Lately, the NBA has seen its fair share of players requesting trades even while they are locked into a multi-year contract. Just last summer, Ben Simmons requested a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers two years after signing a max contract extension with the team.
Around the time Simmons requested his trade, the Brooklyn Nets inked Kevin Durant to a four-year extension, which kicks in this upcoming season. At the time, the marriage between Durant and Brooklyn seemed excellent. Now, it’s headed for an early divorce.
Months after Durant formally requested a trade from Brooklyn, nothing has changed. As Durant is reportedly skeptical of the direction Steve Nash and Sean Marks have the Nets going, Brooklyn’s ownership remains committed to their head coach and general manager despite Durant’s concerns.
As expected, the Nets want a historical return in a trade for the former MVP. So far, their lack of leverage has left them with what they view as underwhelming offers. Could the relationship between Durant and the Nets be repaired? Sure. But it seems more than likely the situation is at a point of no return.
Although it feels like a Durant trade will happen at some point, the saga will likely drag out beyond the summer and into training camp. In the event that happens, will Durant follow Ben Simmons’s blueprint and skip out on team activities to try and force Brooklyn’s hand? According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, people around the league don’t believe Durant will take it there.
“If a trade doesn’t materialize before Nets camp begins in late September, is Durant willing to go full Jimmy Butler if he doesn’t get what he wants? Or, perhaps, will he go the route of his Nets teammate Simmons and not report to camp (as Simmons did in Philadelphia last season)?
"Most folks around the league with whom I spoke seem to believe the answer is no, but we shall see. As for the notion that the Marks-Nash ultimatum might speed up the process by forcing the Nets to lower their lofty demands in a deal, I didn’t find much support for that idea either.”
Earlier this week, NBA reporter Marc Stein was told that Durant is expected to cause a lot of “ruckus” in Brooklyn if he doesn’t see his trade wishes get granted before the offseason activities begin. Stein’s anonymous source went as far as teasing the idea that Durant could consider retiring before suiting up for the Nets again, which caused the star forward to take to Twitter to shoot down that idea.
Durant might not retire — but holding out could be in the cards as it’s a common tactic for disgruntled stars who want a way out of their current situation. For now, though, it seems the consensus around the league is that Durant will show up to work in September as Brooklyn continues to have trade discussions with interested suitors.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.