The Brooklyn Nets made Kevin Durant’s trade to the Phoenix Suns official Thursday, ending their second attempt at a “big three.”
With Kyrie Irving heading to the Dallas Mavericks Sunday, Durant reportedly wanted to be moved too, per ESPN.
Though Brooklyn was reportedly telling interested teams Durant wasn’t available, owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks eventually saw the Suns’ package of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, four first-round picks (2023, 2025, 2027, 2029) and a first-round pick swap in 2028 as the right move to make.
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In the official trade statement, Marks said the move was made for the long-term success of the club.
“After thorough evaluation of the best path forward, we believe making this trade now positions the franchise for long-term success,” said Marks. “Mikal and Cam are elite, ascending, versatile wings, plus the draft capital provides us additional avenues to continue to acquire talent. We remain steadfast in our commitment to building the team Brooklyn deserves. We are excited to welcome Mikal, Cam and their families to Brooklyn and thank Kevin for the moments and memories he delivered our fan base.”
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The Nets wanted to build around Durant with Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, who were acquired in the Mavericks trade. But ESPN says Durant wasn’t impressed.
“I can tell you that on Sunday when they traded Kyrie Irving, they didn’t think they’d be trading Kevin Durant today,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Thursday.
“Because the Kyrie Irving trade was set up to support players around Kevin Durant. And then Kevin Durant did not support it. And, very clearly on Monday and Tuesday, he made it clear that he wanted to move on, and they were facing a situation where they were in a rush job.”
Durant still had three years left on a contract he signed prior to the start of this year worth over $194 million. Now, he looks to team up with Devin Booker and Chris Paul on a Suns team that is fifth in the Western Conference with a 30-26 record.
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The Nets were doing well, though, at 32-22. And they were winning games even without Durant, who suffered an MCL sprain and hadn’t played since early January.
Still, Durant was named an All-Star starter after dropping 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game over 39 contests this season. Phoenix is hoping to utilize that scoring strength alongside Booker, Paul and Deandre Ayton, who stays with the Suns despite being brought up in trade rumors.
Durant and Irving were a package deal in 2019 when they both signed with Brooklyn. James Harden was later added, creating a three-headed monster — or so the Nets thought.
Instead, the three barely played together. Harden eventually got traded, per his request, last year to the Philadelphia 76ers. Ben Simmons was part of that trade, but he hasn’t been his previous All-Star self in Brooklyn.
Now Irving and Durant move on. The Nets were unable to make it past the second round of the playoffs during the four seasons Durant and Irving were a part of the organization.