Kevin Durant wants to go drive another bus in another city.
The Nets superstar has demanded a trade. The Brooklyn superteam era is over. Kyrie Irving is left holding a $37 million bag. Ben Simmons, who hasn’t played in over a year, is now the team’s No. 2 option. Steve Nash is still the head coach. General manager Sean Marks and owner Joseph Tsai seemingly botched it all.
Durant asking out is not a shock. The writing has been on the wall for a while. He’s reportedly had no contact with the front office since the Nets were swept by the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. And even when Irving opted in for next season earlier this week, all the insider scoop continued to sound quite ominous. Like this passage from The Athletic’s Shams Charania:
The focus now turns to the Nets, players desiring to stay committed to the task at hand and whether (owner Joseph) Tsai and (general manager Sean) Marks are able to repair the issues that led to several teams across the league preparing for the prospect of both (Kevin) Durant and Irving being traded this week. There are real matters of contention that need to be addressed among Nets ownership, management and players, multiple sources said, and the Nets could still decide to move Irving this offseason or next season. Will Tsai and Marks elect to rebuild and start from scratch — or can all sides restore relationships and have the roster retooled around Durant, Irving and Simmons and role players such as (Joe) Harris, (Seth) Curry and Nic Claxton?
So what now? Durant is an all-time great player and one of the most valuable trade assets ever. But he’s also going to be 34 in September, about to begin a four-year maximum salary deal and the Nets don’t have a great amount of leverage.
We’ll see how big of a return he brings in, and whether it is enough for the Nets to avoid becoming wildly irrelevant again. They also have to figure out what to do with Irving, but that’s on the back burner for now.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]