Seldom does the opportunity arise to add a player like Kevin Durant to your franchise. Durant, a former MVP, 12-time All-Star, four-time scoring champ, and two-time finals MVP, was available, and then he wasn’t.
Durant made his stance clear to Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai this summer: Change management and coaching, or trade me. Tsai, unwilling to move so many mountains for one player, called the bluff and publicly sided with his general manager Sean Marks and head coach, Steve Nash.
For weeks, the Durant rumors festered, with at least seven individual teams showing interest at one point or another going back to June. The interest for some teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets was brief, and for others the discussions more serious.
On Tuesday, it all came to an end when the Nets and Durant announced their reconciliation as publicly as the fracture:
While this might be posturing to get some trade leverage back, a trade certainly appears to not be imminent. According to reports, Nets got lowball offers left and right for Durant.
Why the lowballs? Ricky O’Donnell has some strong theories, including the fact that a tantrum-esque departure feels like it could happen again for whatever team picks him up in a trade. He also posits the idea that some younger teams are reluctant to give up young cores they’ve designed to compete for years for a possibly smaller title window.
For some teams, the conflation of both of those issues may be holding them back.
Regardless, it’s clear some teams should have done more to push the envelope.
HONORABLE MENTION: Toronto Raptors
He’s just a year in and had about as good of a season as a rookie can have, winning Rookie of the Year honors for 2022. There’s no telling right now how high his ceiling might be. The Raptors could end up being right in the long run about this one, so I’m not willing to say they officially blew it. Jury is still out.
Teams that blew it with Kevin Durant: New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly wouldn’t include Brandon Ingram for Kevin Durant. Ingram, who made his first All-Star team in 2020, is coming off a 22.7 point, 5.8 rebound, and 5.6 assist per game season. The irony is Ingram’s frame and game are often compared to that of Durant.
Still, he’s Durant-lite at best, trading for KD would be an upgrade in absolute terms. Considering timelines, the Pelicans may have other viewpoints.
The reason they fall so low on the “blew it” rankings is they never felt like legitimate contenders for the Durant sweepstakes anyway.