First, Kevin Durant’s trade request has upset everyone in the NBA. Now he has suspended the league.
With more than half of NBA teams contacting the Nets with trade packages, the normal free agency frenzy has been slowed. As Nets general manager Sean Marks and owner Joe Tsai sift through all of these offers for the basis of their upcoming rebuilding process — and fans have started watching names such as Donovan Mitchell — the league is essentially in waiting.
After three years of acquiescing to Durant’s wishes, and more to Kyrie Irving, the Nets finally held their ground. They didn’t give Irving a full max extension, and Durant was reportedly unhappy when director of player development Adam Harrington — who Durant has been close with since their days together in Oklahoma City — was fired.
Still, Durant was adamant he was committed to the Nets, until the end.
“Those who were locked in that gym with me know what it’s like, they know what I’m talking about,” Durant tweeted on Saturday. “If you haven’t been there with me, ask around”
Sports Illustrated’s Robin Lundberg, in a Twitter response to Durant, who had been silent since Thursday when his trade request rocked the franchise, wrote, “It’s vague and doesn’t address anything directly. We all know you’re a great basketball player.
Durant, who has never seen a Twitter beef he could resist, replied, “What do you wanna deal with?”
Lundberg fired off a number of questions: “Do you really want a Nets trade? If so, why? Was Kyrie a deal breaker for you? If you want a trade, do you expect to choose your destination? Thank you!”
Durant simply replied, “Keep dreaming robin lmao” without further explanation.
But the thing is, Durant’s trade request is no laughing matter for the Nets. While the four years remaining on his contract guarantee the Nets will get a big comeback, the team’s era as a title contender is over with Durant’s departure.
While Durant reportedly said he’d rather be traded to Miami or Phoenix, it’s hard to imagine the Heat putting together the best deal themselves without the ability or inclination to include Bam Adebayo. Marks is expected to pick the package that’s best for the Nets, not the region that’s best for Durant.
The Nets will work with Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman more than Irving, but they seem reluctant to be held hostage by them.
While the Suns and 76ers would have made solid offers, the Raptors and Pelicans might be able to put together the cleanest packages without needing a third or fourth team in the deal.
Both teams control their first-round picks seven years later. The Raptors might be able to build a trade around Scottie Barnes, while the Pelicans might offer Brandon Ingram. They also have Zion Williamson, but once he signs the designated rookie extension he accepted on Saturday (per ESPN), he can’t be traded to the Nets while Ben Simmons is on the roster.
Other stars who fall into this category include Mitchell, Adebayo, Karl-Anthony Towns, Michael Porter Jr., Jayson Tatum and Darius Garland (assuming he signs his deal).
The Athletic reported that the Nets responded to interest from the Timberwolves by asking Towns or Anthony Edwards, implying they could be open to moving Simmons. If so, that would also open the door to Jazz’s Mitchell.
Mitchell is a 25-year-old New Yorker long coveted by the Knicks. He played his AAU ball for The City and Riverside Hawks, and grew up around the Mets clubhouse because his namesake father was the team’s longtime director of player relations. Mitchell has been ubiquitous at Citi Field for the past few weeks, including Saturday.
Marks and Tsai will not rush the process. Durant’s trade is their only shot at accelerating the arduous reconstruction ahead. But with all of the league’s GMs set to descend on Las Vegas for the summer league after July 4th weekend (Durant announced his move from the Thunder to the Warriors on July 4, 2016), the market could soon thaw .
The Nets rescinded the qualifying offer on Kessler Edwards, according to Hoopshype. Edwards becomes a restricted free agent, but the Nets have his non-Bird rights and are still talking to the 21-year-old forward.