Well, it didn’t take long for Kevin Durant to find something to complain about with his new super team.
According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns can “feel the frustration” coming from Durant about their current roster situation. Wojnarowski cited Bradley Beal’s inability to stay on the court and the roster’s “overwhelming supporting cast” as major pressure points, along with the fact that Phoenix currently has no draft assets or tradable contracts to add talent to this team.
It felt inevitable. Trading for Washington Wizards point guard was a massive bet on the talent of Durant, Beal and Devin Booker. The three make up a combined salary cap of $130.4 million, just $5 million and change under the league’s salary cap. Because the Suns were hard on the first salary advance, they signed minimum players. The only significant player they were able to acquire was Jusuf Nurkic, a center whose strengths come exclusively on the offensive end of the court.
The trade played out in a worst-case scenario. Beal, who started 60 games in a season just five times in his 12-year career, played just six games as a Sun. When he’s on the court, Beal is averaging his worst field goal percentage since 2014-2015, putting up just 14.7 points per game.
Durant and Booker pull their weight. Durant’s 30.3 points per game would go down as the second highest of his career. Booker is also close to setting a new career high in points per game, while already averaging career highs in points (5.4) and rebounds (8.3).
That’s about all the production this team can get from its roster. 35-year-old Eric Gordon is the third-highest scorer when Beal is unavailable. Grayson Allen should be a role player, but is now an important part of the Suns’ rotation. The minimum-salary fliers and throw-in trade contracts they used to fill their bench — Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan Goodwin, Drew Eubanks, Nasir Little, Yuta Watanabe — all play significant minutes and fail to elevate the team not.
Phoenix currently sits at 14-15, a half game out of the West’s play-in tournament. They have the third hardest remaining strength of schedule in the league. There is also no stream out for this Suns team. Phoenix tied up four first-round pick trades (2024, 2026, 2028, 2030) and six second-round trades (2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, 2028, 2030) in the Beal trade. All this for six games from a 30-year-old, ball-dominant point guard whose effectiveness is diminished when he’s the third mouth in a Big-Three offense.
That trade, mind you, does not include the three remaining first-round picks (2025, 2027, 2029) that the Suns gave up to acquire Durant. Their roster is so thin that no operating asset can be turned around for meaningful talent on its own. The trade to get Durant has already depleted the Suns of talent like Mikal Bridges and rotation players like Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder. The Beal trade left an asset-poor team destitute, with no way out but down.
When Durant asked out of an exploding Brooklyn Nets team, the fit with the Suns felt odd. Durant and Booker were a promising duo, yes, but Chris Paul was an aging point guard, DeAndre Ayton was a questionable center talent, and the rest of the roster was flawed. Less than a year later, Beal is an even worse aging point guard, Nurkic is an even more questionable center and the roster is even thinner. The Western Conference, meanwhile, got even better.
Durant left one failed experiment for another. If the rest of the Suns can’t get things right, he’ll ask to leave again.