While NBA free agency began on June 30, all 30 teams in the league were left scrambling for answers just hours before this offseason's negotiating period opened up due to the fact that twelve-time All-Star Kevin Durant had requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.
A complete shock to everyone around the NBA, Durant requesting a trade from the Nets changed the narrative for almost every team this offseason, yet the former league MVP still remains in Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Nets have been in contact with several teams over the last several weeks in regards to a potential trade involving Kevin Durant, including the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, but the Nets have not received offers close to the value that they would like for Durant.
The Utah Jazz trading All-Star center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier this offseason for a surplus of assets has completely changed the way “selling” teams are approaching the trade market and in this case with Durant and the Nets, no team can meet the value Brooklyn has put on their All-Star forward right now.
This past weekend, Kevin Durant met with Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai and not only reiterated his request for a trade, but he also informed Tsai that he needs to choose between Durant or the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, this according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Per Charania, the two sides spoke in London on Saturday with Durant making it clear that he “does not have faith in the team’s direction."
Getting ready to begin his 16th season in the NBA, Durant has been very firm on his stance of wanting a change in scenery, whether that be in Brooklyn or with another team around the league.
It does not appear that he wants to be playing for an organization run by Sean Marks and Steve Nash anymore, which is a bit surprising given that these internal issues have not been brought to light over the last couple of seasons. However, between the pandemic and restrictions the NBA has set forth, very little information has been made apparent during the course of the last couple of seasons.
Everything has been trending in a downward spiral for years now within the Brooklyn Nets organization and for Kevin Durant, winning is everything right now.
He came to the Nets in 2019 with the intention of winning a championship with Kyrie Irving and so far, Brooklyn has failed to put themselves in the best position possible from an internal perspective.
The big question now is not whether or not Kevin Durant will miss training camp as he waits on a response from Joseph Tsai and the Nets, but whether or not the Nets will accommodate Durant and move on from Sean Marks and Steve Nash.
Marks has been with the Nets since 2016 and has made a lot of moves in recent years, re-shaping the Brooklyn Nets roster year-after-year to try and turn them into a real contending force in the Eastern Conference. As for Nash, he was appointed as head coach of the Nets in 2020 after having no prior head coaching experience.
Kevin Durant has always been fond of current Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, leading many to believe that Durant wanted the Nets to hire him over Nash in 2020 and Kyrie Irving has always been close with Los Angeles Lakers assistant Phil Handy.
The relationship between the coaching staff and Brooklyn’s star players really has not been smooth over the years and now, we are beginning to see the aftermath of such relationships play out.
Kevin Durant has made his stance of “it is either me or them going” very clear, putting all the pressure in the league on the Brooklyn Nets to make a decision that could very well make or break their future.
Should Joseph Tsai commit to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, firing Sean Marks and Steve Nash before the start of training camp in September, who could the Nets realistically hire in such a short amount of time?
The Nets could most likely take their time in figuring out the layout of their front-office, not necessarily appointing a new general manager right away should they move on from Marks, but replacing Nash just months from the start of the new season would be extremely difficult.
If this is what it takes to keep both Durant and Irving happy though, this may very well be what Tsai and the Nets have to do in order to remain real threats because losing just Durant immediately takes this organization out of contention for their first title, even if Irving is still around.
Jacque Vaughn, the team’s lead assistant, would surely be a candidate to take over for Steve Nash given his relationship with the team and the fact that he was the interim head coach of the Nets during the 2019-20 season after Kenny Atkinson was fired. Vaughn was a candidate for the head coaching position before the team hired Nash as well.
Longtime NBA head coach Mike D’Antoni could also be viewed as a possible replacement for this organization should they side with Kevin Durant on this matter, especially since D’Antoni was an assistant with the team during the 2020-21 season.
Now, this is just one option for the Brooklyn Nets.
The other option is simply not giving into Durant’s request to get rid of Sean Mark and Steve Nash, resulting in the team trading Kevin Durant before the start of the 2022-23 season or later on should he hold out.
The Raptors, Celtics and Heat have remained engaged in trade conversations with the Nets for Durant through the last several weeks and a lot of speculation of a potential Boston-Brooklyn trade has risen due to the fact that the Celtics could possibly look to deal All-Star wing Jaylen Brown in a deal for Durant.
However, Charania states that Joseph Tsai and the Nets have made it clear across the league that they will “take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant,” a price the Boston Celtics may not be willing to pay for Durant given that they are coming off a run to the NBA Finals.
Trading for Royce O’Neale, signing T.J. Warren and getting a healthy Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Joe Harris back for the 2022-23 season, the Brooklyn Nets definitely have a title contending roster right now on paper.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving definitely have the depth they need around them in order to possibly win the Eastern Conference, but the clock is ticking for Nets owner Joseph Tsai to make a decision.
Does keeping Kevin Durant set the Nets up for the most success or is keeping both general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash the path to a championship for Brooklyn?
Time will tell what the future holds for the Nets and ultimately, the 2022-23 NBA season.