Trade grades: Suns get high praise in move to bring Kevin Durant to Valley
The Phoenix Suns made one of their biggest moves in franchise history by bringing Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant to the Valley with a deal late Wednesday.
Any time one of the best players in league history is on the move, a massive haul of players and picks is required to get a star of that caliber.
Phoenix gave up Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four first-round picks and a 2028 pick-swap for Durant and T.J. Warren.
New owner Mat Ishbia made sure to make his opening week a memorable one and trade grades have been rolling in on his first move at the helm.
ESPN staff pointed out that despite Phoenix’s link to Durant in the offseason, this trade would not have happened without Ishbia taking over control and having the willingness to delve deeper into the luxury tax.
With the move, the Suns more than double their projected luxury tax number to $68 million.
Additionally, Phoenix has spent much of the year playing without Johnson (17 games played) and Crowder (0) in their lineup.
ESPN also notes that Warren is not just a throw-in at the end of the deal, but rather a major part and addition to a Suns team that has struggled offensively without Booker.
A sneaky part of this trade is Phoenix bringing back Warren, a Suns draft pick dealt by Jones on the night of the 2019 draft. Signed by Brooklyn for the veterans minimum after missing nearly two full seasons because of a stress fracture of the navicular bone in his left foot, Warren has been quietly solid in limited minutes and will help fill out the Suns’ frontcourt rotation.
I’m burying the lede by waiting this long to talk about Durant’s impact. With Chris Paul no longer as effective creating his own offense, Durant’s addition is a game-changer for a Suns team that has struggled to score with Booker sidelined, dropping to 16th in offensive rating.
The Athletic: A-
The Athletic’s Zach Harper writes that this move is 10 times larger than the one that brought Chris Paul to Phoenix.
Despite concern about Paul’s age and how effective he can be with extended minutes, Harper says Booker and Durant on the court together will be a “home run.”
The combination of Durant and Devin Booker is going to be a home run. Booker was also playing MVP ballot-level basketball prior to his injury, and he’s just now getting back to form and looking good. Booker has done a brilliant job in this Suns era with Paul to defer when he needs to, take over when required, play really good defense and fit in however his team needs. He’s become a complete basketball player when the stakes and expectations got raised significantly. Now imagine what he is able to do with Durant causing sheer panic for the opponent.
Sports Illustrated: A+
Sports Illustrated’s Rohan Nadkarni painted this as one of the most shocking trades in NBA history, and one that puts the Suns in more than just a win-now mode.
Not only did Phoenix acquire one of the league’s best players, it also gave itself a potential answer to what post-Paul life would look like.
And while the four firsts are a steep price, they are within the lines of the superstar going price. It’s also not only a win-now move. Durant is signed for three more years after this one, which means he could be with Booker through the latter’s prime. (It also may make it easier for Phoenix to move on from Paul this summer.)
SB Nation: A
SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell said although Durant is not the best player in the league right now, he is definitely in the discussion.
Adding an MVP-caliber player alongside Booker just opened the championship window a little wider.
With Durant, the Suns can realistically dream of an NBA championship this season. Durant has had one of the best years of his legendary career, showing off absolutely scorching midrange shooting, impressive playmaking chops, and also playing at a high level defensively.