PHOENIX — Let’s begin with Jerry Colangelo as a result of that’s all the time one of the best transfer in these conditions. In his profession, Colangelo has run each the Phoenix Suns and USA Basketball. He has seen all of it.

Since Kevin Durant first requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets in late June, reportedly itemizing the Suns as a most well-liked vacation spot, the dialog has hijacked the Arizona summer time. First, hope. Then, doubt. Now every little thing seems to be stuck, tires spinning, engine back-firing, in a maddening state of … possibly?


Colangelo first met Durant within the winter of 2006. Durant’s Texas squad was in downtown Phoenix to face Gonzaga in a key nonconference contest. Durant, a freshman on his approach to profitable almost each main particular person award in faculty basketball, went for 29 factors and 9 rebounds, however Gonzaga defeated the Longhorns 87-77.

Four months later, Colangelo, then the managing director for the boys’s nationwide crew, bumped into Durant in a lodge foyer in the course of the Final Four in Atlanta. He instructed the Texas ahead that he wished to ask him to USA Basketball’s coaching camp. Colangelo was struck by Durant’s pleasure. He observed how Durant appeared him within the eye, one thing others his age had not.

“He just overflowed with enthusiasm,” Colangelo recalled earlier this summer time.

Durant didn’t make the Olympic crew in 2008, however he blossomed into an NBA star, among the many purest scorers the league has seen, and a USA Basketball mainstay. He helped produce gold medals in 2012, 2016 and 2021, essentially the most prolific scorer in USA Basketball Olympics historical past. From his place, Colangelo noticed a modified individual however the identical basketball expertise.

“He’s not the same effervescent, glowing kid he was when I met him as a college freshman, but no one is,” Colangelo mentioned. “Everyone changes. I will say this: I have great respect for him. What he’s done with his talents and contribution … he’s a hooper, for sure. He loves the game. But he’s not a real outspoken guy, so when you talk about levels of making splashes, he does his splashing on the court. That’s who he is.”

Last season the Suns posted the NBA’s greatest document however fizzled within the playoffs, shedding to the Dallas Mavericks within the Western Conference semifinals. In July, they matched a max provide sheet from the Indiana Pacers to maintain middle Deandre Ayton in place alongside guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Since Ayton can’t be traded till Jan. 15 — and never for a full 12 months with out his consent — the Suns face difficult cap constraints in any commerce for Durant.

But nothing within the NBA is not possible. Disgruntled stars have a historical past of getting their method. The 33-year-old Durant, underneath contract via the 2025-26 season, wouldn’t be the primary to power his method out.

“Obviously, if there’s a way for him to get to Phoenix and play with Booker and Paul,” Colangelo mentioned, not needing to complete the sentence. “Chris is near the end, I’m not saying he’s at the end. But if (Durant) can get a couple years with those two guys, they could be great years for the Suns. I’d love to see that.”

Devin Booker and Kevin Durant congratulate one another after an Olympic victory. (Kyle Terada / USA Today)

Actually, Colangelo has seen it.

Thirty years in the past this summer time, the Suns made the most important commerce in state historical past, buying Charles Barkley from the Philadelphia 76ers in trade for main scorer Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang.

There are similarities right here. Like final season’s Phoenix squad, the 1992 Suns had been thought-about a rising crew. They had completed 53-29 the earlier season, shedding to Portland within the Western Conference semifinals. They had a brand new coach in Paul Westphal, a brand new house in America West Arena and a rising demand for season tickets. They simply wanted yet another piece.

The 29-year-old Barkley, a future Hall of Famer, supplied it and extra.

From the time he stepped off USAir Flight 353 from Philadelphia, sporting denims, a short-sleeved shirt and Nike hat, he elevated a complete franchise and state. As Barkley walked via Sky Harbor International Airport, followers seated in eating places reportedly yelled out to him.

“Go to it, Charles!”

“NBA champs next year!”

“Move over Chicago” — a reference to Michael Jordan and the world champion Bulls — “here comes Phoenix!

Barkley joined level guard Kevin Johnson, scrappy Dan Majerle and veterans Tom Chambers and Danny Ainge. The group wanted three weeks to jell. On Nov. 28, the Suns misplaced in additional time at Golden State to fall to 7-4. They didn’t lose once more for 36 days, working off 14 wins in a row. Local enthusiasm exploded. Everything Barkley did grew to become information.

“One day, Charles said something (newsworthy) and we weren’t there,” retired tv sports activities reporter Bruce Cooper mentioned. “Our news director says, ‘Why didn’t we have this?’ Well, we weren’t out at practice that day. He calls the entire sports team in after the 6 p.m. show and rails on us. He told us we would never, ever miss another practice. ‘If the Suns are having a car wash, you’re there.’ That was because with Charles Barkley, you never knew what he was going to say.”

Phoenix completed with the NBA’s greatest document, two video games higher than Patrick Ewing’s New York Knicks and 5 higher than Jordan’s Bulls. In the playoffs, the Suns defeated the Lakers, Spurs and Sonics, advancing to the NBA Finals to face Chicago. They rallied from an 0-2 collection gap however misplaced in six. Per week later, town featured the Suns in a downtown parade, an uncommon step for a shedding crew. An estimated 300,000 individuals attended. In 100-degree warmth.

“There were a lot of positive things that happened because of (Barkley’s) presence in Phoenix,” Colangelo mentioned. “We just didn’t finish it.”

No doubt, Durant and Barkley are totally different spirits. Durant wouldn’t have his personal weekly tv present as Barkley did, however his basketball abilities would elevate the franchise all the identical. His arrival would ignite the Valley of the Sun, producing the identical vibe because the Barkley commerce 30 years earlier. A vibe this metropolis hasn’t skilled a lot.

Championship or bust.

The radio phase final Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM introduced that it was time for “KEVIN DURANT WATCH,” and for the subsequent 10 minutes, hosts Dave Burns and John Gambadoro mentioned the newest stories.

How Durant had, as The Athletic reported, instructed Brooklyn proprietor Joe Tsai that he didn’t have faith within the crew’s route and that it was both him or the pairing of basic supervisor Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash. How Philadelphia and a reunion with James Harden may very well be in play. How Brooklyn initially had requested Boston for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

No native subject up to now few years has topped Larry Fitzgerald on radio airwaves. For a stretch, it was almost not possible to go a day with out dialogue on the previous Cardinals receiver’s future. Would he retire? Would he return? It was an offseason custom. (Fitzgerald final performed in 2020.)

Durant, nonetheless, has made up astonishing floor in simply a few months. On Thursday, Burns and Gambadoro moved on to the Cardinals and the problem of conserving star gamers recent. But even that didn’t final. After getting back from a business break, Gambadoro mentioned, “take it for what’s worth,” however he had simply heard that Durant was scheduled to reach within the Valley that night time. Not for official enterprise, in fact. That can be towards NBA guidelines. But maybe the 12-time All-Star was coming to play pickup or simply hang around.

Alas, no images surfaced over the weekend. A drive to widespread gyms revealed nothing. Calls to basketball sources went nowhere. Someone tweeted Durant had canceled. Another posted the previous MVP was in Los Angeles. Regardless, hypothesis once more had been sparked. Hope was revived. A merciless summer time within the desert continued.

Related studying

Hollinger: Kevin Durant wants out, but he’s short on leverage
Schiffer: Trade ultimatum raises more questions than answers for Nets
Harper: A timeline of the Kevin Durant saga

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(Top photograph: Brad Penner / USA Today)

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