76ers should throw the kitchen sink and more at Nets for Kevin Durant


Kyrie Irving blindsided the Brooklyn Nets and the broader NBA world with a trade request on Friday. With the looming threat to bolt in free agency, it appears likely that Irving will find a new home before the final bell tolls on Feb. 9, the NBA trade deadline.

Naturally, while Irving’s next home is of interest, a lot of attention has been swiftly redirected toward Kevin Durant. The 34-year-old superstar and two-time Finals MVP requested a trade from Brooklyn last summer. Now that his friend and co-star is halfway out the door, will Durant — and the Nets — consider moving on?

There’s no doubt Brooklyn would rather keep Durant, but with Irving’s trade value in the dumpster relative to his talent level, one has to question Durant’s desire to carry such a burden for the Nets. Brooklyn has struggled mightily after Durant went down with injury, and there’s no clear third star on the roster to make up for Irving’s looming departure.

The 76ers should be willing to risk it all for Kevin Durant

If Durant ultimately asks out and the Nets feel compelled to oblige, of course the Philadelphia 76ers should be in the mix. Whether or not Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ front office can put together a package enticing enough is worth asking, but there’s no doubt that Philadelphia should at least place a phone call — and their most aggressive offer.

Tyrese Maxey is beloved in these parts, and rightfully so. His effervescent smile, tireless work ethic, and consistent signs of growth are enough to captivate any fanbase, not to mention one as passionate and blue-collar as the Sixers’ fanbase. But, we’re talking about Kevin Durant here. If the Sixers want to maximize Joel Embiid’s window of contention, few players would help more than Brooklyn’s 13-time All-Star.

In 39 appearances this season, Durant is averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game on 67.3 true shooting percentage. Before the injury, he was a frontrunner for MVP and was even garnering All-Defensive team buzz.

Durant is still the world’s most precise isolation scorer, cooking defenders with razor-sharp footwork and an unguardable jump shot. He can hit 3s well behind the line, he can cut off the ball and make himself useful as a screener, and on his best nights, he still has an argument for the title of Best Offensive Player Ever.

So, of course he would complement Joel Embiid and James Harden. We have already seen the Durant-Harden partnership work wonders at various stages in their respective careers. Meanwhile, Durant would presumably replace Tobias Harris in the starting five. With all due respect to Tobias Harris, that’s like upgrading from a Ford Fusion to the latest Ferrari model.

Maxey and Harris would serve as the foundation of any Durant trade offer. Other teams have young players in the Maxey vein who they’d be willing to swap for Durant too, so the Sixers can’t operate with too much confidence. Plus, after the Harden trade, Philly is severely limited in terms of the draft capital it can offer up to Brooklyn.

The odds of Philly landing Durant — short of an explicit request from Durant to join Philly — are fairly slim. But Morey needs to throw it all out there. Maxey, Harris, every pick and pick swap available to them, Matisse Thybulle — they should be offering up a full-service, all-you-can-eat Sixers buffet. Embiid, Durant, and Harden are probably winning the championship.