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NBA Rumors: Teams Believe Kevin Durant Knew Joe Tsai Would Reject Trade Ultimatum

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 11, 2022

Kevin Durant (Elsa/Getty Images)

Rival executives reportedly believe Kevin Durant was trying to stir the pot by suggesting the only way for the Brooklyn Nets to keep him was by firing general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday that KD issued the ultimatum to Nets governor Joe Tsai over the weekend, which led to a Twitter post from Tsai on Monday night.

Joe Tsai @joetsai1999

Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.

NBA insider Marc Stein provided an update to the situation Thursday:

"There is a growing belief among rival teams that Durant knew when he issued that me-or-them ultimatum that Tsai had no intention of yielding to the request and firing Marks and Nash. One resultant theory that the Durant/Tsai meeting spawned is the idea KD has begun trying to manufacture as much behind-the-scenes discord as he can in hopes that it will lead the Nets to lower their asking price and trade him out of exasperation."

Durant trade talks have been sluggish since he requested a move in late June. While there's interest in the 12-time All-Star, the Nets have maintained a sky-high asking price.

Tsai and Co. have expressed in private conversations they will "take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant," per Charania.

So it wouldn't be a surprise if KD and his camp are exploring ways to tank his own value to help put pressure on Brooklyn's front office to make a deal, as Stein suggested.

Whether it'll work is a tough question to answer because Durant's side doesn't have a ton of leverage since he's just starting a four-year, $194.2 million contract.

The 33-year-old superstar could hold out to open training camp, but it's unclear whether he's willing to sacrifice any or all of his $42.9 million base salary for 2022-23 by sitting out once the regular season gets underway.

Charania reported the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors remain the teams with the most interest should the Nets' asking price begin to fall.

If a Durant trade is eventually found, it could start a whirlwind of movement not only for the Nets but the rest of the NBA, as well.

The trade market has come to a halt for two reasons: the Durant situation and the price paid by the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gobert, which included four first-round draft picks and a pick swap.

In turn, the asking prices for the likes of KD and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell are approaching "objectively nonsensical" levels that could lead to a moment where the trade market "collapses in on itself," per Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Meanwhile, dealing Durant would almost guarantee the Nets would also move on from Kyrie Irving, who's been heavily linked to the Los Angeles Lakers.

It creates a lot of intrigues and the league's balance of power could shift significantly over the next few months, but so far there's no sign a Durant blockbuster is imminent as the stare down continues in Brooklyn.

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