Let’s begin with the obvious: The Brooklyn Nets will not trade Kevin Durant to the New York Knicks. There is no way they would send him to their crosstown rivals, and Durant himself likely has his sights set on championship pastures.
So why did I immediately hop up from a couch nap to get my computer and write this article after Shams Charania tweeted that Durant had requested a trade out of Brooklyn? Because I’m just doing what the Knicks and every other team in the NBA should be doing right now: figuring out if their trade proposal can get Brooklyn’s attention.
Bluntly, Durant is still among the five best players in the NBA. Even at 33 years old, NBA Math’s Total Points Added metric had him as the sixth most impactful player in the league last season. His presence alone immediately vaults a team into the title conversation.
Kevin Durant would immediately put the Knicks near the top of the Eastern Conference
The Knicks should open negotiations with an offer like this:
The Knicks would be cashing in a solid chunk of their draft equity and tradable contracts to get into the Durant business. Still, they would keep all their young core players and maintain enough cap space to sign Jalen Brunson this offseason. So, they’d head into next season with a likely starting five of Brunson, Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, KD, and Mitchell Robinson.
There’s some excitement there. The Knicks would have an otherworldly superstar to guide a group of young talent. I won’t sit here and argue that New York would most definitely win a title, but that team would compete in the Eastern Conference.
For the Nets, Julius Randle and Evan Fournier could slide in and help keep things competitive alongside Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons. Brooklyn would also begin to restock the draft picks that were sent out in the James Harden deal.
Admittedly, the Nets are likely to balk at this offer. Other teams (the Suns or Grizzlies, perhaps) would send better young players to Brooklyn than this proposal does. The Knicks’ only counter could look something like this:
New York would send just two unprotected firsts, but the Nets would add two of their top young assets. The Knicks would still have the money to sign Brunson for a projected starting five that could be Brunson, Quickley, Durant, Randle, and Robinson.
If Randle has a bounce-back year, that team would potentially be better next year than the version in the previous offer. The significant difference here is that the Knicks would have to send out their young franchise cornerstone in Barrett and a fan favorite in Obi Toppin.
If I had a preference, I’d go with deal number one. It feels like the best of both worlds in terms of competing now and keeping young talent. Frankly, though, neither deal would get the Knicks beyond the first round of negotiations with the team across the river.