In case you haven’t heard, Kevin Durant, one of the dozen or so best players in NBA history, sees the Philadelphia 76ers as a “desired” landing spot, as per Ian Begley of SNY.
Now this, obviously, is very interesting news indeed; typically, players of that caliber don’t want to go to teams who don’t have a legitimate chance at a Chip, so if nothing else, Begley’s reporting looks good on Daryl Morey’s roster-building philosophy. A Big 3 of Durant, James Harden, and Joel Embiid would certainly be the best team in the East, maybe even the NBA as a whole, and the prospects of parading down Broad Street would be very much in play as a result.
Needless to say, “DurantMania” swept over the City of Brotherly Love in a credible fashion. Jerseys were swapped, numbers were discussed, and the Trade Machine lit up like a Christmas Tree with scores of armchair GMs formulating different packages to get their guy.
The only problem? The Philadelphia 76ers don’t even have even close to enough assets to make a deal work.
The Philadelphia 76ers are more or less who they are moving forward.
Alright, so just for the sake of argument, let’s say the Philadelphia 76ers want to put together their “grandfather” offer for Kevin Durant, with just Joel Embiid and James Harden left out for obvious reasons. What would that look like?
Well, it would certainly be headlined by Tyrese Maxey, and then would have to include Tobias Harris for cap purposes, Jaden Springer and Matisse Thybulle for their “trade value upside,” and every moveable draft pick, which right now is 2029 first and a few second-round picks, the exact number of which depends on how protections on trades shake out.
That’s kind of an interesting package, right? Like, Maxey is going to be a star, and throwing in a few picks and some rookie-scale contract players would be enough to garner some pretty darn good players across the NBA.
The problem? The Boston Celtics, the other team mentioned in Ian Begley’s reporting, can offer up Jaylen Brown for Kevin Durant, and their GM, Brad Stevens, has two first-round picks plus the potential for swaps that he could offer Brooklyn for their best player. While the Celtics have moved off of a few of their “prospects” in other deals, they still have a few other interesting players like Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard who could help to fill out a deal, and, considering they were a few better performances by Jayson Tatum away from winning the whole darn thing earlier this summer, they might just be willing to move off of Brown, picks, and maybe even Marcus Smart, a player Begley mentioned in his story, to get over the proverbial hump.
If Brown is on the table via Brooklyn, the Sixers just don’t have a card they can play that can trump it.
The NBA is a funny place; few expected to see Kevin Durant traded for D’Angelo Russell – albeit in a sign-and-trade – and fewer still expected to see D-Lo shipped to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins be one of the key decisions in the Golden State Warriors’ first championship win post-KD. While Durant could theoretically demand a deal that sends him to Philly and Philly alone, and such a decision would change the calculus of any discussion substantially, it’s hard to see such a declaration coming down the pike, as there are similarly attractive options around like Boston who can actually field the sort trade package worthy of a player like Durant. But hey, in this case, I would love to be proven wrong.