The Brooklyn Nets are, once again, the center of attention in the NBA after having approximately 24 hours out of the spotlight after Kyrie Irving picked up his player option, as Kevin Durant has requested a trade out of Brooklyn.
Durant is hoping to go to Phoenix or Miami, with the Suns at the very top of his preferred destinations. The biggest reason for KD’s desire to head to the desert is the presence of Devin Booker, who Durant has not been shy about noting is one of his favorite players in the NBA. It’s clear Durant believes he and Booker can make for one of the most formidable tandems in the league, and Booker has certainly proven to be a reliable performer — something Durant surely respects even more after his time in Brooklyn.
However, the Suns still have to hit the Nets’ demands in a trade for Durant, who has four full years left on a new extension and doesn’t have a no-trade clause, and as such, we have reached the public negotiations portion of the proceedings in record time. Shortly after the request, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report offered the Nets side of things, saying they don’t want Deandre Ayton, but instead want Booker himself as the centerpiece of a KD trade.
From Brooklyn’s perspective, sources said, there’s no deal to land Durant in Phoenix that doesn’t start with sending back Devin Booker to Barclays Center. The Suns, of course, would likely hold the line firm. But early indications are the Nets brass is not particularly inclined to take a sign-and-trade that brings back unrestricted free agent Deandre Ayton.
I too would want that, but that certainly isn’t going to happen — again, Durant’s biggest reason for choosing Phoenix as a landing spot is Booker himself. However, what this reads as to me is that the Suns are ensuring Phoenix puts its best non-Booker trade proposal on the table, which is Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and draft picks. The Suns do not want to part ways with Bridges, given he would be the perfect small forward between Booker and Durant, but if the Nets are willing to play hardball just enough and threaten to look elsewhere and say publicly they want Booker, they can maybe force the Suns hands into putting that offer out there.
There are logistics to navigate, like finding a third team to facilitate the deal given the CBA obligations of working this deal in as a sign-and-trade involving Ayton, but all of that can be done provided the two teams can agree on the initial compensation. If Phoenix wants to hold the line on Bridges, Brooklyn should absolutely look elsewhere for a better deal, but they’d be the rare team, along with Indiana and San Antonio, to send a star player to a place that wasn’t his preferred destination in a trade request in recent years if they did so.