Well, we're back! After doing several iterations of this thought exercise over the summer we find ourselves here once more, asking the same question: will Kevin Durant get traded? Things are different this time around, though. Kyrie Irving, Durant's running mate and the driving force behind KD ending up with the Brooklyn Nets in the first place, is gone. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks after demanding a trade again. The trade arguably makes Brooklyn a more balanced team but throws everything into flux because nobody knows how Durant will react.
There is a chance he demands a trade once again, just like he did the last time the Nets did not cooperate with Kyrie. Other teams clearly think that is a possibility and wasted no time expressing their interest through the rumor mill after the Irving trade went down on Sunday.
I would consider it exceedingly unlikely that Durant asks for and receives a trade before the deadline on Febuary 9. Irving didn't give them much more time but he was a different case. Even though they traded him the Nets' general trajectory remains the same. That would not be the case if they traded Durant. He is in the first year of a four-year contract and even if he wants out Brooklyn will make him wait until the summer to do a deal.
That doesn't mean we can't talk about it, though! So here are a few theoretical trade destinations for KD if he does ask out.
It's only natural to start with the only team audacious enough to immediately leak that they'd be interested in Durant should he become available. Phoenix has the pieces to make a very attractive offer around Deandre Ayton's $30 million salary. The Suns have all their own picks so a trade of Ayton, Cam Johnson, and Jae Crowder along with two or three first-round picks is probably a starting point. The Nets will want Mikal Bridges and that could be a sticking point. But a deal could definitely get done between these two sides given how easy it is to make the money work.
Portland Trail Blazers
If the Blazers are as serious about winning a title with Damian Lillard as they claim they're going to have to take a big swing sooner rather than later. Going after KD with the young assets they now have is as big a swing to take as any. Making a package centered around Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe would be a great conversation-starter. The money is there to make a deal like that work, too, with a third player thrown in. KD and Dame are both a bit past their primes but still a very dangerous combination, especially in a relatively weak Western conference. The primary issue here is that the Blazers can't really trade any of their picks due to weird protections, so they'd have a lot to figure out there. But they should be in competition.
The Raptors were involved in KD trade talks over the summer and they still make sense as a possible destination. Perhaps even more so after a middling season that might lead Masai Ujiri to sell off anything that isn't nailed down. Toronto can give the Nets a lot of options and make everyone other than Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes available. Trading Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby along with a bunch of draft picks could provide the Nets the path they desire to a hard reset. Just those two wouldn't be enough but there's a lot to work with as far as salary-matching is concerned. Don't rule them out, even if their assets don't appear to be the best on the table.