(MAINNEWS) – The Nets agreed to trade superstar Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns in a seismic blockbuster early Thursday morning that will reshape the power structure in the NBA — and send Brooklyn back into a rebuild.
The news was first reported by ESPN, and has been confirmed by the Post.
The Nets also are sending veteran forward T.J. Warren to the Suns, and bringing back a haul of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four first-round draft picks and a 2028 pick swap. The Nets will receive unprotected selections in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029. According to ESPN, the Nets are expected to explore trade scenarios for Jae Crowder ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. Eastern deadline
“Omygod lol,” Bridges tweeted in the immediate aftermath of the deal.
After James Harden had engineered a trade to Philadelphia at last year’s NBA trade deadline and Kyrie Irving demanded a move last week and was dealt to Dallas, now Durant is the third superstar to force his way out of Brooklyn in less than 12 months. What was supposed to be a superteam has now become one of the biggest disappointments in the history of the league.
Durant and Irving had arrived as a package deal in the summer of 2019 to much acclaim, Harden joining later. But that Big Three logged just 16 games together, and the curtain has come down on that star-studded era with just a single playoff series victory.
“I just am glad that [Durant] got out of there,” Irving said after his Mavericks debut on Wednesday night, adding that he had been looking to get out of Brooklyn after his season in Barclays.
“I think this was in the works like after Year 1. I wasn’t sure about whether or not I wanted to be in Brooklyn long term because of things that was happening behind the scenes. I just did my best to put my head down and work as hard as I could. There were some unfortunate circumstances that came up there that were out of my control, whether it be the mandate with the vaccine, or missing games, being suspended, or just little things that just put just wrenches in our journey.”
This Durant move had been percolating since Irving demanded a trade on Friday, and was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks two days later for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-rounder and two seconds. But the seeds of Durant’s discontent were sown during last season’s disappointing campaign, which ended in a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
When Durant sprained his left MCL last season, the Nets went 5-16. His concern over Brooklyn’s lack of fight during his absence prompted a June trade request, with the Suns one of his preferred landing spots (along with the Miami Heat).
Durant didn’t rescind that request until after an August sit-down in Los Angeles with Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks and Nets team owner Joe Tsai. But it turned out to be just a temporary reprieve for Brooklyn.
Since spraining his right MCL on Jan. 8 in Miami, Durant has watched the Nets go 5-9 and deal Irving. Tsai and Marks had signaled to other teams that they did not intend to move Durant before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, according to league executives.
The Suns have consistently sought to engage the Nets on Durant, though had been hesitant to include Bridges. But with new Suns owner Mat Ishbia pushing hard to get a deal done, according to ESPN. They finally included Bridges and Durant finally got the exit he wanted.
Durant — a four-time scoring champ and former MVP — has three years left on his contract. He’s expected back from the knee injury after the All-Star break.
Several teams have expressed interest in Crowder, so it’s unclear how long he will be with the Nets. But having overseen the collapse of this superteam that never was, now Marks will have to answer some tough questions going forward.
By Brian Lewis