Although things have been slow to develop when it comes to a Kevin Durant trade, there have been plenty of rumors floating around all summer long.
Several teams have been rumored to be interested in acquiring him, including the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, and Toronto Raptors.
According to @ShamsCharania, after superstar SF-PF Kevin Durant's initial trade request, the #Nets had trade talks with almost every team in the league. The #Celtics, #Raptors, and #Heat remain the most significant candidates.
— Kyle Cohen (@kylecohenNBA) August 12, 2022
There is an argument to be made that none of those teams necessarily need Durant, as they’re all already championship contenders as is, with the exception of the Raptors.
One would likely respond to that by saying that of all those teams, the Raptors actually do need Durant.
Even if that is true, it could also be argued that trading for Durant would actually make Toronto worse off, and therefore, it should keep going on the path it is currently on.
The Raptors Have Something Promising Going On
Three years ago, Toronto won the NBA championship just months after trading for superstar forward Kawhi Leonard, knowing very well he was a year away from becoming a free agent.
Sure enough, Leonard left Canada in the summer of 2019 and joined the Los Angeles Clippers.
But luckily, executive Masai Ujiri had built a young and strong supporting cast around him that remained.
Since then, they have also added Gary Trent Jr., who put up 18.3 points per game last season.
Then there is Scottie Barnes, the reigning Rookie of the Year.
Barnes is 6-foot-9 and nearly 230 pounds, and he has shown off a nice all-around skill set on both ends of the floor.
Scottie Barnes in his second NBA game
11-17 from the field
1-2 from downtown
He is Special
— 𝙎𝙘𝙤𝙤𝙩 🦖 (@OwnHimKawhi) August 21, 2022
He averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field, and if he greatly improves his outside shooting (he made just 30.1 percent of his 3-point attempts), he could be a serious difference-maker.
The Raptors surprised many by finishing with a 48-34 record and claiming the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, as many had expected them to miss the playoffs.
Instead, if Barnes’ ceiling is considerably higher than what we saw last season, they could have a future no one could’ve imagined just 10 months ago.
Toronto Would Likely Have To Give Up The Farm For Durant
The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly been asking for a boatload of assets in return for Durant, and if that asking price is met, it would greatly weaken the depth of the team that trades for him.
It seems probable the Nets would demand Barnes in any such deal, which would mean Toronto would be giving up its future for Durant.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP is nearing his 34th birthday, and after tearing his Achilles three years ago, he has had trouble staying healthy, as he has appeared in just 90 games over the past two seasons.
Instead of mortgaging their future for perhaps a couple good years out of Durant, the Raptors should simply build on what they have right now and accumulate more assets.