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Kevin Durant trade grades: How the Nets and Suns made out in blockbuster deal

The Nets and Suns executed a blockbuster trade overnight ahead of the trade deadline. We break down how well each side comes out of the deal.

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Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) reacts after a play against the Thunder during Brooklyn’s 120-96 win on Nov. 14, 2021, at Paycom Center. SARAH PHIPPS/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Brooklyn Nets pulled of a blockbuster trade late Wednesday evening, sending Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns for a haul of picks. The full deal has the Suns getting Durant and forward T.J. Warren, while the Nets get four first-round picks, a 2028 pick swap, and forwards Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges, and Jae Crowder.

It’s a blockbuster deal that was a surprise, but also something that quickly moved into gear after the Nets traded Kyrie Irving. The timing is impressive considering new Suns owner Mat Ishbia made his formal introduction to the franchise earlier that day.

The Suns are 30-26 and in fifth place in the Western Conference while the Nets were 32-22 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Phoenix’s new owner was prepared to pay a larger luxury tax, and with DeAndre Ayton still on the roster, that number goes up significantly. But it also means they retained their leading rebounder and second-leading scorer and can make a run at a title this year.

Draft grades around the media world reflect the value of that for the Suns. On the other side, the Nets end the Durant era with mostly disappointment, but walk away with a ton of draft capital to rebuild the roster in quick fashion. How one values draft picks has as much today with a reflection on the front office handling those picks, so draft grades vary in reflecting that.

We break down draft grades from around the media. You can view our own here.


Suns: A

Nonetheless, if you’re going to gamble all tradeable first-round picks on a single addition, Durant is undoubtedly the best player gettable. Ayton’s stagnant development and Bridges’ uneven performance in a higher-usage role this season were indications that the Suns couldn’t have it both ways by competing for a championship now and maintaining a contending core for after Paul’s inevitable departure.

Nets: B

Still, Brooklyn got a package that combined both young talent and draft picks instead of picking between the two. The Nets can’t entirely replace their own pair of first-round picks and two swaps sent to the Houston Rockets in the James Harden trade, but they are now well ahead in terms of total first-rounders and control the Suns’ draft from 2027 through 2029, when Durant’s contract will be up and Booker will be in his 30s.
Ultimately, debating whether the Nets got enough for Durant is almost besides the point. It’s always better to have Durant, which is why Brooklyn quickly cast aside its prized culture when the opportunity to sign him and Irving presented itself four years ago. The good news is compared to the last time they started over after trading away multiple first-rounders, the Nets are much better positioned in terms of young talent and outside draft picks.

CBS Sports

Suns: A-

Well, now they do. Durant has outplayed Antetokounmpo in a playoff series. He’s won championships and Doncic hasn’t. Sometimes, these things can be simple. When Kevin Durant is on your basketball team you have a chance to win a championship. Before this trade, the Suns probably didn’t. Their near-misses over the past few seasons relied on the sort of technical precision that comes with flawless chemistry and impeccable luck. Well, Chris Paul is finally beginning to succumb to the rigors of age. Jae Crowder held out hoping to get traded. Deandre Ayton signed with another team over the summer only to see the offer sheet matched. Whatever factors allowed them to outperform their talent over the past two seasons simply didn’t exist anymore. Now they don’t need to. The Suns are going to bludgeon you the old-fashioned way: with sheer star power.

Nets: C-

The Suns gave up quite a bit in this deal, but they didn’t give up everything. When the Nets traded for James Harden, they gave up control of seven years of first-round picks. Phoenix gave up five: four picks outright and a single swap. Phoenix was able to keep Ayton instead of either sending him to Brooklyn or, preferably, flipping him to a third team for more assets that could have been sent to the Nets. Even the best Suns offer pales in comparison to what New Orleans, with plenty of excess assets after trading Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, could have offered. Memphis had more assets as well. If James Harden returns to Houston this summer, the Rockets surely could’ve topped this. There was simply no good reason for the Nets to make this exact trade today. There were probably better offers last summer. There almost certainly would’ve been better offers next summer.

The Athletic

Suns: A-

We can nitpick this to death with details like this, but the Suns just acquired Kevin f—— Durant!

The only thing keeping this from being an A+ is Durant’s recent health issues, and the depletion of the Suns’ rotation in having to make this trade. CP3 will hopefully look less washed than he has for most of this season, and the star power of KD-Booker-Paul combined with Deandre Ayton being heavily involved will overcome a lack of depth. What an incredible, franchise-altering move by James Jones and the Suns.

Nets: B-

Sean Marks has had to rebuild a franchise before when it didn’t have much of its own draft future in its control, following taking over post-Billy King-Danny Ainge trade debacle. If he’s given the opportunity to reshape this one, he has the pick from Dallas in the Kyrie trade, and all this draft capital to use. Considering what he’s traded away, getting this pick compensation back is solid. But so much has to happen before the Nets can feel good about this future built on Suns picks.

Fox Sports

Suns: C-

What. A. Haul. What the Nets extracted from the Phoenix Suns for Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren is reminiscent of what the Los Angeles Lakers forked over for Anthony Davis. Or the Minnesota Timberwolves gave the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gobert.

Nets: A+

It’s not that a combination of Durant, Paul and Booker can’t work. They have complementary skills. It’s what it cost, or rather, what they paid — three players who did the bulk of the dirty work the last two-plus years and a big chunk of the draft capital to replace them. It feels like a hasty move by the Suns when the Nets should’ve been the ones sweating.


Suns: A

Yes, the treasure trove of picks and young players that the Suns sent is truly massive. This is Durant, though. This is the type of player who, once he’s back healthy, can take a much worse team than Phoenix to the NBA Finals and perhaps to a title. Now a team with a championship ceiling just added one of the best players in the league.

Worth it.

Nets: A+

So to get four future first-round picks, two great young role players — and perhaps better than that in the case of Bridges — and another tradeable asset in Crowder in that situation, that’s vital to the future of the Nets. It’s a different strategy than the history of the team since the Brooklyn move, but it’s one that looks far more sustainable than what they’ve attempted recently.