Kevin Durant traded to Phoenix Suns in deal with Brooklyn Nets
New Suns majority owner Mat Ishbia was introduced in Phoenix hours prior
Kevin Durant's time in Brooklyn ended Thursday when the Nets traded him to the Phoenix Suns as part of a four-team deal.
The Nets acquired Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029, and a first-round pick swap in 2028 from the Suns, who also got T.J. Warren from the Nets.
The Nets also acquired second-round picks in 2028 and 2029 from Milwaukee and the draft rights to guard Juan Pablo Vaulet from Indiana in the deal.
The Nets, meanwhile, said they felt the deal best positioned them for future success.
"We remain steadfast in our commitment to building the team Brooklyn deserves," general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. "We are excited to welcome Mikal, Cam and their families to Brooklyn and thank Kevin for the moments and memories he delivered our fanbase."
He was moved just days after the Nets traded Kyrie Irving from Dallas, a stunningly fast end to the superstar era in Brooklyn. James Harden was traded at last year's deadline, leaving the Nets with little to show for the brief time they had the Big Three together.
Top collection of talent
Now it's the Suns with a top collection of talent, with Durant joining Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton.
The trade comes just hours after new Suns majority owner Mat Ishbia was introduced in Phoenix. The self-described basketball nut, who was a walk-on at Michigan State under Tom Izzo, didn't waste any time shaking up the NBA.
Phoenix has never won a league championship. The Suns made the NBA Finals two seasons ago, but lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. They also played in the finals in 1976 and 1993.
The Suns have had several injuries this season, but have won nine of their last 11 games and look like contenders again. They jumped to fifth in the Western Conference with a 30-26 record. Booker (groin) and Paul (hip) have both recently returned.
'I'm just glad that he got out of there'
When Irving heard the news, he said: "I'm just glad that he got out of there."
Eventually, Irving left and Durant followed.
"We had a lot of conversations throughout the year of what our futures were going to look like," Irving said. "There was still a level of uncertainty but we just cared about seeing each other be places that we can thrive. Whether that be together or whether that be apart, there has never been one moment where I've felt like he's been angry at me for the decisions I've made or I've been angry at him.
"I just love the competition now that we can be in the same conference."
His acquisition, along with Dorian Finney-Smith, who came with Spencer Dinwiddie from Dallas, should make the Nets a much stronger defensive team. But those players can't replace the firepower the Nets lost with Durant and Irving, two all-star starters.
Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP with Golden State, was playing some of the best basketball of his career this season. He was averaging 29.7 points and shooting a career-high 55.9 per cent from the field when he was hurt Jan. 8 in Miami. He had his knee checked again this week and Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said Durant was progressing well, but there was no update as to when he could begin taking part fully in practices.
Lakers send Bryant to Nuggets
The Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets picked up center Thomas Bryant from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal that also saw guard Bones Hyland wind up with the Los Angeles Clippers.
As part of a trade that also involved the Orlando Magic, Denver sent guard Davon Reed and a second-round pick to the Lakers, general manager Calvin Booth announced Thursday.
The arrival of Bryant gives the Nuggets another big man to back up two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. Bryant averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds for the Lakers this season, while shooting 65.4 per cent from the floor.
The 25-year-old Bryant was taken in the second round by Utah in 2017, but was quickly sent to Lakers as part of a trade.
Reed has played sparingly for the Nuggets this season. The 27-year-old shooting guard is averaging 2.3 points.
The Lakers added another big man later Thursday when they acquired Mo Bamba from the Magic for Patrick Beverley, a second-round pick and cash considerations. The Magic are not expected to keep Beverley,
Celtics snag Muscala
The Boston Celtics have agreed to trade forward Justin Jackson and a pair of future second-round draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for big man Mike Muscala, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The move bolsters the front court for Boston, which currently has the best record in the Eastern Conference, but is looking for backup for Robert Williams and Al Horford. Williams had knee surgery in the off-season and the 36-year-old Horford has dealt with injuries in his 16th NBA season.
In Muscala, the Celtics get a 6-foot-11 forward/centre who had stints with the Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers before joining the Thunder. The 31-year-old averaged 6.2 points and 3.1 rebounds for Oklahoma City this season. His best season, 2020-21, he averaged 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Thunder.
76ers ship Thybulle to Portland
The Philadelphia 76ers are set to acquire forward Jalen McDaniels from Charlotte and send forward Matisse Thybulle to Portland as part of a multi-team trade that also involves multiple draft picks.
Thybulle twice made the NBA all-defensive second team but he has averaged just 4.4 points over four seasons with the Sixers. The 25-year-old McDaniels is averaging a career-best 10.6 points for the Hornets in his fourth season.
It was the second move in two days for the Blazers, who sent Josh Hart to the New York Knicks on Wednesday for Cam Reddish and a protected first-round draft pick.