Grade the Trade: Lakers land Suns superstar in sizzling blockbuster pitch

The Los Angeles Lakers could trade for Kevin Durant and make one last push for a title with LeBron James
Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns / Sean Gardner/GettyImages
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What would a Kevin Durant trade to the Lakers look like?

Building a trade offer for Kevin Durant is a difficult proposition. He makes $50 million next season, so the Lakers need to come up with a lot of matching salary. The Phoenix Suns are also over the second luxury tax apron, which means they cannot aggregate (combine) outgoing salaries to match the incoming amount; essentially, they can only trade one player at a time.

The Lakers are obviously not including LeBron James or Anthony Davis in such a deal, which means they likely have to include Austin Reaves, even if he is a difficult fit with Bradley Beal and Devin Booker. The Suns could use a pure point guard, but unless D'Angelo Russell exercises his player option and wants to go to the Suns, the Lakers probably won't be able to include him in such a deal.

Those stipulations actually bring clarity to the trade offer. Without Russell, Davis or James in the deal, the Lakers likely need to stack all four of their mid-range salaries together to match Durant's salary. Add in all three of their first-round picks (assuming in this scenario that the New Orleans Pelicans defer their pick trade, which is likely) and you get an offer the Suns might just consider.

Here is what the deal would look like:

Durant Lakers no DLo

Could the Phoenix Suns find a better offer from another team? Perhaps, but Kevin Durant doesn't want to go play for a team that is not ready to contend, and it's unlikely those teams would want to pay through the nose for a player who will turn 36 before next season. The first-round picks also hold a lot of value given that LeBron and Durant will have likely retired by the time the latter two pay out.

Breaking up Durant's salary allows the Suns to offload money in different ways and gives them real role players to surround Booker and Beal with. They don't have a single blue-chip young player, but Reaves looked like he might be on that trajectory prior to this past year and is on a bargain contract. This deal might just get it done, and it is certainly a "fair" deal if Durant says he specifically wants to go to the Lakers.

What about Los Angeles? Would Rob Pelinka pull the trigger on this deal? Let's analyze the trade from the Lakers' point of view and then "grade" the trade.