Phoenix Suns’ ability to land Kevin Durant hinges on player empowerment

Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges, Kevin Durant (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Mikal Bridges, Kevin Durant (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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It has been more than a month since Kevin Durant sent shockwaves through the NBA by demanding a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Despite reiterating that trade request last week, he remains a Net, for now.

After Joe Tsai publicly backed Nets coach Steve Nash, and general manager Sean Marks, it does appear more likely that Durant will get moved at some point in the near future.

While every contender in the league should be in on Kevin Durant, the Phoenix Suns are in as good a position as any to acquire him.

Following Durant’s initial trade request, along with reports that the Phoenix Suns were his preferred destination, Phoenix became the odds on favorite to land the superstar. When the Suns matched Deandre Ayton’s contract offer from the Indiana Pacers, Phoenix’s betting odds of landing Durant tumbled.

Many considered Ayton as a potential cog in a Durant deal, whether that was him going to Brooklyn, or being ferried somewhere else for more assets. Now that the Suns can’t include Ayton in a trade, it would stand to reason that their chances of trading for Durant took a hit. Recent history though, would suggest that it is not the case.

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Due to the emphasis on player empowerment in recent years, we have seen an unprecedented number of stars traded. More often than not these stars have been traded to their desired team, despite those teams seemingly not having the best trade packages. Thus, the returns that teams have gotten for their stars have been routinely panned, but it has established a pattern of what these types of deals look like.

Maybe the best, most recent example of a player successfully forcing his way to a team, despite that team not having the best perceived trade package, would be James Harden’s trade to the Nets last year.

In the three-team deal, the Rockets ultimately netted four first-rounders, four first-round pick swaps, Caris LeVert, Dante Exum, and Rodions Kurucs. In terms of the players they got back, that is a startlingly small haul for a player of Harden’s caliber, with the real headliner of the trade being the picks the Rockets received to kickstart a rebuild.