The Brooklyn Nets announced that Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, Sean Marks, and team ownership all met on Monday, and decided to move forward together. While this means Durant will stay with the Nets for now, the expectation is also that this development repairs the possibility of the superstar forward playing out his four-year contract.
This news is understandably exciting for the Brooklyn Nets, who were unable to receive equal value for Durant anywhere on the trade market; however, other teams now find themselves with significant questions to answer. Most notably, the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns.
What now for Boston?
Having just won the Eastern Conference, coming two games away from a championship, it was always questionable at best for the Celtics to break up their core for Kevin Durant. Several reports indicated that they were indeed open to that possibility, even dangling All-Star forward Jaylen Brown as a trade piece. With KD staying put, how does Boston adjust?
To begin, the Celtics must ensure that Brown is mentally bought in after hearing his name in trade rumors all summer. This is not uncommon for players, even those of his stature, but it never feels good to be publicly shopped. If this can become a non-issue for Brown and the Celtics, the two sides can move forward with a roster that just won the Eastern Conference.
What now for Phoenix?
Losing out on Kevin Durant likely hurts the Phoenix Suns more than any other team that pursued him. While the organization has had significant regular season success since acquiring Chris Paul, they have collapsed drastically in the playoffs on the only two occasions they’ve faced a relatively healthy team. This has led many to be skeptical of their ceiling as currently constructed.
Once DeAndre Ayton became essentially un-tradeable due to his restricted free agency agreement, the Suns never had a competitive offer for Kevin Durant. That said, with other teams withholding their best offers, Phoenix remained hopeful that they could find a way to acquire Durant. With the two-time Finals MVP now staying put, the Suns must find a way to compete with a Western Conference that may be passing them up.
While the Suns and Celtics were the two teams mot commonly tied to Durant, the superstar forward’s decision to stay put has an impact that extends beyond just Phoenix and Boston. While the impact on Brooklyn is obvious, there is also a league-wide expectation that certain deals may now begin falling into place.
With so many teams tying up assets for the possibility of a Kevin Durant trade, the marginal moves around the league that are seen each summer have been almost non-existent. Teams have been reluctant to part with any assets that could potentially be used in a Durant trade, but now that one will not be occurring, other trades may begin happening between now and training camp.
This same logic can be applied to the free agency market, with veteran free agent Isaiah Thomas expressing his thoughts on that very topic:
While fans and analysts can now enjoy talking about something other than Kevin Durant, players and teams around the league are excited for more clarity now as well.