PHOENIX SUNS

Kevin Durant trade regrade: Suns championship could regain ‘A’ status

Feb 7, 2024, 3:45 PM | Updated: 8:40 pm

Suns forward Kevin Durant walking onto the court after a timeout (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...

Suns forward Kevin Durant walking onto the court after a timeout (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

It has been about one year since Kevin Durant was traded to the Phoenix Suns, dominating a news cycle that was already full with the Super Bowl and WM Phoenix Open taking place in town.

At the time, the Suns received a resounding “A” grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for acquiring the Easy Money Sniper.

Pelton has since changed his tune and dropped his evaluation down to a more average “B” grade.

However, he did set parameters for Phoenix to climb back up to that coveted “A” level, despite an extremely high bar. In fact, the bar Pelton set is literally as high as the bar can go.

But bringing a first championship to the Valley of the Sun might be the bar for making this an “A” trade in the long run.

So there you have it. If the Suns win the NBA championship with Durant, they might satisfy the requirements for an “A” in Pelton’s prestigious grading system.

No pressure, Suns.

Pelton’s explanation for the downgrade mostly cited injuries.

Durant’s injury right before his home debut last season was part of the reason, and multiple injuries to Bradley Beal left the Suns a little behind the eight ball through the first half of this season.

I was exuberant in installing the Suns as West favorites after adding Durant, who was sidelined by a knee sprain at the time of the trade. While Durant subsequently spraining his ankle in pregame warmups before his home debut was unforeseeable, the challenges to Phoenix’s continuity and depth that led to a six-game series loss to the eventual champion Denver Nuggets in the second round were to be expected.

As of now the Suns are in the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings, which would give them a little more rest by avoiding the play-in tournament.

On the other end of the trade, the Brooklyn Nets were upgraded from a “B” to an “A”.

Pelton said the play of Mikal Bridges has dropped off since his scorching hot December but the Nets still have assets that should come into play for the next five years.

The Nets own Phoenix’s unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029 as well as a 2028 swap, experiencing the other side of a deal involving multiple lottery picks after sending them to the Boston Celtics in the trade that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in 2013.

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