Denver Nuggets: Why a trade for Kevin Durant makes no sense

Ever since the news came out that Kevin Durant had requested a trade out of Brooklyn, you can’t spend a minute online without coming across some sort of prediction as to where he’ll end up. Which shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise given that he’s one of the greatest basketball players on earth and the announcement came completely out of left field.

Three years to the exact date, Durant walked out on the Golden State Warriors following their NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors. Opting to take his talents out east and team up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. Now, years later, history has repeat itself, with Durant reportedly wanting to move on to franchise number four.

There’s no denying that he’s one of the most dominant players in the association. He’s also coming off a fantastic season in which he averaged his highest scoring output since 2013 (29.9), set career-highs in assists per game (6.4) and free-throw shooting (90.1 percent), all at the age of 33.

That being said, his name has taken a beating over the last 24 hours as a result of the news, with fans and pundits alike questioning where his passion truly lies.

He left Oklahoma City after nearly a decade to play for the Warriors, and then again a few years later as a back-to-back NBA champion. Now, after unsuccessfully clinching that elusive third title, he appears to have given up on the franchise with the hopes of winning another ring elsewhere.

While reports have indicated that his desired locations are Miami and Phoenix, two previous NBA Finals participants. The Denver Nuggets might just be able to string together enough to make an intriguing offer for the 12-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP.

But does that mean they should?

Denver Nuggets: Why a trade for Kevin Durant makes no sense

With the return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets could be thrust back into contention as early as next year. Backed up by a supporting cast of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Aaron Gordon, Bones Hyland and their most recent signing, Bruce Brown.

So, acquiring an All-NBA talent like Kevin Durant would be an all-in move that would certainly push them over the top, placing them among the elites of the Western Conference. Plus, Durant has spoken previously about how much he loves Denver.

Unfortunately, a deal of this magnitude is impossible if you’re the Denver Nuggets.

I imagine that a trade centred around Porter Jr. or Murray would be of great interest to Brooklyn. Particularly since they’re both in that $30-35 million price range that would need to be met to match Durant’s salary. However, outside of these two players, the Nuggets don’t really have too many other tradeable assets.

In terms of draft picks, Denver is limited to just a single 2029 first-round pick since they’ve already given up their 2023, 2025 and 2027 first-round picks in previous trades. And due to the Stepien Rule, teams are prohibited from trading first-round picks in consecutive years.

Now, they do have some nice young prospects they could throw Brooklyn’s way, most notably Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji, as well as their recent draftees, Christian Braun and Peyton Watson. However, past that, the team doesn’t have many options.

The truth is that trading any combination of Hyland, Nnaji, Braun and Watson on top of Porter Jr. or Murray and their 2029 first-round pick likely wouldn’t be enough to entice the Nets anyway.

Braun and Watson could turn out to be solid professionals, but they haven’t played a single NBA game and both were taken ahead of their projected draft slots. While Nnaji hasn’t played more than half a season since getting drafted in 2020. Bones is an exceptional young prospect, and would demand some trade value, but that’s about it.

Plus, to even make a trade for Kevin Durant work salary wise, the Denver Nuggets would have to give up one of either Aaron Gordon and KCP, who was just acquired yesterday.

Even still, do we really think that the Brooklyn Nets accept a trade with MPJ (or Murray), Gordon, Hyland and a future first-round pick for one of the greatest basketball players of all time? Maybe, but I’d be willing to bet that this still will not be good enough.

It’s also technically impossible, as noted by ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Who pointed out that the Brooklyn Nets are unable to acquire another player currently on their rookie extension, unless they dumped Ben Simmons as well.

This means that even if the Nets are willing to accept a trade centred around Michael Porter Jr., or Jamal Murray, that they would then need to get rid of Ben Simmons as well. Which they may want to do anyway, given the circumstances, but good luck finding a suitor, at least right now.

This also completely removes the idea of Denver trading both Murray and Porter in a deal for Durant, since Brooklyn can’t even acquire one player on a rookie extension, let alone two. As if the Nuggets really wanted to move on from both of them anyway.

The Denver Nuggets have been turning away Jamal Murray suitors for years, and while Kevin Durant might be enough to change their minds, especially given the injury risk that Michael Porter Jr. poses both now and in the future. It feels unlikely given that Brooklyn would also need to deal Ben Simmons just to make the trade possible.

So, while it’s only natural for Nuggets fans to want to see a superstar like KD join the team, it doesn’t look like the Joker will be teaming up with the Slim Reaper any time soon.