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Kevin Durant would rather RETIRE rather than return to Nets, says ‘well-connected NBA team exec’

Kevin Durant and the Nets remain in a stalemate over his trade request, but there could be a new level of urgency: One unnamed NBA team executive believes the former league MVP would rather retire than play for Brooklyn again.

Longtime NBA insider Marc Stein was told by the ‘well-connected’ team exec in early July that Durant is ‘more apt to retire than play again for the Brooklyn Nets.’

Monday’s report comes after Durant reiterated his trade demands to team owner Joseph Tsai in London two weeks ago. As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported at the time, Durant said he would stay if Tsai were willing to fire head coach and former NBA star Steve Nash as well as general manager Sean Marks.

Kevin Durant (seen posting up on Boston's Jaylen Brown) and the Nets remain in a stalemate over his trade request, but there could be a new level of urgency: One unnamed NBA team executive believes the former league MVP is more apt to retire than play for Brooklyn again

Kevin Durant (seen posting up on Boston’s Jaylen Brown) and the Nets remain in a stalemate over his trade request, but there could be a new level of urgency: One unnamed NBA team executive believes the former league MVP is more apt to retire than play for Brooklyn again

Nets GM Sean Marks

Nets owner Joe Tsai and coach Steve Nash (right)

Monday’s report comes after Durant reiterated his trade demands to team owner Joseph Tsai (near right) in London two weeks ago. As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported at the time, Durant said he would stay if Tsai were willing to fire head coach and former NBA star Steve Nash (far right) as well as general manager Sean Marks (left) 

Tsai has since responded with a public statement, voicing his support for both Nash and Marks.

Team spokespeople and Durant’s publicists did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s email requests for comment.

Little has changed between the two sides since that London meeting, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

‘Durant really tried to apply the pressure by asking for Steve Nash and Sean Marks to get fired,’ Windhorst said Monday on ESPN. ‘And guess what has happened? Nothing. Nothing has happened.’

Windhorst believes the Nets aren’t seeing the offers they want for Durant because they have no leverage if he’s willing to sit.

‘I think what we have here is really a study of leverage,’ Windhorst said. ‘First off, the Nets do not have leverage in trade talks with other teams. They are not giving them the offers that they want. They see no reason to increase them. So, they’re not making any progress there.

Likewise, Durant doesn’t have much leverage because he’s under contract.

‘Kevin Durant clearly does not have leverage with the Brooklyn Nets,’ Windhorst added. ‘He is asking for things: ”Get me traded. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.” He is being told no. So, when you have denied leverage, you have a stalemate.’

Kyrie Irving's days in Brooklyn may be numbered despite the All-Star guard's previous statements assuring Nets fans he doesn't 'plan on going anywhere.' Irving (left) joined the Nets in 2019 with Kevin Durant (right) but the two have failed to meet expectations in Brooklyn

Kyrie Irving’s days in Brooklyn may be numbered despite the All-Star guard’s previous statements assuring Nets fans he doesn’t ‘plan on going anywhere.’ Irving (left) joined the Nets in 2019 with Kevin Durant (right) but the two have failed to meet expectations in Brooklyn

The specific reasons for Durant’s dissatisfaction remain unclear, at least publicly, but Charania reported last week that the Nets have ‘direct knowledge’ of the details. Durant was previously blamed by some for the exit of former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, who mutually parted ways with the organization in 2020, although it remains unclear if he had a hand in that decision.

Durant’s Nets were swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season by the Boston Celtics, who have since reportedly offered All-Star Jaylen Brown in exchange for Brooklyn’s disgruntled superstar forward. 

The Nets, meanwhile, asked for both Brown and All-Star Jayson Tatum, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe

Durant still has $198 million and four years remaining on his contract, while Brown has two seasons and $56 million left on his.

Durant’s future in Brooklyn has been complicated by the situation with his current Nets teammate, Kyrie Irving, who opted into the final year and $37 million of his contract to stay with the team, but is rumored to be pushing for his own exit.

The crosstown rival New York Knicks as well as the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers would be interested in acquiring Irving, according to various reports.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum told reporters last month that he wants the reigning Eastern Conference champions’ core to stay intact.

‘I played with him during the Olympics,’ Tatum said when asked about Durant. ‘Obviously, he’s a great player. But that’s not my decision. I love our team. I love the guys we got.’

(From left to right) Nets GM Sean Marks, Clara Wu Tsai, wife of Joe Tsai, Nets forward Ben Simmons and Nets coach Steve Nash attend the "Unfinished Business" premiere during the 2022 Tribeca Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on June 13

(From left to right) Nets GM Sean Marks, Clara Wu Tsai, wife of Joe Tsai, Nets forward Ben Simmons and Nets coach Steve Nash attend the “Unfinished Business” premiere during the 2022 Tribeca Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on June 13

Brown has not commented on the report directly, but did tweet ‘SMH’ – the abbreviation for ‘shaking my head.’

While the Celtics’ reported interest only surfaced in late July, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Boston’s front office, led by Brad Stevens, had been in regular contact with Nets general manager Sean Marks for weeks prior. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has since reported that the Nets are not actively engaged in any trade discussions regarding Durant.

Brown reacted to the trade rumor by writing 'SMH', which means 'shaking my head'

Brown reacted to the trade rumor by writing ‘SMH’, which means ‘shaking my head’ 

One potential obstacle to a deal is the Nets’ asking price for the 33-year-old Durant, who was tied for third in the NBA in scoring last season at 29.9 points per game.

According to Woj, the Nets want multiple unprotected first-round picks, pick swaps and several impactful players.

The demand is somewhat similar to the trade that brought Brown to Boston: Brooklyn’s 2013 acquisition of Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

The Nets, under general manager Billy King at the time, relinquished unprotected first-round picks in 2014, 2016 an 2018, as well as additional pick swaps, which allowed the Celtics to draft Brown and Tatum in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Brooklyn, meanwhile, managed one second-round playoff appearance in Pierce’s only season with the Nets.


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