On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets traded All-NBA forward Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for a package that included dynamic forwards Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, and four unprotected future first-round picks. This was the team’s second trade request in the space of eight months.
According to sources, Durant and T.J. Warren were transferred to the Suns in exchange for a massive haul of first-round draft picks (2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029) and a pick swap in a deal that landed in the late hours of the night prior to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
According to sources, talks had progressed and stalled, and the Suns appeared to be shifting their focus toward a three-way deal that could have brought them Atlanta’s John Collins by Thursday morning. According to sources, general manager James Jones sent a text message to Nets GM Sean Marks shortly after 11 p.m. ET under the direction of his new owner, Mat Ishbia. It wouldn’t be long before Ishbia and Nets owner Joe Tsai had assembled the final components of the lucrative trade.
The deal ends the great superstar experiment in Brooklyn and sends Durant to the desert to work with Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton. James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant all came to dominate the NBA together, and they all left with a slew of trade requests. Together, they took part in 16 games.
Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday after playing a significant role in the dysfunction that led to the roster’s demise. This marked the beginning of Durant’s final Nets season. A right knee MCL sprain has kept the two-time Finals MVP out of the game, but sources believe he will be ready to play after the All-Star break.
According to sources, Durant and Rich Kleiman, his business manager, told Tsai and Marks that they preferred a deal with Phoenix. Ishbia set out to acquire Durant during his first official week in charge of the team because he was aware of the superstar’s desire to join his franchise. This team hadn’t traded for a star like Durant since making a deal for Charles Barkley in 1992, making it one of very few franchises to ever do so.
The Nets were unable to prevent Bridges from participating in the trade, so Ishbia’s initial hope was dashed. On Monday and Tuesday, the Nets received offers from the Suns that were not even close to the asking price. As a result, Marks continued to consider potential trades to bolster the roster around Durant. The Nets went after OG Anunoby in Toronto and talked about making deals with Collins and Cleveland’s Caris LeVert. However, Durant was uneasy, and Brooklyn knew it had to force Phoenix to make an offer it couldn’t refuse.
Ishbia would not call it a night without making one more attempt at Durant, even though the Suns and Detroit had been discussing the possibility of acquiring Collins in a three-way deal with Atlanta.
According to sources, the teams were close to reaching an agreement once the Suns agreed to cut Dario Saric’s contract out of the deal and avoided giving up any second-round picks to cover his salary.
The Nets could make a deal that made sense if Brooklyn believed it had a chance to move Crowder to a contender before Thursday’s deadline.
The Suns paid a high price for Durant, but this team, which has never won a championship, decided to give Durant, who is 34 and has a contract for three more years, a shot. Ishbia, who was a walk-on at Michigan State under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo, promised to provide Monty Williams, the coach of the Suns, with the talent necessary to pursue a championship, which he accomplished with the Durant deal.
This season, the Nets probably weren’t good enough to win a championship, and Durant probably didn’t want to trade them again. Brooklyn has regained its composure after giving up a number of first-round picks to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Harden in 2021 by acquiring picks in trades that gave up Durant, Irving, and Harden: seven first-rounders that can be traded over the next seven years. The Rockets have the right to swap first-round picks in 2025 and 2027, and Brooklyn still owes Houston those picks in 2024 and 2026.
Over Marks’ tenure and that of assistant general manager Jeff Peterson, Brooklyn has demonstrated itself to be a scouting and player development machine. This will be the mantra once more when Jacque Vaughn takes over as head coach. Durant wanted to go West and play for the Suns, despite the Nets’ best efforts to persuade him to stay the course.
Ishbia finally refused to go to bed on Wednesday night, so he had his general manager try again to make a deal with Brooklyn. It paid off. Durant was acquired by the Suns, and the NBA trade deadline continued into the early hours of the morning.