Dorian Finney-Smith (#28) Credit: Bill Moore photo

There’s an extremely good chance that Kevin Durant will advance deep into this season’s NBA playoffs. Unfortunately, it won’t be with the Brooklyn Nets, who were 33–24, the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, when they hosted the Miami Heat last night at the Barclays Center in their final game before the All-Star break. 

Team owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks traded the 13-time NBA All-Star to the Phoenix Suns last Thursday, right before the league’s trade deadline.

Durant was dealt in exchange for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four unprotected future first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, along with TJ Warren. The Nets also negotiated a 2028 pick exchange. Durant now joins Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, the Suns’ nucleus that lost last season in the Western Conference Finals.

Crowder, who hasn’t played all season in a mutual agreement with the Suns because he was unhappy with his decreased role, was then traded by the Nets to the Milwaukee Bucks in an extensive, multi-eam trade that also included the Indiana Pacers.

The Bucks gave up five second-round picks—two to the Nets, three to the Pacers. The Nets receive one in 2028, the other in 2029. They also receive the draft rights to guard Juan Pablo Vaulet from the Pacers. The Pacers also get forward Jordan Nwora, guard George Hill and center/forward Serge Ibaka from the Bucks, as well as a cash payment from the Nets.

RELATED: The Nets find life without Kevin Durant is taxing

The Durant-to-Phoenix deal came a week after Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris were sent to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2027 second-round pick, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick and a 2029 second round-pick.

“It’s always difficult when you’re trading a player of that stature and that ilk—very difficult,” said Marks about Durant. “My job as a GM, and our job as a front office, is to try and bring in that caliber of talent and so forth. So those decisions are not easy. 

“They come with a lot of thought, a lot of process, a lot of systematic debriefs and discussions that go along with that,” he added “But at the same time, to be able to move Kevin to a place where he will have success was undoubtedly a selfless act on the part of Marks, the Nets. 

“For us to bring back these two players (Bridges and Johnson) in that particular trade, and the draft assets—that gives us a clear pathway now to continue to rebuild, and maybe not set the reset button, so to speak, because we have a group in there that’s very competitive, and who wants to get out there and wants to compete at the highest level.”

Marks acknowledged his discontent regarding Durant wanting to be traded. “Without a doubt, Durant will be missed—his work ethic and that competitive spirit,” Marks said. 

Clearly, Marks, the Nets took this trade request from Durant personally. “You do everything you possibly can in order to put together a team that you can be proud of,” he explained “and say, ‘Hey, we can be in that championship conversation.’”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *