NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts during Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center on April 25, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 116-112.

By Dylan MacKinnon

I may have to make a mea culpa. Less than a week ago I wrote there was no chance Kevin Durant could come here. But now? I am not saying it is likely, but there is some smoke to this fire. He requested a trade earlier this week. Initial reporting was that he wanted to go to the Miami Heat or the Phoenix Suns. And as expected, those two teams opened as the betting favorites to land the future Hall of Famer. But since then, something has happened. The Sixers betting odds are going up. They went from +1200 to +800. To the point that now some Sports Books even have the Sixers with the second-best odds behind the Suns. So could the Sixers actually land Kevin Durant?

There is reason to think it makes sense. For one, most of his business ventures are in this area. His media network, Boardroom, and its Parent Company, 35 Ventures, are both based in NYC. He has a 5% stake in the Philadelphia Union ownership. He could potentially be sold on staying close to these investments. It is also worth mentioning how much KD loves Joel Embiid. He never misses an opportunity to praise the big man. he picked Embiid as his choice for MVP and called him “unstoppable”.

“He’s really unstoppable. He said something where he was like I can transform from like Kobe, to Hakeem, to Shaq, to a couple other players and I was like, ‘Yo, you’re telling the truth.'”- Kevin Durant

It is feasible to say Kevin Durant would be interested in playing here. There could be some awkwardness between him and James Harden, but I have a hard time seeing either of them refusing to play together again.

The question is could they convince the Nets? That is the part that is harder to get on board with. In terms of players, the Sixers can put together a decent package. Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, and Matisse Thybulle may be the most attractive package of players they could get back. The Heat cant offer Bam Adebayo unless the Nets also trade Ben Simmons. The NBA has a rule that no team can have two players with the designated rookie extension. And it’s hard to see a package centered around Tyler Herro moving the needle.

The Suns however could offer Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Reports are that the Nets will require Devin Booker in any deal, but there is no chance the Suns do that. So is Ayton and Bridges a better package than Maxey, Harris, and Thybulle? I imagine it’s close. Maxey is the most intriguing prospect in that deal, and perhaps in any deal, a team could offer the Nets. He is a rising star, and still on his rookie deal. Ayton and Bridges are better players right now, but they also have to be paid. Maxey is still cheap, and his upside is hard to turn down. Harris despite being overpaid is still a very good player. If we were going just off players, the Sixers may have the best package to offer.

But what the Suns have, that the Sixers do not, is control of all of their future picks. The Sixers cannot offer any first-round picks until 2029 because they already gave them all up to the Nets for Harden. The NBA rule is you cannot trade a first-round pick two years in a row, and you also cant trade picks more than 7 years in advance. The Sixers have given up every tradeable pick between now and 2027. The only pick available is the 2029 pick. And meanwhile, the Suns could offer as many as 4 first-round picks if they choose to.

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The Sixers can beat the Heats package. I do not know if they can beat the Sun’s package. They have one thing in their corner. A young, talented, and fun prospect like Maxey could put the Sixers over the top. But, I still say it is unlikely to happen. But what is different between when I first said it was not happening, and now, is that there is some actual smoke here. The fact Sportsbooks have the Sixers with decent odds shows that. But If I were placing a bet, it would be on the Suns. Ayton and Bridges are a good pair of players to get back. And the Sixers can’t compete with the package of picks the Suns can put together.

But, it is not impossible. He has connections here, loves Joel Embiid, and the inclusion of Maxey could give the Nets something to consider. But if it is going to happen, Kevin Durant would probably have to say he wants to come here and force the Nets’ hand. James Harden taking a pay cut let the Sixers to add some depth, allowing them to be able to offer all these players, and still be able to field a competitive team behind the hypothetical combo of Embiid, Durant, and Harden.

There is a chance. It is just a very small one. Don’t go placing bets on him to come here, but it is okay to dream a little bit