For a little while, the sideshow that accompanied the Nets had subsided. Once Kyrie Irving returned from his team-issued suspension and Jacque Vaughn was named head coach, Brooklyn started to ball. Irving and Kevin Durant proved to be a forceful duo, as well.
This included a 12-game winning streak between December 7th and January 2nd, along with 15 wins over a 16-game stretch. The Nets went from a 10-11 record on November 27th to a 25-12 mark on January 2nd. Finally, things were looking up and Brooklyn seemed like a legit contender.
But now that Kyrie plays for the Dallas Mavericks, things are very much hanging by a thread. After trying to get himself an extension, Irving’s trade request was the next thing to drop. And in the blink of an eye, he was packing his bags.
Brooklyn’s goal prior to Thursday’s 3 pm EST trade deadline has been to load up the roster and convince Durant to stick around. Of course, it takes two teams to tango. It’s impossible to show KD they’re ready to compete for a title when other teams won’t engage with them.
Per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on his podcast, some of the teams Brooklyn is trying to negotiate with would be interested in Durant if he became available (either before the deadline or in the offseason). Those teams are reluctant to help the Nets convince Durant to stay. That’s cold.
The Nets want to keep their lone star player for at least the stretch run. But as we saw with the Kyrie situation, it’s not just up to them. If Durant turns around and asks to be traded before Thursday afternoon, there’s a good chance it’s going to happen. And even if he sticks it out until the end of the year, it could be deja vu all over again with him making another trade request this summer.
This sounds like a low blow for Brooklyn. But it’s not much different than Joe Tsai refusing to deal Kyrie to the Los Angeles Lakers. So, if the Nets can manipulate things like this, so can other teams. And it may cost them their final superstar, all without ever getting past the second round of the NBA Playoffs with him on the team. Woof.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.