An anonymous NBA executive reportedly said recently that they would be selective over who they would trade reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes for if they were in control of the Toronto Raptors.
Speaking Friday on Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective (h/t HoopsHype), ESPN's Tim MacMahon said an executive who he respects told him they would trade Barnes to the Brooklyn Nets for Kevin Durant, but not to the Utah Jazz for Donovan Mitchell.
Durant and Mitchell are viewed as the top two players on the NBA trade block currently, and the Raptors may have enough ammunition to trade for one of them if they so choose.
Durant signed a four-year contract extension with the Nets last year, but his business manager, Rich Kleiman, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski (h/t ESPN's Tim Bontemps) in June that he had requested a trade.
Then, after the Jazz traded All-Star center Rudy Gobert in July, Wojnarowski reported that Utah was willing to listen to offers for its three-time All-Star guard in Mitchell.
Neither Durant nor Mitchell has been moved yet, presumably due to high asking prices that may have been exacerbated by the Jazz getting four first-round picks and several players for Gobert.
The Raptors have been linked to Durant more so than Mitchell, but Wojnarowski reported last month that they considered Barnes a "non-starter" in a trade for KD.
Barnes, 21, was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft out of Florida State. He made an instant impact for the Raptors, averaging 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game in 74 contests as a rookie while shooting a strong 49.2 percent from the field.
By adding Barnes to a core that included Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr., the Raptors reached the playoffs with a 48-34 record last season, improving significantly on the 27-45 mark they posted one year earlier.
While trading the reigning Rookie of the Year and a player with perennial All-Star potential in Barnes is a worrisome proposition, Durant could prove to be the piece Toronto needs to get into championship contention.
While Durant is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, the 33-year-old veteran is coming off a hugely productive season that saw him average 29.9 points per game.
KD also boasts one of the most impressive resumes of anyone in the league with 12 All-Star selections, four scoring titles, two NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards and one NBA MVP award.
Trading for Durant would perhaps be akin to when the Raptors acquired Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs for a package headlined by DeMar DeRozan in 2018.
Leonard only stayed with the Raptors for one season before signing with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, but he led them to their first NBA title and was named NBA Finals MVP.
Mitchell has great potential as a scorer and is just 25 years of age, but the Jazz haven't made it past the second round of the playoffs during his tenure, so he doesn't necessarily carry the same type of reward that a trade for Durant would.
Of course, the Raptors could stand pat and be players in the Eastern Conference as their young players like Barnes continue to improve, but Durant may be the key to vying for a championship immediately.