from Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
The Brooklyn Nets has arguably the best player in basketball on a four-year contract. The organization has a good enough lineup to spend much of last season as the championship favorite despite the final standings.
Brooklyn has another superstar with the proven ability to make a key difference and win a title. There is an owner who likes the head coach and general manager enough to give them his vocal support.
Also, there’s the biggest mess in all of basketball right now that you have to sift through, work through, and somehow try to get out of with some semblance of respect.
Kevin Durant’s reiteration to owner Joe Tsai this week that he is determined to leave via trade unless coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks are sent packing, followed closely by Tsai’s support for the pair, leaves the waters around Dumbo as murky as they could be. be
There isn’t a viable trade market for Durant that the Nets won’t tighten up on, even with four more years on his contract at just $194.2 million.
Since Rudy Gobert cost a package of five picks (including four first-rounders) and five players when he went from Utah to Minnesota, there’s a reason Durant is worth significantly more. The problem comes at the crossroads, though, where it makes no sense to grab a player of Durant’s value if you’re sacrificing not only the pieces that could help him to a title, but also your development future.
Pound for pound, Durant is probably worth eight first-rounders. However, no one would win this draw even if they had money to spend. Not the Miami Heat, who are among the teams he wants to join, and not just anyone.
That leaves Brooklyn with a big headache, a decision to make, and the unpredictable nature of Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons and all their quirks atop the depth chart if Durant leaves.
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Meanwhile, after waving goodbye to James Harden in the Simmons deal, the Nets have seen — like the rest of us — Durant party with Harden at a Travis Scott concert in London over the past few days. Try to understand this.
The whole situation is strange and unconventional, but Brooklyn is now discovering that it’s no fun to cater to the whims of a superstar, and Durant is taking them on a merry ride.
“I thought KD should try to get it back with Brooklyn,” former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker said on FS1’s “First Things First.” “[Now] it won’t be possible. When you get a coach and a GM who seem to want to do whatever it takes to make you happy, according to the contract and do their best on the court, I don’t see why you get upset with them.
“I’m confused that KD said he wanted to [Nash and Marks] out because it looked like those two were behind him.”
Durant wields the influence that only the best in the game can wield. For the team that receives it, it is a time of paralysis. Still, there isn’t much sympathy for the Nets, either around the league or among the broader NBA fan base.
KD to Nets: ‘Trade me or fire Steve Nash, Sean Marks’
Kevin Durant is not backing down on his desire to leave Brooklyn.
This is a situation of their own making. They took their shot, they didn’t take it very well, and now they’re paying the price.
“No one feels sorry for the Brooklyn Nets,” wrote USA TODAY’s Jeff Zilgit. “Not for [Tsai]. Not for [Marks]. Not for [Nash].
“When a team abandons a promising rebuilding effort for a fast track to title contention built around mercurial superstars and the consequences are disastrous, the empathy meter doesn’t register.”
That’s just how it goes. Sometimes big, splashy moves for an elite player work. Just ask the Toronto Raptors, who turned Kawhi Leonard’s one year into the greatest achievement in franchise history.
Winning a title without one of the best players in the sport isn’t really a thing in this era, which is why teams are trying it this way. But there haven’t been many turnarounds that have collapsed as dramatically and as quickly as the Nets’.
The Boston Celtics remain in contention as a trade partner, as do the Raptors, but the kind of package it would take to sway Tsai is a price that is unlikely to be met. Nor was Tsai happy about having his feet held to the fire against Nash and Marks, issuing a statement backing them up and insisting he would “make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”
For now, it remains an impasse with no simple end date due to the length of Durant’s contract.
Durant, having decided that this is not the place for him and with so many chances left for a third title, is trying to help himself. The Nets are helpless, stuck in a position they know can’t turn out well for them.
They went from a star-studded force ready to be unleashed to a disaster waiting to happen. There are no viable strategic moves to make, no real leverage over Durant and, most of all, absolutely no regrets from any team thankful it isn’t happening to them.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and contributor to the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Yyou can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.
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