Kevin Durant hasn't requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets amid the ongoing uncertainty regarding the future of teammate Kyrie Irving, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"Durant has four years left on his contract and remained an advocate for the Nets to commit to a long-term deal for Irving, sources said," per Wojnarowski. "Numerous teams around the league are preparing to pursue Durant, one of the elite players in the sport, if he becomes available."
The Nets aren't the first NBA franchise to cater to its star players, but Brooklyn leaned into player empowerment more so than perhaps any team in the league. And the grand experiment could implode without really having gotten started.
Ownership and the front office are perhaps at a major inflection point.
While Durant wants the Nets to offer a long-term deal to Irving, Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported June 21 the organization prefers a short-term contract.
On one hand, acceding to the wishes of Durant and Irving would keep the pair happy. A nucleus of those two and Ben Simmons could be enough to carry Brooklyn to a title, at which point all of the headaches would be worth it. The downside is the Nets could double down on an idea that's simply doomed to fail. Durant, who turns 34 in September, isn't getting any younger, and Irving is far too unreliable for a player with his talent and importance to the squad.
On the other hand, refusing to budge on its contract offer for Irving could lead him to leave through free agency or a sign-and-trade. Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer reported the seven-time All-Star might even be willing to sign the $6.3 million mid-level exception with the Lakers.
If Irving goes, then Durant might be the next one out the door. Beyond any level of solidarity he might feel toward Irving, Durant could simply lose faith in the ability of the Nets to chase a title if it's just he and Simmons in Brooklyn. The outlook probably isn't much better if the team swaps Irving with Russell Westbrook or another veteran point guard of lesser value.
During the June 23 edition of Get Up, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported the general attitude around the NBA was that "Kyrie's intentions in looking elsewhere is really to apply pressure to the Nets, not that he wants to leave anywhere."
Durant is just getting his four-year, $194.2 million extension started, while Irving's value has gone down significantly following what transpired this past season. Neither player has a ton of leverage, but Irving threatening to leave and Durant subtly implying what that could mean is the most obvious way to get the Nets to blink on the former's demands.
Brooklyn could be equally willing to call their bluff.