Arriving in Phoenix Slithers a New Snake with Championship Pedigree
On February 9th, after former teammate and close friend Kyrie Irving requested a trade from Brooklyn, Kevin Durant found himself right behind the 8x All-Star on his way out of Brooklyn, New York and on his way to Phoenix, Arizona.
While Irving was dealt to an unsuitable situation in Dallas after his numerous meltdowns with the Nets these past few seasons, it seems, at least from a distance, that the Nets rewarded Durant for his services, respectively. In trading him to the Suns, owner Joe Tsai applauded Durant's professionalism and cooperation throughout the dumpster fire of a failed experiment that was the past three years in Brooklyn.
Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks fulfilled Durant’s request from last offseason to be dealt to Phoenix, despite withholding the 7-foot monster from the team in the valley all summer long. A lineup with Durant, Booker, Paul, and Ayton has nuclear capability, but their fate will be in the hands of the injury Gods to determine any hopes of chasing a title.
Booker and Paul returned recently from their respective injuries, and Durant has yet to return from an injury of his own. If injury uncertainties were not enough, star center Deandre Ayton and head coach Monty Williams have had an ongoing, sour relationship that will continue to get coverage as the seasons progresses. As the team prepares for a playoff push, it appears there will need to be some “team building exercises” to ensure everyone is fully committed, but in the meantime, the Suns hope a generational talent like Durant will suffice.
Unlike Kyrie’s situation with the Mavericks, however, where, inevitably, there will be a power struggle between him and Luka Doncic, I expect Durant to mesh well with his new Suns’ teammates. In Dallas, Jason Kidd will have to manage one superstar who thinks he is the next coming of Larry Bird and another who may decide to take a break for two weeks when you least expect it. Luckily, Monty Williams does not have that issue in Durant and Booker. From the outside looking in, it seems Durant and Booker just want to hoop – without all of the extracurricular nonsense that comes along with the job.
Alongside a floor general in Chris Paul, a nice center in Deandre Ayton, and a relentless scorer in Devin Booker, Durant finds himself in the catbird’s seat to win another championship in the West. Would it be with another super team? Yes, but the West is LOADED this year.
Durant’s Suns will have to go through Jokic’s Nuggets, LeBron’s new-look Lakers, Kawhi’s Clippers, Morant’s Grizzlies, and potentially his old friend Kyrie, Luka, and the Mavericks.
Currently, Phoenix sits in the 5th seed, but, unlike the sun in the real world, I expect them to do their best East Coast impression and rise in the West as the playoffs creep up on the other 13 contending teams.