Blazers Star Takes Shot at Nets After Suns Pair Bradley Beal With Kevin Durant

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Jusuf Nurkic (L) and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Brooklyn Nets caught a stray following the Phoenix Suns’ latest blockbuster trade for a star.

Just four months after swinging a trade with the Nets for Kevin Durant, the Suns have unloaded virtually all of their remaining draft assets, sending them to the Washington Wizards along with Chris Paul and Landry Shamet for Bradley Beal, guard Jordan Goodwin, G Leaguer Isaiah Todd, a handful of second-round picks, and pick swaps.

Despite not being involved, Portland Trail Blazers star big man Jusuf Nurkic called them out.

“Brooklyn situation all over again,” Nurkic tweeted on June 18, also retweeting an image mocking the Suns’ new top-heavy lineup that was also shared by teammate Damian Lillard’s trainer Phil Beckner.

The Nets, of course, only traded Durant after he forced their hand following Kyrie Irving’s trade demand which Brooklyn granted. A big three that was supposed to be Durant, Irving, and James Harden only saw the floor together for 17 games and has seemingly made the Nets at least slightly more cautious about jumping right back into the star chase.

Brooklyn traded rights to its first-round picks through 2027 to the Houston Rockets for Harden.

They also broke up a playoff team to get Durant and Irving in 2019. But, even before Durant, the Nets were on the wrong side of a trade with the Boston Celtics that is regarded as one of the worst roster-building experiments in recent memory.

They tried to pair Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Piere alongside Deron Williams and Brook Lopez but that only lasted one season before they pivoted away from Pierce.

Garnett lasted 42 games into the following season before getting traded.

The Nets lost in the Easter Conference Finals that first season and were bounced in the first round the following year They proceeded to endure a three-year postseason drought but are now riding a streak of five consecutive postseason appearances including holding onto the six-seed even after the drain of losing Durant and Irving at the deadline.

Three of the picks they traded for the Celtics’ vets were turned into Jaylen Brown, Markelle Fultz, and Colin Sexton, each of whom would be solid fits with this current group.

Nets ‘Probably Very Happy’ at Suns’ Trade for Bradley Beal

The Nets were among nearly a dozen teams who were believed to be acceptable trade destination

“Ironically, I think the Nets are probably a team that was very happy about today’s trade,” said ESPN NBA insider Tim MacMahon on the ‘Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective’ podcast on June 18. “Because what you have now…[it’s] all-in on a very short window. And those picks that [the Suns] gave up to get KD extend beyond that very short window.”

Phoenix traded its first-round picks in 2023 (No. 21 overall), 2025, 2027, and 2029, as well as the option to swap first-rounders in 2028, a pair of second-rounders (2028 and 2029), Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and Cameron Johnson to the Nets for Durant.

Durant, 34, was injured at the time and hurt himself again after the trade. He has made no more than 55 appearances during the regular season since 2018-19.

He has suffered a series of lower body injuries in that span.

Beal, 29, has not made more than 60 appearances in that span while Devin Booker, 26, made a career-low 53 appearances this past season. The significance of the regular season has been de-emphasized in recent years but they were just two losses from being in the Play-In Tournament where the Miami Heat proved anything can happen.

Nets Potentially ‘More Appealing’ Trade Partner for Blazers

Beal isn’t the only star the Nets have been linked to with Lillard also being on their radar. Lillard has also named Brooklyn as one of the destinations he would prefer if he were to request one which he has not at this time.

The other top team on his list, the Heat, could be at a disadvantage since Lillard does not have the no-trade clause that allowed Beal to force Washington’s hand.

“The Nets…could offer as many as 11 first-round picks, including nine unprotected,” wrote Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on June 19. “If the Nets offer five or more first-round picks, the Heat’s chances could hinge on Lillard specifically asking the Blazers to send him only to Miami. And it’s unclear if Lillard would do that.”

If stars on exorbitant contracts are going for discounts, the Nets may still be in luck.