PHOENIX SUNS

Buckle up: Why Kevin Durant trade rumor season is in full effect for the Suns

May 8, 2024, 9:25 AM | Updated: 1:31 pm

Welcome to the par for the course for a team employing Kevin Durant. The offseason after a playoff run falls well short of expectations means it’s trade rumor season.

It didn’t help that it was preceded by visible frustration for Durant — and others — playing with Suns team that is still apparently determining if head coach Frank Vogel will keep his job. Before we get into why there is actual noise about Durant specifically, let’s get the Suns’ owner and lead basketball executive on the record.

“When we made the trade for Kevin Durant we realized we had four years with him. Same thing with Brad Beal,” Mat Ishbia said last Wednesday.

He later added: “Our starting five is coming back.”

President of basketball operations and general manager James Jones added his own comment that later went viral. He said the Suns looked forward to becoming the first team to optimize Durant, which Jones admitted wasn’t done as the Suns ended the year with a first-round sweep thanks to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Now that those perspectives are out there, there’s this: Durant this coming July will be eligible for a contract extension.

Though he has two years and $106 million left on his current contract, the 2026-27 season where he’ll be 38 years old could be tacked on.

“It creates a natural moment for Durant and the team basically to make a comment on one another,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the Pat McAfee Show following the Suns’ playoff dismissal.

Windhorst’s colleague, Bobby Marks, pointed out that Durant’s contractual situation could also silence these rumors.

“I’m interested if Phoenix would take that approach (of talking about an extension),” Marks told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke last week. “I think that would probably end the conversations as far as what they feel about Kevin Durant or if Kevin Durant’s going to be on the trade market here.”

So yes, we’re a few months ahead on the speculation. But there is room for that to amp up this summer.

Why are there Kevin Durant trade rumors involving the Miami Heat?

At this moment, you can give a quick Google search to find a Durant trade rumor involving quite a few teams, including the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Miami stands as a betting favorite — the closest thing to reality. President Pat Riley’s criticism of star Jimmy Butler this week didn’t help, but Butler himself has future contractual issues that could lead to a Heat recalibration.

Former NFL star Chad Johnson joining the Nightcap podcast with Shannon Sharpe this week only added fuel to the fire. Why was Johnson so sure a Heat trade for Durant could be a potential reality?

“Because I talked to him, I talked to KD,” Johnson said on Tuesday’s show. “I know KD is going to see this and KD can attest to this and you can talk to it about it tomorrow on First Take. I talked to KD. KD and I had a lengthy conversation. Listen, I’m not into basketball and people like KD and LeBron (James) and some of these other players that I know, they confide in me, and I asked if it was able to talk about it tonight in Nightcap. And boom, it comes up.

“And he said, you know, he would have no problem coming down to Miami if it made sense (in terms of) what pieces the Heat are able to keep and surround him with to make sure they have a chance to be able to continue (to chase) a title.”

Take that for what it’s worth.

Jones’ connection to Riley and the Heat, who he played for, could make dealings with Miami pretty natural as well. So could the fact that the Heat has rotation players that Phoenix might be interested in while retaining championship aspirations themselves.

On Durant’s end, his history of team-hopping leads this to be a thing.

Then again, forever-Sun Devin Booker has also been lumped into trade rumors early this offseason despite there being no history and no contractual reasons as his supermax deal is just kicking in.

Point is, when you build a superteam like the Suns have, the trade rumors become par for the course.

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Buckle up: Why Kevin Durant trade rumor season is in full effect for the Suns