Five potential Kevin Durant fits after Kyrie Irving Nets trade
5 potential destinations for Nets' Durant after Irving trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The dominoes could be falling in the NBA.
With the Feb. 9 trade deadline fast approaching, Kyrie Irving has kickstarted what could be a frantic period after his trade request was granted and the Brooklyn Nets reportedly dealt him to the Dallas Mavericks.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed in the NBA, but what transpires in the aftermath of the Irving news might just be more intriguing than Irving himself – and that’s because of Kevin Durant.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday reported that rival teams are poking around on Durant’s reaction to Irving’s request.
If Durant also expresses his desire to leave, these five teams would make sense as a prime destination for the “Slim Reaper.”
Golden State Warriors
No one is a stranger to how Durant’s first stint with the Warriors went, where he won his first two NBA titles. The 34-year-old is currently in the first year of a four-year, $194 million deal that grows every year, so he’ll earn $53 million in 2025-26 when he’s 37.
That’s a significant sum for any team to swallow, especially for a team like Golden State. But a year after winning it all and currently crawling their way back up the Western Conference ladder, could the Warriors try to capitalize on the final years of the Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Draymond Green window by making a second blockbuster move for Durant?
Such a deal would put the Warriors in a tough situation as they’d have to send a big contract back, and Green and Andrew Wiggins probably make the most sense over Jordan Poole. Departing with a cohort of youngsters like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, to name a few, might be a necessity, too.
Do the Warriors want to jeopardize what they’re building for the long term? Only time will tell, but they’re a team that’ll pop up in these types of rumors.
The Grizzlies have one of the youngest squads in the NBA, yet have made their way to near the top of the Western Conference in each of the last two seasons. If not for 35-year-old Danny Green, no player on the roster would be over 29.
Memphis is loaded with youngsters on cheap deals and owns its draft capital for years to come thanks to elite drafting, scouting and roster construction. That makes you wonder if a big move makes sense.
The Grizzlies have the young pieces and draft picks to sweeten a potential deal and can absorb Durant’s contract. He’d get to star alongside Ja Morant and Co. for a team that can compete for a title now and multiple years down the line. With the conference pretty much wide open, you’d have to think Memphis would instantly become favorites should it pull the trigger.
The Suns were one of the teams to make an offer for Irving, and they're reportedly ready to make a run at Durant if he hits the market.
The Phoenix Suns are prepared to pursue Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant should he become available, league sources tell @NBAonTNT, @BleacherReport.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 5, 2023
Jae Crowder has not played this season since he wants out, and Deandre Ayton has popped up in trade rumors before. The Suns also control their own draft picks for years to come, but it’d be interesting to see if Mikal Bridges becomes the sticking point.
Phoenix had its best chance last season and now are on the final legs of Chris Paul’s career. Adding Durant alongside Devin Booker would be a mesmerizing sight on offense, even though the Suns’ depth is not quite up to par this year.
Portland Trail Blazers
Could Portland right its wrongs? It notoriously passed up on Durant for Greg Oden when selecting first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft, and the rest has been history.
The Blazers had a strong start to the year but have since fallen back down the pecking order, and they don’t have the pieces to necessarily suggest they’ll be a force in Damian Lillard’s final prime years without a big move.
Portland has some intriguing young players – like Shaedon Sharpe and Keon Johnson – it could use in a trade, as well as multiple draft picks even after the Jerami Grant move. Durant helps the Blazers go on the right trail, even though frontcourt depth is still an issue.
There are no Eastern Conference teams in this list because it’s difficult to see Brooklyn strengthening a rival. Several teams in the opposite conference make sense – as seen thus far – so let’s end it with the Kings, who have been the surprise of the season.
Sacramento has lit its way to the No. 3 seed amid a 16-year postseason drought, with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis making for a strong combination. The Kings also control their draft picks and would immensely benefit from a star forward like Durant to mesh with Fox and Sabonis, but it might come down to emerging rookie Keegan Murray.
Harrison Barnes and Davion Mitchell are additional intriguing names. The only downfall for Sacramento in this type of move is that it lacks quality off the bench, so moving for Durant could weaken it even more unless the front office finds a way. He praised the team back in November before their surge, so cue the eye emojis.
Denver Nuggets – The current No. 1 seed could use Michael Porter Jr.'s contract, Bones Hyland (who has already emerged in trade rumors) and draft picks to give Nikola Jokic another bona fide partner alongside Jamal Murray. They have great depth, too.