The Toronto Raptors are emerging as a real team to watch in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.
As of Monday morning, Toronto owned the second-best odds to land Durant from the Brooklyn Nets, per DraftKings. The Raptors stood at +250, trailing only the Phoenix Suns at -130.
Rounding out the top five were the Nets (+1000), Miami Heat (+1000) and Chicago Bulls (+1200). The Raptors were way down the board at +3000 on Friday but saw their odds skyrocket over the weekend.
Toronto has a unique combination of assets that leaves the franchise in a strong position to pull off a second blockbuster trade for a superstar in the past four years — the 2018 Kawhi Leonard deal being the other.
The Raptors have star players on pricy deals that could be used for salary-matching purposes in Pascal Siakam or Fred VanVleet. They could also offer one or both of Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby, two good young players who still have room to grow.
Then there's Scottie Barnes, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year. The Raptors have "balked" at the idea of involving Barnes in a package for Durant, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, but Brooklyn will surely push hard to have him included if a deal does come to fruition.
Toronto also has its full slate of first-round draft picks to offer.
Durant sent shockwaves through the basketball world on Thursday when he requested a trade out of Brooklyn mere hours before the start of NBA free agency. Phoenix was named as the 12-time All-Star's preferred destination.
The 33-year-old joined the Nets alongside Kyrie Irving in 2019, but the partnership failed to deliver a championship — or any meaningful success — over a tumultuous three seasons derailed by injuries and controversies.
Durant appeared in 55 games in 2021-22, averaging 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per contest on 52 percent shooting (38 percent from three-point range). Brooklyn's season ended in disappointing fashion with a first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
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