The commerce marketplace for superstars tends to be pretty small. They usually use their standing and contracts to exert an infinite quantity of management over their locations, and more often than not, they’ve settled on one or two most well-liked houses earlier than negotiations even start. A real bidding battle by way of the whole NBA for a single star is exceedingly rarer. Even rarer is the form of star who might genuinely match onto any staff.
However that is what Kevin Durant is. On the courtroom, he was malleable sufficient to affix a 73-win staff with out lacking a beat. Want him to run your offense for prolonged stretches? He can do this. Need him to be your late-game isolation killer? Proper up his alley as properly. In the event you simply need him to run round screens and take 3s? You guess he can do this. Realistically, he’ll be doing a mixture of the three, scaling up or down in every space relying on who he is taking part in with. If you cannot match Kevin Durant into your offense, it is your fault, not his.
Gamers like that simply do not ceaselessly change into obtainable. Durant himself has hit the market simply twice in his profession: as soon as becoming a member of that 73-win Golden State Warriors staff and finally leaving it for the Brooklyn Nets. Each had been utterly his resolution. Which may not be the case this time round. Durant signed a four-year, $192 million extension final offseason. He is beneath contract by way of the 2025-26 season, when he shall be 37. Whereas Durant might definitely wield some affect in a brand new dwelling ought to the necessity come up, the one true leverage he holds is the specter of retirement. If he hits the open market, nearly anyone might attempt to commerce for him.
So let’s check out his market by way of that lens. If we think about a world wherein Kyrie Irving forces his means out of Brooklyn and the Nets combust moderately than try to carry Durant to his contract, which groups are essentially the most and least prone to land the two-time Finals MVP? We’ll begin on the backside and work our means up.
Ok.D. would not have an interest
29. Sacramento Kings
28. Indiana Pacers
27. Orlando Magic
26. San Antonio Spurs
25. Charlotte Hornets
I should not want to elucidate to you why Kevin Durant wouldn’t wish to play for the Kings. The Pacers are rather more steady, however they’re younger, in a small market and never particularly aggressive. So are the Magic and Spurs, however they at the very least play in warm-weather cities with out state revenue tax. Durant met with San Antonio in 2017 and the Spurs nonetheless have Gregg Popovich, in order that they edge out the Magic, however the Hornets prime this group due to LaMelo Ball and Michael Jordan. Nonetheless, these are all groups Durant merely wouldn’t be enthusiastic about becoming a member of. They’re the best cross-offs. Why commerce for a participant who would have little interest in taking part in for you?
It is not the appropriate time
24. Detroit Pistons
23. Houston Rockets
22. Minnesota Timberwolves
Durant most likely is not particularly enthusiastic about taking part in for these groups both, however he is sufficient of a hoops junkie to at the very least respect the expertise. Cade Cunningham, Anthony Edwards and Jalen Inexperienced are all on All-Star trajectories. In the future, they’d possible be fantastic companions for Durant. That day simply is not at the moment. He is 34. By the point they’re able to compete, his prime will possible be over. So Detroit and Houston can throw the entire picks they need at Brooklyn. The Wolves might even supply Karl-Anthony Cities. However the Pistons and Rockets simply cannot win on Durant’s timetable. Minnesota most likely might if it managed to maintain Cities and Edwards, however at that time, what might it even supply Brooklyn? The Wolves’ picks would not be particularly precious with a lot expertise in tow, and their third-best commerce chip is … D’Angelo Russell? These groups are positioned to contend just a few years from now. No must rock the boat for Durant now.
Do not have sufficient to commerce
21. Washington Wizards
20. Utah Jazz
19. Chicago Bulls
18. Dallas Mavericks
17. Philadelphia 76ers
Durant has by no means been all that enthusiastic about returning to his hometown of Washington D.C. He did not even grant the Wizards a gathering in 2016. Perhaps Bradley Beal and the participant he as soon as dubbed a unicorn in Kristaps Porzingis might change that … however what do the Nets get out of that association? Washington cannot commerce a first-round decide till 2027 and its younger gamers aren’t all that thrilling. The Jazz are equally encumbered from a draft perspective and don’t have any youth to talk of. Perhaps providing Donovan Mitchell might tempt Brooklyn, however why would Utah even hassle? A Durant-Rudy Gobert staff is not profitable the West even when Durant would play in Utah.
Chicago is a little more attention-grabbing, however the Bulls run into two main points right here. The primary is that sign-and-trading Zach LaVine to Brooklyn would create some onerous cap points for one of many NBA’s dearer groups in the event that they take again wage in a Kyrie Irving commerce. The opposite is that it will contain convincing LaVine to affix the Nets with out Durant and Irving in place. Dallas would most likely curiosity Durant fairly a bit, however a Jalen Brunson sign-and-trade presents those self same onerous cap points, and Dallas has no extra significant property to dangle. The Mavericks cannot commerce a first-round decide till 2027. Chicago cannot transfer any of its personal picks till 2029, however has a lottery-protected future Blazers decide at its disposal.
After which there’s Philly. Tyrese Maxey is a pleasant begin, however that is about so far as the 76ers can go. Whoever the Sixers take at No. 23 general shall be obtainable, however they can not commerce any first-round picks after that. Tobias Harris is destructive wage, and after Matisse Thybulle’s playoff flameout, the cabinet is fairly naked. Plus … would Durant even wish to reunite with James Harden? Philadelphia represents the cutoff line. The primary 13 groups listed below are nearly definitely out of the operating. However all subsequent groups have a path into the derby if they need it.
He would not … would he?
16. Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder
15. Golden State Warriors
In a vacuum, these is likely to be the 2 prime groups on the listing. Durant is aware of, for a truth, that he can win championships with the Warriors. As badly as they wish to proceed competing after their present core retires, the chance to get Stephen Curry to 5, six and even seven championships can be too tempting to cross up. The Warriors have loads of youth to ship the Nets. The Thunder have limitless youth to ship the Nets within the type of draft picks. Oklahoma Metropolis’s 18 first-round picks within the subsequent seven drafts give it the pliability so as to add nearly anybody. If the Thunder needed to pivot into quick competition, they might surrender half of their draft capital for Durant proper every now and then use the opposite half on one other star of their selecting. The second the Thunder determine they wish to win, they are going to begin profitable. They could not give him a championship roster early in his profession. Now they’ll.
However nothing about Durant, the human being, means that he’d wish to go the LeBron James route and return to a staff he is already performed for. He mentioned himself he would not belief anyone in Oklahoma Metropolis. No matter compelled him to depart Golden State in 2019 possible nonetheless exists. If Durant adjustments his thoughts? Push the Thunder and Warriors to the highest of this listing. Till then? Do not count on both staff to pursue a reunion.
Would they commerce their established stars?
14. Milwaukee Bucks
13. Los Angeles Clippers
12. Los Angeles Lakers
It is not in Milwaukee’s organizational DNA to swap Jrue Vacation and/or Khris Middleton for Durant … however oh boy, would a Durant-Giannis Antetokounmpo pairing be particular. For years, it has been argued that Ben Simmons might emulate a few of what makes Giannis so particular if surrounded by the capturing he is had. This may be a real-world check of that idea. This commerce is extra enjoyable in idea than apply. The Bucks aren’t risking a roster that will have received back-to-back titles if wholesome. The Clippers is likely to be a bit extra open-minded about Paul George. Kawhi Leonard tried to recruit Kevin Durant in 2019 however failed. Put the 2 of them collectively now with the depth the Clippers have assembled and so they’d be very onerous to disclaim as championship favorites. However George obtained the Clippers to the Western Convention finals for the primary time in staff historical past. Sentiment would most likely get in the best way of a deal.
Spoiler alert: The Nets aren’t going to be enthusiastic about buying and selling Durant for Russell Westbrook. Here is the place we get actually funky … what about Anthony Davis? The Lakers are reportedly not prepared to commerce him beneath any circumstances … however what in the event that they tried to land BOTH Nets stars? Davis goes to Brooklyn to pair with Simmons and the Nets’ countless array of shooters. Brooklyn will get Westbrook’s expiring contract to dangle together with the 2 Philadelphia first-round picks it obtained on the deadline together with the 2027 and 2029 Lakers picks it will absolutely demand on this deal for a fringe scorer to place subsequent to Simmons and Davis. If the Nets wish to contend now, this is not the craziest factor on the planet, and all indications recommend that Durant and Irving wish to keep collectively. This is not really going to occur. It is too loopy even for the NBA. However there’s the tiniest shred of logic to it, and when gamers desire a particular vacation spot, they are typically profitable in getting there.
Would they commerce their younger stars?
11. Cleveland Cavaliers
10. Toronto Raptors
9. New Orleans Pelicans
8. Denver Nuggets
7. Boston Celtics
5 groups. 5 younger stars. Any considered one of these groups couldn’t solely give the Nets a strong return for Durant, however might stay in competition afterward. The one query is whether or not or not they’d really give up that younger star to make a deal occur. The groups beneath are ranked by a mixture of that possible willingness, Durant’s doable curiosity in them and the way good they’d be after such a commerce.
- I doubt Durant desires to spend his twilight in Cleveland, however Evan Mobley can be a dream get for Brooklyn right here. A Durant-Darius Garland-Jarrett Allen core can be within the hunt straight away. It is completely balanced. However would you sacrifice 14 years of Mobley for 4 years of Durant? I think Cleveland would not.
- Toronto loves nothing greater than lengthy, lanky wings. Durant is one of the best of all of them. The Raptors have already got one of many NBA’s most imposing protection. Durant might resolve their half-court offensive points in a snap. The questions listed here are the identical as they’re for Cleveland. Does Durant wish to go north of the border? And are the Raptors prepared to sacrifice Scottie Barnes’ complete profession for a quick title window? Once more, I believe the reply isn’t any.
- Which younger star are we speaking about? Would Brooklyn favor the proto-Durant in Brandon Ingram, or the inside dominator Zion Williamson? Ingram suits higher with Simmons. Williamson is the higher long-term prospect. Both would match like a glove subsequent to Durant on a staff that has one other high-end scorer (CJ McCollum) and loads of younger function gamers.
- The Nuggets have been turning away Jamal Murray suitors for years. Durant is likely to be the participant who might change their thoughts, particularly given the harm threat Michael Porter Jr. poses each now and sooner or later. Durant and Nikola Jokic would instantly change into the NBA’s greatest offensive duo.
- Jayson Tatum is out of the query for Boston. He simply outplayed Durant in a four-game sweep. However Jaylen Brown’s ball-handling led to a number of the turnover issues that doomed the Celtics within the playoffs. That is not a problem for Durant. Boston might pair its league-best protection with an offense abruptly using a second elite shot-maker. Boston might need received all of it with Durant in Brown’s place, however one way or the other I doubt Irving has given Boston a very glowing evaluation in personal to Durant. Even when the Celtics would make this swap, who is aware of how Durant can be.
On the periphery
6. Atlanta Hawks
5. New York Knicks
Atlanta has nearly every part a staff would wish to pursue a commerce like this. In Trae Younger, they’ve a professional co-star for Durant. The Hawks play in a market he’d most likely be enthusiastic about. They’re determined to make a transfer of some kind and have put nearly every part on the desk. They’d most likely ship Brooklyn all of their picks if want be, and none of their first-round picks are at present encumbered for commerce functions. They will absolutely be within the combine if Durant actually does hit the block, however the one factor they lack is an important ingredient wanted in a commerce of this magnitude: a centerpiece. De’Andre Hunter most likely is not getting it performed right here. If he does? Durant’s market may have slipped additional than we thought-about doable.
The Knicks are in the identical boat. RJ Barrett has a vibrant future forward of him, however has he confirmed sufficient but to be the centerpiece of a Durant deal? Uncertain. The Knicks might ship all of their picks Brooklyn’s means, and as a normal rule, groups ought to wish to purchase as many unprotected Knicks picks as doable. What places New York forward of Atlanta is merely Durant’s anticipated choice. He is already in New York. All issues being equal, he’d most likely favor to remain there.
On this factor
4. Portland Path Blazers
3. Phoenix Suns
2. Memphis Grizzlies
1. Miami Warmth
You is likely to be stunned to see Portland ranked this excessive after a lottery season, however the Blazers test nearly each field right here, assuming Durant is a fan of the Pacific Northwest. The No. 7 decide and breakout star Anfernee Simons in a sign-and-trade aren’t viable centerpieces on their very own, however collectively, they might type the premise of a deep and compelling bundle. Portland might add to that bundle by eradicating the protections on the first-round decide it owes to Chicago and throwing in additional draft capital. Damian Lillard is a participant that Durant has brazenly admired, and Jerami Grant can be a precious function participant subsequent to them. It make take Portland a yr to construct up the remainder of the roster, however the Blazers seem dedicated to profitable now, whereas Lillard nonetheless can. There is not any higher win-now transfer on the desk than going all-in for Durant, who would instantly change into by far one of the best teammate Lillard has ever had.
After which we transfer onto the contenders. Memphis and Phoenix are in a useless warmth for the No. 2 spot. Phoenix would most likely be Durant’s choice primarily based on his well-known affection for Devin Booker. He thought-about linking up with Chris Paul in 2016, however higher late than by no means. Mikal Bridges, DeAndre Ayton in a sign-and-trade and all of Phoenix’s picks (that are deceptively precious on a roster abruptly constructed round a 37-year-old Paul and a soon-to-be 34-year-old Durant) can be the premise of a deal right here. Memphis simply has a barely higher bundle to supply. Desmond Bane’s scoring might be extra precious than Bridges’ protection for the lengthy haul. Jaren Jackson is already locked into an affordable contract. The Grizzlies have been hoarding picks for a number of years now, and whereas their very own choices would not be as engaging as Phoenix’s, the sheer quantity they might throw at Brooklyn would absolutely enchantment to a Nets staff that’s with out its personal choices.
And on the prime of the heap, as is so usually the case the place superstars are involved, are the Miami Warmth. Tyler Herro has been tossed into loads of hypothetical trades in current weeks, however for a participant of Durant’s caliber? Miami would possible at the very least contemplate constructing a bundle round him and Bam Adebayo. The Warmth created some extra flexibility on the commerce deadline by transferring the protections on a first-round decide they owe to the Thunder. They will be capable of commerce their 2022 first-round decide after the draft together with their 2023 selection and one decide from both 2028 or 2029. If the Nets need Duncan Robinson? I am unable to think about he’d stand in the best way of a deal.
The top purpose can be to pair Durant with Jimmy Butler. Hopefully Kyle Lowry would stay in place. The Warmth would then use their mid-level exception or probably one other commerce so as to add some measurement, and their outstanding monitor document of creating bench gamers within the G League would guarantee strong depth. Add all of that up and you’ve got a staff that ought to not solely enchantment to Durant, however can be prepared to surrender what it will take to land him.