Kevin Durant’s ultimatum and the cost of doing business

Three years ago, the Brooklyn Nets achieved historic success in free agency by striking coordinated deals for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving—deals based on the idea that in Brooklyn, the two could be more than just superstars. Every great player has a certain level of influence (often it deserves), but plenty of reports on the networks in recent seasons have featured Durant and Irving as drivers of decisions made across the organization. Coaches were fired and replaced. The roster has been reworked to the liking of Durant and Irving, from accessory hub DeAndre Jordan joining the team on a $40 million contract to the Nets who are stepping away from their youth to trade a third star in James Harden.

Each of these decisions can be explained by a foreshadowing combination of injury, opportunity, and circumstances. However, those choices were ultimately made for the same fundamental reason that, over the weekend, Durant followed up his request to trade with an ultimatum to either transfer him or sack the team coach and general manager.

this is It’s what the nets bargain for.

Dragging has always been part of the appeal. Brooklyn entered into an apparent partnership with Durant, and thus with Irving as central figures in her future. However, even in 2019, a distinction was already made between the two stars and what they meant for the institution as a whole. Sources told ESPN’s Kevin Arnowitz that bringing Irving the net — and the baggage convoy following him — was the “cost of doing business” to land on Durant. Irving has been rather nasty from the start. It became an important part of the franchise by the fact that one of the big players wanted to play with his friend. Perhaps unpleasant for one of Irving’s most advanced shooters in the game, the difference in standing between the two star teammates is only becoming more apparent.

In Irving’s last official press conference for the 2021-22 season, he confirmed to the assembled media that he intends to return with the net despite a turbulent year and a discouraging end. He didn’t just talk about being part of the franchise, but about “running it” along with Durant, team governor Joe Tsai, and general manager Sean Marks, all of whom Irving specifically mentioned. (Not specifically mentioned: Coach Steve Nash.) It was a rejection of reality—or at least a misunderstanding by Kerry of how much his reality had changed.

Irving spoke that day as if he had stepped straight out of a time machine from 2019, completely oblivious to everything he had done (or you will do, in future travel time formula?) to disrupt the Brooklyn season. The strange quality of Irving’s comments came from the fact that he still believed his basic agreement with the team was sound. It still has the same degree of input. That he was still a servant to the franchise, even after he deliberately made himself unavailable for much of the season. Brooklyn made excuses and exceptions for Kyrie for months, but his relationship with the franchise changed when he decided it wasn’t in his best interest to be an active part of it.

For his part, Durant kept showing up whenever his body allowed it, to the point where he was doing it is the public’s concern too much To keep his super hacker team afloat. KD was still one of the best players in the world last season, and it’s still the voice the Nets recruited for him every time. Even in increasing his demands to the organization now, Durant still does somewhat of what he was brought to Brooklyn to do: declare his intentions and state exactly what he wants. Sometimes this sounds like driving. Sometimes it looks like this.

The real question is whether Durant’s trade order broke this dynamic – as did Irving – or is it just a knot. On the other hand, the fact that Durant’s future with the franchise is something that must be met and negotiated. There are some very practical reasons why the Nets would want to have one of the best basketball players in the world on their list for as long as humanly possible – reasons he is 7ft tall with unimaginable touch, skill and instincts. Then there are the facts of this player in the light of day calling for his coach and general manager to be sacked, causing such an uproar that the team judge felt compelled to respond on Twitter.

“Our front office and coaching team have my support,” Tsai chirp on Monday. “We will make decisions in the best interests of the Brooklyn Nets.”

As far as the data goes, it’s a bit vague. It is also significantly non-binding. “Support” is far from a guarantee in the modern NBA, and it doesn’t take much imagination to see how keeping Kevin upset with Durant at the expense of coach and CEO could be in the franchise’s best interest. Overall, this tweet appears to be an insistence from the owner of the squad that times have changed, even as he met Durant to discuss how to convince him to stay.

The whole situation is a mess, but the kind of mess that Brooklyn would happily sweep over and ignore, if at all possible. It is impossible to replace Kevin Durant. Hell, it’s hard enough just to determine a fair return for Durant in the trade, not to mention that the suitors could realistically meet. Every question seems silly because Durant is a really silly player. That may be the only reason why he’s still net after about six weeks of ordering a trade – and maybe the real reason KD moved the pot with this alarm in the first place. Does he really want Marks and Nash to go? Or is he just looking to send a shock through the nets system? You can still create leverage with one foot out the door, especially when three years of hidden encouragement have already shown you where to pay.

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