Kevin Durant commerce rumors: Rating all 29 groups as potential locations for the previous MVP

The commerce marketplace for superstars tends to be pretty small. They usually use their standing and contracts to exert an unlimited quantity of management over their locations, and more often than not, they’ve settled on one or two most popular houses earlier than negotiations even start. A real bidding warfare by the whole NBA for a single star is exceedingly rarer. Even rarer is the type of star who may genuinely match onto any group.

However that is what Kevin Durant is. On the court docket, he was malleable sufficient to affix a 73-win group with out lacking a beat. Want him to run your offense for prolonged stretches? He can try this. Need him to be your late-game isolation killer? Proper up his alley as properly. Should you simply need him to run round screens and take 3s? You guess he can try this. Realistically, he’ll be doing a mix 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 steadily grow to be out there. Durant himself has hit the market simply twice in his profession: as soon as becoming a member of that 73-win Golden State Warriors group and ultimately leaving it for the Brooklyn Nets. Each had been fully his choice. That may not be the case this time round. Durant signed a four-year, $192 million extension final offseason. He is underneath contract by the 2025-26 season, when he can be 37. Whereas Durant may actually 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 may attempt to commerce for him.

So let’s check out his market by that lens. If we think about a world during which Kyrie Irving forces his means out of Brooklyn and the Nets combust reasonably than try to carry Durant to his contract, which groups are probably the most and least prone to land the two-time Finals MVP? We’ll begin on the backside and work our means up.

Okay.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 secure, however they’re younger, in a small market and never particularly aggressive. So are the Magic and Spurs, however they a minimum of play in warm-weather cities with out state revenue tax. Durant met with San Antonio in 2017 and the Spurs nonetheless have Gregg Popovich, so 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 concerned with becoming a member of. They’re the simplest cross-offs. Why commerce for a participant who would have little interest in taking part in for you?

It is not the precise time

24. Detroit Pistons

23. Houston Rockets

22. Minnesota Timberwolves

Durant most likely is not particularly concerned with taking part in for these groups both, however he is sufficient of a hoops junkie to a minimum of respect the expertise. Cade Cunningham, Anthony Edwards and Jalen Inexperienced are all on All-Star trajectories. Someday, they’d possible be great companions for Durant. That day simply is not immediately. 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 may even provide Karl-Anthony Cities. However the Pistons and Rockets simply cannot win on Durant’s timetable. Minnesota most likely may if it managed to maintain Cities and Edwards, however at that time, what may it even provide Brooklyn? The Wolves’ picks would not be particularly invaluable with a lot expertise in tow, and their third-best commerce chip is … D’Angelo Russell? These groups are positioned to contend a number of years from now. No must rock the boat for Durant now.

Haven’t got 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 concerned with returning to his hometown of Washington D.C. He did not even grant the Wizards a gathering in 2016. Possibly Bradley Beal and the participant he as soon as dubbed a unicorn in Kristaps Porzingis may change that … however what do the Nets get out of that association? Washington cannot commerce a first-round choose till 2027 and its younger gamers aren’t all that thrilling. The Jazz are equally encumbered from a draft perspective and haven’t any youth to talk of. Possibly providing Donovan Mitchell may tempt Brooklyn, however why would Utah even trouble? A Durant-Rudy Gobert group 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 laborious 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 could 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 laborious cap points, and Dallas has no extra significant belongings to dangle. The Mavericks cannot commerce a first-round choose till 2027. Chicago cannot transfer any of its personal picks till 2029, however has a lottery-protected future Blazers choose 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 total can be out there, 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 actually 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 could 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 could be too tempting to move 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 speedy rivalry, 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 resolve they wish to win, they will 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 group he is already performed for. He stated himself he would not belief anyone in Oklahoma Metropolis. No matter compelled him to go away Golden State in 2019 possible nonetheless exists. If Durant modifications his thoughts? Push the Thunder and Warriors to the highest of this listing. Till then? Do not count on both group 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 may emulate a few of what makes Giannis so particular if surrounded by the taking pictures he is had. This is able to be a real-world check of that concept. This commerce is extra enjoyable in concept than apply. The Bucks aren’t risking a roster that will have received back-to-back titles if wholesome. The Clippers could 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 laborious to disclaim as championship favorites. However George received the Clippers to the Western Convention finals for the primary time in group historical past. Sentiment would most likely get in the way in which of a deal. 

Spoiler alert: The Nets are usually not going to be concerned with buying and selling Durant for Russell Westbrook. Here is the place we get actually funky … what about Anthony Davis? The Lakers are reportedly not keen to commerce him underneath 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’ infinite array of shooters. Brooklyn will get Westbrook’s expiring contract to dangle together with the 2 Philadelphia first-round picks it received on the deadline together with the 2027 and 2029 Lakers picks it could certainly 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 one in every of these groups couldn’t solely give the Nets a strong return for Durant, however may stay in rivalry 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 under are ranked by a mix of that possible willingness, Durant’s potential 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 could be a dream get for Brooklyn right here. A Durant-Darius Garland-Jarrett Allen core could be within the hunt instantly. 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 the most effective of all of them. The Raptors have already got one of many NBA’s most imposing protection. Durant may remedy 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 keen to sacrifice Scottie Barnes’ entire profession for a quick title window? Once more, I feel 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 matches higher with Simmons. Williamson is the higher long-term prospect. Both would match like a glove subsequent to Durant on a group 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 could be the participant who may change their thoughts, particularly given the harm threat Michael Porter Jr. poses each now and sooner or later. Durant and Nikola Jokic would instantly grow to be 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 may pair its league-best protection with an offense immediately using a second elite shot-maker. Boston may 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 could be.

On the periphery

6. Atlanta Hawks

5. New York Knicks

Atlanta has nearly all the things a group would want to pursue a commerce like this. In Trae Younger, they’ve a certified co-star for Durant. The Hawks play in a market he’d most likely be concerned with. They’re determined to make a transfer of some type and have put nearly all the things 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’re going to certainly be within the combine if Durant actually does hit the block, however the one factor they lack is an important aspect wanted in a commerce of this magnitude: a centerpiece. De’Andre Hunter most likely is not getting it achieved right here. If he does? Durant’s market may have slipped additional than we thought of potential. 

The Knicks are in the identical boat. RJ Barrett has a vivid future forward of him, however has he confirmed sufficient but to be the centerpiece of a Durant deal? Uncertain. The Knicks may 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 potential. What places New York forward of Atlanta is merely Durant’s anticipated desire. 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 could be shocked to see Portland ranked this excessive after a lottery season, however the Blazers verify nearly each field right here, assuming Durant is a fan of the Pacific Northwest. The No. 7 choose and breakout star Anfernee Simons in a sign-and-trade aren’t viable centerpieces on their very own, however collectively, they might type the idea of a deep and compelling bundle. Portland may add to that bundle by eradicating the protections on the first-round choose it owes to Chicago and throwing in additional draft capital. Damian Lillard is a participant that Durant has overtly admired, and Jerami Grant could be a invaluable 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 no higher win-now transfer on the desk than going all-in for Durant, who would instantly grow to be by far the most effective teammate Lillard has ever had.

After which we transfer onto the contenders. Memphis and Phoenix are in a lifeless warmth for the No. 2 spot. Phoenix would most likely be Durant’s desire based mostly on his well-known affection for Devin Booker. He thought of 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 invaluable on a roster immediately constructed round a 37-year-old Paul and a soon-to-be 34-year-old Durant) could be the idea of a deal right here. Memphis simply has a barely higher bundle to supply. Desmond Bane’s scoring might be extra invaluable than Bridges’ protection for the lengthy haul. Jaren Jackson is already locked into an inexpensive contract. The Grizzlies have been hoarding picks for a number of years now, and whereas their very own choices would not be as attractive as Phoenix’s, the sheer quantity they might throw at Brooklyn would certainly enchantment to a Nets group 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 latest weeks, however for a participant of Durant’s caliber? Miami would possible a minimum of take into account 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 choose they owe to the Thunder. They’re going to have the ability to commerce their 2022 first-round choose after the draft together with their 2023 alternative and one choose from both 2028 or 2029. If the Nets need Duncan Robinson? I can not think about he’d stand in the way in which of a deal.

The top purpose could 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 dimension, and their outstanding observe document of growing bench gamers within the G League would guarantee sturdy depth. Add all of that up and you’ve got a group that ought to not solely enchantment to Durant, however could be keen to surrender what it could take to land him.

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