easier for everyone, but especially Booker and Ayton. Expect point guard Chris Paul to have some astronomical assist nights.
Phoenix Suns Have Three Closers
In essence, the Suns now have three closers in Durant, CP3 and Book. No other team in the NBA can boast such a claim. Which makes them even tougher to defend, because all three can score or create for others. Suns role players should be elated, because there’s going to be many open shots and fast break opportunities.
Kyrie, Russ, KD … all moved in a span of five days.
Quite a trade deadline …#thisleague https://t.co/nr4rZoCbZZ
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 9, 2023
Does Kevin Durant Trade Make Suns NBA Title Favorites?
With the KD acquisition, the Suns championship odds jumped from 18-1 to 5-1, the best in the West, and only second to the Celtics in the league.
Reigning Coach of the Year Monty Williams now has that megastar that changes a team’s fortunes overnight, and his name is Kevin Wayne Durant. And, guess what, he’s under contract for three more seasons.