Every team in the NBA wants a player like Kevin Durant.
Not every team is willing to give up significant assets in a trade for the real Kevin Durant.
That’s the major takeaway from the Brooklyn Nets’ failed attempt to trade Durant in the offseason after he asked for it.
What the Nets wanted for Durant and what teams were willing to offer didn’t match up.
Nets owner Joe Tsai, general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash met with Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman on Monday in Los Angeles, and both sides vowed to “move forward” in pursuit of a championship.
This is not a feel good, fire time. Durant issued an ultimatum, according to a report by The Athletic, telling ownership that he had to go or the Marks-Nash pairing was gone. Neither happened.
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Whether it was transmitted directly to Durant or not, the Nets tried to trade him, and no team wanted to give up valuable players and draft picks for a 12-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP and a regular-season -MVP. Not one contending team (Boston and Miami) and not one contending team (Memphis, New Orleans and Toronto) were willing to risk a Durant trade.
That says something about what teams think of Durant overplaying his hand. As one NBA executive described the Nets’ inability to trade Durant: “Teams don’t want to overpay for someone who has proven to burn your house down.”
His recent tendency to want to parachute into a championship game and look for a way out a year or two later has teams worried.
Durant, who turns 34 next month, has an attractive contract, entering the first year of a four-year, $194.2 million deal. Teams were concerned that he would want to leave after a season or two and the team would be short on draft picks and players while trying to trade a player a year or two older.
Durant, this offseason, doesn’t have the ability to force a trade. He missed the entire 2019-20 season recovering from an Achilles injury and has missed 64 of 154 games over the past two seasons.
Let’s see how the season starts and how Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons mix. Maybe it’s a strong start, keeping everyone satisfied. With the news that Durant will return to Brooklyn, the Nets’ championship odds doubled, making them the favorite just behind Boston, Milwaukee and Golden State.
Maybe it’s a bad start and the dysfunction that has defined the Nets for the past three seasons is engulfing the franchise. Just because both sides are committed to winning now doesn’t mean that will be the case at the February trade deadline.
Around the league, there was little sympathy for the Nets, but executives and owners are relieved the Nets didn’t capitulate to Durant’s wishes. He just signed the extension that starts this season a year ago, and they wanted Durant to honor at least one year of the deal. They understand how easily their team could be in this predicament.
Durant’s issue has been closely watched not only around the league, but also in the league office, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver weighing in at last month’s Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas.
“We don’t like to see players asking for trades and we don’t like to see it play out the way it is,” Silver said, adding, “when one player asks to be moved, it has a ripple effect on a lot of other players, on that player’s team. player in other teams as well. So it’s not just the league or team captains that are potentially affected, but many other players as well.
“It’s one of those issues that as we go through this collective bargaining cycle, which we’re just starting now, we intend to talk to the (National Basketball Association) Players Association and see if there are any solutions to that.”
Treatments that are enjoyable for players and owners are limited, something concessionaire executives admit despite their frustration.
While trade requests aren’t isolated incidents, it’s not like there are 50 of them every season. They are limited to a handful of elite players who have the power to pressure teams. It’s an issue that’s been around for decades and it’s not going away.
The Nets’ angst lasted about six weeks, and a resolution has been reached. However temporary this may be.
Follow NBA columnist Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA exec on Kevin Durant-Brooklyn Nets: ‘He’ll burn your house down’