Suns ship 3 players, 4 first-round picks to Nets for KD

Kevin Durant will team with Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton in his quest for a third career NBA title with his fourth team.

The Brooklyn Nets have finally put three-plus years of drama behind them by trading Kevin Durant to Phoenix. The move came late Wednesday night ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline and just four days after shipping Kyrie Irving to Dallas.

The Suns sent Brooklyn an outstanding package that includes four unprotected first-round picks (2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029), a 2028 pick swap, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder. Phoenix also acquired T.J. Warren in the deal that puts Durant in a quartet that includes Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix’s new owner Mat Ishbia instructed GM James Jones to get the deal done right away. The Suns were reluctant to part with Bridges, but Brooklyn GM Sean Marks was exploring other deals — reportedly for Atlanta’s John Collins, Cleveland’s Caris LeVert or Toronto’s OG Anunoby — until Bridges became a part of the conversation.

Phoenix is paying a monumental price to acquire the 34-year-old Durant, who didn’t cause as many headaches as Irving in Brooklyn but certainly comes with his own baggage. If the Suns aren’t able to win a championship with Durant and Booker as their catalysts in the next 2-3 years, they’ll probably regret this move for a decade.

Bridges, a 26-year-old Villanova product who was a lottery pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is averaging 17.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Johnson, another 26-year-old who was a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and played his college ball at North Carolina, has only played in 17 games this year due to injuries.

However, he scored at a 12.5 PPG clip last year and is averaging 13.9 PPG this season. Johnson drained 42.5 percent of his 3-pointers in 2021-22 and is burying 45.5 percent of his attempts from downtown this season. WOJ is reporting that the Nets are going to try and trade Crowder to a contender before this afternoon’s trade deadline passes.

Crowder, a 32-year-old forward who can defend multiple positions and knock down treys offensively, hasn’t played this season while bickering with Phoenix to trade him. He started all 67 games he played in for the Suns in 2021-22, averaging 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 SPG.

Durant, who is recovering from an MCL sprain but should be ready to return to the court in the next week or two, won two titles with Golden State before signing with Brooklyn via free agency. He helped orchestrate Brooklyn’s moves that teamed him with Irving and James Harden, but the trio only played in 16 games together. The Nets had championship dreams, but they won only one postseason series and dealt with issues galore for nearly four years.

To its credit, though, Brooklyn can now move ahead with hope and optimism. In the deals that sent Durant, Irving and Harden to their new teams, the Nets acquired seven first-round picks for the next seven years. They still owe Houston — in the deal to get Harden — first-round selections in 2024 and 2026, and the Rockets can swap first-rounders with Brooklyn in 2025 and 2027.

FanDuel now has the Suns with the third-shortest odds to win the NBA title. Boston is the +280 favorite, followed by Milwaukee (+420) and Phoenix (+460). The Nuggets are at +700. Brooklyn now has 100/1 odds to win it all.

Phoenix (30-26 straight up, 30-26 against the spread) is in a fourth-place tie with Dallas in the Western Conference. The Suns and Mavs are one game ahead of the Clippers and two games back of third-place Sacramento. They’re seven-point underdogs tonight at Atlanta.

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