The Toronto Raptors are in the thick of the Kevin Durant hunt, as they are one of a few teams with the assets needed to pry him away from the Nets. While a contender out west in the Phoenix Suns is hot on his tail as well, Toronto may have just been thrown a bone by one of the league’s cellar-dwellers.
The Indiana Pacers are interested in signing Suns center Deandre Ayton, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet. The Suns may not be keen on bringing him back, but he would without question be at the forefront of Phoenix’s package for Durant.
If the Pacers sign Ayton to an offer sheet, that would mean that Ayton could not be aggregated in a trade to the Nets. With this deal being classified as a designated rookie scale contract, Brooklyn can’t acquire two players with those types of deals via trade. They already have one in Ben Simmons.
If the Suns can’t offer Ayton, a young player with All-Star potential, to Brooklyn in trade talks, they likely won’t be able to make any sort of offer unless a third team gets involved. This will make the Raptors’ less complicated offer even more attractive to the Nets.
Deandre Ayton may get Kevin Durant to the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors are one of the few teams in the league that could theoretically meet Brooklyn’s asking price without having to make the deal overly convoluted. Even if Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes stays in Toronto, the Raptors could make it worth Brooklyn’s time to trade with them.
A combination of Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby may be more enticing than raw box score numbers would indicate. With Toronto in possession of all of their future draft picks, Ujiri could be willing to flip a large chunk of them Brooklyn’s way in order to get KD in town.
A team like the Pelicans could challenge Toronto if the Suns are out of the race, but there haven’t been many rumblings suggesting they are all-in on getting Durant. The Nets might be running out of suitors, and the Raptors could have the best deal in town.
Raptors fans shouldn’t preorder the jerseys just yet, as both sides still have plenty of hoops to jump through. However, Ujiri will not give up on adding a player of his caliber until he physically can’t acquire him anymore. Phoenix bowing out of the race because of losing Ayton would be huge for Toronto.