The Roar
The Roar


Suns rising and Lakers overhauled as Durant, Westbrook sent packing in seismic NBA mega trades

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
9th February, 2023

Kevin Durant has played his last game for Brooklyn after the NBA superstar was traded to Phoenix, a team he tried to join in the off-season when he first demanded to be dealt away from the Nets.

It was the second blockbuster deal on the day before the NBA trade deadline after the LA Lakers earlier sent Russell Westbook away, with the former MVP dealt to Utah.

Durant, who has been sidelined recently with a knee injury, and forward TJ Warren are being shipped to Phoenix, who will send a huge bounty back to Brooklyn in the form of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four unprotected first-round picks on alternate years until 2029 and another draft pick swap in ’28.

The 35-year-old perennial All-Star again requested to be moved by the Nets following teammate Kyrie Irving being dealt to Dallas earlier this week.

Phoenix are looking to make a splash under new owner Matt Ishbia, who purchased the team for $4 billion from disgraced businessman Robert Sarver.

Durant’s acquisition restores their reputation as genuine contenders in the Western Conference as he will boost a team that still has Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton.

Meanwhile, LeBron James has got his wish with the Lakers overhauling their roster, welcoming Minnesota point guard D’Angelo Russell back to the franchise as well as Jazz duo Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.


The Jazz are getting Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damian Jones from the Lakers to make the salaries match as well as their 2027 first-round draft pick.

Veteran guard Mike Conley replaces Russell at the Timberwolves, who also receive young prospect Nickeil Alexander-Walker and three second-round picks as part of the deal.

James, 38, has been agitating for the Lakers to make a deal and Westbrook was on the outer with the team as he was nowhere near giving value for money in the final year of his max contract.

It comes after the Lakers tried to secure Irving from Brooklyn before he was traded to the Mavericks.

The Lakers are mired in 13th spot at 25-30 in the Western Conference after their 133-130 loss to Oklahoma City.


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 09: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free throw in front of LeBron James #6 and Russell Westbrook #0 during a 114-101 LA Clippers win at Arena on November 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook failed to click in LA. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

They are struggling to gain any ground as they attempt to avoid the humiliation of missing the playoffs for a second straight season.

James, who now sits on 38,390 points, surpassed the all-time scoring mark held since April 1984 by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who watched the game from a baseline seat near the Lakers’ bench. Abdul-Jabbar then joined a clearly emotional James and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on the court after the historic basket.

New York are also shaking things up with Cam Reddish and a future first-round pick being sent to Portland in exchange for versatile swingman Josh Hart, according to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

Such is the brutal nature of the NBA trading business, Hart was warming up for the Blazers’ clash with Golden State at the Moda Center in Portland when the deal was done.

Westbrook’s tenure with his hometown Lakers team lasted just 130 tumultuous games. The 2017 NBA MVP never thrived with James and injury-plagued Anthony Davis for any significant stretch of time, struggling to switch his possession-heavy game into a more complementary role.


A move to the bench last fall led to minor improvements over a dismal 2021-22 season, but Westbrook still appeared profoundly uncomfortable with the Lakers, who are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight year. 

Westbrook averaged 17.4 points, 7.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 turnovers per game during his time in Los Angeles, where fans grumbled regularly about his poor shooting and turnovers.

The 34-year-old Westbrook is making about $47 million ($A67.5 million) in the final year of his contract. 

Several months after the Lakers infuriated a large portion of their worldwide fan base by not trading Westbrook in the summer, they swapped him for Russell, who played his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers after they chose him with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Russell was a rookie during Kobe Bryant’s final season, and the point guard was the most consistently entertaining part of two poor Lakers teams before Magic Johnson traded him to Brooklyn in 2017. Russell is now being traded for the fourth time in his eight NBA seasons.


He is averaging 17.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds while hitting a career-best 46.5 per cent of his shots with Minnesota in the final year of a contract paying him more than $31 million ($A44.5 million) this season. 

His style on both ends of the court also could complement James and Davis better than Westbrook, although the Lakers will have little time to figure it out.