All-NBA forward Kevin Durant has not had the smoothest time during his Brooklyn Nets tenure. Durant left the Golden State Warriors to join the Nets after winning two titles with the team in 2017 and 2018.
He came to Brooklyn knowing he would be out for an extended period after tearing his Achilles in the 2019 Finals. Then, injuries to Kyrie Irving and James Harden foiled their plans of winning the title in 2021, as they were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. This year Kyrie’s absence, along with the James Harden trade, had the Nets at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. And despite making it to the postseason, they were abruptly eliminated by the Boston Celtics in four games. Brendon Kleen, host of the “Locked On Suns” podcast, is urging the Nets star to force a trade to the Phoenix Suns.
“The more you start to look around, if Durant were to become available, the Suns would be an obvious match. The connections between Durant and the Suns are not zero. The big one starts with Monty Williams, who coached Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City as an assistant after he was fired from the Pelicans,” Kleen said during a recent episode of the “Locked on Suns” podcast.
“Those guys know each other really well. There were clips going around of Kevin Durant reacting to Monty getting hired by the Suns and giving a lot of kind words. Monty was also around Team USA at various points. I think at the end of the day, Kevin Durant would be able to come to Phoenix, know he could be comfortable, have like-minded basketball kindred spirits around him and win in Phoenix. And that’s why I buy this.”
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Durant to Suns Would Be ‘Massive Deal’
Durant is widely regarded by many as the best basketball player in the world. Needless to say, acquiring a player of his caliber won’t come cheap. This is especially true because last summer, Durant inked a 4-year/$198 million extension with the franchise that kicks in next season. But the return on the Suns’ investment would be getting to create an All-Star trio of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Durant. Kleen also notes that the Suns would likely have the Nets star for the remainder of his prime.
“This is going to be a massive deal, a massive trade if this were to play out. I’m willing to buy into it because there appears to be some iciness between Durant and the Nets, plus Kyrie Irving is such a question mark, and because James Harden is gone, and because Ben Simmons has question marks. All of that makes me buy this. But it’s going to take an immense return,” Kleen continued.
“You have to remember, the Suns would be trading for the next four seasons of Kevin Durant because of that extension. This is not ‘let’s get Durant for one year as his deal expires and try to convince him he should stay here.’ If you’re the Suns, you’re thinking we’re getting Kevin Durant for the rest of his competitive years.”
Kleen: Nets Roster Is ‘Shell of Itself’
There is a lot of uncertainty concerning the Nets roster construction. They have seven players set to hit free agency this summer, including key role players such as Andre Drummond and Bruce Brown. Couple that in with the fact that they’ve already lost out on key players such as Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, and James Harden and the fact they have hundreds of millions of dollars tied up in their ‘Big 3’, and the result is that they don’t have the means to put a decent coop of role players around their stars.
“From the KD standpoint, it’s reasonable that if he doesn’t feel good about Irving’s ability to be there and be an elite player that he would get squeamish,” Kleen continued.
“Brooklyn is a shell of itself. The roster is a shell of itself. When Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed there, the Nets had Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Taurean Prince. All solid role players that are gone. If you’re Kevin Durant wanting to win another championship before your late prime is over, that’s not the type of roster you want around you.”
The bottom line is that it is hard to imagine the Nets investing nearly $200 million in extending Durant, just to part ways with him a year later. The Nets have been unpredictable, but it would be hard to see them trading a top-3 player in the NBA.