Kevin Durant and Nets get past trade request, to move on as partners
The Kevin Durant trade request saga looks to be over, at least for now.
The Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday released a statement from general manager Sean Marks, saying that team leaders including owner Joe Tsai, head coach Steve Nash and Marks met with Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman, settling things in order to begin the 2022-23 season as partners.
“We have agreed to move forward with our partnership,” Marks said in the statement. “We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.”
Durant, who remains under contract for four years, requested a trade on June 30 and reiterated that stance in a second meeting with Tsai where he reportedly asked for Nash and Marks to be fired if he were to consider a return.
According to reports, Durant had the Phoenix Suns atop his wish list of landing spots.
It was assumed that then-restricted free agent Deandre Ayton could play a key role in the Suns acquiring Durant from the Nets, but it was reported soon after the trade request that Brooklyn did not target Ayton as the primary return piece. That point became moot in mid-July when Ayton signed an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers for a max contract that was quickly matched by Phoenix, making Ayton untradeable until this coming January.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Monday, a day before Durant settled his differences with the team, that Phoenix had included two-way wing Mikal Bridges and draft picks in talks with the Nets. Charania added that the Suns had pursued “creative” trade proposals that included other teams.
None of those packages enticed Brooklyn, nor did any other trade discussions with other teams. The Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors were reportedly the top potential trade destinations, based on conversations with the Nets and their assets available in trades.
Durant, 33, averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists on 52% shooting last year.
He now appears set to step back onto the court when training camp starts for a team that also returns Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons around a seemingly improved group of role players.
Brooklyn went 44-38 last season despite missing key players such as Irving (29 games played), Durant (55 games) and Joe Harris (14 games), then trading fellow star James Harden midseason (44 games with the Nets).
The Nets flamed out in a sweep against the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
They have made upgrades to the roster, adding scoring wing T.J. Warren and the hard-nosed forward Royce O’Neale, while bringing back shooting guard Patty Mills and center Nic Claxton.