After more than three turbulent years and a second trade request in eight months, the Brooklyn Nets traded All-NBA forward Kevin Durant for a package that includes dynamic forward Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four unprotected future Premier League players. Round picks, sources told ESPN Wednesday night.
In a deal that landed in the late hours of the night before Thursday’s 3:00 p.m. ET close, Durant and TJ Warren were brought to the Suns for a massive batch of first-round draft picks (2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029 ) and a 2028 pick swap, sources said.
Talks were advanced and stalled, and the Suns appeared to be moving toward a three-way deal that may have landed them Atlanta-based John Collins sometime Thursday morning, sources said. At the direction of his new owner Mat Ishbia, general manager James Jones texted Nets GM Sean Marks sometime after 11 p.m. ET — and it wouldn’t be long before Ishbia and Nets owner Joe Tsai cobbled together the final elements of the blockbuster trade, they said Sources.
The deal takes Durant to the desert to work with Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton — ending the big superstar experiment in Brooklyn. Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden all came to conquer the NBA together and all left due to trade requests. They played a total of 16 games together.
After taking on a massive role in the dysfunction that ultimately deconstructed the roster, Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, and that began the final days and hours of Durant as a Net. The two-time Finals MVP was sidelined with an MCL sprain in his right knee, but sources said there’s optimism he’ll be ready to return after the All-Star break.
Durant and his CEO Rich Kleiman told Tsai and Marks that they would prefer a deal with Phoenix, sources said. Knowing of Durant’s desire to join his franchise, Ishbia set out to win the Superstar in his first official week overseeing the organization. Few franchises ever get the chance to trade for a star like Durant — something this organization hasn’t seen since it struck a deal for Charles Barkley in 1992.
Ishbia’s initial hope was to keep Bridges out of the trade, but that was a false start for the Nets. The Suns’ bids were nowhere near the Nets’ asking price on Monday and Tuesday, and Marks continued to work on possible trades to bolster the list around Durant. The Nets were tracking OG Anunoby in Toronto and discussing potential deals for Cleveland’s Collins and Caris LeVert, but Durant’s mood was uneasy and Brooklyn knew it had to push Phoenix to make an offer it couldn’t refuse.
The Suns had been in talks with Detroit about the possibility of acquiring Collins in a three-way deal with Atlanta, but Ishbia wouldn’t call it quits without making one more go at Durant.
By the time the Suns were ready to cut Dario Saric’s contract out of the deal – and spare themselves the passing of second-round picks to accommodate his salary – the teams were on the cusp of an agreement, sources said.
Brooklyn believes it has a chance of getting Crowder onto a competitor before Thursday’s deadline, and in doing so it took the form of a deal that made sense for the networks.
It’s been a wild ride in Brooklyn
Nets timeline for the last 3.5 years…
• Thursday: In the process of trading Kevin Durant to Suns*
• February 6, 2023: Tradete Kyrie Irving to Mavericks
• Feb 2022: Traded James Harden to 76ers
• Jan 2021: James Harden acquired from Rockets
• July 2019: Signed and traded Kevin Durant from Warriors
• July 2019: Signed to Kyrie Irving
*per Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN
The Suns paid a heavy price for Durant, but this is a franchise that has never won a championship and decided to give Durant, 34, a try, who has signed for three more years. Ishbia, once a walk-on under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State, vowed to give Suns coach Monty Williams the talent to chase a championship, and he did with the Durant deal.
The Nets probably weren’t good enough to win a title this season — nor were they good enough to fend off another trade request from Durant. After giving up several first-round picks to the Houston Rockets for Harden in 2021, Brooklyn has made itself whole again by acquiring picks in trades that dumped Durant, Irving and Harden: seven tradable first-rounds over the next seven years. Brooklyn still owes Houston its first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and the Rockets have the right to switch first-round players in 2025 and 2027.
Brooklyn has proven itself to be a scouting and player-development machine against the regime of Marks and assistant GM Jeff Peterson, and that will continue to be the mantra with Jacque Vaughn as head coach. The Nets had hoped they could get Durant to stay the course, but he wanted west — and wanted the Suns.
Finally, Ishbia didn’t go to bed Wednesday night, letting his GM once again seek a deal with Brooklyn. It worked. The Suns got Durant, and the NBA trade deadline was alive into the wee hours.
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