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NBA Rumors: Exec Believes Kevin Durant More Likely to Retire Than Play for Nets Again

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 15, 2022

Justin Ford/Getty Images

Kevin Durant might be prepared to play some serious hardball in order to get the Brooklyn Nets to acquiesce to his trade request.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported Monday that one team executive told him during the NBA Summer League that Durant "was more apt to retire than play again for the Brooklyn Nets."

Stein followed up to write the situation hasn't improved since then:

"If Durant hasn't been traded by [training camp], there is a growing expectation in league circles that he will continue trying to cause as much of a ruckus behind the scenes to try to prod the Nets into lowering their asking price at last to facilitate a deal. If it wasn't apparent by now, he really wants that trade to Phoenix or Miami or maybe even Boston or Philadelphia, no matter what it does to his reputation when he hasn't played a single game yet under the four-year, $194 million contract extension signed in August 2021."

The 12-time All-Star issued a them-or-me ultimatum to Nets team governor Joe Tsai, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Charania reported Aug. 8 that he "reiterated his trade request and informed Tsai that he needs to choose between Durant or the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash."

Tsai wasted little time in addressing the story and making it clear he's behind Marks and Nash:

Joe Tsai @joetsai1999

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

The fact that Durant remains a member of the Nets seems to illustrate that the team won't accept less than what it believes is fair market value. Charania noted the Nets "made clear privately that they will take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant."

Threatening to retire—or at least refusing to play—is the kind of tactic that could force Brooklyn's hand. Taking the best trade offer on the table, even if it's below what Marks is demanding, is better than getting nothing.

However, Durant potentially puts himself in a no-win position if he goes down this route and the Nets remain steadfast. In that scenario, he either backs down and makes his entire protest pointless, or he retires and allows that to be the last image of his legendary career.

Whether it's an accurate critique or not, Charles Barkley spoke for more than a few fans when he described the 6'10" forward as "riding the bus" in reference to the two titles he won with the Golden State Warriors.

NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT

"If you ain't driving the bus, don't walk around talkin' bout you a champion!"<br><br>Chuck sounds off on KD's playoff performance. <a href="https://t.co/NSULRff4nD">pic.twitter.com/NSULRff4nD</a>

Walking away would only provide more ammunition to Durant's loudest skeptics. As much as his legacy is cemented, retiring and leaving behind a mess he helped create would hang around him for years to come.

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