During Kevin Durant’s recent meeting with Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, Durant reportedly told Tsai to choose between him or General Manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash. It was a bold move, to say the least, even if Durant was just being honest about how he felt. That doesn’t change the optics of it, however, since he’s demanding two people be fired.
He’s also still pushing for a trade, despite having four years remaining on his contract. That simple fact puts Durant at a clear disadvantage, and his latest request could actually be him using dirty tactics to gain the upper hand.
Kevin Durant could put more pressure on the Brooklyn Nets to try and force a trade
According to Mark Stein (subscription required), this is a theory around the NBA, and it makes sense. After all, Durant’s probably smart enough to know that the Brooklyn Nets aren’t going to fire Marks and Nash just because he asked. If they did, then it would make the team look incredibly weak, and there’d be no guarantee that Durant wouldn’t ask for a trade later.
Since the Brooklyn Nets won’t, then, to some, it makes it look as though Durant tried to make it work with the team, but they weren’t willing to meet him halfway. It also makes it seem inevitable that Brooklyn trades him, after rejecting his demands, even if that’s not the case.
Durant clearly wants out, but the Nets aren’t in a rush to trade him unless their high asking price is met. If no one’s willing to meet that asking price, Durant will start the year with the Nets and must face both the media and the fans. He probably wouldn’t want that, so he could put pressure on the teams on his list to make something happen.
The Celtics, Heat, Raptors, and Suns are on that list, and none of them appear eager to offer anything near what the Nets are asking. That puts Durant in an uncomfortable spot since the teams that he wants to play for aren’t actively trying to acquire him, meaning that he’s stuck in Brooklyn until something happens.
Durant may try to hold out next season to pressure the Brooklyn Nets
Durant’s next option could be for him to go scorched earth and hold out, but that has several drawbacks. For one, Brooklyn can do what Philadelphia did with Ben Simmons and play hardball. Durant sitting out also has huge ramifications for his legacy.
At age 33, he likely has only a few seasons left, and he’s already missed plenty of time in the last three years due to injuries. Volunteering to miss games would not only make him look even worse than he already does, but could also affect his place in NBA history.
After all, he’s got a great chance of joining the 30,000-point club, something only six players have done. He currently has 25,526 points and could easily jump from 21st on the NBA’s all-time scoring list to 12th next season, so sitting out games could jeopardize that. Especially if the Nets wait until the trade deadline to move him, and they have no incentive to do him any favors if he holds out since he’d single-handedly sabotage their season.
They’re also right to expect a lot in return for a player that averaged almost 30 points per game last season and is under contract for four more years.
On the other hand, Durant can afford to miss paychecks and collect fines, and the longer he was to hold out, the more it would become a distraction for the Nets. In that case, it’s possible that instead of demanding the sun, moon, and stars for Durant, they settle for just the sun and the moon.
There’s no guarantee that it would even work and he’d be better served to just play, ball out, and prove to teams that he’s worth giving up a lot for. Durant appears increasingly desperate, however, and judging by his latest demands, he’s comfortable using dirty tactics to escape from Brooklyn.