Kevin Durant is beneath contract for another 12 months with the Brooklyn Nets, however primarily based on the bevy of experiences and leaks on the extraordinarily fluid Kyrie melodrama and its potential fallout, his employment is unstable. That uncertainty has spawned a mess of choices for Durant, however solely the Portland Trailblazers have taken their gross sales pitch to Mad Males ranges. It began with Jusuf Nurkić quote-tweeting the picture of a Durant-Lillard photoshop, and including an emoji that implied Durant was the lacking piece. Damian Lillard shared the identical picture on his Instagram web page. Lillard desperately taking pictures his shot at KD isn’t as environment friendly because the Golden State Warriors getting the entire gang collectively for his or her Hamptons pitch to Durant in 2016, however this may occasionally have been the opening salvo.
Kevin Durant’s older brother tried to throw flame retardant on the grease fireplace Lillard kicked up, however the concern had already gained an excessive amount of traction for a tertiary determine to squash. Moreover, the Blazers may take advantage of sense within the present panorama. Durant provides Portland the incendiary companion who can lastly give Lillard an higher hand in opposition to Golden State. After placing Golden excessive, doing the identical factor with Steph Lite would salvage his rep after he didn’t capitalize on a stacked Nets lineup from 2021 by early 2022. Durant has been related to virtually each single star level guard of his era. He’s performed the two-man recreation with Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, James Harden, and Irving. Two of these three partnerships have gone bitter. Durant can be higher off going for 2010 Level Guard Bingo with Lillard, who’s constructed from the leftover Curry mildew.
In contrast to Curry, Lillard has been going stag throughout a participant empowerment period the place superstars have taken the lead in arranging their very own mergers. Lillard’s push for Durant is the final word full-circle second. The Blazers already had their likelihood to land Durant in 2008. All they needed to do was take him with the highest choose within the 2007 NBA Draft.
Earlier than the daybreak of positionless basketball and philosophies on ground spacing reigned supreme, Greg Oden match the then-contemporary mannequin for a franchise participant. Durant was the primary unicorn of this period. Durant was clearly the extra full offensive expertise, however whereas the typical scores have been sometimes slowed down within the excessive 80s, low 90s, a plodding large was the perfect choose. In 2007, the NBA was nonetheless a copycat league. Former Texas large LaMarcus Aldridge and Oden have been a simple bridge to promote as the following Twin Towers duo.
Had Portland been in a position to harness a wholesome Oden, possibly they wouldn’t be within the precarious scenario they’re in at this time. It’s been 15 years for the reason that Blazers chosen Greg Oden over Durant and so they’re nonetheless pining over him. Durant’s virtuoso recreation would slot completely beside Lillard, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkić — if he re-signs subsequent month.
From the Nets’ perspective, Brooklyn has essentially the most promising belongings to supply. Anfernee Simons or their current lottery choose, Shaedon Sharpe, and future picks are superior prospects to protected firsts from Durant suitors that anticipate to be drafting outdoors the highest 20 for the following few seasons. Sharpe has the potential to be the very best wing from this draft, however the scouting report on him is thinner than Chet Holmgren after he sat out the complete season at Kentucky to reclassify from the 2022 class.
Anfernee Simons is a perfect Irving substitute and a future top-20 participant who might thrive alongside Ben Simmons. That deal would solely work as a sign-and-trade for Simmons, who’s a restricted free agent this summer time, though the Blazers are anticipated to match any provide he receives from groups.
Durant appears to have a latent affinity for the Toronto Raptors. Nevertheless, Masai Ujiri would seemingly need to give up some package deal that features the promising Scottie Barnes. Pascal Siakam is Toronto’s greatest participant in the intervening time, however he and Fred Van Vleet comprise what’s left of the core that defeated the (hobbled) Warriors within the 2019 NBA Finals. What they’ve plus Durant could also be adequate to get them 50 wins, however that would depart Durant carrying the load on a scrappy, intelligent, well-coached-but-outgunned playoff roster.
A Celtics’ provide of Jalen Brown and a number of picks can be engaging for Brooklyn, however would Boston be prepared to interrupt up an NBA Finals runner-up? They’ve acquired a younger core that performs soul-crushing protection in opposition to 29 out of 30 groups. Brown continues to be a wholesome, 25-year-old All-Star. For all of his items, good well being has not been one for the previous three seasons. Though he stays a pressure to be reckoned with, Durant has missed 126 video games since tearing his achilles in 2019. A Skinny Towers lineup can be the most important upside to an Oklahoma Metropolis reunion. Whereas Durant, Holmgren, and Poku are a cool novelty, they don’t match Durant’s timeline. Durant again in Golden State is an unlikely state of affairs and after all of the flack he caught from signing with them after they misplaced within the Finals, he would by no means reside down chasing one other title in Curry’s city.
A Durant-Lillard pairing is the very best of each worlds. There was a time when Lillard and Curry have been considered peas in a pod. Since then, Lillard has been the Clyde Drexler to Curry’s MJ. He’s 8-26 in opposition to Curry within the common season, 0-10 within the postseason and 4 titles behind. What higher technique to lastly make a run on the Warriors than by luring Durant to Portland as his championship sherpa? Uplifting a basketball metropolis that’s ravenous throughout their near-50 12 months title drought as well can be one hell of a technique to get again on equal footing.