kevin durant nets
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant played himself, and now he’s desperate.

That has to be the takeaway from the latest chapter of this nonsensical Nets offseason. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports Durant and owner Joseph Tsai broke break over the weekend in London. Durant reiterated his trade request, but with a catch: If Tsai fires head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks, perhaps they can work something out.

From The Athletic:

Durant stated he does not have faith in the team’s direction, sources said.

(…)


The Nets have direct knowledge of the reasons behind Durant’s request, sources said, and understand that the 12-time All-Star will continue to be resolute in his stance. Durant is believed to want a change of scenery heading into his 16th season.

Across the league, people have wondered whether Durant could miss training camp should no trade develop.

Put aside the fact the Nets’ direction has been the singular desire to do whatever Durant and Kyrie Irving want. Including picking Nash as head coach. That Durant’s ultimatum comes now — three months after the season ended and one after the initial trade ask — is proof it is a childish stunt.

We won’t claim either has done a great job. Nash should have been fired after the Celtics sweep. But if he and Marks were the issue, Durant would have acted a long time ago. The real motivation is this tortured sentence from Charania: “Tsai and the Nets have made clear privately that they will take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant, sources said.”

Why shouldn’t they? Durant made the decision to add four years to his contract last summer. You want the $198 million, you have to take the obligation as well. The Nets have all the leverage as a result. That term allows them to ask for the moon. And if they don’t get it? Durant is expected to show up and work if he wants to get paid. Same with Irving. That is how contracts work. The Nets only offered the extension. Durant had to accept it.

It’s ironic. The Nets were the cartoonish embodiment of the NBA’s player empowerment era. And now they can probably end it if they stand behind Marks and Nash. And stand up to Durant.

James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.