According to reports, the Brooklyn Nets have asked the Boston Celtics for Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown in exchange for Kevin Durant, while the Celtics are only willing to trade Brown. Meanwhile, according to another report, Durant might want to play in Philadelphia. This all comes after Durant reportedly issued an ultimatum to the Brooklyn Nets’ ownership that they either trade him or fire coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks.
Which leads me to a question: who are the sources for these reports? Assuming they aren’t inviting Brian Windhorst and Shams Charania into the office whenever they have these closed-door meetings, who is spilling the beans as soon as the meeting ends?
We always go through this with the White House, but that’s different. At least in the movies, every White House meeting has twenty people around the table, plus another twenty people sitting in chairs around the wall taking notes of everything that is said. So “sources” in that case could be any of those people.
Kevin Durant may be feeding information to reporters to weaken the Brooklyn Nets’ leverage.
I would have guessed that when Durant met with Joe Tsai, it was just the two of them, plus Durant’s agent, and maybe a couple of other people. So, if the news got out to the media, apparently within hours after the meeting took place, either Tsai or Durant wanted it to be public. Or, there was a very small pool of people who could have leaked it, and it would have taken about two minutes to figure out who.
There was no upside for Tsai in leaking details about the meeting because it put him in an awkward spot with his GM and coach. Similarly, if one of Tsai’s employees was the leak, Tsai would be pissed, so there was no upside in that. Plus, making Durant’s demands public kills the Brooklyn Nets’ leverage in trade negotiations. This means the leaks are likely coming from Durant’s people. which is really strange.
First of all, every step of this drama makes Durant look more and more like a diva. He has tarnished his image in a way that will linger beyond the end of his career, stabbing the coach he pushed for in the back and whining about the direction of the team that he had a major input in assembling. Not to mention the minor issue that he just signed a four-year extension that he has some obligation to fulfill.
Beyond that, the way this went public makes it tougher for Durant to get what he wants, if for no other reason than that a guy like Tsai, who is reportedly worth $8.4 billion, is probably not crazy about receiving ultimatums.
And the timing is atrocious. If the Nets were to fire Nash today, who’d be available that’s better? Does Durant want to play for Frank Vogel or Mike D’Antoni? Is he hoping to bring back Kenny Atkinson, the other coach he stabbed in the back? Does he miss Scott Brooks?
If Durant has someone in mind, is he reaching out to them? Otherwise, how sure is he that someone would jump at the chance to be the next backstabbing victim?
Durant wants out of Brooklyn but doesn’t have an exit plan.
I get that Durant probably woke up one morning this summer and pondered the reality that at this point in his career, the only way to enhance his legacy is to get more rings. Also, the four-year deal he just signed might be his last contract, and depending on Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons to show up for games, let alone help you win a title, might make it tough to sleep at night.
That kind of stress can make a guy lash out, especially when he looks at teams like Boston, Miami, and especially Golden State, where everyone on the roster seems to be pushing toward the same goal. Who knows? Maybe this will all work out.
After all, Magic Johnson once got a coach fired in the middle of the season and his image was rehabbed as soon as he won a title. LeBron threw half his roster under the bus to get Anthony Davis and played endless passive-aggressive games in Cleveland and Miami, and everyone forgot about it when they won.
But when you mention James Harden these days, your first thought is “team wrecker,” not “three-time NBA scoring champion.” In part, that’s because Harden has no rings with which to massage his image, but it’s mainly because he’s a serial offender, having mangled promising situations in Houston and Brooklyn.
Durant, of course, can claim two championships and is one of the ten best players of this century. But there is a reason teams with championship aspirations aren’t jumping at the opportunity to add Durant. It might be that the Nets are asking for far too much, or it might be that Durant is 33 with a shaky injury history.
It could also be that a GM considering a trade for a guy who just threw his own GM under the bus might logically have second thoughts. Moreover, a team with solid chemistry might not want to risk disrupting that for a guy who will probably start thinking about leaving sooner rather than later.