SUPERSTAR ERA OVER: Nets trade Kevin Durant to Suns in blockbuster deal

Nets Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Nets fans went to bed Wednesday morning and Kevin Durant was still the cornerstone of their team. When they woke on Thursday morning, things in Brooklyn had dramatically changed. 

In a massive shakeup, the Nets traded Durant and T.J. Warren to the Phoenix Suns for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and four unprotected future first-round picks. The deal occurred early Thursday morning, but it wasn’t made official until just after 6:30 p.m.

The first-round picks that Brooklyn will receive are selections in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029. The move also includes a first-round pick swap in 2028. 

Additionally, the Nets acquired second-round draft picks in 2028 and 2029 from Milwaukee and the draft rights to guard Juan Pablo Vaulet from Indiana in the deal.

The deal comes days after the Nets sent Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks in another blockbuster trade, and fully ends the superstar era in Kings County. Despite the belief that the Nets would hang onto Durant until at least the summer, Marks said in a statement he ultimately felt now was the time to move forward. 

“After thorough evaluation of the best path forward, we believe making this trade now positions the franchise for long-term success,” Marks said in a statement. “Mikal and Cam are elite, ascending, versatile wings, plus the draft capital provides us additional avenues to continue to acquire talent. We remain steadfast in our commitment to building the team Brooklyn deserves. We are excited to welcome Mikal, Cam and their families to Brooklyn and thank Kevin for the moments and memories he delivered our fanbase.”

Nets Kevin Durant
Kevin DurantAP Photo/Rusty Jones

The team thanked Durant in a pair of social media posts after the deal was made official, which included highlights of his time in Brooklyn. 

The trade now puts the Nets in a position with an unknown future and massive questions about what went wrong. Brooklyn has traded three superstars away in the past year, and ended what had been a tumultuous period around the franchise despite being home to some of the biggest names in the NBA world.

Irving and Durant signed with the Nets in 2019 as a package deal and the team later went out and added James Harden to create a Brooklyn Big 3. Instead, the trio logged just 16 games together. 

After his Dallas Mavericks debut, Irving commented on the reports of the trade. 

“I just am glad that [Durant] got out of there,” Irving said. “I think this was in the works like after Year 1. I wasn’t sure about whether or not I wanted to be in Brooklyn long-term because of things that was happening behind the scenes. I just did my best to put my head down and work as hard as I could. There were some unfortunate circumstances that came up there that were out of my control, whether it be the mandate with the vaccine, or missing games, being suspended, or just little things that just put just wrenches in our journey.”

The first domino that fell was the trade of Irving on Sunday and questions almost immediately rose of what Durant’s future in Brooklyn had held. He had remained silent since the announcement and ducked reporters on Monday after the team had lost to the Los Angeles Clippers.

It appeared that things progressed somewhat quickly from there as the deadline approached for Brooklyn. Durant appeared in 129 games with the Nets across the last three seasons (2020-23), registering averages of 29.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 blocks in 35.7 minutes per contest.

Durant first arrived in Brooklyn via a sign-and-trade with Golden State on July 7, 2019. 

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