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Could Kevin Durant come to the Phoenix Suns? | Locked On Suns podcast

With reports emerging about a possible collapse of the Nets as we currently know them, Brendon Kleen looks at the Suns as a potential suitor for Kevin Durant.

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns' season ended much earlier than any Suns fans or players wanted, when they lost a disastrous Game 7 to the Dallas Mavericks. Now, we look to what will be an important offseason for the Suns if they intend to remain in contention as one of the NBA's premier teams.

Obviously there are question marks surrounding 2018 No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton.

But on the Locked On Suns podcast this week, host Brendon Kleen looks to a team across the country suddenly facing significant question marks of their own, which could alter the league. And that's the Brooklyn Nets.

Kleen cites NY Daily News Nets reporter Kristian Winfield, who reported Wednesday that the Nets are “outright unwilling” to give Kyrie Irving an extension this offseason. Irving has a player option for next season with Brooklyn. 

Kleen said Irving not locking in long term money with Brooklyn and potentially choosing to try to get it elsewhere would be the first domino to fall for Kevin Durant’s potential exit. 

The next major thing reported by Winfield is that Durant and the Nets have not spoken since the end of the season, after they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

“This is what happens now, with athletes," Kleen said. "This is the game. They stop talking to their organization. They stay distant. And this is how it starts.”

So what about Kevin Durant to Phoenix? It's a question that has been posed to Kleen all offseason and he says he's finally willing to speculate.

"I am not the type of person to do shows like this," Kleen said on the episode. "I’ve been doing this podcast for four or five years and I don’t do shows on rumors. I was the guy when the Chris Paul stuff was happening and I blew it off, we’re not doing a Chris Paul segment on the Suns and a week later it happens. But I feel pretty comfortable edging into the waters about this possibility."

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“From the KD standpoint, it’s reasonable that if he doesn’t feel good about Irving’s ability to be there and be an elite player that he would get squeamish," Kleen said. "Brooklyn is a shell of itself. The roster is a shell of itself. When Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed there, the Nets had Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince. All solid role players that are gone…If you’re Kevin Durant wanting to win another championship before your late prime is over, that’s not the type of roster you want around you.”

Kevin Durant is owed $198 million over the next four seasons after he signed an extension last year, so he is making huge amounts of money and that matters here undoubtedly for the Nets. 

Let’s talk about what it means for the Suns.

“The more you start to look around, if Durant were to become available, the Suns would be an obvious match," Kleen said. "The connections between Durant and the Suns are not zero…The big one starts with Monty Williams, who coached Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City as an assistant after he was fired from the Pelicans."

“Those guys know each other really well. There was clips going around of Kevin Durant reacting to Monty getting hired by the Suns and giving a lot of kind words. Monty was also around Team USA at various points.”

Kleen said Durant also has said on multiple interviews, with Bill Simmons and with JJ Reddick that Devin Booker is one of Durant’s absolute favorite young talents. KD loves Booker’s game.

Chris Paul obviously has a lot of history with Kevin Durant as a competitor as well.

Kleen said he thinks it’s hard to find a bigger market outside of Brooklyn where Durant could have everything that the Suns could offer. 

“I think at the end of the day, Kevin Durant would be able to come to Phoenix, know he could be comfortable, have like-minded basketball kindred spirits around him and win in Phoenix. And that’s why I buy this.”

Now could it work? What would a trade look like?

Kleen said there’s a potential option where the Suns could package Chris Paul, Cam Johnson, Cam Payne and picks for Durant. Although he thinks that’s less likely.

The more obvious option, he says involves Deandre Ayton.

The trade he laid out involving Ayton included Cam Johnson, Torrey Craig, Landry Shamet and a sign-and-trade with Ayton on a four-year $131 million max contract. Additionally, he says it’s likely to cost two or three first round picks to Brooklyn with this trade.

“This is going to be a massive deal, a massive trade if this were to play out. I’m willing to buy into it because there appears to be some iciness between Durant and the Nets, plus Kyrie Irving is such a question mark, and because James Harden is gone and because Ben Simmons has question marks. All of that makes me buy this. But it’s going to take an immense return.”

“You have to remember, the Suns would be trading for the next four seasons of Kevin Durant because of that extension," Kleen said. "This is not ‘let’s get Durant for one year as his deal expires and try to convince him he should stay here.’ If you’re the Suns, you’re thinking we’re getting Kevin Durant for the rest of his competitive years.”

Why it won’t happen

Of course, we’re so early on with any evidence that this could possibly be an option. So Kleen didn’t hesitate to play the other side and throw some cold water on it.

“It’s really hard to imagine the Nets bailing on this entire experiment after three years. They just got KD and Kyrie in 2019. The Nets also have all the leverage. Durant is under contract for the next four seasons. They don’t have to play ball precisely the way Durant wants them to.”

Kleen adds if Kyrie Irving accepts his player option, that may immediately kill any potential trade speculation for Durant. 

Another reason to be skeptical is that while the Suns could trade former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton in a potential deal for Durant. He doesn’t think the Suns necessarily have the best package in the league that could be offered for Durant. That includes a team like the Atlanta Hawks, where Durant could be interested in going.

Stay tuned into the DAILY Locked On Suns podcast, where Brendon Kleen will be covering every inch of Phoenix's offseason coming up.

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