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NBA - US Sports: What next for Kevin Durant?

The biggest trade story of the summer has been Kevin Durant's request to leave Brooklyn but at present he remains a Nets player.

In 2019, he was the team's marquee signing as he left Golden State Warriors for Brooklyn but he missed the entirety of his first season after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in Game 5 of the Dubs' 2019 NBA Finals defeat to Toronto Raptors.

Durant's arrival at the Barclays Center, followed by those of Kyrie Irving and then later James Harden as the Nets formed what looked on paper a fearsome big three, was widely expected to result in at least one championship for the franchise but those hopes now look to be in tatters.

Harden departed for Philadelphia 76ers last season, while Durant and Irving have both requested offseason trades.

Why has Kevin Durant requested a trade from Brooklyn Nets?

After requesting a trade on 30th June, Durant hasn't offered too many clues as to what his motivation is for wanting to leave the Nets. 

Brooklyn's struggles over the last two seasons may be a factor - they reached the conference finals in 2021 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2022 after coming through the play-in tournament - but regardless he hasn't actually explained why he wants to leave.

However, his trade request isn't particularly surprising either given the way he departed Golden State. 

Durant joined the Warriors after nine seasons with Oklahoma City Thunder, the first of which was with Seattle Super Sonics before the franchise relocated, but spent just three years in the Bay Area.

It has been speculated that Brooklyn's sub-par showing last season and the deterioration of the franchise's relationship with Irving are the primary reasons that Durant wants to move on, while some have even suggested he has requested a trade to help facilitate a move for Irving - which appears unlikely if not completely impossible.

Which teams could sign Kevin Durant?

Durant has said he would be open to joining either Miami Heat or Phoenix Suns, the top seeds from the East and West respectively last season, but a move to the latter looks like a non-starter.

The Suns recently signed Deandre Ayton to a new four-season $133million deal and that significantly reduces their chances to bringing in Durant during the summer. 

Phoenix are not prepared to entertain any scenario involving Devin Booker, and Mikal Bridges is apparently off limits as well.  

Miami seem more motivated to land Durant and are apparently prioritising bringing him in ahead of Utah's Donovan Mitchell, but again a deal isn't necessarily likely as it remains to be seen as to whether or not the Heat can put together an offer that would tempt Brooklyn.

Toronto Raptors have also been mentioned as a possible destination for Durant as they are one of the few teams who could put together an attractive package for the Nets. 

However, the Raptors have no intention of including 2022 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any trade package - and that may well mean a move to Canada for the two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP is off the table.

The Suns are 11/2 to win the NBA Championship outright next season, Miami can be backed at 10/1 and Brooklyn are 22/1.

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Could Kevin Durant stay with Brooklyn?

Brooklyn Nets are keen to trade Durant as no team wants to keep a player who isn't committed to the cause, but they won't be letting him move on in a cut-price deal either.

The Nets have paid a lot for Durant's services, including his first season with the team that he sat out through injury, and as such if they cannot find anyone willing to meet their demands in the offseason they may be prepared to keep hold, for the time being at least.

Durant has four years left on his contract with Brooklyn so his leverage in terms of engineering a deal is fairly limited. 

Another reason teams are perhaps reluctant to match the Nets' valuation is his age, he will be 34 in September, and the risk that the scenario Brooklyn are dealing with now could well happen again.

The most likely outcome does appear to be that Durant starts next season with Brooklyn and the franchise would probably be happy to keep him if he makes it clear he has changed his mind. 

If not and he continues to push for an exit, a mid-season move would remain a real possibility and there may be more scope for other teams to get involved in the battle for his signature depending on what other moves happen elsewhere.

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