Any team that adds Kevin Durant in a trade will become an instant betting favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship. But would the Brooklyn Nets seriously trade Durant to a title contender like the Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, or defending champion Golden State Warriors?
Durant requested a trade in the off-season, but the Nets weren’t in any rush to deal their disgruntled superstar. Durant and team owner Joe Tsai hashed out some issues, and Durant rescinded his trade request. However, after a lackluster start to the season and no shortage of Kyrie Irving drama, the Nets could trade Durant at the start of the new year.
The Nets are currently 11-11 and sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. If the season were to end right now, they’d qualify for the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament as the #9 seed. Betting-wise, the Nets are 10-12 against the spread.
Despite a head coaching change and an 11-11 record, the Nets are +1100 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship. They’re the sixth-highest team on DraftKings’ NBA futures board.
The Nets are +600 odds to win the Eastern Conference and secure a trip to the NBA Finals. Even though the Nets are in fourth place in the division and only a half-game ahead of the last-place New York Knicks, the Nets are +1400 odds to win the Atlantic as the second favorite on the board.
Phoenix Suns: Durant, CP3, and Booker
The Suns were one of the best teams from the Western Conference during the last two seasons. They went on a deep run in the 2021 playoffs and secured a trip to the 2021 NBA Finals, but lost to Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns had the best record in the NBA last season but were upset by the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals because of an embarrassing Game 7 collapse.
Point guard Chris Paul isn’t getting any younger and it’s only a matter of time before an injury sidelines him or he chokes in the postseason once again. The Suns need a reliable veteran to get buckets in crunch time, aside from shooting guard Devin Booker.
The Suns extended center Deandre Ayton’s contract, but they have to wait until December 15 to include him in any trade discussions. There’s the Designated Rookie Rule in which a team can’t add a rookie max-contract player if they already have one on the roster. That’s the case with the Nets, who already have Simmons on the roster. If they want to add Ayton in a trade for Durant, they’d have to trade Simmons first.
Simmons missed five games this season, and he’s expected to miss a couple of more games with a knee injury. Simmons averages a career-low 8.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game with the Nets. His subpar numbers in the first quarter of the season mean the Nets would have to take a huge hit if they want to trade him.
The Suns were on Durant’s initial trade list from his summer request. The Suns considered sending Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cam Johnson, and multiple draft picks to the Nets in a trade for Durant.
Philadelphia 76ers: Durant Reunites with Harden
The banged-up 76ers need help if they expect to win the Eastern Conference and get past tough teams like the Bucks and Celtics. Joel Embiid has been nursing a foot injury after having plantar fasciitis in the summer.
The 76ers lost their starting backcourt to a couple of foot injuries. James Harden has been out for a couple of weeks with a sprained foot tendon. The 76ers recently lost point guard Tyrese Maxey for at least a month with a fractured foot.
The 76ers coughed up draft picks to acquire Harden in a trade with the Nets for Ben Simmons, so they can only offer a package that includes Maxey, Tobias Harris, and Matisse Thybulle. The Nets want draft capital and young players in exchange for Durant, but the 76ers can’t meet the Nets’ needs. Harden and Durant played together twice before with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Nets. It seems like a pipe dream that the two will reunite a third time with the 76ers.
Golden State Warriors: KD and Splash Brothers Reprise
The Warriors are struggling right now with an 11-11 record. They look nothing like the squad that won the championship in June. The Warriors won back-to-back titles with Durant in 2016-17 and 2017-18 before he signed with the Nets in free agency. The move to Brooklyn is something that Durant won’t publicly say he regrets, but you all know about the grass looking greener on the other side of the fence.
In the off-season, the Warriors and Nets discussed a Durant trade that would send him back to the Bay Area. The Nets turned down the Warriors’ offer that included former #1 pick Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and multiple draft picks.
The Warriors would like to keep Wiggins, who emerged as a shutdown defender during their championship run last season. They have other players to include in a trade package for Durant, like Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and James Wiseman.
Toronto Raptors: Durant North of the Border
During the off-season, the Raptors emerged as a betting favorite to acquire Durant in a trade with the Nets. The Raptors had an ideal combination of talented young prospects and draft capital. At the time, OG Anunoby wanted out of Toronto after his playing time diminished with the rise of Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.
The Nets were keen on Barnes, but the Raptors indicated he was off the table in any deal for Durant. Big Man Pascal Siakim had his name mentioned in trade rumors, along with rookie Christian Koloko, Chris Boucher, and Anunonby.
Miami Heat: KD Goes to South Beach
Pat Riley knows the Heat are one big-time player away from winning another championship. Jimmy Butler needs help, and a banged-up Kyle Lowry could be a liability in the postseason, similar to last year’s playoffs when he nursed a hamstring injury.
The Heat have a handful of young prospects that the Nets would accept in a hybrid deal for Durant that includes draft picks and players. The Nets like Tyler Herro, but the Heat would like to keep last year’s Sixth Man of the Year. The Nets would love to acquire big man Bam Adebayo, but he’s also off the table.
Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, Ömer Yurtseven, and rookie Nikola Jovic were all mentioned in Durant trade rumors over the summer.
Memphis Grizzlies: The KD and Ja Show
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA, thanks to point guard Ja Morant and the emergence of Desmond Bane. They have a strong cast of supporting players, but they’re lacking a big man and additional playmaker to become a legit title threat.
Jaren Jackson, Jr. missed the start of the season while recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot, but he’s finally back in the starting lineup. The Grizzlies have no desire to include Jackson, Morant, or Bane in any trade for Durant.
During the off-season, the Grizzlies offered five first-round draft picks to the Nets plus Brandon Clarke and Ziaire Williams for Durant. The Nets turned down the Grizzlies before the preseason began, but at least they know that the Grizzlies were serious about their pursuit of Durant in a potential blockbuster trade.
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