During summer league in Las Vegas, one of the most well-connected team executives I speak to regularly insisted to me that, based on what he was hearing, Kevin Durant was more apt to retire than play again for the Brooklyn Nets. This was in early July.
I told the tipster that I simply couldn’t believe that. I was a loyal subscriber to the theory that Durant The Hooper loves playing basketball way too much to adopt such a stance.
Now? More than a month later? Attaching the R-word to Durant still comes across as serious hyperbole, but it is certainly getting easier to envision him refusing to report to training camp when the Nets get back together in six weeks for Media Day (Sept. 26) and their first practices of the new season (Sept. 27).
If Durant hasn’t been traded by then, there is a growing expectation in league circles that he will continue trying to cause as much of a ruckus behind the scenes to try to prod the Nets into lowering their asking price at last to facilitate a deal. If it wasn’t apparent by now, he really wants that trade to Phoenix or Miami or maybe even Boston or Philadelphia, no matter what it does to his reputation when he hasn’t played a single game yet under the four-year, $194 million contract extension signed in August 2021.
Stein went on to report Durant (and Kyrie Irving) initially signed with the Nets because the franchise was willing to cater to their demands. But after Irving’s vaccination refusal wrecked this past season and spurred James Harden to force his way out of town, things have changed. Owner Joseph Tsai, general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash have taken the wheel, and Durant feels he is justified to burn the place to the ground as a result.
Given Durant has already tried to get Marks and Nash fired, we are eager to see what else he has in mind. And what Irving has planned as well. Get your popcorn ready.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]