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Would Sixers, Knicks, Warriors be able to swing a deal for Kevin Durant?

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After getting swept in the first round, the Suns showed that they are a long ways away from reaching their championship goal. Their core three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal weren’t nearly enough to overcome the Wolves during the mostly noncompetitive series. Changes need to made, because running this group back isn’t going to work.

The Suns might try firing their coach, Frank Vogel. Would that be enough to change the poor production from their role players? Probably not — more massive moves could be in the works.

Here’s why they might look into resetting their roster, and which teams could strike if Durant was made available in a trade. 

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The Suns don’t have avenues to add the talent they would need in order to contend. They are projected to be a second apron team and will only be able to sign minimum-salaried players and draft picks going forward.

They also don’t have the assets to trade for more talent — they cleared out their war chest when trading for Durant last season.

Their tax bill is estimated at a whopping $104.6 million next season via Spotrac, which is by far the highest total in the league. That is a lot to pay for a team that couldn’t even win a game in the first round and is only going to get worse as time goes by. 

If the Suns do want to try to rebuild on the fly, then Durant is the only guy to do it through. Booker is 27 years old and should remain the centerpiece of the franchise. Beal has negative trade value and would not bring anything worthwhile back to the Suns given his contract. Durant is 35 and still an All-NBA talent. If Phoenix did trade him, they could get a lot back and build a more balanced team around Booker. 

The Sixers have positioned themselves to make the biggest splash in free agency of anyone. They could easily clear enough cap space to absorb the entirety of Durant’s $49.9 million owed next season. In trading for him, they wouldn’t have to send a player back to the Suns, thus allowing Phoenix to get completely out of the tax and save them over $100 million. 

The Sixers could also offer a boatload of picks in a Durant trade. They have five future first-rounders available on the day of the draft — 2024, 2026, 2028, 2029 and 2031.

The three-man duo of Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and Durant would immediately be one of the best in the league. This could be Durant’s best shot at another ring. 

The Thunder are also positioned extremely well with cap space and more draft picks than any other team in the league. They don’t have quite enough to take Durant in without sending out another player, but they could offer some lesser salary relief. 

The Thunder wouldn’t give up any of their key guys in a Durant deal. But they do have a ton of promising young prospects. Josh Giddey has started every game for the team since being taken with the sixth pick in the 2021 draft. Cason Wallace, Aaron Wiggins, and Jaylin Williams (the center) have all been solid role players. 

The players the Suns get back would be secondary to the picks that they would receive. The Thunder have too many to count. It’s safe to say that Oklahoma City could offer the most picks out of anyone.

The Knicks have been positioning themselves to make a move for Donovan Mitchell. Could they pivot to Durant? 

New York doesn’t have cap space like these other teams, so they would have to trade away one of their bigger salaries like Julius Randle or Bojan Bogdanovic, along with a handful of their role players. They also have a lot of draft picks to make a competitive offer, including all of their own, the Mavs’ No. 24 pick in 2024, and three picks in 2025. 

The Celtics kicked the tires on a Durant trade back when he was made available in 2022. They probably would not consider a trade if they did end up winning a ring this season. But if they faltered in the playoffs again, having a closer like KD could be too tempting to pass up. 

Jaylen Brown would presumably be the centerpiece in any Durant trade. He’ll be in the first year of a five-year, $303.7 million supermax. The Celtics also have up to three first round picks available to trade (including the lesser of Boston or San Antonio’s 2028 pick) after the draft. 

The Heat are always an attractive destination for stars and aggressive in the pursuit of them. They have a big salary in Terry Rozier that they could ship over, giving the Suns some better guard play. Promising rookies Jaime Jaquez and Nikola Jovic would have to be included too.

They can trade their No. 15 pick this year after they select, along with picks in 2029 and 2031. 

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