NBA team owners are reportedly commending Brooklyn Nets governor Joe Tsai for not giving in to Kevin Durant's trade request.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith provided details Wednesday on First Take about what he's heard behind the scenes since the Nets announced Tuesday they reached an agreement with Durant to keep him on the roster (1:10 mark of video):
"I have never seen owners this gung-ho. I mean, they're tired of it. What has happened in Brooklyn alone is enough to have set NBA players back decades. That's the kinda damage that this nonsense that was going on has done.
"So to let them get away with it this time, it could not happen. It could not happen, because if it did, it would have changed the course of empowerment forever. Empowerment people don't have a problem with. Entitlement is what they have an issue with.
"That was the confusion, and that's why Joe Tsai took this position. Because every owner that I know, unsolicited, has said kudos to him. And they mean it."
Player empowerment in the NBA has made significant strides over the past few decades as those seeking a change of scenery can often request a trade and get moved elsewhere.
The Durant situation was different because he's only just starting a four-year, $194.2 million contract that runs through the 2025-26 season.
If he was able to force his way out of Brooklyn with virtually no leverage, it would have left future teams in a similar situation in a tough spot.
In addition, the Nets were struggling to find offers that represented fair-market value for a former MVP and 12-time All-Star.
The Minnesota Timberwolves gave up a monster package that included five players and five draft picks, including four first-rounders and a pick swap, to acquire Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz earlier in the offseason.
A KD proposal would have needed to exceed that price point, and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier Wednesday that never happened despite the 33-year-old four-time scoring champion spending nearly two months on the trade block.
Durant's camp tried to create leverage along the way, including a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic suggesting he'd stay if the organization fired general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, but Tsai held firm every step of the way:
Now the Nets will attempt to leave the past 12 months of drama in the rear-view mirror and attempt to emerge as a top contender in the Eastern Conference.
The talent is there, with Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons headlining the other roster cornerstones, but whether achieving team cohesion is possible remains a mystery with the 2022-23 campaign less than two months away.