Raptors are right for not changing stance on Kevin Durant trade

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives on Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives on Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Considering their healthy collection of tradeable assets and desire to start competing for a championship in the near future, the Toronto Raptors were often considered a prime landing spot for Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant after he requested a trade in the summer.

The main sticking point that Masai Ujiri was hung up on in negotiations was a reported unwillingness to include reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in a potential trade. As a result, talks didn’t go anywhere and Durant ended up returning to the Nets before the 2022-23 season.

With the Nets likely a good team that lacks the depth to compete for a championship, the idea of blowing it all up and starting fresh with a new identity has likely percolated around the Brooklyn front office. A Durant trade that included Barnes going the other way would give them one heck of a foundation.

While Barnes has been struggling on the offensive end to the point where he’s shooting just 39% from the field in November, some fans might start second-guessing why Toronto didn’t send that Barnes-led package to Brooklyn for Durant. Even amid his struggles, this was the right move.

The Toronto Raptors must keep Scottie Barnes in Kevin Durant talks.

Barnes is clearly nowhere close to Durant as a player right now, and he may never get close to him. Even if that’s the case, Toronto has built their roster in such a way that one Pascal Siakam-esque star and a few high-end secondary options can help them compete in the East.

Toronto may potentially give Siakam a supermax contract if he makes All-NBA again, and Fred VanVleet also is eyeing a new deal. With Toronto lacking the free agency pull of many other big markets, they will have to jettison most of their roster to bring on an aging player who will eat up most of their salary cap.

If Barnes wasn’t struggling as a finisher, this wouldn’t be a topic of discussion. The Raptors have already sunk a ton of developmental time into him, and they’ve seen him be elite at this one particular skill in the past.

Seeing Durant score 30 points every game is certainly sexy, but what happens when KD is on the back-nine of his career and Barnes starts truly taking off in Brooklyn? Ujiri has made a habit of aggressive trades that set Toronto up for success, but restraint can sometimes be just as important.

The Raptors have four more years of Durant in Brooklyn, though their results over the last few show that having him does not necessarily guarantee an easy path to the Finals. Is it worth trading away the next decade of Barnes?

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