Joe Tsai, the owner of the Nets, issued an announcement of support for the team’s front office and training staff on Twitter Monday evening and added, “We are going to make decisions in the perfect interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”
The tweet gave the impression to be in response to a report from The Athletic that said the team’s star forward, Kevin Durant, was still insistent that the Nets meet a trade demand he made in June.
The Nets didn’t reply to a request for comment, and a spokesman for Durant’s company, Boardroom, declined to comment.
Tsai’s Twitter post was an unusual escalation of a simmering feud between Durant, 33, and the Nets. Tsai has rarely weighed in on basketball matters publicly, and only one 12 months ago Durant gave the impression to be happily married to the Nets, having agreed to a four-year contract extension with the team he had signed with in the summertime of 2019.
But much of Durant’s three seasons with the Nets haven’t gone in keeping with plan and have been marked by tumult.
Durant, while recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury, signed with the franchise along together with his friends, the star point guard Kyrie Irving and the veteran center DeAndre Jordan. In the course of the 2020-21 season, the Nets traded lots of their young players, together with several draft picks, to Houston for James Harden, seemingly assembling one of the crucial fearsome star groups in N.B.A. history.
But injuries kept the three stars from seeing the court fairly often. They played only 16 games together and had a dominant record of 13-3. Within the 2021 playoffs, the Nets lost within the second round to the Milwaukee Bucks, the eventual champions.
Last season, the Nets were once more optimistic that they might live as much as their lofty expectations. But Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19 meant that he couldn’t play in home games until later within the season due to a Recent York City rule that was eventually lifted. A frustrated Harden asked the Nets for a trade, and the Nets sent him to the division rival Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons. And once more, Durant, in addition to other players on the team, handled injuries, forcing Nash to push rookies into unexpected roles.
The Nets hit all-time low within the playoffs, where they were swept in the primary round by the Boston Celtics, an embarrassing end result for a team that appeared to be — on paper — one of the crucial talented teams of the last decade.
Durant’s trade request was a bombshell that shocked many league observers. For one thing, the Nets were projected to enter training camp with a formidable roster that include Simmons, a three-time All-Star, and Irving, who opted into the ultimate 12 months of his contract. But a player of Durant’s caliber has almost never made a trade request like this with 4 years left on his contract.
Durant’s trade value, despite his résumé, is uncertain, partly due to how rare his request is and in addition due to Durant himself. In three years with the Nets, he played 90 regular season games of a possible 236 due to injuries. He shall be entering his sixteenth season, a stage by which most players are already in steep decline. But when Durant has played, he has mostly looked like he at all times has: a generational talent.
Durant’s talent makes him a tantalizing risk for a team seeking to put itself excessive, not the least of which is that when a team trades for him, he may not need to stay.