Brooklyn Boro

Kevin Durant staying with Nets for now

Comes off trade demand, but is he all in for Brooklyn?

August 25, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Whether it was Nets owner Joe Tsai sticking to his guns or just the result of an offseason trade market that didn’t bear enough fruit for general manager Sean Marks, Kevin Durant is staying right here in Brooklyn.

At least for now he is.

The two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and one of the biggest talents of his generation has apparently come off his demand for a trade this summer after Tsai and Marks refused to give in either to Durant’s restructuring of the organizational hierarchy or potential suitors’ requests.

“We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn,” Marks said after revealing that Durant and the Nets had agreed to “move forward with our partnership.”

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That was never in question after Durant inked a four-year extension that kicks in this year and Kyrie Irving made it clear after the Nets’ first-round playoff ouster that he was all in to return to Brooklyn on a long-term deal.

Irving never got his new pact, leaving him to accept a $36.5 million player option for next season.

Durant almost immediately wanted out, making his plant to leave our borough clear to Tsai and Marks after getting only as far as the Eastern Conference finals here in 2020-21 and losing four straight to the Celtics this year.

Earlier this month, Durant and Tsai met in London, where the former league MVP agreed that he would remain a Net, but only if Marks and Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash were relieved of their duties.

Tsai refused to budge on the matter, reiterating his trust and belief in Marks and Nash.

“Our front office and coaching staff have my support,” Tsai tweeted. “We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Nets owner Joe Tsai refused to take a less than dazzling trade or cede to Kevin Durant’s organizational restructuring requests here in Downtown Brooklyn. AP Photo by Mary Altaffer

That left Durant to continue waiting for Marks to make the best deal for the organization, one which hasn’t materialized to date.

Brooklyn fans clamoring for the organization’s first NBA title are no longer counting the days until a deal is announced for either Durant or Irving, who drew little interest with an expiring contract and pending unrestricted free agency less than a year from now.

So now the superstar tandem is more than likely to be on the Brooklyn hardwood when the Nets open the 2022-23 campaign here vs. New Orleans on Oct. 19.

Whether they will be as motivated to grab Brooklyn’s first major pro sports championship since 1955 as when they arrived in the summer of 2019 is a legitimate question going forward.

But it’s hard to imagine two players of such a high caliber begging off or even underperforming during a season with the rest of the NBA watching.

To the contrary, Durant and Irving both have even more reason to display their worth not only to the franchise, but to every other team that may employ them going forward, via a future deal or free agency.

Getting point guard Ben Simmons, who came here via the trade-deadline deal for James Harden last season, to play next season alongside Durant and Irving will be a key factor in the Nets’ continued pursuit of a title.

Simmons missed all of last season due to mental health concerns and a nagging back issue once he was traded here from Philadelphia for Harden.

If the Big Three is reformed and the rest of Brooklyn’s impressive roster, featuring veterans Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Patty Mills and Seth Curry alongside budding young talent like Nic Claxton, Day’Ron Sharpe and Cam Thomas, returns, the Nets should be back in serious contention.

But those questions will be answered as the season draws near and Durant and Irving let it be known that this will be one to remember in our borough by their commitment not only to progressing as players and teammates, but by uplifting the rest of the roster.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have even more to prove in Brooklyn after the Nets failed to trade them both away this summer. AP Photo by Adam Hunger

NOTHING BUT NET: The Nets’ schedule release a week ago revealed that nearly half of Brooklyn’s home games, 18 of 41, will be played on the weekend (Friday, Saturday or Sunday), and the team will also host four afternoon contests at Barclays Center. The Nets will be featured on national television 23 times, with one game on ABC, seven on ESPN, on TNT and 10 on NBA TV. The lack of ESPN games may have been the result of the network assuming that Durant and/or Irving wouldn’t be in Brooklyn.

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