It’s been a couple of months since Kevin Durant told the Brooklyn Nets he wants out. Despite signing an extension just a year ago, Durant is unhappy with the progress of his team and skeptical about its future. Therefore, he wants a fresh start.
One would think Brooklyn would have it easy finding a package to acquire for Durant, who remains a top-tier player in the NBA. Unfortunately, their desire to land a historical return has proven that the path to trading Durant has been a bumpy road.
The Phoenix Suns were the original favorites to land Durant, but those talks have simmered down. The Boston Celtics became favorites next and remain in the conversation, although they have yet to progress in trade talks with the Nets to land Durant.
Then, there is the Philadelphia 76ers, who recently popped up in the conversation as Ian Begley of SNY reported that high-ranking members of the organization are interested in exploring a trade for Durant.
What Would it Take?
Recently, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley put together a stack of mock trades that could help each NBA team get better. For the Sixers, Buckley explored the idea of Philadelphia acquiring the Nets superstar.
In the deal, the Sixers land Durant straight up. Meanwhile, they send over a package containing Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and two first-round picks.
“Durant teaming up with James Harden for a third time would be something, considering how poorly things ended in Brooklyn, but Frank Isola reported that Durant “would like” to reunite with his former running mate. Having Durant, Harden and Joel Embiid on the same roster feels like a cheat code. Putting them in the same closing group as P.J. Tucker and insert-fifth-Sixer here (De’Anthony Melton? Danuel House Jr?) could be the key to unlocking this team’s championship potential.”
Who Says No?
Would either team like this trade? If you’re Philadelphia, you more than likely love the idea of getting another star that was once dubbed the best player in the league. Like James Harden, Durant is a former MVP who keeps racking up All-Star-caliber seasons.
Although the young guard Tyrese Maxey was considered borderline untouchable throughout the offseason, there could be some exception if you’re landing a future Hall of Famer who continues to play at a high level at this point in his career.
From Brooklyn’s viewpoint, the Sixers’ offer might be good — but not better than what a team like the Celtics could offer. Tobias Harris is a solid starting forward, but he’s getting paid All-Star money without an All-Star appearance under his belt.
As for Matisse Thybulle, his defense is entering elite territory, but his offense hasn’t really improved since he joined the Sixers in 2019. As long as his offense remains the same, Thybulle is a one-dimensional, situational player for the most part.
Then, there’s Tyrese Maxey, who emerged as one of the league’s most improved players in 2021-2022. The young guard is a high-character, hard-working standout who has improved in every way from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign.
While many would like to think Maxey could be an All-Star caliber player, you can’t predict the future. For the Nets, the idea of snagging a proven All-Star such as Jaylen Brown might be a more attractive option than taking on the thought of Maxey’s future potential.
Brooklyn and Philadelphia could very well enter trade talks and have discussions based on a similar framework. But it might be hard for Philadelphia to sell a package centered around Harris, Maxey, and Thybulle to send to Brooklyn, who already possess former Sixers, Ben Simmons and Seth Curry, to recreate a version of the 2020-2021 Sixers, who failed to get past the second round of the postseason.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.