How KD trade talks slowing benefits Warriors' title pursuit


So, after all that, maybe Kevin Durant will stay with the Brooklyn Nets?

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday, citing sources, that trade talks centering around the Nets superstar have "slowed to a trickle."

"You can still get some Nets folks on the phone if you want to make an offer, but they are not aggressively, I am told, making outgoing calls," Windhorst said on "Get Up." "The league is about to go on their first significant vacations in two years, people are scattering to Europe and the national parks, and Kevin Durant is still a Net, and I don't think that's going to change in the short-term future."

Windhorst's report comes three weeks after Durant requested a trade from the Nets. Now, the narratives around the league are drifting toward Durant staying with Brooklyn, as one anonymous NBA general manager told Sam Amico of Hoops Wire.

If Durant were to remain on the Nets' roster and give his partnership with Kyrie Irving another chance, it would greatly benefit the defending champion Warriors.

Most importantly, it would keep Durant in the Eastern Conference. When the trade rumors first dropped, it was reported that Durant had named the Phoenix Suns as a favored destination. No matter who the Suns surrendered in that potential trade -- even if it was Devin Booker (which would force the Nets to move Ben Simmons due to designated rookie extension limitations) -- Phoenix would arise as Golden State's biggest threat to repeating a championship next season.

The East already is swarming with contenders, even with Durant wanting out.

The Boston Celtics, last year's conference champions, improved their roster by adding Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari in the offseason. The Milwaukee Bucks are expected to be a force again with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge, as they were one game away from reaching the conference finals this past season without a healthy Khris Middleton, their second-best player. Joel Embiid and James Harden have a talented core around them in Philadelphia, as "The Beard" appear to be motivated to save his basketball legacy with the 76ers.

Even a disgruntled Durant playing for the Nets would make it four legitimate title contenders in the conference. If you include the Miami Heat, who always are a threat regardless of how many undrafted players they throw out there, that makes five.

As the Warriors learned in their championship run, competition on the other side of the bracket matters. The Celtics had to play two Game 7s in their route to the NBA Finals and clearly were fatigued before being sent home by Steph Curry without a ring. Jayson Tatum played 219 more minutes in the playoffs than Curry, and it showed: Tatum shot just 36.7 percent from the field in the Finals.

Windhorst's report, of course, doesn't guarantee Durant won't be moved at some point. But it does increase the odds of Durant staying with the Nets into the regular season, and if he's traded, it would happen at the deadline, giving him less time to get acclimated to his new team.

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Many were handing the Larry O'Brien Trophy to the 76ers after their acquisition of Harden in February, but Philadelphia couldn't get past Miami in the second round. It takes time for teams to get rotations in order for the playoffs, even around a superstar like Durant.

No, the Durant-to-the-Bay rumors won't subside until he's traded elsewhere or comes out with a statement declaring loyalty to the Nets. But the Warriors would benefit from him staying in Brooklyn anyway.

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