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Despite Vote of Confidence, Sean Marks' Status as Nets GM is Shaken by Kevin Durant

The Brooklyn star told the Nets owner he wants Marks and coach Steve Nash fired.

Sean Marks’ position as general manager of the Brooklyn Nets appears secure.

At least for now.

The 46-year-old native of New Zealand, who played at Cal for four seasons through 1997-98, is in the middle of a power play by Nets star Kevin Durant, who last month requested a trade.

That trade hasn’t happened, primarily because the Nets’ asking price for 12-time All-Star has been steep.

The scenario heated up over the weekend when, according to a report in The Athletic, Durant met with team owner Joe Tsai and delivered an ultimatum: Me or GM Marks and coach Steve Nash.

Tsai responded Monday on Twitter with what seems like a clear vote of confidence for Marks and Nash: “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

According to The Athletic, Durant has lost “faith” in the direction of the franchise.

Durant gave his endorsement for the Nets to hire Nash, a first-time coach who had worked with Durant at Golden State in his role as advisor. The Nets are 92-62 in two seasons under the one-time Santa Clara University star, but have fallen short of their championship goals.

The fly in the ointment likely is teammate Kyrie Irving, who said two years ago on Durant’s podcast shortly after Nash’s hiring that the team doesn’t really need a head coach. It would be a collaborative leadership effort, he suggested, involving him and Durant and Nash and assistant coach Jacque Vaughn. Durant promptly agreed with Irving’s assessment.

Nash’s coaching has drawn criticism, in particular the team’s poor defensive play and its reliance on a isolation-heavy offense. Recently, according to CBS Sports, there have been reports that ex-Nets star James Harden’s complaints with Nash led to him requesting — and being granted — a trade. Harden is now with the 76ers.

The already messy picture became more volatile when the New York Post quoted a source providing insight into Irving’s latest thoughts.

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“Kyrie Irving hates these guys,” the source told The Post’s Josh Kosman. “He feels that Nash is terrible and Marks is bad.”

You have to wonder if Irving’s latest remarks are an effort to ingratiate himself with Durant, patching up a relationship that was on shaky ground when Durant asked to be shipped elsewhere.

It’s not clear what Durant’s beef is with the Nets’ GM. Here’s how CBS Sports framed the question:

As it pertains to Marks, it's difficult to see exactly what issues Durant has with Brooklyn's general manager, who is a well-respected front-office executive around the league. Just this offseason alone the Nets have made moves that have upgraded their supporting cast around Durant and Irving -- should the two stay in Brooklyn -- by adding Royce O'Neale, TJ Warren and re-signing Patty Mills. The team will also get a fully healthy Joe Harris and Ben Simmons to add even more talent around their two stars.

Marks orchestrated the sign-and-trade deal that plucked Durant out of Golden State — his request — and got him a four-year, $164 million contact. That was rewritten last summer when Durant signed an extension that will pay him $198 million over four years, beginning this season.

At the time of the new deal, Marks was effusive in his praise of Durant:

"Kevin is a transcendent talent who continues to drive and push this franchise and the game of basketball globally. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with him for years to come. Kevin's impact both on and off the court cannot be overstated. His unparalleled drive and leadership generate sustained excellence from himself while also elevating the performance of his teammates, positioning this organization to continue the pursuit of our championship goals in Brooklyn." 

If Durant's unhappiness stems from the team failing to claim a championship he won twice at Golden State, his argument would seem to be with his erratic teammate. Irving declined to become vaccinated for COVID-19 last year, preventing him from playing home games and stalling the team's progress.

Early reports also suggested the melodrama stirred up by Irving was a reason why Harden asked to be traded, breaking up the threesome that many believed would lead Brooklyn to NBA prominence.

Those lofty aspirations are well back in the rear-view mirror. And Sean Marks must be left wondering where this will lead the team. And whether he’ll be part of that future.

Cover photo of Nets general manager Sean Marks by Anthony Gruppuso, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo