Once Kevin Durant asked the Nets to trade him, the focus has been on potential landing spots. And understandably so.
But there has never been a full explanation for the trade demand. And there may be a good reason for that. Because the Nets don’t even know exactly why Durant wants out, according to The Daily News.
A source said the team was aware of Durant’s unhappiness but surprised by his trade request. The assumption is (Kyrie) Irving’s contract drama played a major role in Durant’s discontent, but the Nets haven’t been told specific reasons, a source said. Another possibility for Durant’s disapproval: the team released assistant coach Adam Harrington, a favorite of Durant’s going back to their time together in OKC.
The News reports Durant and his agent, Rich Kleiman, have had contact with the organization recently. Durant notably had no contact earlier in the offseason. But it sounds like there has been no full explanation of why he feels the way he does.
The building blocks don’t really add up. Durant is under contract for four more years. It’s going to be hard for the Nets to get the trade return they want while sending Durant to a team he want (and without gutting that team’s roster). Demanding a trade over an assistant coach seems extreme. And while Durant seems to have a mystifying affinity for Irving and an impressive immunity to his behavior, that part doesn’t make sense either.
Irving could still get a long-term deal after opting in for next season. And his trade market will be nowhere near robust, which means the Nets could conceivably hold onto Irving. Why would Durant want to abandon his best friend?
All indications are the Nets will trade Durant — which could take a while — and then they will pivot to deal Irving. But it does feel like there is a non-zero chance Durant could change his mind and stay. Not necessarily because the Nets address his grievances, but because he realizes there is no better option.
If Durant does stay, it won’t last long; it will be one more season at best before it officially falls apart. But that might be worth it for the Nets.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]