The Suns are pushing their chips into the middle of the table, pulling off a blockbuster deal to acquire 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant.
Meanwhile, the Nets, on the heels of trading Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks, are pivoting to youth. They brought back some talented players along with a stockpile of draft picks.
Early Thursday morning, the trade was confirmed.
- Suns receive: Kevin Durant, T.J. Warren
- Nets receive: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Jae Crowder, four unprotected first-round picks (2023, 2025, 2027, 2029), 2028 pick swap
What grade did each of these teams earn? Let’s break down the deal from every angle.
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Suns trade grade: A+
The Suns’ championship window appeared to be closing — until they smashed it back open by acquiring Durant.
Prior to his injury, Durant was firmly in the MVP conversation, averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game on super-efficient shooting splits of 55.9/37.6/93.4.
Adding one of the league’s best scorers to a core of Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton immediately puts them back in the conversation of the Western Conference’s elite teams. (It also means Phoenix fans will be seeing even more midrange jumpers.)
From a financial perspective, this trade is a win for the Suns, who not only raise their championship ceiling with Durant, but also move on from the disgruntled Crowder. They no longer have to worry about paying Johnson, who will become a restricted free agent this summer.
Sure, they lose depth and two young players who fit perfectly in their system, but… it’s Kevin Durant!
Getting Warren back in the deal is a nice sweetener for the Suns. Warren only made 26 appearances for the Nets this season, but as a career 35.5 percent 3-point shooter, he can seamlessly slide in as an off-the-bench scoring threat.
With the Western Conference wide open, this move is a home run for Phoenix.
Kevin Durant contract details
Durant signed a four-year, $197 million extension in the 2021 offseason. That deal runs through 2025-26.
Nets trade grade: B-
Considering the inflated trade market we saw in the offseason with Rudy Gobert’s move to Minnesota, the Nets’ haul seems palatable.
Ideally, you want at least an All-Star in return for a top-five player. The jewel of this deal is Bridges, who has the potential to reach that level in the not-too-distant future.
Bridges has quickly established himself as one of the best young 3-and-D players in the league. Johnson, a certified sharpshooter, had some bright moments with the Suns, delivering impressive performances in their run to the 2021 Finals.
And as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Crowder could be flipped at the deadline for future draft assets, broadening the scope of this massive package.
The Nets are expected to explore trade scenarios for Jae Crowder ahead of today’s 3 PM ET deadline, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 9, 2023
In a vacuum, the price for Durant could have been higher. He has shown that he can single-handedly carry a contender.
But with Irving being shipped to Dallas and the franchise entering a rebuild, bringing in that kind of draft capital along with Bridges and Johnson is a big win.
Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Jae Crowder contract details
Bridges will be paid $21.0 million in the first season of a four-year, $90.9 million rookie extension he signed with the Suns.
Johnson will earn $5.9 million this season before hitting restricted free agency in the offseason.
Crowder is in the last year of his deal, earning $10.2 million this season. He signed a three-year, $29.2 million deal prior to the 2020-21 season.