The Toronto Raptors have quietly emerged over the last 48 hours as very legitimate suitors in a prospective Kevin Durant trade.
When news of Durant’s trade request from the Brooklyn Nets first came out, two teams were mentioned as the frontrunners for his services: the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat. Both remain strong contenders.
That said, because of the complexity of any potential Durant deal, and in light of the massive package Brooklyn is demanding, those two teams alone may not cut it. And that’s where the Raptors come in.
“I think a team that’s lurking is Toronto,” Adrian Wojnarowski said on Friday. “They have all the kinds of pieces that you would want and their picks to do a deal for Kevin Durant… Masai Ujiri, you saw the chance he took on Kawhi Leonard.”
“I think a team that’s lurking is Toronto. They have all the kinds of pieces that you would want and their picks to do a deal for Kevin Durant… Masai Ujiri, you saw the chance he took on Kawhi Leonard.”@wojespn on the Raptors possibly trading for KD 👀pic.twitter.com/XDvXdHwuC6
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 1, 2022
Wojnarowski’s message was corroborated on Saturday by Michael Grange of SportsNet.
“I can confirm that not only are the Raptors ‘lurking,’ but they also feel they can put together the best package of assets the Brooklyn Nets are likely to get,” he reported.
Grange also noted that Durant was now ‘open’ to the idea of going to Toronto.
“There is also a sense – though it’s reading tea leaves at this stage, as teams can’t communicate directly with Durant, who remains under contract with the Nets – that the two-time champion and 11-time all-NBA force of nature is at least open to the possibility of playing in Toronto,” he wrote.
So are the Raptors now officially a frontrunner for Durant’s services?
Not quite. In order to earn that distinction the front office would need to be willing to part with anyone on the roster. And as of now, it appears one player is off limits in any prospective trade: Scottie Barnes.
“Toronto has remained fixed on keeping Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes out of any package they are offering [for Durant],” Grange reported.
This situation is obviously very fluid. At this point, there is only one NBA team that Durant definitely won’t be traded to. Everyone else is still on the table.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ best offer for Durant speaks for itself. Same for the Boston Celtics’. The Suns and Heat will both need to get a third team involved to make something happen.
Toronto, meanwhile, has all the chips necessary to get something done with minimal involvement from third parties.
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 2, 2022
The Raptors are very well-positioned right now.
This franchise shocked the world once when they acquired and then won a title with Leonard.
Will history repeat itself once more in 2022?
Time will tell.
Related: 2 Sharpshooters Emerge As Trade Targets For Lakers