The Brooklyn Nets still have a massive Kevin Durant trade request looking them in the eye, and things didn’t get any better with the meeting between the star and team owner Joe Tsai.
Durant reiterated his desire to be trade unless the team fires both Sean Marks and Steve Nash, something that doesn’t seem all that likely at the moment.
“In a face-to-face meeting with Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai over the weekend, All-NBA star Kevin Durant reiterated his trade request and informed Tsai that he needs to choose between Durant or the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting tell ‘The Athletic,’” The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote. “Durant stated he does not have faith in the team’s direction, sources said.”
NBA insider John Hollinger writes for The Athletic that he believes Durant still has one more trick up his sleeve, and it’s a simple one: hold out.
If he doesn’t get his wish to be traded, this might be his best option remaining, and while it’ll be a tough pill to swallow for both him and the Nets, it might be what this is leading to.
Durant Has Another Option
While both sides are hoping it won’t come to this, it’s hard to ignore the fact it is what worked for now-Durant teammate Ben Simmons.
If Durant holds out of training camp, he would be open to being fined each day he misses, but money might not be a big concern at this point. Hollinger writes this could be the best option left for him.
“Seemingly the sharpest arrow left in Durant’s quiver is pure hardball: a holdout, one that would cost him a chunk of his $44 million 2022-23 salary for every day he sat out,” he wrote. “It would, ironically, be a near carbon-copy of the situation a year ago in Philadelphia with Durant’s occasional teammate Ben Simmons.”
However, Hollinger notes the Nets aren’t on a timeline with the team like the Sixers were with capitalizing on Joel Embiid’s prime. This is a team filled with all sorts of question marks, so they might be able to play that game.
“Yes, Brooklyn’s first choice would be to run it back with Durant, Simmons and Kyrie Irving (or a suitable replacement),” he continued. “But in the absence of Durant, wouldn’t the Nets’ second choice be to tank the season and try again in 2024? And wouldn’t a Durant holdout do nothing more than accelerate the Nets toward that endgame?”
Nets Could Benefit
Although the Nets have next to no draft picks in the foreseeable future, they do hold the ability to swap picks with the Rockets in 2023.
With the Rockets not looking like a team that will be good any time soon, the Nets have left the door open for a potential high draft pick, whether Durant sits out or not.
The presumptive reason for the Nets not to tank is that their next five drafts are owed to the Houston Rockets as a result of the 2021 trade for Harden,” Hollinger says. “But Brooklyn can still get a high lottery pick in 2023. Yes, the Nets have an unprotected pick swap with Houston in the upcoming draft, but that still likely results in a great pick if the Nets are bad. The Rockets are building up their young talent, but they’re not exactly poised to run roughshod over the West just yet; Houston went 20-62 last season and traded its leading scorer for the 26th pick in the draft.”
It seems like the Nets could be set up for a good draft pick no matter what, but having Durant in the lineup and playing would be the best case scenario.