Kevin Durant’s handful of connections to the Suns
When news broke this past offseason that Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant reportedly requested a trade, the Phoenix Suns made sense as a landing spot for a number of reasons. From there, it turned out Durant really did have an interest in Phoenix as a potential destination.
Durant eventually rescinded his trade request to give it a go in Brooklyn this season before teammate Kyrie Irving’s own request blew up the Nets’ plans.
Fast forward to Wednesday night, and Durant and teammate T.J. Warren are on the way to the Suns in exchange for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four first-round picks, plus a pick swap.
Here are a few reasons why Durant to the Suns aligned as a possibility back this summer and why a deal got done in the first few days of new owner Mat Ishbia’s control of the franchise.
Booker has had the attention of Durant for years.
Back in 2017 on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Durant was asked if there was a young player on the rise that has caught his eye. Booker, through his first two seasons in the NBA at that point, was Durant’s pick.
.@BillSimmons asked @KDTrey5 about up-and-coming young players talking trash. KD spoke highly of @DevinBook https://t.co/KQzfotct2u … pic.twitter.com/wDxBBHMVfj
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) August 24, 2017
Four years later, they would be teammates on Team USA and win a gold medal together in the Tokyo Olympics. Durant called Booker a “savant” for the way in which he adapted to his role for the Americans.
Kevin Durant called Devin Booker a "savant" and said that Booker handles himself like a 35-year-old vet. Said Booker's performance last night showed he's an all-around player who is only getting better. pic.twitter.com/JKGl97kq65
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) August 3, 2021
Durant served the role of captain for the 2022 rendition of the All-Star Game Draft, and when he had his choice between every single available reserve, he selected Booker first.
The Suns head coach was an associate head coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2015-16 while Durant was there and clearly had an impact on Durant.
“His coaching style is what it is because of the stuff that he’s been through as a person and how he looks at life in general and it helps him as a learner and a teacher and I’m excited that he’s back to coaching and walking that sideline again,” Durant said in 2019 when Williams was hired by Phoenix.
Combined with that was Williams’ time on Team USA’s coaching staff from 2013-16.
When Williams got the nod to join the upcoming staff again, he referenced time working with Durant.
“Kevin (Durant), he’s the greatest player probably in the league right now, and every day he was like, ‘Coach what you got?’” Williams said in December while chuckling, noting Durant pushed him to be at his best as a coach. “And I was like, ‘Alright.’”
Durant has also credited current Suns assistant Mark Bryant, who was with Durant from the Seattle/Oklahoma City days from 2007-16, for his development.
Kevin Durant on three huge influencers in his post defense: Kendrick Perkins, Mark Bryant, Monty Williams pic.twitter.com/CjXepH0LZ7
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 1, 2016
Durant won his first Olympic gold medal with Paul as a teammate in 2012.
Back in 2016 when Durant decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors, Paul spoke with Durant about his decision.
“It’s free agency, you know. You get the ability to choose,” Paul told USA TODAY Sports. “I remember I told KD, ‘man, this is one of the only times in your career where you get to pick and choose where you want to play and where you want to live. Enjoy it.’ His decision, it is what it is. I’m happy for him.”
Yes, this is lower on the totem pole than the biggest fixtures on the Suns.
Durant joined New Orleans Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum on McCollum’s podcast in 2018 and ranked Phoenix, particularly the Scottsdale area, high atop his favorite NBA cities.
“Obviously, the New York’s, LA’s, it’s the best,” he said. “But Phoenix, Phoenix is the one I love a lot. I like Phoenix, Scottsdale area is dope. Miami. Denver, actually. I like Denver a lot, it’s super chill.”
Editor’s note: This story was first published on June 30, 2022, after Durant requested a trade out of Brooklyn.