The Kevin Durant sweepstakes have persisted throughout the Fourth of July weekend. While the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat quickly emerged as the two teams that Durant would prefer to join, neither team has been able to craft up a trade package that has piqued the Brooklyn Nets’ interest. As the stalemate continues, a third team has entered the fray: the Toronto Raptors.
While Toronto is not at the top of Durant’s list, he reportedly is at least open to the idea of playing on the Raptors. But some have questioned whether it would be worth it for the Raptors to make a move for Durant if his heart isn’t entirely in it. Chris Broussard went on First Things First to say that he thinks Durant wouldn’t want to play in Toronto, partly because it isn’t the same as playing in America.
“I don’t think KD will want to go to Toronto. I visited there many times. Obviously, I was there covering the league. Great city, but it’s not America. And you feel it when you’re there, I’m telling you, especially as an African American. It’s a different situation than African Americans are used to being in. I’ve talked to people in that organization pre-Ujiri about can they keep African American superstars there?” - Chris Broussard, First Things First.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson steps up and defends Toronto
Broussard obviously has experience covering the NBA in Toronto, but he doesn’t have any experience with playing in Toronto in front of their fans. Someone who does have some experience in that regard is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and he jumped in to defend the city of Toronto from Broussard’s comments.
Hollis-Jefferson only played one season in Toronto but quickly understood what it took to play for a team in a different country. Hollis-Jefferson promptly came to the defense of Toronto, responding to a video of Broussard’s comments on Twitter by saying, “Yeaaaa this a stretch… Canadians love you like you grew up there… he’s tripping”.
The Raptors have a lot to consider when potentially trading for Durant
Hollis-Jefferson’s comments on playing in Toronto should be taken with more weight than Broussard’s. It isn’t like Hollis-Jefferson is a star player; he came off the bench most nights and didn’t significantly impact the 2020-21 Raptors team. But even with his limited contributions, he felt the love from the city of Toronto during his short stint there.
If Durant ended up in Toronto, the problem probably wouldn’t be how the fans received him; it would be whether or not he actually wanted to be there. Durant wants to play for Phoenix or Miami while being less receptive to the possibility of playing for the Raptors. It seems to have more to do with these squads’ talent than the cities they are associated with.
It could be disastrous if the Raptors take a shot at acquiring Durant. If he is unhappy in Toronto, he could force his way off their team and destroy the franchise in the process. But it could make them one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors have a lot to figure out regarding their pursuit of Durant, but whether or not he is receptive to the city shouldn’t be among the top of their concerns.