If the Toronto Raptors want to be the team to pull Kevin Durant away from the Brooklyn Nets, they’re going to have to give up something they don’t want to part with, like 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.
As word emerged of the Nets asking for Anthony Edwards or Karl-Anthony Towns in Durant trade talks, the Raptors are likely to face similar hardships.
Barnes is perhaps the most untouchable piece on the Raptors roster, but like Durant is to the Nets, he’s also the most valuable. Though, it takes more than just Barnes to complete a deal, as his rookie salary ($7.6 million) comes nowhere close to matching Durant’s ($44.1 million).
But Barnes, from a value standpoint, should cause Brooklyn’s ears to perk up. It’s just that he’s likely not available. As Brian Lewis of the New York Post tells it, the Raptors aren’t interested in putting Barnes in trade talks, not even for Durant. But this should come as no surprise. That doesn’t mean a Durant deal to the Raptors should be seen as dead quite yet.
Raptors could land Durant without including Scottie Barnes
Of course the Raptors aren’t looking to trade Scottie Barnes right away. They nailed their draft pick last season. Teams don’t generally trade young talent like this. Yet again, this is Kevin Durant we’re talking about. While Barnes was a good player as a first-year pro, there’s no guarantee he becomes a superstar. Durant’s ready to help a team win an NBA Championship right away.
Durant is one of the best 20 players in basketball, and Barnes may never even get close. He has a lot of raw tools that can be refined, but he’s unlikely to become a top scoring threat. Meanwhile, Durant’s set to land in the Hall of Fame, not long after he retires.
Though, if the Raptors aren’t looking to trade their young, 20-year-old two-way sensation, they may still have enough capital to get a deal done. OG Anunoby is valued highly around the league, as another lengthy wing with versatility, and an ability to help win on both ends of the floor.
There’s also the other franchise cornerstones in Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Any Durant deal will likely include one of these big names, it’s just about whether they want to part with an experienced vet the local fanbase has grown to love over the years, or if they’d prefer to gamble on the idea that Barnes never reaches his full potential. There’s also some additional upside in including Barnes, as they wouldn’t have to attach so many pieces on their roster in addition to other draft picks.
If the Raptors are serious about being one of the last teams standing in the Eastern Conference next season, having Durant would certainly help, but is it worth it to part with Barnes to do so? Probably not.