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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Would the Lakers make this trade?

The Los Angeles Lakers are not going to win another title with their current roster, not with the Denver Nuggets having their number and teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder rising toward the top of the mountain. It's also not likely that finding the "right mix" of role players around LeBron is enough to propel them up the standings.

They need star power, a player who can create his own shot to give LeBron plays off and keep defenses honest. D'Angelo Russell is not the answer to that problem as much as he tried to be. A player like Kevin Durant, on the other hand, is one of the best answers possible.

Durant is a proven playoff performer with two Finals MVPs to his name, both earned at the expense of James. He averaged 27 points per game on elite accuracy this season even at his age, and his shooting is unlikely to drop off significantly as he ages. He knows how to play off of elite teammates, and he and James have played together in a few different settings (and will again this summer at the Paris Olympics). Durant was also the Suns' best defensive player this year, and while that impact is more susceptible to eroding as he ages, he will benefit from playing in front of Anthony Davis.

Trading for a player like Durant, pushing all of the chips in for a 36-year-old player with a checkered injury history, is a massive risk. The Lakers would be selling off the future to make one last run in the present. Could LeBron, KD and AD reach the heights necessary to make the bet worth it? Can they fill out the roster enough, particularly in the backcourt, to be a viable contender?

The answer is unclear, but it certainly could be yes, and it's unlikely the Lakers will have a better shot at a title in the next half-decade. The historical element would also be remarkable, with yet-another Top 15 player in NBA history suiting up for the Lakers. If Chris Paul is waived by the Warriors would he sign a minimum deal to join the Lakers' final run?

This is a risky trade, and there might be a younger player available for the Lakers' assets who lowers their chances at contending next year but would give them a contributor moving forward. That may be the smarter approach, but it wouldn't maximize their chances of a run right now. Trading for Durant would. How likely is that risk to pay off? The odds are low, but they probably are any way you slice it with LeBron's final season or two. And it would certainly be a fun way to go out.

Grade: B

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