Grading a Suns-Warriors Kevin Durant blockbuster trade proposal

Grading a hypothetical blockbuster trade proposal between the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors that sends All-Star wing Kevin Durant back to the Bay Area, reuniting with superstar Stephen Curry.
Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

We've seen what the duo of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry can accomplish on the court together, dating back to their three-year alliance as members of the Golden State Warriors from 2016-18.

The Warriors set a league record for most victories in a regular season in Durant's first year in the Bay Area (going 73-9) en route to him winning two straight championships and Finals MVPs alongside Curry, potentially on their way to a third title had he not suffered a torn Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. 

However, Durant has not come near those heights since he decided to leave the Warriors and join forces with fellow All-Stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden on the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2021. After that experiment failed, he got traded to the Phoenix Suns, who have won one playoff game in his two seasons with the team.  

Could we see the tandem reunite in Golden State this summer? ESPN's Zach Lowe floated the idea during a recent podcast episode of The Lowe Post, featuring frequent guest and colleague, front office insider Bobby Marks.

Here, we will assess the outgoing package Lowe and Marks compiled to be sent from the Warriors to the Suns in a hypothetical blockbuster trade and grade it from the perspective of both franchises.

Grading a Suns-Warriors Kevin Durant blockbuster trade proposal

“It should be [Andrew] Wiggins as your placeholder,” Marks said. “That’s your big number, right? Then, it’s going to be a combination of [Jonathan] Kuminga, [Brandin] Podziemski and [Moses] Moody and whatever you have," he added.

However, a four-for-one swap of those five players is not enough to make the money work for both sides, per the Fanspo trade machine. But including Gary Payton, who is entering the final year of his contract, is enough to bridge the financial gap. Then, it becomes a matter of how many draft picks the Warriors will send to Phoenix.

Golden State possesses two tradeable first-round selections this offseason, paired with pick swaps and two second-rounders. It is safe to assume that the Suns will ask for and likely get all this draft capital if any deal gets done for Durant.

So, here is how the trade would shake out based on the conversation between Lowe and Marks: 

Suns-Warriors KD2

From the perspective of the Warriors, it makes sense. They are going all-in to maximize what remains of their championship window as Curry enters the latter years of his career at age 36 and pairing him with someone who previously thrived alongside him with the Warriors in Durant. However, we have seen what can go wrong when a team guts its assets, financial resources, young players, and bench depth to create a star-studded starting lineup -- look no further than the Suns. Phoenix is only in this position where they could consider moving on from their All-NBA wing because they dug themselves into this hole by mortgaging their future to acquire him.

Furthermore, Kuminga showed flashes of All-Star potential once he was given a more consistent role this season in response to Draymond Green serving an extensive suspension. Podziemski and Moody proved they can be reliable rotational pieces on a competitive team. Is it worth parting ways with all of them?

As for Phoenix, this is not a bad trade if the Suns. You can retool and rebuild around Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, receiving five players who could immediately contribute, plus ammunition to make corresponding moves. However, the ceiling of this roster notably declines, which would make getting the former to sign off on giving up Durant for a multi-year roster overhaul a dangerously daunting task. Moreover, this deal offers the franchise little to no financial relief. So, why not continue to use that money toward a proven commodity and perennial All-Star? 

While Durant reportedly "never felt comfortable" in his role on the Suns offense alongside side Booker and Beal this season, it is difficult to envision the Suns moving on from him, especially if this is the transaction. 

Durant has not reached a Conference Finals appearance since parting ways with Curry and the Warriors, which has led many to question his status as an all-time great player despite him arguably being the best individual scorer in the Association thanks to his unique blend of ball-handling and shooting skills as a seven-footer. But unfortunately, it is unlikely the two reunite and finish what they started, even though it is presumably in the best interest of Golden State and the Suns to stay the course.

While giving a team receiving Durant in a trade anything lower than an A grade feels weird and borderline wrong, this move is tough to justify.

Phoenix Suns trade grade: C+ | Golden State Warriors trade grade: B