Every NBA team wants a player like Kevin Durant.
Not every team is willing to give up significant assets in exchange for real Kevin Durant.
That’s the key takeaway from the Brooklyn Nets’ failed attempt to trade Durant in the offseason after he requested one.
What the Nets wanted for Durant and what the teams were willing to offer didn’t match up.
Nets owner Joe Tsai, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash met with Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman on Monday in Los Angeles, and both sides vowed to ‘forge ahead’ in pursuit of a championship. .
This is not a feel-good, bonfire time. Durant issued an ultimatum, according to a report by The Athletic, telling owners he had to go or the Marks-Nash duo would have to go. It didn’t even happen.
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Regardless of whether it was streamed directly to Durant or not, the Nets tried to trade him and no team wanted to give up valuable players and draft picks for a 12-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, and a -regular season MVP team. No rival teams (Boston and Miami) and no teams wanting to compete (Memphis, New Orleans and Toronto) were willing to risk a Durant trade.
That says something about what teams think of Durant, who overplayed his hand. As one NBA executive described the Nets’ inability to trade Durant: “Teams don’t want to pay too much for someone who’s proven they’re going to burn their house down.”
His recent penchant for wanting to skydive into a championship-caliber organization and looking for exits a year or two later worries teams.
Durant, who turns 34 next month, has an attractive contract, entering the first year of a four-year deal worth $194.2 million. Teams were concerned that he would want to leave after a season or two and the team would be out of draft picks and players while trying to trade a player a year or two older.
Durant, this offseason, doesn’t have the prestige to force a trade. He missed the entire 2019-20 season recovering from an Achilles tendon injury and has missed 64 of 154 games in the past two seasons.
Let’s see how the season starts and how Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons blend in. Maybe it’s a strong start, keeping everyone happy. With the news that Durant will return to Brooklyn, the Nets’ champion chances have doubled, making them favorites just behind Boston, Milwaukee and Golden State.
Perhaps it’s a bad start, and the dysfunction that has defined the Nets over the past three seasons has strained the franchise. Just because both sides are committed to winning now doesn’t mean it will be by the February negotiating deadline.
Across the league, there was little empathy for the Nets, but executives and owners are relieved that the Nets haven’t capitulated to Durant’s wishes. He just signed the extension starting this season a year ago, and they wanted Durant to honor at least a year of the deal. They understand how easily their team can be in this situation.
The Durant issue was closely watched not just in the league, but in the league office as well, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver weighing in at last month’s Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas.
“We don’t like to see players request trades and we don’t like to see it happening the way it is,” Silver said, adding, “when a player asks to be moved, it has a ripple effect on a lot of other players, on that player’s team. and on other teams, so it’s not just potentially the league or team governors that are impacted by this, but many other players as well.
“It’s one of those issues that, as we move forward in this collective bargaining cycle, which we’re just getting started, we intend to discuss with our Players Association (National Basketball) and see if there are any solutions for that.”
Remedies that are palatable to players and owners alike are limited, concede executives on the concession team, despite their frustration.
While trade requests aren’t isolated incidents, it’s not like there are 50 of them every season. They are restricted to a handful of elite players who have the power to pressure teams. It’s a problem that’s been around for decades and isn’t going to go away.
The Nets’ angst lasted about six weeks and a resolution was reached. No matter how temporary.
Follow NBA columnist Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZilgitt
This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: NBA Executive Kevin Durant-Brooklyn Nets: ‘He’s Gonna Burn Your House’