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Is it Kevin Durant or Bust for Phoenix Suns?

The Phoenix Suns have the potential to land a superstar; does their offseason hinge on it?

The Phoenix Suns have a unique opportunity. 

Very rarely does a player such as Kevin Durant enter the league. His length, athleticism and ability to score at will from any spot on the floor has been matched by few in NBA history. 

Also very rarely does that sort of player become available, and even more so with a strong desire to play in Phoenix.

There's nothing wrong with the Suns. Phoenix is one of the largest populated cities in the country, and the team has been ultra-competitive in the last two seasons. 

The Suns boast talents such as Devin Booker and Chris Paul among a cast of valuable players that have captured the Valley following years of mishaps and faults from the front office. 

But for awhile, Phoenix wasn't a top destination for free agents thanks to various reasons. Yet when rumors and whispers turned to become reality, the fact that any huge name - let alone Kevin Durant - wanted to come and play for the Suns was exciting. 

So when Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets last week and the Suns were one of two preferred destinations (along with the Miami Heat), many basketball fans in Phoenix pounded the table with the mantra of "trade for Durant at all costs." 

Others would prefer to keep the current core of the team intact.

The obvious goal is to win a championship, yet two different schools of thought exist on exactly how to do that. 

The ultimate question boils down to: Is it Kevin Durant or bust for the Phoenix Suns? 

Would Kevin Durant leave before his contract runs out in Phoenix?

Would Kevin Durant leave before his contract runs out in Phoenix?

The Case for Avoiding Kevin Durant 

You could point to the past two seasons of success with Phoenix as a major reason not to blow up the team. 

Just two years ago, Phoenix got as far as a 2-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals before ultimately dropping four games in a row. Last season, the Suns paced the league in wins (64), grabbing the west's top seed heading into the playoffs. 

The collapse in the postseason was... odd. Sure, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks were playing well. Yet the Suns weren't expected to drop out of the second round of the playoffs, especially after climbing to a 2-0 lead. 

Getting to the NBA Finals is a rare accomplishment in itself. The Suns have only been three times in franchise history, putting into perspective just how special a team such as Golden State has been in their recent stretch of dominance. 

Much of that core still exists in Phoenix, with some of those key pieces (Booker-Bridges-Johnson-Ayton) still offering their talents for a number of years. Trade packages are unknown at this time but any of those pieces aside from Booker can and may depart the Suns.

Durant's age (nearly 34) and durability (90 games played the last three seasons) have also come into question from those who don't want the former MVP in Phoenix. Also, who's to say he won't jump ship if Phoenix doesn't see immediate success? 

From a team-building aspect, the Suns have assembled a strong squad that has seen a rise in success the last couple years. The ultimate goal has yet to be accomplished, but Phoenix has shown to be one of the best teams in the NBA the last two seasons. 

With hope of improvement and experience on their side, general manager James Jones said earlier in the offseason he would like to keep Phoenix together. 

Holes exist in Phoenix's roster, no doubt. The Suns suffered from a lack of scoring after Booker and failed to consistently provide bench support down the stretch of the postseason. 

However, the current group of players have shown exactly what they can do on most nights, giving belief from fans to members of the Suns' front office that they can confidently move forward in the future without blowing it up. 

Kevin Durant's scoring and overall presence on the court would instantly make the Suns a strong contender for the NBA Finals. 

Kevin Durant's scoring and overall presence on the court would instantly make the Suns a strong contender for the NBA Finals. 

The Case for Acquiring Kevin Durant

Sure, the Suns have seen success in recent years. Yet no matter how you slice it, Phoenix has fallen short of winning a championship. 

As described above, reaching the NBA Finals is an extremely difficult task. With an aging Paul running the point, the window to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy is closing. 

The Warriors are again threats in the west, and with the Lakers reportedly working on a deal to land Kyrie Irving next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Phoenix simply can't stand around and fall behind their division rivals. 


Enter: Kevin Durant. 

Durant would immediately give the Suns another prominent option on the floor, adding to the talents of Booker offensively and overall strengthening Phoenix's star power. 

The NBA is a star-driven league. Building teams "the right way" through the draft has been a pleasant storyline for teams during the playoffs. 

However, when you look at the list of NBA champions, you see teams littered with stars. That's no coincidence. 

Durant isn't just another scorer behind Booker. As previously established, he's one of the best scorers in league history. The dynamic he would bring to Phoenix, especially under reigning Coach of the Year in Monty Williams, would immediately place the Suns among the elite favorites to bring it home next season. 

He's a star presence that will command the most attention out of anybody on the floor. 

Durant is also locked into his contract for another four seasons, giving the Suns an extended window of hope to win their first NBA Finals. Booker is set to be in Phoenix for the long-term as well.

Admittedly so, Phoenix would have to acquire veterans on minimum contracts looking to win a championship for the next few years. That also could possibly mean the departure of any of their young players fans have come to know and love. 

The narrative of Durant jumping ship to win championships has followed him since he left OKC for Golden State, and that would likely continue if he were to arrive in Phoenix. 

Yet in this dream scenario where Durant finds himself on the Suns and they raise a championship banner, there will be no asterisk in the rafters. Phoenix will have successfully won a championship. Dweebs on NBA Twitter will call it a "Mickey Mouse ring", but the Suns (and their fans) should prefer that title over none at all. 

It's simple: Talent wins rings. Durant is one of the most talented players to ever touch a basketball, and forming a trio with himself, Paul and Booker is a gamble the Suns should gladly welcome. 

Are there other game-changing players available for trade? Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell have been two potential names thrown out, although their availability and ultimate desire to play in Phoenix is unknown.

The overall depth of the squad will take a hit, but acquiring Durant ultimately gives Phoenix a better chance of winning the NBA Finals, and if James Jones isn't trying to win at all costs, the Suns will welcome his departure sooner rather than later. 

Kevin Durant reportedly wants to land in Phoenix, but will the Suns make that a reality?

Kevin Durant reportedly wants to land in Phoenix, but will the Suns make that a reality?

Where Phoenix Stands With Durant

The initial dust has settled on the Durant news, and it's been... quiet. 

The Suns emerged as clear favorites to land the superstar in the immediate days following the news, yet various reports have suggested the Nets are looking to take their time in dealing Durant, which welcomes other teams and trade packages. 

Will Brooklyn appease Durant's wishes and ship him to a preferred destination? Or will the Nets take the best offer and run, regardless of the landing spot? 

The future is currently unknown for where Durant will land despite early optimism for Phoenix. 

However the cookie crumbles, Suns fans will remember these times far down the road in discussions at their local bar or barbershop. It feels as if it will either be a topic of "What if they actually landed Durant?" or "Imagine the Suns keeping the team together" between folks. 

There's no right or wrong way to win a championship, as long as it gets done. We'll see if James Jones and his staff's preferred method is the right one. 

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