Kevin Durant Rumors: Leverage, Raptors, Bridges, Suns

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Appearing on NBA Today on Wednesday (video link), ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said the Nets have been been “really turned off” by the offers they’ve received for Kevin Durant thus far.

If some of the trade packages that have been floated to me are true, I agree with them, I think that they should expect more for Kevin Durant with four years left on his contract. But the other teams in the league just don’t believe that the Nets have a lot of leverage here… and the offers they are making are reflective of that belief,” he said.

As Windhorst details, the Nets are acting as though they’re fine with holding onto Durant into the season if acceptable offers aren’t presented. As of yesterday, Windhorst said that he wasn’t “sensing any traction” on a potential trade.

A source tells Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca that Brooklyn has an “unreasonably high” asking price for the star forward, and the Raptors have been unwilling to include Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes or the maximum amount of first-round picks in any Durant offer to this point. The two sides have had preliminary discussions regarding Durant, but nothing serious.

Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic reports that there has been talk during Summer League indicating that the Suns have been reluctant to include Mikal Bridges in a package for Durant, which is part of the reason why there has been no headway on a deal. Those around the league refer to Bridges as the “key piece” in any offer.

Frankly, if those rumors are true, it sounds like Windhorst might be right about the lack of suitable offers for Durant.

If Bridges hasn’t been included, then the Suns aren’t serious about acquiring Durant at this stage. Bridges is a high-quality role player and a very good defender, but Durant is an all-time great.

The Raptors have other possible pieces to dangle, like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa — so their reluctance to include Barnes or the full complement of future first-rounders is more understandable. I don’t include Fred VanVleet in that group because I don’t think Toronto would consider moving him — he’s too important to the team’s culture, plus his on-court production improves nearly every season.

Even if he’s entering his age-34 season, Durant performed at an MVP-caliber level when he was healthy last season, averaging 29.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 6.4 APG on .518/.383/.910 shooting in 55 games (37.2 MPG). He’s a 12-time All-Star, a four-time scoring champion, has been named to 10 All-NBA teams, is a former MVP and a two-time Finals MVP — a résumé doesn’t get much more stacked than that.

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