The Durant-Ayton speculation is moving so fast we need a time machine
Let’s step back into the future with the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton to look at the present — specifically Thursday, July 14, 2022 — as if it were the past.
It will either be a 1.21 gigawatt reshuffle of the entire NBA championship landscape or the most overhyped, mundane free agency imaginable.
We don’t have to go far, just for the All-Star Game, February 19, 2023. There are many ways the day could turn out, and it all starts with a bunch of GMs arguing over a period of 23 years. -former center whose future looks much brighter than its past.
Back to the Future: Part 1
Suns general manager James Jones and his Brooklyn counterpart Sean Marks want to make a deal.
Marks wants to send out a disgruntled Kevin Durant, but the Nets front office doesn’t want to build around a center. They want a young star who plays on the perimeter.
That means they have to strike a three-team deal – at a minimum.
Maybe Jones and Marks can talk on the phone with Utah honcho Danny Ainge? (Jerry Colangelo can arrange the call. Marks and Ainge used to work for him. Jones runs the old MC franchise)
That would send Donovan Mitchell from Utah to Brooklyn.
Ayton would go to Utah.
Durant would come to Phoenix.
There would be draft picks and other players involved to make the salary calculation work.
But if that’s how it goes, Phoenix is in first place at the All-Star break. Durant and Chris Paul are coasting, leaving Devin Booker to get most of the shots. They are biding their time before the playoffs. All they want is a showdown with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Ayton, meanwhile, made his first All-Star team, playing for a Utah franchise that has a legacy of memorable big men, from Mark Eaton to Rudy Gobert, but none with Ayton’s offensive firepower. .
Donovan Mitchell is also an All-Star. He makes up at least half of Brooklyn’s offense every night.
But that’s not the only way this drama could play out.
Back to the Future: Part 2
Brooklyn’s Marks wants more than Mitchell. He wants draft picks — lots of them.
This would create the potential for a four-team trade, but if there are four teams involved, why not five? And any deal this big can only mean one thing: The Lakers are involved.
The Suns, Nets, Pacers, Jazz and the fearsome Lakers join a conference call and agree to the craziest deal since the Monstars tried to trade LeBron James and Diana Taurasi for Michael Jordan. (It happened, didn’t it? Probably not.)
Durant arrives in Phoenix.
Kyrie Irving is going to Los Angeles.
Russell Westbrook goes to Brooklyn.
Mitchell leaves for Indiana.
And Ayton is heading to Utah, site of the 2023 All-Star Game.
NBA fans spent so much time discussing the deal (and adjusting their rosters on NBA 2K) that they almost missed the first half of the season. It wasn’t until Christmas Day that everyone realized how important it was for all parties.
Durant and Booker take turns dropping 60 on opposing defenses. Paul hasn’t taken a shot all year, but he’s averaging 30 assists a night because once, when he was a kid, Scott Skiles was mean to him. (Skiles set the record for assists in a game with 30, and he doesn’t recall snubbing a young Chris Paul because that never happened…Chris Paul was never young, he had 30 years old when he was born.)
Westbrook went from stylish dude to global fashion icon, he’s like “Don’t Mess With The Zohan” but with triple doubles.
Irving and LeBron continue to fuss on Twitter, but they have more followers than ever. (Also, the Lakers are undefeated with Irving, James and Anthony Davis in the roster — which has happened twice.)
Mitchell never made it to the Pacers, but he’s playing for that Hoosiers high school, Hickory, and he’s gearing up to blow South Bend into the state championship. He has never been so happy.
Ayton, well, he’s an All-Star, and he can’t stop talking about his MyPlayer on 2K.
Of course, the story could take another direction.
Back to the Future: Part 3
James Jones refuses to match the offer sheet, and at a press conference to explain his decision, he reaches under his collar and pulls off a mask to reveal he was Larry Bird in disguise the whole time!
(Okay, probably not.)
Back to the Future: Part 4
The Suns match Indiana’s offer sheet and Ayton returns to Phoenix.
Monty Williams expands Ayton’s role on offense, and the Suns are on the verge of winning 70 games, and they’re praying they don’t meet New Orleans in the first round.
Ayton is an All-Star, and he goes in the 3-point shootout just to show off his versatility.
He wins the shootout, mostly by hitting every silver bullet and sinking a sneaky granny shot down half court to earn a tiebreaker over Booker.
Durant plays for Brooklyn, averages 30 and tweets a lot. He’s an All Star.
Indiana is Indiana. They don’t have stars.
Larry Bird is on the phone with James Jones who is trying to negotiate the exchange of a DeLorean for two first-round picks and Myles Turner.
Jones thinks about it — because he wants KD in Phoenix.
Join Moore at email@example.com or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @SayingMoore.
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