Trade Grades: Kevin Durant edition


The NBA trade deadline is finally over, with at least nineteen different trades going down during the trade season. Eleven of those trades happened on the final day before the deadline was reached! The three biggest trades that occurred were the trades and acquisitions of Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant. Although the Kyrie trade came first, let’s be honest with ourselves and focus on what everyone wants to discuss: the Kevin Durant trade.

The NBA has classified this as a four team trade between the Brooklyn Nets, the Phoenix Suns, the Indiana Pacers, and the Milwaukee Bucks, due to the Nets moving Jae Crowder and the aftermath that followed, which I will be grading later on in this article.

To better understand this blockbuster trade, the following is the run down of how it all occurred. The Brooklyn Nets sent Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren to the Phoenix Suns, and cash to the Indiana Pacers. The Suns sent Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, a 2023 1st round pick, a 2025 1st round pick, a 2027 1st round pick, the right to swap 2028 1st round picks, and a 2029 1st round pick to the Nets. Additionally, they also sent Jae Crowder to the Nets before that organization rerouted Crowder to the Bucks. The Bucks sent George Hill, Serge Ibaka, Jordan Nwora, a 2023 2nd round pick, a 2024 2nd round pick, and a 2025 2nd round pick to the Pacers. The Nets received from the Bucks a 2028 2nd round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick. The Indiana Pacers sent the rights to draft Juan Pablo Vaulet to the Nets. Amongst all of the details that came with this trade, the one thing that is not confusing and fully understood is that the Phoenix Suns just made the deal of a lifetime.

No amount of players or picks can ever make up for players like Kevin Durant. Objectively, Kevin Durant is one of the most talented players in the NBA, even if he isn’t a top ten player of all-time. Players like him don’t just appear out of thin air. There is a next to zero percent chance of landing a player with the potential to be the same caliber of Kevin Durant, no matter how good your draft pick is. Losing young pieces like the former defensive player of the year candidate Mikal Bridges and an intriguing player in Cam Johnson certainly hurt; losing four to five draft picks hurts more. However, it will always be worth it for a top five player.

The absence of defensive power that was brought by Mikal may be a worrisome thing to think about, but it won’t matter when you have an offense of KD, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton. Some of the gaps left by Mikal and Cam can be filled by T.J. Warren, considered another great move by Phoenix. Even though Warren is not at his form prior to his foot injury in 2020, he shouldn’t be starting anyway with KD on the roster.

No matter how you look at this trade, even if you don’t like some of the Suns’ players, such as the crybaby known as Devin Booker, this trade receives an A+ regardless. Any time a team trades for a top five player, unless a team gave up a player on the same level, it has to be a good move.

The Brooklyn Nets got a considerable haul for Kevin Durant. Two great role players, four first-round picks, and the right to draft a player from Argentina who was drafted back in 2015 and probably won’t ever play in the NBA, softens the blow.

Mikal Bridges is an underrated player. He is probably the second-best three-and-D wing in the league, behind OG Anunoby. Even then, I think his offense is underrated. Everybody that has paid attention to the NBA playoffs recently knows how good of a defender Mikal was, but his offense was often overshadowed by Paul and Booker. Even Deandre Ayton was more flashy on some nights! However, Mikal has established himself as a pretty good contributor over the stretches with those three injured players, and it shows. Reports came out that the Memphis Grizzlies came to the Nets with an offer of four first-round picks for Mikal! This is the same as the Nets received for trading KD! But we don’t know how protected they were, and the Nets must have some faith in Mikal to not take that deal.

Personally, I am not too high on Cam Johnson, but if you look at the stats, he seems to be a perfectly capable starting power forward.  He can score some buckets for you. The picks can be interesting because of how far into the future some of them are. By the time some of them occur, KD and CP3 might have retired.

Overall, the Nets get a grade of a B+. I can not allow myself to give anything higher because they gave away KD, but I think they got the most they could out of this trade.

Milwaukee did not change too much for me.  They gave up some aging veterans who weren’t playing that much and five second-round picks for another vet who won’t play that much if Khris Middleton gets back to his prior form. Jae Crowder is one of the original three-and-D players in the league, so he’ll still get some runtime in the playoffs, but I don’t think this is the trade to put the Bucks over the top. Of course, with Giannis on their team, who knows?

I’m going to give the Bucks a grade of B- for this trade. They certainly improved their roster but didn’t really do enough to be locked in for title contention in the stacked Eastern Conference this year.

Except for the Argentinian’s draft rights, the Pacers practically didn’t give up anything. In return, they received two veterans in George Hill and Serge Ibaka that are going to be cut, a not-so-promising young talent in Jordan Nwora, and three second-round picks. The team got back draft capital, and that’s almost always an A+ when attempting to rebuild.

Overall, I think Phoenix is the team to watch in the Western Conference, the Nets have started a lengthy rebuild, the Bucks needed to do more, and the Pacers gave nothing and got something from it.

In my next edition, I’ll grade the Kyrie Irving trade which kicked off the Nets attempts at a rebuild.