The blockbuster trade of the season Wednesday night while you were sleeping. By now, you’ve heard that Kevin Durant is no longer a Brooklyn Net and is heading west (again) to join the Phoenix Suns. That’s right, another stacked deck, officially proving he can’t do it with his “own” team. Durant to anywhere but Brooklyn was on the table last summer, and the Phoenix was one of his choice destinations. At that time, the Nets decided to play hardball, pointing out to KD how he had four years left on his current deal with the team. All that tough talk lasted less than four months into the season, and here we are.
On paper, this trade looks like the latest super team forming to take over the NBA the same way Durant and the Warriors did in 2016. It’s hard to believe that took place 6.5 years ago. Durant was blasted by just about everyone in sports media and fans who weren’t cheering for Golden State. This time there doesn’t seem to be quite as much vitriol aimed at Durant over this trade. Although we have yet to hear Charles Barkley’s thoughts on the trade. Timing is everything, as it seems there would’ve been more animosity for KD had this gotten done over the summer as opposed to hours before the trade deadline. It’s the same trade, but the atmosphere around it feels different.
It’s now safe to say that with this trade, Durant is admitting how hard it is to be the man, put a team together, and win. LeBron James has received flack for over a decade for stacking the deck in his favor, but he’s won each time he’s done it. Brooklyn was a failed experiment that was supposed to produce at least one championship. At least, that’s what we were led to believe when he and Kyrie Irving joined the Nets a few years ago. The addition of James Harden only raised expectations, which they fell short of accomplishing.
In the past, Durant admitted he doesn’t want to be a leader and isn’t one. But then Draymond Green called him a b*tch, coupled with the love he wasn’t getting since that’s Steph Curry’s team, so KD fled to Brooklyn. Once he realized it wasn’t happening in Brooklyn, it was time to get out of town.
There’s no shame in not being a leader because that isn’t a role meant for everyone. But following in LeBron’s footsteps can be challenging. He’s formed multiple Big threes or super teams and won titles for three franchises. Durant did it once with the Nets and couldn’t get past the second round of the playoffs. It wasn’t long ago that many considered KD the best player in the league. If it hasn’t been already, it’s time to put that myth to rest. He’s not the best player in the NBA, that’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Durant isn’t a top 10 all-time player, no matter how much you want that to be true.
So, now we’re going to see everyone pick the Suns to win the west and subsequently go on to defeat whoever comes out of the east in the NBA Finals. I’m not entirely sold on that notion because this isn’t exactly like the situation when Durant arrived in Golden State. Some of you don’t want to hear this, but you need to. Chris Paul isn’t Chef Curry. He wasn’t six years ago, and he certainly isn’t now. Devin Booker is magnificent, but they will need him to be as healthy as possible heading into the postseason. The same goes for KD, who can’t seem to shake the nagging injury bug lately. Even at full strength, with CP3 taking big dips in major statistical categories, let’s not hand that Larry O’Brien trophy over just yet.
Phoenix is undoubtedly a favorite now, but depth is going to be an issue the same way it became one while KD was a Warrior. The Suns gave up Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Jae Crowder, who hasn’t played all season. Even without Crowder, most of the Suns’ role-player production came from Bridges and Johnson. Although picking up TJ Warren in the deal helps. But the Suns will now attempt to do with Durant what he couldn’t do in Brooklyn. The second half of the NBA calendar just got more intriguing.