The Suns Get a New NBA Player: James Harden, Mattee Ishbia and the Phoenix Suns After a Game with Curry
The Nets traded Irving within a few days of putting the ball in the court of Stephen Curry. The Nets had the Big Three together for a short time last year, but James Harden was traded at the previous year’s deadline.
The Suns will send Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, four first-round picks and additional draft compensation to the Nets for the 13-time All-Star.
The Suns also receive forward T.J. Warren in the deal, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade is not yet official.
The veteran of four NBA teams is still playing at his best, with nearly 30 points per game this season. He asked for a trade last summer and the Suns were interested, and finally got him before Thursday’s 3 p.m. EST trade deadline.
He is recovering from a sprained knee ligament, and when he returns it will be to a Phoenix lineup that suddenly could be one of the best in the Western Conference.
The trade comes just hours after new Suns majority owner Mat Ishbia was introduced in Phoenix. The basketball nut, a walk-on at Michigan State under Tom Izzo, didn’t take long to make a change in the NBA.
Phoenix has never won an NBA title. The Suns made the NBA Finals two seasons ago, but lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. They also played in the finals in 1976 and 1993.
The Suns have had several injuries this season, but played better in recent weeks and look like contenders again. They were fifth in the Western Conference with an 30-26 record. Booker (groin) and Paul (hip) have both recently returned.
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Irving scored 24 points in his Mavs debut against the Clippers on Wednesday. The Nets wouldn’t give him a contract extension last summer, just as the team was getting ready to deal him.
“We had a lot of conversations throughout the year of what our futures were going to look like,” Irving said. “There was still a level of uncertainty but we just cared about seeing each other be places that we can thrive. Whether that be together or whether that be apart, there has never been one moment where I’ve felt like he’s been angry at me for the decisions I’ve made or I’ve been angry at him.
Bridges was the runner-up to Boston’s Marcus Smart last season for the Defensive Player of the Year award and his offensive game continues to grow. The swingman scored 21 points Tuesday when the Suns beat the Nets 116-112 in Brooklyn.
The Nets will be a stronger defensive team as a result of his acquisition. But it seems impossible to replace the firepower they lost with Durant and Irving, two All-Star starters.
“That is insane,” one fan, Joe Brooks, told NPR. I’m not sure if they actually did it. You know, this is probably the best player that the Brooklyn Nets have ever had in their franchise history.”
Following the news, Brooks, a Philadelphia-based attorney and longtime Nets fan, tweeted a photo of seven of his jerseys, including three Durant jerseys.
Fellow athletes also took to social media to collectively react to the Durant trade. Grant Williams, Royce O’Neale, and Evan Fournier were among NBA players who took to the internet to express their disbelief.
The mayor of Phoenix shared her approval of the trade. “Expensive, but worth it,” Gallego tweeted, alongside a photo of an awning with the word “Durant’s.”