Stephen A. Smith discusses his belief that the Phoenix Suns should trade Kevin Durant. Screen grab: ESPN First Take

To say that Kevin Durant’s two-season stint with the Phoenix Suns has been disappointing to this point would be an understatement.

While the 2014 NBA MVP remains one of the best players in the league, that has yet to translate into much team success. After acquiring Durant from the Brooklyn Nets last February, the Suns lost to the Denver Nuggets in last season’s Western Conference Semifinals before being swept out of this year’s first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With Phoenix having fired a head coach for the second time in as many years following the dismissal of Frank Vogel, tensions in the Valley are clearly rising. And on Monday’s episode of First Take, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith noted that it’s an open secret in NBA circles that Durant isn’t satisfied with the current state of his franchise.

“Here’s where Mike Wilbon didn’t go into the details that all of us covering the NBA are aware of: Kevin Durant in Phoenix is a problem. It is a problem,” Smith said in reference to comments made by his ESPN colleague over the weekend. “We don’t see it because the stats are there… but they say Kevin Durant is never happy. They say he went more than a month without even talking to the head coach. They say that he doesn’t look happy there. And all he wants to do is play when the game starts and tip-off time arrives. But when it comes to ingratiating yourself with teammates and getting along with everybody and stuff like that, he just lives in his own world… why does that matter? It’s similar to what he was doing in Golden State before he ultimately departed.”

Considering that the Suns have limited roster flexibility — in part because of what they traded to acquire Durant last year — Phoenix doesn’t appear to have many viable solutions to its current situation. To that end, host Molly Qerim asked Smith if that means the Suns should consider trading the 14-time All-Star, with the ESPN personality replying that they may not have a choice.

“You have to. I think you do,” Smith replied. “A lot of people would take him, he’s Kevin Durant.”

Pressed by Qerim on which team would make sense as a trade partner for the Suns, Smith said that from a pure basketball perspective, the Lakers stand out.

“I’m just talking about his personality — I’m not talking about whether it would fit cap-wise — just his personality, I think the perfect place for him would have been the Lakers because of LeBron [James],” Smith said.

To Smith’s own point, it’s unlikely the Lakers have the adequate trade assets to make such a deal happen, which could be a problem for many potential suitors of the Texas product. Ultimately, any team that trades for the 35-year-old Durant is going to likely need to be a contender who’s confident his he’ll be happy playing for them, while also having the necessary assets to pull off a blockbuster deal.

Ironically, one team that might make some sense is Durant’s original team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Currently trailing the Dallas Mavericks 2-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Thunders possess one of the NBA’s best young rosters — and plenty of assets — and could stand to add another dynamic scorer to further establish themselves as a Western Conference contender.

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About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.