What's holding up the Kevin Durant trade (to the Raptors)?

Jul 14 2022, 4:03 pm

It’s been exactly two weeks since Kevin Durant requested a trade away from the Brooklyn Nets.

It’s been nearly two weeks since we first found out the Toronto Raptors were “lurking” in the Kevin Durant trade sweepstakes via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

But for all the humming-and-hawing, all the trade machine proposals, Twitter discourse, and wall-to-wall coverage on the television networks, Durant is, well, clearly not a member of anyone but the Brooklyn Nets as of now.

What’s the hold-up? Durant wants out, and there’s teams asking for him, or at least putting in a strong inquiry.

Well, there’s three key reasons why no trade has gone through:

The Nets are in no rush to trade Durant

With or without Kevin Durant, something is at the very least a little flawed in Brooklyn.

It’s a Nets team that had championship aspirations but ended up getting swept in the first round this year.

It’s a team that ended up trading James Harden in a package for Ben Simmons (who’s yet to debut for the team) and to put it lightly, no one really knows what the future looks like for Kyrie Irving, who played just 29 games last season mostly related to his refusal of the COVID-19 vaccine that complicated his availability throughout the year.

But Durant has four years left on his deal with the Nets, who hold enough leverage in the situation that they don’t need to accept just any offer that they’re sent.

For a league where all that really matters is winning a title with the regular season, there’s really not that much difference adding Durant to a roster in October or say, January.

The teams looking to add Durant aren’t in need of his services to simply make the playoffs, they’re looking for him to be an addition that’ll put them over the top for the title. The Nets know this, and so do the teams. While it might be easier for our sanity for Durant to find his new home sometime soon, the reality just doesn’t match up that there needs to be a quick decision made by anyone involved.

The asking price for a Durant trade is extremely high

On paper, a team like the Raptors would have enough to trade for Kevin Durant. They’ve got reigning rookie of the year Scottie Barnes, an all-star in Fred VanVleet, and a third-team all-NBA member in Pascal Siakam. They’ve also got all of their future first round picks. Package any of those two (or centre something around Gary Trent Jr. and/or OG Anunoby) and well, that’s a very solid starting point.

Last week, ESPN’s Bobby Marks called the Raptors the “leader of the clubhouse” for Durant.

But just because they can trade for Durant, it doesn’t mean they will.

Before the Minnesota Timberwolves traded for Rudy Gobert, the Nets reportedly asked for Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and four draft-picks in exchange for Durant. Even if that might’ve been a high-end ask, it shows that the Nets expect a haul in return.

“We have a pretty gigantic gulf between what the Nets’ value of Kevin Durant is and what the market is willing to pay,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said this week. “Again, this requires some nuance and I know that this potentially will be taken out of that context. Kevin Durant is obviously a very valuable player… however, the market does not want to pay a super premium price for him because if you trade away all of these top assets on your team to get him, he becomes less valuable to you. And that gulf is why we’re in a stalemate right now and could have one for a while.”

Durant’s age is a concern

Durant is many things: a former NBA MVP, a two-time Finals MVP, and arguably the most natural scorer the league has ever seen. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer looking to add another championship to his resume before retirement.

He’s also 34 years old, and, obviously, not getting any younger.

It’s easy to look at 37-year-old LeBron James put on a show night in and night out and assume a player like Durant can age in a similar fashion.

But the truth is, most NBA players don’t exactly remain effective into their mid-to-late 30s. Just six players of the 22 players in the league aged 35 or above — James, Kyle Lowry, Jeff Green, Chris Paul, PJ Tucker, and Al Horford — started 30 or more games last season.

And while it hasn’t caught up to him yet, there’s the worry that Durant could hit the proverbial wall that eventually comes for every professional athlete while still under his contract.

If a team like the Raptors makes a move for Durant, it really is championship or bust. For now… well, we wait.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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