It’s been almost a month since Kevin Durant requested a trade from Brooklyn, and outside of a few rumors, it seems a deal is nowhere close to being completed. Usually, it doesn’t take so long for a player who wants out to get his wish.
With nothing else going on in the NBA world, it leaves a lot of time to speculate on the KD situation. Will he land in Boston, Phoenix, or New Orleans? Will he be forced to stay with the Nets?
Today, I want to discuss a trade sending the Slim Reaper to Toronto. The Raptors have an impressive collection of young talent and all of their future first-round picks, giving them the ability to put together a very enticing package.
But wait, why would Sean Marks settle for Fred VanVleet when names like Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram could be on the market? Every day KD isn’t traded, his value goes down. Teams aren’t giving in to the king’s ransom Marks (reasonably) expects in return for his all-time great, and the market is drying up because of it. Considering Toronto’s offer wouldn’t be reliant on one All-Star name, they can capitalize on other teams dropping out of the sweepstakes.
So what offer could the Raptors put together that would be enough for Kevin Durant? And would it make sense for them to pull the trigger?
Enter Scottie Barnes. The 2021 fourth-overall pick is coming off a Rookie of the Year campaign and he is already a fan favorite in the North. With his incredibly well-rounded game, Scottie is a sure-fire star. While that sounds like an untouchable asset, I wouldn’t hang up the phone right away.
Historically, you need a top-five caliber player to raise a banner in the rafters. As good as Scottie is, I don’t see that in his future. Right now the Raptors are nothing more than a solid playoff team and are set to be so for a long time. By trading for KD, they would immediately leap to contention. Since I don’t see Scottie as a championship team’s top dog, giving him up to get one wouldn’t be as stupid as Raptors fans make it sound.
Homegrown All-Star Fred VanVleet and talented young guard Gary Trent Jr. would likely be alongside Scottie Barnes in the deal. Add in 5+ first-round picks and that’s a hefty price, but once again you’re getting a Hall of Famer who’s still a top three player that will transform your team into a contender.
If that trade did go through, the Raptors would have a core of Durant, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby. Siakam made an All-NBA team in 2021-22, and OG Anunoby has been on the cusp of stardom for a couple of seasons. The East is full of good teams, but that trio paired with a solid supporting cast would raise Toronto to the level of Boston, Milwaukee, and Miami.
There’s also a chance that KD’s value continues to drop as the hold-up continues and VanVleet, Anunoby, and Trent Jr. are enough to get it done. In that case, the Raptors would (obviously) be in even better shape, adding a franchise-altering talent while keeping your best asset. That’s the best-case scenario for Toronto, but probably the least likely one.
Overall, I understand why Toronto fans would be downright against a trade like this. Flipping three very good players to get a 33-year-old superstar with a history of switching teams when things get tough doesn’t sound great when a championship wouldn’t be guaranteed. However, with no clear avenue to true contention in the future, going all in now while you have an All-NBA talent in his prime, depth, defense, and a great coach makes sense for the Toronto Raptors.