Why I don't want Durant

elindholm

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I'm optimistic that the temporary lull in Durant news means that the Suns will not succeed in trading for him.

I was also negative about the Paul trade. I thought he might be worth a couple of playoff series victories but that the Suns would find themselves in the doldrums when his contract was up -- which would have been right now, had the Suns not extended him. The Suns won four playoff series with Paul, not two, so my expectations have been surpassed, and it looks like I was wrong about the trade.

Except ... the Suns are acting like they are in the doldrums right now anyway. For the players we hoped would grow under Paul -- Booker, Ayton, Bridges, Johnson, and Smith -- it's a decidedly mixed record. Booker and Ayton have improved some, Bridges and Johnson have plateaued, and the Suns have already given up on Smith, possibly prematurely. Meanwhile, the consensus seems to be that the Suns are not a title contender as constructed.

Trading for Durant means doubling down on the Paul deal. Sacrifice even more of the future for one big roll of the dice. Yes, it might pay off, as it almost did in Paul's first year.

But how likely is that? Durant is still an elite offensive player when healthy. I'd put him in a small group of players who are basically unstoppable when they have things going, the others being Curry, Antetokounmpo, and maybe Doncic. Durant doesn't have a lot of good years left, but he should have at least a couple.

And yet, the reality is that Durant has never led a team to the Finals, or at least not in very many years. In his long tenure with the Thunder, where he had Westbrook and (briefly) Harden as teammates, he made the Western Conference Finals five times in seven years, but advanced only once, way back in 2012 -- a year in which Westbrook was second team All-NBA and Harden was Sixth Man of the Year. Since then, there has always been some excuse for why Durant's teams fell short.

Of course, he won two titles with the Warriors, and was arguably their best player during those runs. But that was a team that had already won a title and lost a Finals Game 7 in its previous two years, so Durant cannot claim in any way to have been a difference maker. And in fact, once Durant left, all the Warriors needed to win yet another title without him was to get Klay Thompson back semi-healthy.

Durant's tenure with the Nets has been an utter failure. In spite of the star-studded roster, not only have they won only a single playoff series during his three years with them, but they've been marked by profound dysfunction and under-achievement.

And have we all forgotten about what a PR disaster he is? Fake social media accounts, arguing with fans, pouting on the bench in his faux-gangsta hoodie, complaining about disrespect when he's one of the highest-paid players in the league.

As this board has already spent the last few days exploring, trading for Durant guts the Suns' depth and will leave them scrambling to fill the roster with minimum-salary cast-offs and, maybe, mid-level ring-chasers. How are the Suns going to assemble a team that's better than the various Nets squads that couldn't get off the ground? Meanwhile, we're potentially talking about the Suns not having a first-round pick of their own until Devin Booker retires.

Oh, did we forget about Durant's injury? He still played at an elite level last season (well, when he was on the court at all, that is), but the history of players coming back from Achilles ruptures isn't good. Are we expecting Durant to suddenly find courage and determination that he's never had before? Why, and how?

If the Suns stand pat, they give themselves the chance to prove that the Paul trade was correct. Keep Ayton, spend half a season smoothing things over, and hope that he continues his modest improvement. Make it clear to Bridges and Johnson that there are specific areas of their games that they have to improve. Figure out what went wrong with last year's chemistry, take it head-on, and correct it.

Is that likely to work? Not especially. But it has a better chance of working than the Durant rescue fantasy, which smacks of Shaquille O'Neal Part Two. And at least the Suns won't have thrown away their entire future.
 

Covert Rain

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I'm optimistic that the temporary lull in Durant news means that the Suns will not succeed in trading for him.

I was also negative about the Paul trade. I thought he might be worth a couple of playoff series victories but that the Suns would find themselves in the doldrums when his contract was up -- which would have been right now, had the Suns not extended him. The Suns won four playoff series with Paul, not two, so my expectations have been surpassed, and it looks like I was wrong about the trade.

Except ... the Suns are acting like they are in the doldrums right now anyway. For the players we hoped would grow under Paul -- Booker, Ayton, Bridges, Johnson, and Smith -- it's a decidedly mixed record. Booker and Ayton have improved some, Bridges and Johnson have plateaued, and the Suns have already given up on Smith, possibly prematurely. Meanwhile, the consensus seems to be that the Suns are not a title contender as constructed.

Trading for Durant means doubling down on the Paul deal. Sacrifice even more of the future for one big roll of the dice. Yes, it might pay off, as it almost did in Paul's first year.

But how likely is that? Durant is still an elite offensive player when healthy. I'd put him in a small group of players who are basically unstoppable when they have things going, the others being Curry, Antetokounmpo, and maybe Doncic. Durant doesn't have a lot of good years left, but he should have at least a couple.

And yet, the reality is that Durant has never led a team to the Finals, or at least not in very many years. In his long tenure with the Thunder, where he had Westbrook and (briefly) Harden as teammates, he made the Western Conference Finals five times in seven years, but advanced only once, way back in 2012 -- a year in which Westbrook was second team All-NBA and Harden was Sixth Man of the Year. Since then, there has always been some excuse for why Durant's teams fell short.

Of course, he won two titles with the Warriors, and was arguably their best player during those runs. But that was a team that had already won a title and lost a Finals Game 7 in its previous two years, so Durant cannot claim in any way to have been a difference maker. And in fact, once Durant left, all the Warriors needed to win yet another title without him was to get Klay Thompson back semi-healthy.

Durant's tenure with the Nets has been an utter failure. In spite of the star-studded roster, not only have they won only a single playoff series during his three years with them, but they've been marked by profound dysfunction and under-achievement.

And have we all forgotten about what a PR disaster he is? Fake social media accounts, arguing with fans, pouting on the bench in his faux-gangsta hoodie, complaining about disrespect when he's one of the highest-paid players in the league.

As this board has already spent the last few days exploring, trading for Durant guts the Suns' depth and will leave them scrambling to fill the roster with minimum-salary cast-offs and, maybe, mid-level ring-chasers. How are the Suns going to assemble a team that's better than the various Nets squads that couldn't get off the ground? Meanwhile, we're potentially talking about the Suns not having a first-round pick of their own until Devin Booker retires.

Oh, did we forget about Durant's injury? He still played at an elite level last season (well, when he was on the court at all, that is), but the history of players coming back from Achilles ruptures isn't good. Are we expecting Durant to suddenly find courage and determination that he's never had before? Why, and how?

If the Suns stand pat, they give themselves the chance to prove that the Paul trade was correct. Keep Ayton, spend half a season smoothing things over, and hope that he continues his modest improvement. Make it clear to Bridges and Johnson that there are specific areas of their games that they have to improve. Figure out what went wrong with last year's chemistry, take it head-on, and correct it.

Is that likely to work? Not especially. But it has a better chance of working than the Durant rescue fantasy, which smacks of Shaquille O'Neal Part Two. And at least the Suns won't have thrown away their entire future.
Can I get the abridged version? LOL.
 

Covert Rain

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I respect the anti team-gutting trade takes but on the flip side we’re not winning a championship without another superstar. It’s that simple.
I felt that way BEFORE the offseason. Now seeing some of the moves that playoff teams are making? I would triple down on that opinion now. If there is no chance for a title (which I do not believe there is as built)....what is the point?
 
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elindholm

elindholm

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Shaq was well past his prime so the comparison isn’t quite equal.

He'd been struggling with injuries, as Durant as been. When he was on the floor, he was still very effective. In his last full year with the Heat, before being traded to Phoenix, he averaged 22 and 9 with almost 2 blocks. Not quite vintage, but still plenty potent. And he was brought in to try to get an almost-there roster over the hump.
 

Ouchie-Z-Clown

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He'd been struggling with injuries, as Durant as been. When he was on the floor, he was still very effective. In his last full year with the Heat, before being traded to Phoenix, he averaged 22 and 9 with almost 2 blocks. Not quite vintage, but still plenty potent. And he was brought in to try to get an almost-there roster over the hump.
Yeah that shaq was a far cry from this Durant.
 

Covert Rain

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Yeah that shaq was a far cry from this Durant.
I will be honest. I liked that trade when it happened. The first inclining I got that it might not have been a good idea is after watching him play. I realized after paying closer attention to him on a nightly basis how much he had slowed down.
 
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Raindog

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I don't necessarily disagree with your point. I would not have been opposed to the Suns just resigning Ayton and making a few other smaller moves to fine tune the bench and then running it back again - particularly upgrading at backup PG and starting PF. That would have been a perfectly viable approach that might well have yielded better results next year.

Unfortunately, in typical Suns manner (particularly under the watch of Sarver), the Suns didn't extend Ayton as they should have last summer, and then went the extra mile of both alienating AND publicly devaluing him. Add that to the mismanagement of another asset in Smith, and they have pretty much painted themselves into the corner if they have any hope of doing anything this off season that could even be remotely be called "improving." Since it would seem they have burned bridges with Ayton, the only option left is to try to pull off a blockbuster to add someone of Durant's stature.

I hope JJ can pull it off because it's literally the only thing that won't completely disillusion the fanbase. The alternative of bringing Ayton back seems to have vanished as the Suns organization is apparently hell bent on blaming him for all the team's failure in the post-season. And the only other possibility (failing a Durant trade) of trading him for a package of role player filler isn't going to cut it with anyone.

So if this move does prove foolhardy in the long run and the Suns are limping again in a few seasons or fewer... well, it all comes back down to the incompetence and mismanagement that has been the primary legacy of the Sarver years. Always pennywise and pound foolish.

But if the trade does go through, at least at long last they MAY have taken a swing for the fences that pays off. I still remain skeptical that the usual Suns luck won't prevail one way or another, but we'll see.
 
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itlnsunsfan

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I don't necessarily disagree with your point. I would not have been opposed to the Suns just resigning Ayton and making a few other smaller moves to fine tune the bench and then running it back again - particularly upgrading at backup PG and starting PF. That would have been a perfectly viable approach that might well have yielded better results next year.

Unfortunately, in typical Suns manner (particularly under the watch of Sarver), the Suns didn't extend Ayton as they should have last summer, and then went the extra mile of both alienating AND publicly devaluing him. Add that to the mismanagement of another asset in Smith, and they have pretty much painted themselves into the corner if they have any hope of doing anything this off season that could even be remotely be called "improving." Since it would seem they have burned bridges with Ayton, the only option left is to try to pull off a blockbuster to add someone of Durant's stature.

I hope JJ can pull it off because it's literally the only thing that won't completely disillusion the fanbase. The alternative of bringing Ayton back seems to have vanished as the Suns organization is apparently hell bent on blaming him for all the team's failure in the post-season. And the only other possibility (failing a Durant trade) of trading him for a package of role player filler isn't going to cut it with anyone.

So if this move does prove foolhardy in the long run and the Suns are limping again in a few seasons or fewer... well, it all comes back down to the incompetence and mismanagement that has been the primary legacy of the Sarver years. Always pennywise and pound foolish.

But if the trade does go through, at least at long last they MAY have taken a swing for the fences that pays off. I still remain skeptical that the usual Suns luck won't prevail one way or another, but we'll see.
The Suns are hell bent on blaming Ayton for the entirety of the team's playoff failure? Did I miss something?
 

Muggz

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Sadly the Suns front office doesn't ask for my opinion much.
I'm actually kinda shocked JJ would admit defeat and give up on DA. What a ****** GM
 

SunsFanFirst

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I feel like this needs to be said. If we max Ayton there is no bringing in a good PF and/or backup pg. We keep Ayton we kiss our championship aspirations goodbye. He will never be worth a max contract.
 

itlnsunsfan

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Nice write up E. The possibility of landing Durant is exciting, but it's important to think about the implications rationally. If the trade doesn't work out, it's back to the dark ages for another decade.
 

Raindog

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The Suns are hell bent on blaming Ayton for the entirety of the team's playoff failure? Did I miss something?
I don't know... did you miss Monty yelling that Ayton quit on the team in Game 7? And then basically him and JJ deciding Ayton was officially persona non grata?
 

boisesuns

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I was just thinking: Would you rather have Durant or Zion at these ages and injury history? Both are risky.

As I waver back and forth and see how much Zion just got paid it makes a relatively healthy ayton seem like a good deal over time.

Zion is going to get paid a lot to show this crazy potential then get hurt for 20 game stretches
 

taz02

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If there wasn't an issue with DA I wouldn't want the trade either. But it appears that there is. If DA is on his way out anyway, KD is the best option I've seen. The idea of sending DA, Bridges and 4 unprotected pics for KD is nuts imo.

Great write up.
 

Western Font

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I understand why you have to go for it, but if I’m honest I don’t really want Durant. I’m not a huge fan of his off the court, but my main concern is losing Bridges and Cam because they are the core of the team I cheer for right now. Ayton is frustrating and possibly gone, Stix is already gone, and the 2017 and 2018 drafts are best forgotten.
 

1tinsoldier

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the anti-Durant trade sentiment is rising and i share it
but i also share the sentiment of not being ready or willing to surrender our title aspirations for next season

not adequately replacing Ayton, McGee, and Payne is not palatable. Ayton would have to be signed and we'd need some substantial other signings for fans to be positive about next season

i think part of the reason many are willing to risk so much for Durant to be here is a sense of panic related to how this season ended. too soon. too disturbing. and too many of our competitors are improving

Durant looks like an oasis in our desert right now.
but he may be a mirage that ultimately just extends our drought even longer if we sacrifice too much.
if we give up too much we won't be winning next season and well beyond it

here's my offer now
Ayton and 1 first round pick
quote the raven, nothing more
 

TJ

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We’re at the point of no return with this proposed trade. Ayton is the Suns primary bargaining chip and he was already upset with the team before this even became a thing. Imagine that the trade collapses and you’re faced with the prospect of having to go back and try to work it out with Ayton, or look for another one of those 50 cents on the dollar deals being floated around

The only reason I’m gung-ho about the trade is because I know Ayton doesn’t want to be in Phoenix anymore . If that wasn’t the case, I’d be lukewarm about a deal as well.
 

Western Font

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We’re at the point of no return with this proposed trade. Ayton is the Suns primary bargaining chip and he was already upset with the team before this even became a thing. Imagine that the trade collapses and you’re faced with the prospect of having to go back and try to work it out with Ayton, or look for another one of those 50 cents on the dollar deals being floated around

The only reason I’m gung-ho about the trade is because I know Ayton doesn’t want to be in Phoenix anymore . If that wasn’t the case, I’d be lukewarm about a deal as well.
Fair take. I hope that of a DA deal doesn’t happen, but there’s no offer sheet and it looks as though the league rates him similarly to the Suns, he’ll do some growing up.
 

Sparky16

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He'd been struggling with injuries, as Durant as been. When he was on the floor, he was still very effective. In his last full year with the Heat, before being traded to Phoenix, he averaged 22 and 9 with almost 2 blocks. Not quite vintage, but still plenty potent. And he was brought in to try to get an almost-there roster over the hump.
Comparing Durant to that Shaq is not even close.
 
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