In the span of less than a week, the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving era has come to a close in Brooklyn. After Irving made his request and was sent to the Dallas Mavericks, it’s now being reported that Kevin Durant will be heading to the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster deal.
The Suns’ new ownership group are swinging for the fences with this one, and it’s one hell of a move. Bringing Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP who was having a great season before a knee injury took him out, once again gets to play with a pair of superstars in Devin Booker and Chris Paul. The Suns also didn’t give up DeAndre Ayton in the move, though they did give up their best defender in Mikal Bridges. It is a win-now move, with all four first-round picks that are getting sent to the Nets being unprotected.
The trade completely shakes up the battle for the West, especially since Durant and Irving have now both joined teams with existing stars. The Mavericks and Suns are currently the fourth and fifth seeds and both teams will face a Sacramento Kings squad at least once in the coming days, with the third-placed Kings likely trying to deal with the shellshock of the two stars coming to the conference.
Durant has averaged 29.7 points in 38 games played this season, while Booker has averaged 26.8 points in 30 games played. Paul is averaging 13.6 points and 8.7 assists per game, and now he’ll be able to distribute the ball to two of the NBA’s most lethal three-level scorers.
With plenty of games left to play in the regular season, it really is a complete crapshoot now as to who makes the guaranteed playoff spots out West. The Denver Nuggets are relatively safe to ensure that they maintain a top two seed, but the Memphis Grizzlies just suddenly got a rude awakening. The Sacramento Kings, who have performed above expectations so far this season, are now in very real danger of being forced down into the play-ins thanks to a tough schedule for the rest of the year – where they’ll face the Suns and Mavericks three more times.
The Durant trade also makes the Lakers’ trade for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt pale in comparison.
The balance of power has suddenly altered again in the Western Conference, and it’s going to be a wild ride until April. It seems that once again, Durant has taken the hardest road, except this time he’s heading to the valley instead of the Bay Area.