Superstar forward Kevin Durant rocked the basketball world on Thursday afternoon, expressing his desire to be traded to his current team – the Brooklyn Nets.
In the hours and days since then, rumors and trade simulations have run rampant as media and fans try to figure out the most likely landing spot for the 12-time All-Star.
An unlikely candidate may emerge: the Toronto Raptors.
The team from the north could be a dark horse in securing Durant, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski proposed in Friday’s edition. NBA Today,
“I think one team that is lurking, and going to lurk in, is Toronto,” Wojnarowski said. “They have all kinds of pieces you could want and their choice is for Kevin Durant to make a deal.”
Key pieces Toronto can offer include veteran and 2021-22 third-team All-NBA selection Pascal Siakam, sharpshooting and ball-hawking guard Gary Trent Jr., prototype three-and-D wing OG Annobi, or even That includes the franchise point guard and 2021-. 22 All-Star Fred VanVleet. But, without a doubt, the most prized trade chip is reigning Rookie of the Year winner Scotty Barnes.
Wojnarowski says the Raptors would ideally like to keep Barnes and not transfer their 2021 No. 4 overall pick to any player, regardless of their ability.
Toronto has lucrative assets, but will President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri and General Manager Bobby Webster commit to such a team and franchise-changing shakeup?
Well, they’ve done that before.
In July 2018, the Raptors sent franchise icon and loyal All-Star Demar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs as a replacement for forward and 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, even though the San Diego State product had only played in nine competitions prior to the season and only had his contract. But there is one year left.
Wojnarowski said, “(The Raptors) have an organization leader in the Masai Ujiri, who, you saw, had a year left on Kavi Leonard.”
That opportunity paid off as Toronto captured the franchise’s first NBA championship in the 2018–19 season, with Leonard taking home his second Finals MVP trophy.
The essential pieces may be in place, and the Raptors’ brass has a track record for rolling the dice, but does Durant want to move to Toronto and stay longer?
Shortly after the request was announced, it was reported that the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns were among the teams that were on Durant’s destination “wish list”, according to Wojnarowski, with no such mention of the Raptors.
Durant has expressed some form Interested in joining the franchise, describing the Raptors as his favorite team during his childhood in Washington, DC
However, how much stock can management put in comments made almost a decade ago about interest expressed in the late 1990s and early 2000s?
Anyone who lands on the all-time great land will need a business package, gumption, and potentially an attractive destination to sustain a long-term mutually beneficial tenure.
Upon closer examination, it appears that the Raptors have the mix of ingredients to potentially pull off one of the biggest blockbuster trades in the history of the league. The question is, as Wojnarowski put it: “How far are the Raptors willing to go?”