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Report: Kevin Durant Feels Justified in Trade Request Because Nets Changed Their Deal

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 15, 2022

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Don't expect a reunion between the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant.

The superstar forward reportedly believes his trade request is justified because the organization has altered its relationship with its star players, per NBA reporter Marc Stein:

"Brooklyn's change in approach since the season ended is thus believed to be a key driver in Durant's sudden desire to leave. For all the criticism he is taking for trying to force his way out, and most recently taking the extreme step of calling for the ousters of [general manager Sean Marks] and coach Steve Nash if the Nets refuse to trade him, Durant appears to be operating under the belief that he is justified in making all these rebel demands because the Nets have abruptly changed the terms of their deal."

Stein reported Durant and Kyrie Irving were believed to have originally picked the Nets as a free-agent destination over the New York Knicks because "they perceived Brooklyn, as much as anything, to be willing to bend to their will far more than James Dolan-owned New York would. That is no longer happening, hence the chaos."

Irving even told reporters in late April, after the team was eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics in a first-round sweep, that he and Durant had a "co-management relationship" with the organization.

"When I say I'm here with Kev, I think that it really entails us managing this franchise together alongside [team governor Joe Tsai] and [Marks] and just our group of family members that we have in our locker room and our organization," Irving added at the time. "I think we just got to make some moves this offseason and really talk about it and really be intentional about what we're building and have some fun with it."

But given that the Nets either didn't offer Irving a long-term contract extension or didn't offer Irving the extension he was expecting—instead, the mercurial point guard exercised his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season and has been the source of trade rumors, with free agency now looming in a year—it's become fairly clear that the organization has had enough of the "co-management relationship."

And given Irving has ghosted the team entirely at points, barely played last season since he was ineligible for home games as an unvaccinated player throughout much of the year and has missed his fair share of time due to injuries across three seasons, the Nets fearing they couldn't rely on him—and not wanting to commit to him long-term—didn't come as a huge surprise.

The bigger surprise has been that Durant—who has dealt with his own share of injuries but hasn't been a distraction for the organization beyond that, at least publicly—is now the one sowing discord.

And he may be prepared to bunker down to secure his exit, with Stein reporting that one team executive told him during July's Summer League that he believes Durant is more inclined to retire than to ever play for the Nets again.

Durant pretty quickly shot down that rumor:

Kevin Durant @KDTrey5

I know most people will believe unnamed sources over me but if it’s anyone out there that’ll listen, I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon. Shit is comical at this point.

Stein added that if Durant isn't 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."

Durant, at least reportedly, believed he joined the Nets in a truly collaborative management situation. The Nets, after just one playoff series win in three seasons and more than a few headaches caused by the superstar duo of Durant and Irving, no longer seem interested in such a setup.

A divorce feels like the natural and inevitable conclusion. Until that happens, this particular drama will remain at the epicenter of the NBA universe.

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