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Kevin Durant Rumors: Nets' Efforts to Trade Star Seen as 'Largely Fake' by Insiders

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 2, 2022

AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

Multiple people within the NBA reportedly believe the Brooklyn Nets didn't make a legitimate effort to trade Kevin Durant.

According to NBA reporter Ethan Strauss (h/t RealGM), league insiders viewed the Nets' attempts to trade Durant as "largely fake" and felt they were "mostly a facade, conducted simply to suggest the effort," with an ultimate goal of getting KD to remain in Brooklyn.

Rich Kleiman, Durant's business manager, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski in June (h/t ESPN's Tim Bontemps) that Durant had requested a trade out of Brooklyn and that the Nets had agreed to work with KD to find a trade partner.

After no serious movement occurred on the trade front, however, the Nets announced last week that Durant had agreed to stay in Brooklyn for the 2022-23 season.

Per Strauss, an NBA general manager said that while the Nets were making calls on Durant, they weren't "trying to build a trade" in good faith.

Other sources suggested to Strauss that the Nets were trying to "placate" Durant and create a "false reality" that would make him feel satisfied with their attempts and be OK with staying because Brooklyn couldn't get a deal done.

Durant is widely regarded as one of the greatest offensive players in NBA history. Even at age 33, he continues to produce at an elite level.

He's a 12-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, two-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP and one-time NBA MVP, and he is coming off a 2021-22 season that saw him average 29.9 points per game.

As such, the belief was that a robust market would emerge for Durant. That notion was buoyed by the fact that the Utah Jazz received four first-round picks, a pick swap and five players from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for All-Star center Rudy Gobert in a July trade.

Either teams were unwilling to match that compensation for Durant or the Nets were asking for more, which would be understandable given Durant's impact.

His tenure in Brooklyn hasn't gone according to plan. After he sat out his first season while he recovered from a torn Achilles, the Nets were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in 2020-21 and swept out of the first round of the playoffs last season.

The Nets experienced some turmoil, though. Kyrie Irving didn't play most of the season because he wasn't vaccinated against COVID-19 and couldn't play home games under New York City's regulations. The Nets also traded All-Star guard James Harden in February and didn't get much in return to help them immediately.

All-Star guard Ben Simmons was the main piece Brooklyn got back from the Philadelphia 76ers, but he didn't play last season because of a back injury.

Assuming Simmons is healthy for the 2022-23 campaign and both Durant and Irving remain with the team as expected, the Nets will get buzz about being a top contender in the Eastern Conference again.

That wouldn't have been possible without Durant, and that may explain why the Nets reportedly weren't gung-ho about finding a new home for the face of the franchise.

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