In the blink of an eye in 2020, the Phoenix Suns seemingly went from a Western Conference bottom feeder to a bona fide contender at the highest level of the NBA. When Chris Paul joined a team that already had budding stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton on the roster, Phoenix became a force overnight.

But in two straight postseasons, the team has fallen just short of the summit. In 2021, the Suns’ magical run through the Western Conference was finally stopped by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, who handled them in a six-game Finals series. The following season, the team’s run ended earlier despite a better regular season thanks to an other-worldly performance from Luka Doncic in the conference semifinals.

There’s potential for a dynasty in Phoenix, but steps to that end have been uneven to this point. But early Thursday morning, the team entered an emphatic new phase in its ongoing coup. There’s no going back now.

To repeat the news everyone’s already read, the Suns acquired superstar Kevin Durant and T.J. Warren from the Brooklyn Nets Thursday morning in exchange for Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cam Thomas, four first-round draft picks and a 2028 pick swap. It’s a textbook win-now move, as the team essentially relinquished its future for a shot at the title.

Durant’s talents are well-recorded, as are his tendencies to land in promising organizations pursuing a championship. His time on the Warriors was better spent than the seasons he gave to the failed experiment in Brooklyn. Still, his lack of championship success as an individual feels more circumstantial than anything. He remains one of the most dominant players in the NBA, and he’s worth what the Suns paid to acquire him.

Durant will join Booker, Paul and Ayton to create a seemingly unstoppable starting four, to the extent that Phoenix will almost certainly become the new favorite within the conference, if not the league in time. The team was already a contender with a 30-26 record this season, and Durant is now expected to elevate the team even higher.

It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of the Durant acquisition and much more difficult to face the consequences of the trade. Phoenix did relinquish a significant part of its team in order to get its superstar. Crowder would have been a greater loss several months ago before it became clear that the forward was waiting for a trade. But Bridges was a beloved member of the roster, having been on the team since 2018 while providing consistent numbers throughout his career. In gaining Durant, the team also loses some semblance of depth while risking negative impacts on morale.

In a very short time, it will become apparent if the Suns’ trade for Durant resulted in short-term success for the organization. One can imagine that anything short of a championship this season would now be considered a failure, as it’s abundantly clear that the team is tired of falling short. If anything, Phoenix can no longer be accused of taking half-measures.

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