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Kevin Durant trade rumor highlights serious questions about Suns

For many Suns fans, the 2024 NBA draft coincided with another major event on Wednesday: the apparent death of sports journalism.

It was a day when Stephen A. Smith — the face of ESPN and a star performer seeking $25 million a year — reported that the Suns were desperate to get rid of Kevin Durant. He didn’t yell. He didn’t scream. In fact, he reported the news, giving you his journalistic wish.

Hours later, Suns owner Mat Ishbia stopped just short of calling Smith a liar, expressing the love Phoenix has for KD.

The boost to Planet Orange was far more exciting than anyone expected from a low-powered NBA draft where there were few household names or players with established followings. As a result, many have wondered if the Durant report was a hoax, a staged story constructed by ESPN to get your attention and save TV ratings. Commitment farming at its worst.

I believe the truth lies somewhere in between.

I think the Suns are grappling with a very heavy question. They know that Kevin Durant is a Hall of Fame talent who has provided elite productivity and availability in 2023-24. They know he is a transcendent player with value on the field that is not easy to replace. I’m always excited to watch him play basketball.

But is he a good influence on Devin Booker?

When a star like Durant arrives in a market like Phoenix, the heaviest questions always start with whispers. We heard Durant was frustrated on Christmas Day. That he was so uninspired by the coaching staff that he effectively shut out Frank Vogel for much of last season. No matter the level of hyperbole or how much the details looked and sounded, it couldn’t have been good for team chemistry.

We heard Booker tell reporters he was “relaxing” after a painful playoff loss, the kind of tepid response that made our knees buckle. It was a reaction we didn’t expect from the Valley’s most popular assassin. And with the leadership vacuum in Phoenix, the Suns need Booker to take the reins like never before.

Booker is a history buff who respects grandeur and tradition. Will he ever feel comfortable as the undisputed team leader in the current dynamic? Can he do that with Durant in his presence, a player who prides himself on playing ball and relaxing?

Heavy questions, indeed.

The path forward is therefore clear. The Suns will attempt to reset with a new head coach, new players and a new culture. They will try to imagine a better version of the Big Three, a partnership based on real trust. If there are no signs of elevation by January 2025, the Rockets will wait as potential trade partners.

Which means our first-ever super team in Arizona enters a make-or-break season with very limited room to maneuver. Hopefully Booker and Durant prove to be more than just a good idea gone bad.

Contact Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports in Arizona.



News Source : arizonasports.com
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