The rumor mill has been quiet with only three weeks to go before the 2023 trade deadline. Sure, there have been the occasional tidbits about Bojan Bogdanovic or Jakob Poeltl, but at the moment, stars aren’t available.

For the teams that are hoping to land a franchise-changing talent, the best opportunity to complete a deal may have already passed right by them.

Last summer, Kevin Durant stunned the NBA community when he requested a trade out of Brooklyn. After some dramatic twists and turns, Durant and the Nets ultimately decided to “move forward with their partnership.”

That agreement has worked out well for both sides so far. Before he suffered a knee injury in early January, Durant was playing at an MVP level, averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Brooklyn remains in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race, and it has looked like a contender when fully healthy.

As for the teams that failed to acquire Durant during that window, well, there have been mixed results. Which general managers should feel the deepest sense of regret when they see Durant in a Nets jersey?

Vote now for your favorite NBA All-Star starters!

Jaylen-Brown-Kevin-Durant-FTR

The Kevin Durant trade regret rankings

6. Celtics

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in late July that the Celtics had engaged in conversations with the Nets, and The Athletic’s Shams Charania revealed that Boston had offered a package centered around Jaylen Brown. The inclusion of Brown and multiple first-round picks could have easily pushed the Celtics to the front of the line.

They never seemed to get past the preliminary stage, though, which may have been a blessing in disguise. Boston has the best record in the league, and it is widely considered the championship favorite.

The Celtics are doing just fine. No regrets here.

5. Warriors

Golden State had the pieces to jump into the Durant sweepstakes, and the team’s stars reportedly entertained the idea of a reunion. As one source told The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II when asked about the possibility of a trade, “I mean, it’s Kevin freaking Durant.”

The Warriors are just above the Celtics because they have struggled to find consistency, but they are still the reigning champs. And really, it’s unclear if the front office ever seriously entertained the idea of adding Durant.

4. Pelicans

New Orleans emerged as an intriguing destination for Durant because of its high volume of trade assets and potential to compete for titles in the next few years.

But the Pelicans were never going to give up Brandon Ingram, according to NOLA.com’s Christian Clark, shutting down any possibility of a Durant deal. Ingram has been a central player in their turnaround, and at 25 years old, he has a bright future ahead of him.

While a Durant-Zion Williamson combination would have been fascinating to watch, you can’t blame the Pelicans too much for desiring sustained success with their current core.

Durant-Lowry-FTR

3. Heat

Miami was one of the two teams on Durant’s initial wish list, per Wojnarowski. (Don’t worry — we’ll talk about the other one, too.)

The problem was that the Heat didn’t have a great centerpiece. Tyler Herro is a Sixth Man of the Year award winner, but he isn’t the type of guy who can shove a Durant trade across the finish line.

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will make Miami a tough out in the postseason, but the Heat aren’t on the same level as the Celtics or Bucks. They must be feeling a little bit of regret given the team is sitting in a strange middle ground.

2. Raptors

It wasn’t thought of as the most likely stop for Durant, but Toronto continued to lurk in the background after his trade request. Multiple reports indicated that the Raptors were unwilling to include Scottie Barnes in a trade package, so those conversations didn’t go very far.

Now, Toronto is five games under .500 and fighting for a spot in the Play-In Tournament. It’s unclear if the team will be a buyer or seller at the deadline, as there is no obvious path to launching a rebuild or becoming a real threat in the East.

If nothing else, Durant would have provided clarity on the Raptors’ timeline. They would have been able to focus on winning with Durant under contract for at least four seasons.

Trading for Durant wouldn’t have been as easy as pulling the trigger on the Kawhi Leonard deal, but was Toronto aggressive enough in its pursuit?

1. Suns

And here is the other wish list team. Phoenix made sense as a Durant landing spot, but after the Suns re-signed Deandre Ayton, they essentially eliminated any chance of snagging Durant, per Charania. 

Oh, what could have been for an injury-plagued Suns squad. Phoenix has lost 12 of its last 14 games. Devin Booker is stuck on the sideline. Chris Paul no longer performs like the “Point God.” Ayton has taken a step back after a strange contract negotiation. Jae Crowder is still just… hanging out? 

It’s fair to wonder if the Suns’ championship window is about to be slammed shut with the rise of other Western Conference contenders. Durant could have helped them keep it open a little bit longer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *