Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks and owner Joe Tsai have some tough decisions to make during the offseason for the future of their franchise. 12-time All-Star forward Kevin Durant has officially requested a trade out of Brooklyn. If Durant leaves, in all likelihood All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving may be on the move as well.
Durant has faced a lot of turmoil during his time with the Nets. Injuries, trades, and everything in between. But the straw that broke the camel’s back seems to be their reluctance to offer Kyrie a long-term extension this summer. With a possible trade looming, Durant sent an apparent message to the Nets front office about his trade request.
“The ones who were locked in that gym with me know what it is, they know what I’m about. If [you] haven’t been in there with me, ask around,” Durant said per his Twitter account on July 2.
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Insider: Durant, Kyrie Could Force Nets to Trade Them
With Durant getting ready to enter the first year of a 4-year/ $198 million extension that he signed with the Nets last summer and Kyrie opting into the final year of his deal for the 2022-23 season, one thing remains constant. The Nets are not obligated to trade anybody. And if they don’t find a trade package they feel fairly compensates them, Brooklyn would have every right to shut down all trade talks.
But NBA insider Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally sports believes that in the player empowerment era that the NBA is currently in, both stars could force their way out of Brooklyn.
“I know a lot of people have used this empowerment NBA era as it relates to guys who are stars and know what their worth is and knowing how to relate to owners,” Robinson said during an appearance on “The Wheelhouse” on Spotify Live.
“And I do think this is a situation where Kevin and Kai know they can go elsewhere and/or not play or force their way out.”
Rudy Gobert Trade Could Boost Nets Asking Price for KD
One team that has been mentioned a lot in Durant trade talks is the Phoenix Suns. It seemed like a perfect scenario as Phoenix also has a disgruntled star player in their starting center DeAndre Ayton. But after the Utah Jazz sent their Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a massive haul of first-round picks, Sam Amick of “The Athletic” says that the asking price for a player of Durant’s caliber has increased significantly.
“All eyes are on Phoenix when it comes to Durant, the Nets star who is believed to be targeting the Suns as his preferred next destination. Yet while I wrote at length on Thursday about how a deal centered on restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton and small forward Mikal Bridges might work for both sides, the early sense is that it would take more than that. Or, to be clearer, something different,” Amick writes.
“As the New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield pointed out in the wake of the Rudy Gobert-to-Minnesota blockbuster that went down on Friday, the Nets’ asking price for Durant — two All-Stars, as we’d been told — may have just gone up. There’s no way the Suns are trading Devin Booker, who just agreed to a four-year, $224 million extension. Cam Johnson is worth watching as a possible player who might move the needle for the Nets. But truth be told, it’s too soon to know whether Durant will get his Valley-of-the-Sun wish here.”
Durant’s Relationship With Suns Coach Could Be a Factor
There are many reasons why Durant could be gushing over the opportunity to join the Suns. After winning 64 games last year, it is obvious that they have the tools to compete. And adding Durant to an offensive juggernaut highlighted by All-Star guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul, would only make them better.
But Amick notes that the tipping point that may have Durant’s eyes on Phoenix is his relationship with head coach Monty Williams, dating back to their days in Oklahoma City.
“There are likely a lot of factors in play here — the chance to contend again, the L.A.-adjacent locale, his relationship with Booker, and respect for Chris Paul. But in terms of the personal dynamics, his close relationship with Suns coach Monty Williams may top the list,” Amick continues.
“They were together for one season in Oklahoma City, that 2015-16 campaign when Williams was an associate head coach under Scott Brooks and Durant was in his final Thunder days before heading for Golden State in free agency. The two men had already grown close during that season, but the bond grew even deeper after the tragic passing of Williams’ wife and mother to their five kids, Ingrid, in a Feb. 9, 2016, car crash.”
The Nets face a grim decision with the future of their franchise player. It will be interesting to see if the two sides can mend fences or if Durant will ultimately be traded.