NEW YORK — Kevin Durant’s boundless love for basketball is not a reason to believe he’ll show up for training camp if the Nets don’t acknowledge his trade request.
That has been the prevailing belief — that Durant, a 12-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP is above the idea of holding out of camp because he is a master of his craft and a lover of the game. A source, however, pushed back on the idea that Durant will show up to training camp in September if his request goes unfulfilled.
Durant first made a trade request directly to Nets owner Joe Tsai on June 30, but after more than a month passed by with multiple offers made and none accepted, Durant and Tsai met a second time, this time in London, over the weekend.
Durant doubled down on his request and told Tsai he has lost faith in the direction of the organization and that Tsai must choose between the superstar forward and the pair of general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, according to The Athletic.
Tsai responded to the report with a tweet: “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”
The Nets have received a number of offers, including a package from the Boston Celtics that included star forward Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and a first-round pick, but the asking price has been too steep. For example, the Nets countered the Celtics and said they must include reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, another rotation player and additional draft compensation in any deal that includes Brown for Durant.
The New Orleans Pelicans remain interested in a deal for Durant, according to a source, and can put together a compelling package around All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, role players like Herbert Jones, Devonte Graham and Jose Alvarado, and the remaining draft compensation they received from both the Los Angeles Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Jrue Holiday trade.
The Nets asking price in any Durant deal has been steep: an All-Star level player, rotation players and significant draft compensation. The Pelicans, who also have CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson on the roster, are one of few teams who could gut their depth to acquire Durant and still have the infrastructure needed to compete for a deep playoff run.
It remains unclear whether the Nets would move on to trade Kyrie Irving if they strike a deal for Durant. Irving, according to several reports, has made it clear to Nets brass that he wants to stay in Brooklyn even if the team moves on from Durant. The Lakers have been the only interested party in Irving’s services, according to multiple reports, and the Nets have not been open to acquiring Russell Westbrook in an Irving deal, which means they would have to acquire players from a third team, possibly players like Myles Turner and Buddy Hield from the Indiana Pacers.
It is unclear whether or not the Nets would rather just keep Irving, a superstar talent on a one-year deal, than trade him for pennies on the dollar.
And as much as the Nets would like to keep Durant on the roster as he walks into the first year of a four-year, $198 million max contract extension, they run the risk of taking this charade into training camp, where it is not a certainty the superstar forward will show up.
Not one to chat
Ben Simmons reportedly left a team group chat after Game 3 of the Nets’ first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Fox Sports’ Ric Bucher said Simmons left the team group chat after Nets players asked him if he would suit up and make his season debut in an elimination Game 4. Simmons never practiced five-on-five after arriving in Brooklyn as part of the James Harden trade, hurt his back while ramping up, needed an epidural to help deal with the pain in his lower back and ultimately underwent back surgery this summer. Simmons, however, did not show up to Game 4 to support his teammates on the bench.