A couple of weeks into the NBA free agency period, Kevin Durant hasn’t backed off his trade request, but the Brooklyn Nets don’t seem closer to consummating a trade involving him.
It almost seems like the rest of the league is holding off on making moves until something happens on the Durant front.
As of now, there are three teams rumored to have a real shot, or real interest in acquiring the two-time NBA Finals MVP: the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, and Toronto Raptors.
The Suns have some interesting pieces they could move to get him, but as is the case in all major trades, there will be plenty of haggling, and the Nets will likely ask for at least one player Phoenix shouldn’t or doesn’t want to part with.
Which Suns players should they hold onto at all costs in order to give Durant a real shot at a championship should he come to Arizona?
This one is a no-brainer, as Devin Booker is a three-time All-Star and one of the premier one-on-one players in the game.
His ability to create his own shot off the dribble, not to mention hit tough, contested shots, is integral for the Suns, as he is a terrific option when their offense breaks down late in the shot clock.
Booker averaged a career-high 26.8 points per game on 46.6 percent overall shooting and 38.3 percent from 3-point range this past season.
He is also a threat to raise his game come playoff time and get blisteringly hot.
Throwback to when Paul George and Devin Booker were trading buckets for 8 minutes straight in the WCF
— 𝘼𝙖𝙧𝙮𝙖𝙣 (@AaryanS19) May 11, 2022
In the 2021 playoffs, he had four games of at least 40 points, including back-to-back such games in the NBA Finals versus the Milwaukee Bucks.
Durant is 34 years of age, and ever since returning from a torn Achilles, he has been injury-prone, as he has appeared in just 90 contests in the past two seasons.
An aging and possibly somewhat unreliable Durant shouldn’t be the only player on the Suns capable of creating his own shot and going off should he join the team.
Mikal Bridges may not be a star, but he is an outstanding 3-and-D role player, and his defense is his main prize.
He was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team in the 2021-22 season and was considered a leading candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
At 6-foot-6, Bridges can guard multiple positions, and he is a major reason why Phoenix has been an elite defensive team the past two years.
Offensively, he is a very solid 3-point shooter who has a career accuracy of 37.4 percent from that distance and topped out at 42.5 percent in 2021.
Bridges is a role player that the Suns cannot do without, whether they get Durant or not.
All 10 (yes 10) of Cameron Payne’s assists tonight. pic.twitter.com/wDhyH1m3Ru
— Mike Vigil (@protectedpick) January 7, 2021
He put up 10.8 points and 4.9 assists in 22 minutes in 2022, and although his shooting efficiency fell compared to recent seasons, he is still a threat from downtown, where he shot 44.0 percent in 2021.
When going after a superstar such as Durant, there is always a delicate dance between giving up enough to consummate a trade but not giving up too much and rendering the roster thin and vulnerable.
But given Durant’s age and injury history, perhaps the Nets will settle for a somewhat lesser return than they wish to receive.