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After three-plus tumultuous years and a second trade request in eight months, All-NBA forward Kevin Durant was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Phoenix Suns for a package that includes dynamic forward Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four unprotected future first-round picks, sources told ESPN on Wednesday night.
In a deal that landed in the late-night hours ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, Durant and T.J. Warren were shuttled to the Suns for a massive haul of first-round draft picks (2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029) and a 2028 pick swap, sources said.
Talks had progressed and stalled, and the Suns appeared to be pivoting toward a three-way deal that might’ve landed them Atlanta’s John Collins sometime Thursday morning, sources said. On the direction of his new owner, Mat Ishbia, general manager James Jones texted Nets GM Sean Marks sometime after 11 p.m. ET — and it wouldn’t be long until Ishbia and Nets owner Joe Tsai had cobbled together the final elements of the blockbuster trade, sources said.
The deal delivers Durant to the desert to partner with Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton — and ends the great superstar experiment in Brooklyn. Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden all arrived to conquer the NBA together, and they all left on the muscle of trade requests. They played a total of 16 games together.
After shouldering a massive role in the dysfunction that ultimately deconstructed the roster, Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, and that started the final days and hours of Durant as a Net. The two-time Finals MVP has been sidelined by an MCL sprain in his right knee, but sources said there is optimism he will be ready to return after the All-Star break.
Durant and his business manager, Rich Kleiman, told Tsai and Marks that their preference was a deal to Phoenix, sources said. Ishbia knew of Durant’s desire to join his franchise and set out to acquire the superstar in his first official week overseeing the organization. Few franchises ever get a chance to trade for a star like Durant — something this organization hadn’t experienced since making a deal for Charles Barkley in 1992.
Ishbia’s initial hope was to keep Bridges out of the trade, but that was a nonstarter for the Nets. The Suns’ offers weren’t close to the Nets’ asking price on Monday and Tuesday, and Marks kept working on possible trades to bolster the roster around Durant. The Nets pursued OG Anunoby in Toronto, and they discussed possible deals for Collins and Cleveland’s Caris LeVert, but Durant’s mood was unsettled and Brooklyn knew it had to push Phoenix to make the kind of offer it couldn’t refuse.
The Suns had been talking with Detroit about the possibility of acquiring Collins in a three-way deal with Atlanta, but Ishbia wouldn’t call it a night without making one more run at Durant.
Once the Suns were willing to move Dario Saric’s contract out of the deal — and spare themselves surrendering second-round picks to account for his salary — the teams were on the cusp of an agreement, sources said.
Brooklyn believes it has a chance to move Crowder to a contender before Thursday’s deadline, and with that there existed the shape of a deal that made sense to the Nets.
It’s Been A Wild Ride In Brooklyn
Nets timeline over past 3.5 years …
• Thursday: In process of trading Kevin Durant to Suns*
• Feb. 6, 2023: Traded Kyrie Irving to Mavericks
• Feb. 2022: Traded James Harden to 76ers
• Jan. 2021: Acquired James Harden from Rockets
• July 2019: Acquired Kevin Durant from Warriors via sign-and-trade
• July 2019: Signed Kyrie Irving
*per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski
The Suns paid a steep price for Durant, 34, but this is a franchise that has never won a championship and decided to take its shot with Durant, who is under contract for three more years. Ishbia, once a walk-on under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State, promised to give Suns coach Monty Williams the talent to chase a championship, and he did it with the Durant deal.
The Nets probably weren’t good enough to win a title this season — nor were they good enough to stave off another trade request from Durant. After surrendering several first-round picks to the Houston Rockets for Harden in 2021, Brooklyn has made itself whole again by acquiring picks in trades that offloaded Durant, Irving and Harden: seven tradable first-rounders over the next seven years. Brooklyn still owes Houston its first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and the Rockets have the right to swap first-rounders in 2025 and 2027.
Brooklyn has shown itself to be a scouting and player development machine over the regime of Marks and assistant GM Jeff Peterson, and that’ll be the mantra again with Jacque Vaughn as head coach. The Nets had hoped they could get Durant to stay the course, but he wanted to go West — and wanted the Suns.
Finally on Wednesday night, Ishbia wouldn’t go to bed, and he had his GM make one more run at a deal with Brooklyn. It worked. The Suns got Durant, and the NBA trade deadline was alive in the wee hours.