Durant is reported to be targeting the Suns as his next team. While I wrote Thursday about how a deal based on restricted free agents Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges may work for both sides, it may need more. Or something else.
In the aftermath of the Rudy Gobert-to-Minnesota trade, the Nets’ asking price for Durant — two All-Stars — may have just gone up. Devin Booker, who just signed a $42-million extension, won’t be traded.
Cam Johnson may help the Nets. It’s too early to tell if Durant gets his Valley-of-the-Sun wish.
Why does Durant seem intent on continuing his career in Phoenix? Chance to contend again, L.A.-adjacent location, friendship with Booker, and respect for Chris Paul are potential reasons. His bond with Suns coach Monty Williams may be the closest.
They were together for one season in Oklahoma City, 2015-16, when Williams was an assistant to Scott Brooks and Durant was leaving for the Warriors. The two men grew closer when Williams’ wife, Ingrid, died in a vehicle crash on Feb. 9, 2016. A short narrative I’ll never forget…
During All-Star weekend in Toronto, I planned to interview Durant on my trip west (I’m from Sacramento). Rich Kleiman, Durant’s longtime business manager, called before Ingrid’s death to cancel the interview. I was curious.
He told Durant what had transpired and said he was distraught, like others close to Williams. People who were there say Durant’s regard for Williams rose as he watched how he handled the suffering. (Watch Williams’ speech at Ingrid’s funeral if you haven’t.)
Soon after Durant joined the Warriors, he was back with Williams on Team USA, which won gold in Rio. They’re still close. Does that indicate Phoenix? Never. It may help others comprehend his motivations.
I’m informed there’s a major impediment for the Miami potential. Durant wants to play with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry. Even if the Heat were willing to trade Butler to satisfy the Nets’ (understandably exorbitant) desire, Durant would be unhappy.
Adebayo’s situation is complicated by the fact that Durant undoubtedly wants him to stay. Since teams can’t have two traded rookie-max players, Brooklyn would have to trade Ben Simmons to get Adebayo. If the Heat’s best offer is Tyler Herro, I can’t see it happening. And considering Durant’s favoured destinations, the Suns may have a shot here.
The Ripple Effect, Portland and the Damian Lillard
The three-year, $28 million Payton agreement with Portland has many levels. First, California.
While the Warriors’ luxury-tax worries are justified, this loss will be harsh on owner Joe Lacob and his group. Payton was a fan favourite and a vital component of their excellent defence, offence, and NBA Finals after returning from an elbow fracture.
First-world troubles for a fanbase whose club has dominated for a decade, but a problem nonetheless. Golden State gave Payton a taxpayer mid-level exception for two years (beginning at $6.4 million).
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes says Payton’s agreement contains a player option. Steph Curry and Draymond Green reportedly tried to convince Payton to stay but failed.
Otto Porter Jr. was traded to Toronto on Friday, and Nemanja Bjelica joined Turkish champion Fenerbahce. Kevon Looney’s re-signing on Friday was a rebound move in more ways than one.
The Trail Blazers needed a strong offseason, according to sources, to sign Lillard through 2026–2027. The regular season is the deadline, however this is unclear.
The Blazers acquired Jerami Grant through trade because Lillard wanted to play with him. USA earned the gold medal at 2020 Tokyo. In the previous three seasons, Portland’s defence came in at positions 27, 29, and 29.
Shaedon Sharpe was removed from Kentucky by Blazers general manager Joe Cronin as part of a long-term plan. Despite the cost (four years, $100 million) for the fourth-year guard who had a breakthrough year when there wasn’t much significant basketball in Portland, the addition of Anfernee Simons is another plus (Lillard, of course, only played 29 games because of his abdominal surgery, and Portland went 27-55). Jusuf Nurkic is also coming back after agreeing to a four-year, $70 million contract.
Lillard will beam about Payton after this action. Gary Payton’s father has been a mentor to Lillard for many years, and Lillard requires top wing defenders.
Payton II, his dad, and Lillard are all represented by Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management. Throughout his two years at Oregon State, Payton II was well-liked (2014-16).
Warriors gain from Trail Blazers’ demise as they attempt to prolong the Lillard era.
I appreciate the Kings’ offseason thus far, despite its flaws. The defence of this club will be difficult for rookie coach Mike Brown to fix, which might prolong the league’s longest playoff drought. Taking into account the elite teams in the West (like the Timberwolves!).
With respectable prices (Malik Monk received two years and $19 million in free agency; Kevin Huerter received four years and $65 million in a trade with Atlanta), Keegan Murray, Malik Monk, and Kevin Huerter are reliable shooting acquisitions. De’Aaron Fox is the star of the franchise, so the Kings needed to figure out a way to support him and Domantas Sabonis (remember, the 26-year-old, All-Star forward is a free agent in the summer of 2024).
This action is noteworthy since Fox and Monk have a connection in Kentucky. In 2021–22, Monk (13.8 points, 39.1 percent from outside the arc on 5.1 attempts per game) stood out for the Lakers. The Monk action unofficially supports the Kings’ decision to allow Donte DiVincenzo to leave in restricted free agency.
Choosing Murray over Jaden Ivey with the fourth overall choice will be debated for years, but the Iowan should contribute right away.
For months, the Kings and Atlanta have been in intermittent talks about trading for John Collins (in exchange for Harrison Barnes). A third-team Durant spot for the Kings may be advantageous.
This team has a win-now mentality. Again. This front office has come a long way with Monte McNair and Wes Wilcox in the last years of their contracts.