Kevin Durant still wants to be traded, telling that directly to Nets’ owner Joe Tsai in a face-to-face meeting over the weekend in London, plus giving him an ultimatum of me or coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks.
The meeting was “professional,” according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who broke the news.
Durant stated he does not have faith in the team’s direction, sources said…
The Nets have direct knowledge of the reasons behind Durant’s request, sources said, and understand that the 12-time All-Star will continue to be resolute in his stance. Durant is believed to want a change of scenery heading into his 16th season.
If this situation drags out, will Durant skip Nets training camp? (Yes.) Could the Nets seriously consider firing their coach and GM to keep their superstar happy? (Tsai hasn’t acted like a guy wanting to go that route, but in the NBA never say never.)
Durant trade talks have stalled out because teams were not offering what Marks and the Nets believed was fair market value for an MVP-level player under contract for four more years (getting a third team involved in the deal has proven difficult). This newly reinforced public trade demand hurts the Nets’ trade leverage even more — why would Boston or Miami increase their offers now? Those teams are still two of the frontrunners to land KD, according to Charania.
The Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat remain the most significant candidates to acquire Durant, sources said, with Boston’s package centering around All-Star forward Jaylen Brown seen as a viable deal. Tsai and the Nets have made clear privately that they will take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant, sources said.
Durant’s initial request was to be traded to Miami or Phoenix. After the Suns matched the offer sheet for Deandre Ayton, they removed their only reasonable path to a Durant-level trade (Ayton can’t be traded until Jan. 15 and has veto power over any trade until next summer). Miami’s offer, based around Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson plus up to three first-round picks, has not impressed Brooklyn. Miami has not put Bam Adebayo in any trade talks and shouldn’t be expected to. The Nets have asked for Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any Durant trade with the Raptors. Toronto rejected that idea out of hand.
Jaylen Brown may be the biggest name available to Brooklyn, but the Nets reportedly also asked for Marcus Smart to be part of the trade and that’s where talks ended (the Celtics first offered Brown, Derrick White, and a first-round pick, reportedly adding a little more to the deal later). The Celtics are title contenders without Durant, they don’t need to up their offer to have a good shot at banner No. 18. It’s not a team the Nets can easily leverage in talks.
One of the reasons teams were hesitant to make massive offers for KD — or increase the ones on the table — has been concerns about how long they can keep Durant, despite the four years left on his contract. Marks was the GM who brought Durant and Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn, extended Durant at the max, and did pretty much everything his stars asked, from giving DeAndre Jordan an oversized contract to trading picks and promising young players for a third superstar in James Harden. In large part, Nash is the coach in Brooklyn because Durant and Irving liked him better than Kenny Atkinson (although there are plenty of people in league circles not convinced Nash is up to the job). If the Nets can’t keep Durant happy, who can?
A Durant trade could impact an Irving trade — almost certainly to the Lakers in a package involving Russell Westbrook and a third team — but the Nets have wanted to finish their Durant business before moving on. Irving reportedly wants to play for Brooklyn this season.