The Kevin Durant trade saga seems to take a new turn with each passing day. One day he’s going to one team, the next day he’s going to another team, and then the day after that he’s going nowhere. Nobody can genuinely wrap their head around the status of Durant’s trade request off of the Brooklyn Nets from early July, and as long as he remains on the Nets, he figures to be the main topic of discussion around the NBA.
Durant’s renewed friendship with James Harden could change the tides of his trade saga
What appears to have sparked the demise of the Nets super team was James Harden’s trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden was sick of waiting for Kyrie Irving to return to the court amid his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, so he forced his way onto the 76ers. It was a decision that Durant was not too happy about, and it wasn’t surprising to hear that he and Harden were no longer talking.
But Durant and Harden still decided to meet for a weekend over the offseason, and it appears they are back on good terms. According to Bill Simmons, Harden’s decision to make good with Durant could indirectly (or directly, depending on which way you look at it) lead to him wanting to join Philadelphia as his next team. Simmons believes that after Durant and Harden hung out, Durant began looking at the 76ers as a potential trade destination, and if that’s the case, Philly might have the resources to put this trade saga to rest.
“KD and Harden, this is what I heard. They don’t talk after the trade. They basically go radio silent on each other. They run into each other. They hang out all weekend. And by the end of the weekend, KD is sniffing around on Philly. And there’s a whole Philly thing that happens for three days where it’s like basically Harris and Tyrese Maxey and whatever pick, and it’s just it’s not even close.” - Bill Simmons, Hoops Hype
Could the 76ers emerge as the front-runner in the Durant sweepstakes?
We knew that Durant had begun looking at the 76ers as a potential landing spot in a trade out of Brooklyn, but Simmons’ explanation here provides better context on why that is the case. If Durant and Harden were still on bad terms, there wouldn’t be any reason for Philly to consider a trade for him. But they could be looking to reunite alongside Joel Embiid on the Sixers in the hope that could lead them to a title.
If Philly’s front office decides to go all-in, Simmons also points out that they could blow other teams out of the water with their trade package. The Nets have made it clear they are looking for established NBA talent and draft assets in return for Durant, and the 76ers could offer just that. A trade package built around Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and draft picks would be hard for other teams to match.
There still isn’t a true front-runner for Durant at this point. But that could change quickly if Philadelphia decides to go all-in on Durant. Given how his relationship with Harden appears to be repaired, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that happen. Whatever happens, it looks like the 76ers may be a dark horse candidate to keep an eye on as the Durant trade saga drags on.