NBA Trade Deadline 2023: Suns Get Durant as Power Shifts to the West

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers’ roster, it stood to reason that a few tweaks could dramatically change their fortunes. Russell, whom the Lakers drafted No. 2 overall in 2015 but traded two seasons later, is a much better 3-point shooter than Westbrook and should help on offense.

Durant, though, is in a class by himself as a difference-maker in the West. He is one of the smoothest scorers ever to play the game.

On Wednesday, Ishbia walked onto a stage at the Suns’ arena, the Footprint Center, for his introductory news conference. He eschewed the podium, using it only to hold a bottle of water he sipped from during questions. He paced the stage with the energy of a start-up founder giving a keynote address, using his hands to emphasize his rapidly delivered words.

“I’m not going to be sitting here counting the dollars,” Ishbia said, adding, “We’re not going to sacrifice long term for short term, but we are going to look at how do we improve every day.”

Durant, 34, improved the team immediately, and dramatically. He has been out with a knee injury since Jan. 12, but his health is the only thing that has slowed him lately.

He comes to a Phoenix team searching for a steady postseason identity.

The past two seasons have ended with different kinds of heartbreak for the Suns. They lost to the Bucks in the finals two years ago, with Paul working through injuries. Then last year, despite winning the most games in franchise history, they ended their season with an embarrassing blowout loss to the Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

If all goes as planned, the West will now go through Phoenix.

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