Pa Rick Bucher
Posted by FOX Sports NBA
There is Kevin Durant the drama is really over Brooklyn? If you’ve followed Durant’s career, you already know the answer: The Kevin Durant drama will never end.
At least that’s how other NBA teams view the Nets’ announcement last week that Durant had rescinded his trade request and “we’ve agreed to continue our partnership.”
“I think the Nets just told him, ‘There’s no deal we’re happy with and we’re not going to just give you away like that,'” the Eastern Conference general manager told FOX Sports. “I think he’ll still be moved at the trade deadline if he doesn’t do well. It might even have been part of the deal, a soft agreement that they would move him if it didn’t work out.’
The second head of the Eastern Conference front office, whose team is interested in acquiring Durant, is counting on it. If this upcoming season is anything like last season, it features both Durant and another Nets star Kyrie Irving asking to be moved.
“I think it’s temporary, depending on whether they win or lose,” the manager said. “Those two [Durant and Irving] will start barking and want to get out of there.”
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Sources at the other two teams revealed that their brain trusts are also convinced that the situation in Brooklyn is far from resolved. This is one of the reasons Networks General manager Sean Marks’ phone hasn’t been ringing with offers for Durant the past few weeks.
“I don’t want to put out my best offer right now when I call them,” the office manager said. “I want them to call us. The second KD says, “Get me out of here,” that’s when they call. That’s when I want to be a buyer.”
Durant’s rescinding of the trade request he first made on June 30 may have come as a shock to those who expected him to act like any other recent disgruntled star, but he is different.
“He’s not like other great players,” the front office executive said. “He’s an extra, extremely sensitive dude.”
If there was one defining feature of Durant’s career, aside from being one of the league’s most talented scorers — four scoring titles, 13 seasons averaging 25 points or better, the last nine shooting better than 50 percent overall — it was his volatility. relations.
“There are people,” said the Eastern Conference CEO, “who fall in and out of favor all the time.”
Russell Westbrook, Draymond GreenSteve Nash and James Harden are among those Durant has alternately embraced and distanced himself from throughout his career, in some cases more than once.
The situation with Nash, Durant’s current head coach, who he reportedly asked to be fired along with general manager Sean Marks this summer, is one of the most confusing.
The two worked closely together during Durant’s tenure at the Golden State Warriors, when Nash served as the team’s consultant. They could be seen on the court after practice whenever Nash was in town, Durant clearly engaged as Nash shared with him the footwork and moves that made him a two-time MVP.
League sources say Durant was also instrumental in the Nets hiring Nash as their first head coach last year, not only giving the hire his seal of approval but also persuading Nash to accept the offer.
The Eastern Conference GM heard Durant tell the Nets in a meeting in Los Angeles that his “them or me” ultimatum to Tsai was just a ploy to get traded, but that didn’t sit well with the GM.
“You don’t say, ‘I was just a fighter, I just wanted to be traded,'” the Eastern Conference general manager said. “What he did to Steve and Sean is just wrong. That’s what Kyrie would do, not the KD I know. Did he know.”
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However, this isn’t the first time Durant has sent mixed signals about the relationship, both privately and publicly. When he was chosen as the 2014 MVP, he told a yawning Westbrook from the stands that he loved him and “I’m the first one to support you and just keep being the person you are.”
But when he left for Golden State five years later, he told Westbrook via text after meeting with him days earlier and reportedly leaving the impression that he intended to stay in Oklahoma City. He called Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is an idiot for thinking that Durant was Thunderstorms the only true superstar — seen as a disparagement to Westbrook — but later said on a podcast in 2020: “In OKC, I played with a lot of athletes, I didn’t play with a lot of skilled guys … I got tired of having to be the only guy that could make threes , make jump shots and make them consistently.”
Meanwhile, Green reached out to Durant after Golden State’s surprise loss to Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals and was allegedly instrumental in recruiting him to Golden State. The two usually hung out together after games, but a highly publicized in-game altercation during the third season led to Durant walking away from the entire team and moving on again. However, a year later, he joined Green on a personal podcast and had a polite conversation about their split.
And just last year, Durant convinced Harden, his former Oklahoma City teammate, to come to Brooklyn. A season and a half later, league sources said Durant had grown tired of Harden’s inconsistent efforts and urged Marks to honor Harden’s desire to move again. Durant joined shortly after the trade LeBron James in the televised selection of the 2022 All-Star teams and Durant declined to select Harden, leaving him as the last player selected by James. Just a few weeks ago, Durant and Harden were seen together at a Travis Scott concert in London.
While the history is there, one general manager suggested that Durant may have reason to upset the Nets this time around. A year ago, Durant signed a four-year contract extension with the understanding that Irving would receive the same deal this summer, guaranteeing their future together, which the GM said was the impetus for them joining the Nets in the first place. The Nets declined to offer Irving that deal.
All of this makes acquiring him or other Nets stars a plausible hope for other teams.
The Lakers, according to a source familiar with general manager Rob Pelinka’s thinking, hoped that Durant’s desire to leave would encourage the Nets to deal with Irving as well. Irving spent much of the summer in Los Angeles and is interested in joining the Lakers and reuniting with James, with whom he won a championship in 2016 for the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to league sources. James reportedly wants a reunion as much as Irving, and now the plan is to “wait for the Nets to blow up,” according to a source, though the acquisition of Patrick Beverley last week for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson further reduced their trading assets.
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Is that explosion coming? The other teams haven’t forgotten that the team released a statement about the continued partnership, but Durant has yet to confirm it. Some are not sure if they would believe it even if he did.
“I’ll take him in an instant,” said the office manager, “because he’s giving you a chance [to compete at a high level]. But as a person? He represents a great danger.”
As one general manager once said when asked what he expects from Durant when he becomes a free agent in 2019, “I can tell you if you tell me the last person he talked to.”
Rick Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He has previously written for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has authored two books: “Bounceback,” the story of NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with Parkinson’s disease at a young age, and “Yao: Living in Two Worlds,” the story of NBA center Yao Min. He also has a daily podcast, At the Ball with Rick Bucher. Follow him on Twitter @Rick Bucher.
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