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Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns could be dream partnership

By Melissa Rohlin
FOX Sports NBA Writer

Hours earlier than NBA free company started, Kevin Durant turned the league the wrong way up by reportedly requesting to be traded from the Brooklyn Nets, a transfer that immediately made one of many high 5 gamers within the NBA obtainable.

Now, many — if not all — of the 29 different groups within the league are scrambling to determine a viable commerce package deal to doubtlessly purchase the two-time champion, 12-time All-Star, two-time Finals MVP and former league MVP.

But there’s one place the place it makes essentially the most sense for him to land: Phoenix.

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Could you think about Durant taking part in alongside Chris Paul and Devin Booker? Durant’s silkiness, athleticism and dimension would completely complement Paul’s playmaking abilities and Booker’s taking pictures means. Durant has already performed with each of them, profitable gold medals for Team USA with Paul in 2012 and Booker in 2020. 

Not to say, Durant has a powerful relationship with Suns coach Monty Williams, who was the affiliate head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015-16. Durant fought again tears when Williams’ spouse, Ingrid, was killed in a automobile accident in 2016, saying, “I simply love coach Monty a lot, man.” Over the previous six years, they have been vocal supporters of one another. 

Durant clearly sees the attract of becoming a member of the Suns, as he reportedly named Phoenix and Miami as his most well-liked locations, and one of the best half is the Suns have the property to make a deal occur. 

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The Suns soured their relationship with free-agent middle Deandre Ayton by failing to supply him a five-year, $172.5 million max extension in October. Now that Ayton is a restricted free agent, they could use him as a centerpiece in a sign-and-trade for Durant.

They could additionally embrace Mikal Bridges of their bid. Bridges is without doubt one of the high 3-and-D gamers within the league and not too long ago signed a four-year, $91 million extension with the Suns. And if that is nonetheless not sufficient, the Suns have the choice to sweeten the cope with a proficient position participant similar to Jae Crowder, Landry Shamet, Dario Saric, Cam Payne, Cam Johnson or Torrey Craig.

It makes a lot sense for each events. The Suns would immediately turn into title contenders following a disappointing flameout within the second spherical of the playoffs this 12 months. The Nets would purchase some unimaginable, younger expertise with which to encompass Ben Simmons, a younger star himself.

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As for Durant, he has acquired limitless scrutiny with each transfer he has made within the NBA. When he left Oklahoma City for Golden State in 2016, he was accused of being a sellout. (When he performed in OKC for the primary time that season, he was ferociously booed and did not get a tribute video.) He has been mocked for leaving Golden State for the Nets in 2019, particularly after the Warriors received a championship this season.  

But after displaying loyalty to the Nets the previous three seasons, Durant has earned the appropriate to make this alternative. He was the Nets’ pillar of consistency amid unrest, which included Kyrie Irving taking part in in solely 29 video games as a result of he refused to get vaccinated and James Harden forcing a commerce to the 76ers in February. Durant, in the meantime, poured his coronary heart out on the court docket evening after evening, averaging 29.9 factors and seven.4 rebounds final season.

Despite his Herculean efforts, the Nets, who entered the season as title favorites, flamed out within the first spherical of the playoffs. It is sensible that Durant is disillusioned with the crew. And it is time for him to go.

Now 33, he’s underneath contract by means of 2025-26 after signing a four-year, $198 million extension in 2021. If the Suns acquired him, they’d have a celebrity for basically the remainder of his prime, who could take a major load off the 37-year-old Paul as he enters the twilight of his profession. Perhaps Durant could even assist Paul lastly win a championship. 

This transfer would not be Durant leaping ship to an already established dynasty. It would not be him becoming a member of with Irving and Harden to create a hypothetical tremendous crew that by no means reached its potential. If Durant can discover his solution to the Suns, the transfer would be considerably unspectacular, however oh so proper.

The factor about Durant is that he loves basketball greater than anything on this planet. That makes him an ideal match for the Suns, who’re all about constructing a tradition of appreciation for the sport. One of Williams’ favourite mottos is “Basketball is a get to, not a received to.”

If Durant has made one factor abundantly clear, it is that he shares that very same credo. 

Durant taking part in out the final greatest years of his profession for a small-market crew that has by no means received a championship would be a ravishing flip. He could keep away from the distractions and pitfalls of a much bigger metropolis and give attention to what means essentially the most to him. He could assist train Paul and Booker what it takes to go all the way in which. He could lastly discover his residence.

After Durant has introduced a lot pleasure to so many who love this sport, this is hoping he finds his blissful place.

And this is guessing that is within the desert.

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA author for FOX Sports. She beforehand coated the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter at @melissarohlin.

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