The Memphis Grizzlies Need to Trade for Kevin Durant

The NBA off-season has officially started. Kevin Durant has officially requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets just hours before the official start of free agency. Despite Kyrie Irving opting into his player option for next season, Durant has determined Brooklyn is no longer the place for him to ply his trade. 

Durant has specifically named Phoenix and Miami as preferred destinations, but reporting indicates Brooklyn will simply choose the best available trade package in exchange for Durant rather than acquiesce to his demands. Durant has four years left on the contract extension he signed last offseason and has little leverage.

We’ve previously written about teams who could trade for Durant, but one team needs to get this deal done more than any other: the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Memphis Grizzlies Need to Trade for Kevin Durant

The Proposed Trade

Memphis receives: Kevin Durant

Brooklyn receives: Danny Green, Steven Adams, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Ziaire Williams, Memphis’ first-round picks in 2023, 2025, and 2027, Golden State Warriors’ first round pick in 2024.

Why the Grizzlies Need Kevin Durant

Beginning with the obvious: every team in the NBA needs Durant. No serious observer of the league would rank him outside the top five best players in the NBA. ESPN named him the best player in the league entering last season, even above previous Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Durant is the smoothest scorer in NBA history, an unblockable isolation assassin from the midrange, and an impact defender in the tensest of situations. He fits any roster in the league and would make the Grizzlies championship favorites.

At first glance, this seems like a panic move for the Grizzlies. Ja Morant turns just 23 in August, and Jaren Jackson Jr. will celebrate his “Jordan year” in September. Bane just emerged as a plus starter and has plenty of room to grow in his upcoming third season. With no other moves, Memphis will have at least six players in their first or second year in the NBA on their main roster.

Despite that, Morant’s injury history suggests his prime, and by extension Memphis’ window, could be shorter than anticipated. Morant missed 11 games due to a knee injury late last season, then re-aggravated the injury against the Warriors. It caused him to miss the final three games of that series, which Memphis lost. The greatest wing scorer of this generation would be fine insurance against a Derrick Rose-like injury outcome for Morant.

Why Kevin Durant Needs the Grizzlies

Durant left Oklahoma City for the Warriors and won two championships and two Finals MVP awards. He seemed to value friendship over the winning situation in Golden State and teamed with Irving in Brooklyn. They attempted to integrate James Harden and failed. Now, Durant finds himself on the heels of a first-round sweep by the Boston Celtics while his former comrades in Golden State have reached the championship summit again. 

Durant has reached a career crossroads. His attempt at building his own winning team in Brooklyn has fizzled with just one playoff series win. The Grizzlies offer him the opportunity to taste success outside of the Warriors’ shadow. Memphis competed in six hard-fought games against the eventual champs, and didn’t have Morant for three of those games. They instantly become championship co-favorites with Durant, and Durant gets the chance to cement himself as a legend who did not need to team with other legends to reach the game’s highest levels.