Sixers Fooled in Superstar Trade Negotiations: ‘Largely Fake’

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Getty Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets.

For much of the summer, the sports world watched and waited for Kevin Durant to make a decision. Among those that watched with keen eyes were the Philadelphia 76ers. That’s because, according to Ian Begley of SNY,  “there were high-ranking members of the Sixers who’ve felt strongly about engaging with Brooklyn on a Durant trade.”

That news was followed up by the obligatory “is Tyrese Maxey’s future worth it” debate blocks before ultimately the Brooklyn Nets decided to move forward with Durant. All the while, the expectation was that the Nets were exploring trade possibilities for Durant, including one from the Boston Celtics that included Jaylen Brown.

But according to NBA Insider Ethan Strauss, it was all a farce. A charade.

“According to NBA insiders, Brooklyn’s effort to deal KD was largely fake,” Strauss reported on his blog House of Strauss. “Sure there were a few legitimate calls at the very beginning, when Durant made his ask. After that point, though, the trade discussions were mostly a façade, conducted simply to suggest the effort.”

Based on that reporting, it’s only fair to wonder if the Sixers were duped into believing Durant was available. In reality, the Sixers might have simply been a pawn in Brooklyn’s quest to retain the future Hall of Famer Durant.

Strauss: ‘Nets Wanted to Present Durant . . . False Reality’

In the report, Strauss went on to shed a little light on how an NBA trade comes together.

“As one GM put it to me,” Strauss explained, “‘There’s a difference between making a call and trying to build a trade. Brooklyn wasn’t trying to build a trade.'”

But rather than try in good faith to find a new home for Durant, the Nets were content to cast Durant in their own special version of The Truman Show.

“This is based on conversations with multiple NBA GMs: The running belief in league circles is that the Nets wanted to present Durant with the false reality that they were actively trying to trade him, as per his wishes, as a precursor to cajoling him back into being a committed Net,” Strauss added.

Regardless, the Nets’ plan worked to perfection. Durant (for now) is staying in Brooklyn and the Nets should have a solid team next season. But this report also begs the question — when did the Nets decide that a deal wasn’t to be found for Durant?

The answer might have something to do with Minnesota.

Nets Price for Durant Too High?

The Rudy Gobert-Timberwolves megadeal set the NBA world on fire earlier in the summer. More than just a star player trading teams, the package Utah received from Minnesota was borderline historic.

And according to Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report, the Nets might have expected a similar “Godfather” offer for Durant.

“As such, the belief was that a robust market would emerge for Durant,” Chiari wrote on September 2. “That notion was buoyed by the fact that the Utah Jazz received four first-round picks, a pick swap and five players from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for All-Star center Rudy Gobert in a July trade.

“Either teams were unwilling to match that compensation for Durant or the Nets were asking for more, which would be understandable given Durant’s impact.”

No matter what, the news is a shocking revelation and one that threatens to complicate an already strained relationship between Durant and the Nets.

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