ESPN’s Marks would be surprised if Kevin Durant requests trade from Nets
When the Brooklyn Nets agreed to trade Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for two starting-caliber players and three draft picks, the league-wide focus turned toward Kevin Durant.
According to reports, the Phoenix Suns will remain interested in teaming the current Net star with Devin Booker, as they were this past summer. That’s if Durant indeed wants out.
Until Durant asks for a trade, however, Phoenix’s pursuit remains a few steps down the road. And to pour cold water on that possibility, ESPN’s Bobby Marks believes Durant will remain in Brooklyn through the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.
“I’d be surprised in the next two or three days that Kevin Durant goes to the front office or ownership and asks to be out, asks to be traded like he did in late June,” Marks told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Monday.
“I think you’re probably kind of in a little bit of a holding pattern and what transpires for the rest of the season … and you probably revisit Durant again in June if the ceiling for this team is limited.”
The Dallas-Brooklyn trade involving Irving is not yet official, and the teams could hold off on a trade call to see if the Nets can parlay its return package for Irving into landing another superstar.
The Mavericks agreed to send guard Spencer Dinwiddie, wing Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round pick and two second-rounders to Brooklyn.
That is a bit of trade ammo if the Nets want to redirect some or all of those pieces to put a new star alongside Durant, though the options appear limited right now.
Even if that trade goes through, there are enough picks to work into another deal.
Thing that wouldn't shock me: If Nets hold up trade call for 24-48 hours to see if they can make it 3-way deal and flip Dinwiddie+DFS+Mavs pick into another star. Once trade call happens, can't aggregate Dinwiddie+DFS.
— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) February 5, 2023
Durant, who is currently sidelined with an MCL sprain, is averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 56% this season. He might even hold a commitment to Brooklyn without a secondary trade.
Dinwiddie is capable of taking some load off Durant as a scorer, and Finney-Smith can slide into a defensive role on a team that has been in the top 10 in both offensive rating and defensive rating since head coach Jacque Vaughn took over for the fired Steve Nash.
The Nets are 32-20 and in the top-half of the Eastern Conference.
As for the Suns, Marks believes the team will be aggressive heading into Thursday.
“I think similar to what we saw with Dallas. I think teams look at where the West is right now,” Marks told Bickley & Marotta. “There’s a golden opportunity if there’s a deal out there and it costs you picks to upgrade your roster and it gives you a better chance to win a championship right now. Just based on where Golden State is (Stephen Curry is now out with a leg injury), Memphis has not played well, I mean, you look at Sacramento, Dallas, Lakers — all those other teams are not championship-level right now.
“I think the ownership situation, there’s probably a little more clarity there as far as doing deals and taking back money. I think certainly with the Jae Crowder situation, I’d be stunned if he’s on the roster post-Jan. 9. You got a lot of expiring contracts, you got the Chris Paul contract, you got all your draft picks to go out and make a deal here.”
Paul and Crowder, plus a first-round pick, were reportedly part of a trade package that Phoenix offered to Brooklyn for Irving. That was another sign the Suns could take a big swing this week.
“We’ve heard Phoenix being linked to Fred VanVleet and I think you’re probably looking at it, ‘how do we upgrade the point guard position?'” Marks said. “Chris has got a few years left and it’s not fully guaranteed. Irving is younger, he’s a better player. Certainly, the risk comes with signing him to a long-term deal.
“From Phoenix’s perspective, you don’t have the flexibility to go get Kyrie as a free agent. You don’t have the flexibility to get a guy like Fred VanVleet in free agency. The trade route is the best way to do it.”