Kevin Durant ultimatum puts Brooklyn Nets in impossible spot

Things have been quiet on the Kevin Durant trade front—a little bit too quiet. That changed on Monday with an explosive new report about the disgruntled Brooklyn Nets star.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Durant met with Nets owner Joe Tsai over the weekend and doubled down on his trade request. The superstar also reportedly issued an ultimatum to the owner: Durant or the Sean Marks/Steve Nash duo.

Tsai put out a brief statement on Twitter on Monday night, expressing support for the front office and coaching staff. He also said the franchise would make “decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets,” a somewhat foreboding signal of what’s to come.

Tsai had little choice but to get behind the staff he’s assembled. But Durant’s reported discontent could now further fracture that locker room, putting everyone in the organization in an impossible spot.

The reported ultimatum Kevin Durant gave Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai puts everyone in a bad spot.

For starters, the report kills most of the leverage the Nets had in a Durant deal. They should still be able to reap a sizable reward for trading one of the best players in basketball, but other organizations will recognize the Nets’ hand is really forced to get rid of him now, or risk a fiasco when the start of the season rolls around.

Sean Marks’ big dreams for the Nets’ future have been falling apart since James Harden was dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers during the season. But the lengthy rebuild that may be at hand for the Nets could very well result in him losing his job.

It may be even more challenging for Nash, an NBA legend and inexperienced coach who will now have to rally the troops while explaining why Durant didn’t believe in him leading the team. The Nets have underwhelmed in recent years, but that seems more of a function of injuries and COVID-related absences than Nash’s coaching acumen.

This particular moment seems to squarely be the fault of Durant, but he could suffer too. If the Nets now have a harder time dealing him away, he could be forced to reckon with the consequences among teammates and fans.

It’s not what Brooklyn envisioned when they swooped in and stole Durant, dashing the hopes of New York Knicks fans with a sign-and-trade in 2019. Durant didn’t play for the entire 2019-20 season and the Nets fell short in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7.

Durant signed a four-year extension before this season, but the campaign quickly went off the rails, affected by the drama involving both Harden and Kyrie Irving. The Nets were swept in the first round of the playoffs—the first time Durant has ever been swept in his career.

Trade requests have slipped into public view plenty of times over the years, but it’s hard to remember when staff members were specifically cited in reports about trade requests. The consequences could be long-ranging for everyone involved.

What’s clear, however, is that Kevin Durant’s reported ultimatum has had a devastating effect. Where the Brooklyn Nets go from here is uncertain.