Just hours after a rumour that Kevin Durant wanted the organisation to decide between keeping him or the coach and general manager, Joe Tsai remarked on Twitter, “Our front office and coaching staff have my backing.”
On Twitter on Monday night, Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai expressed his support for the team’s front management and coaching staff, adding, “We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”
Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) August 8, 2022
The post looked to be a reaction to a report from The Athletic that claimed the team’s star player, Kevin Durant, was still adamant that the Nets fulfil a trade demand he made in June. One of the NBA’s top players,
Durant, visited with Tsai in person over the weekend, according to The Athletic, and made clear that he would only remain with the franchise if Coach Steve Nash and General Manager Sean Marks were fired.
(Durant had earlier praised Nash publicly, saying in the spring that the coach had handled the Nets “exactly”; Nash had just finished his second season as the team’s coach.)
A spokeswoman for Durant’s business, Boardroom, declined to comment, and the Nets did not reply to a request for comment.
The escalation of a simmering dispute between Durant, 33, and the Nets by Tsai on Twitter was rare. Tsai has rarely offered public commentary on basketball issues, and just one year prior, Durant seemed to be content with his marriage to the Nets after reaching an agreement on a four-year contract extension with the group he had joined in the summer of 2019.
But a large portion of Durant’s three seasons with the Nets haven’t gone as expected and have been turbulent.
Along with his buddies, the talented point guard Kyrie Irving and the seasoned centre DeAndre Jordan, Durant joined with the team despite still dealing with an Achilles tendon injury. The Nets transferred James Harden to Houston during the 2020–21 season in exchange for a number of their young players and many draught picks, assembling what appeared to be one of the most formidable star groupings in N.B.A. history.
However, injuries prevented the three stars from seeing the court frequently. They only played 16 games together, but they had a strong 13-3 record. The Milwaukee Bucks, who would go on to win the championship, defeated the Nets in the second round of the 2021 playoffs.
The Nets were hopeful that they would meet their high expectations again last season. However, Irving was forced to wait until later in the season to participate in home games due to a New York City regulation that was subsequently overturned as a result of his reluctance to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.
In response to a dissatisfied Harden’s request for a trade, the Nets dealt him to the Philadelphia 76ers, a rival team in the same division, for Ben Simmons. Again, however, injuries to Durant and other team members forced Nash to insert rookies into unexpected positions.
The Nets reached their lowest point in the playoffs when they were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round, an embarrassing result for a club that on paper appeared to be one of the most talented teams of the decade.
The shocking news of Durant’s trade request stunned many league observers. For starters, the Nets were anticipated to have a strong roster heading into training camp, one that included three-time All-Star Simmons and Irving,
who chose to enter the final year of his contract. But with four years left on his contract, a player of Durant’s level has nearly never made such a trade request.
Despite having a strong resume, Durant’s trade worth is unknown, in part due to how unusual his request is and also due to Durant. He only participated in 90 regular season games out of a potential 236 during his three seasons with the Nets due to injury. He will be approaching his 16th season, when most athletes are already experiencing a rapid decline. However, when Durant has played, he has largely seemed as the generational talent he always has.
For a team striving to elevate itself, Durant’s skill presents a tantalising risk, not the least of which is the possibility that after being acquired through trade, he might decide not to sign a contract extension.
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