How the Nets received the Kevin Durant staring contest — and the Lakers misplaced

By Yaron Weitzman and Melissa Rohlin
FOX Sports activities NBA Writers

If there was one truism of the NBA’s so-called participant empowerment period, it is that, ultimately, stars all the time win. Commerce calls for are fulfilled. Ultimatums are met. Gamers maintain an inordinate quantity of energy, which over the previous decade or so has proved almost inconceivable to reject.

That is what made the Brooklyn Nets’ announcement Tuesday so, effectively, outstanding. After a three-month standoff with Kevin Durant, which included a commerce request adopted by a requirement from Durant for head coach Steve Nash and common supervisor Sean Marks to get replaced if he have been to remain, the Nets launched a press release from Marks that every one events had “agreed to move forward with our partnership.” 

“We are focusing on basketball,” Marks added, “with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.” 

This armistice was reached after a Monday assembly in Los Angeles of all of the concerned energy brokers: Durant, his enterprise supervisor, Wealthy Kleiman, Marks, Nets governor Joe Tsai, Tsai’s spouse, Clara Wu Tsai, and Nash.

Convincing Durant to again off his commerce demand marks a serious victory for Tsai, Marks and the Nets group — one we not often see. The Nets didn’t precisely go to warfare with Durant, however they did maintain their floor and emerge victorious with contemporary choices.

Let’s check out who wins and loses on this obvious decision to the Nets-Durant drama, beginning with the person whose seat simply obtained loads cooler. — Weitzman

Winner: Sean Marks and the Nets group

It’s a must to give credit score to Tsai for backing Marks, however, as one GM as soon as advised me, it is the GM’s job to promote possession on their plan, and clearly, Marks was in a position to do precisely that. 

The Nets, based on sources across the league, have been keen to half with Durant, however provided that they acquired a correct return, which, of their view, was by no means provided. 

Clearly, there was a gulf between what the Nets thought of honest worth for Durant and what different groups have been keen to debate. The Nets needed a Godfather supply — and for good cause. Durant is a top-five participant who immediately transforms any workforce he is on right into a championship contender, and he additionally occurs to be signed for one more 4 years, because of the four-year, $198 million extension he signed earlier this summer season, which means he has little leverage. The Nets additionally imagine his presence on their roster places them among the many favorites to come back out of the East.

Then again, one may see why different groups could be hesitant to mortgage their futures for Durant. He is 33, has a ton of mileage on the odometer and has a historical past of main accidents which have restricted his availability in latest seasons. To not point out, there’s his historical past of wreaking havoc inside a company. 

Marks had some interesting offers. The Celtics, as has been reported elsewhere, have been keen to half with Jaylen Brown. Marks most likely may have gotten some kind of respectable package deal of gamers not named Scottie Barnes from the Raptors. And it is arduous to imagine the Pelicans would have refused to half with Brandon Ingram if the Nets had made clear {that a} deal centered on him would work.  

Any of those trades would have allowed the Nets to remain within the playoffs and given them an asset base to work with sooner or later, however all of them would have eliminated the Nets from being championship contenders this 12 months. That is one thing Marks was unwilling to just accept. And so not solely did he refuse to bow to Durant, however he additionally bolstered the roster round him with the additions of veteran wings TJ Warren and Royce O’Neale. Add the return of snipers Seth Curry and Joe Harris, who each ought to be wholesome, a seemingly ready-to-play Ben Simmons and a vaccine-mandate-free Kyrie Irving, and you’ve got one of the loaded rosters within the league. 

So Marks saved his job, reopened a window for his workforce to contend and purchased time to probably store for higher offers (extra on that later).

The truth that Marks was in a position to do all this and someway persuade Durant to vary his stance earlier than any kind of coaching camp standoff means the Nets would possibly now be higher positioned than they have been at any level since Durant and Irving got here onboard. — Weitzman

Loser: The Los Angeles Lakers

A lot for a reunion between LeBron James and Irving. Durant’s determination to stay with the Nets seemingly drove a stake by way of that chance, no less than for now.

If Irving is off the desk, too, it is a hit for the Lakers, who’ve been in search of methods to dump Russell Westbrook and the $47.1 million he’s due subsequent season. Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, had a particularly lackluster debut season with the franchise in 2021-22, during which he struggled to slot in offensively and was usually a flat-out legal responsibility on protection.

Whereas it by no means appeared the Nets have been enthused about probably buying Westbrook, if Durant had jumped ship, there was an opportunity Irving may’ve landed with the Lakers, probably by way of a deal involving a number of groups.

Irving is a wild card, to say the least. He performed 29 video games final season after refusing to get vaccinated, however there isn’t any denying that he is one of many high gamers within the NBA when obtainable.

A reunion between James and Irving appeared unrealistic following Irving’s demand to be traded from Cleveland as a result of he now not needed to play alongside James after they received a title collectively in 2016. However there was all the time one thing intriguing about the opportunity of them reuniting in Los Angeles. James is coming off an MVP-caliber season, and Irving was nothing in need of spectacular when on the court docket final season. 

Alas, it is much less more likely to occur now. Irving has little incentive to go wherever if Durant is staying put, particularly contemplating that Durant publicly supported Irving by way of a lot over the previous few seasons, together with Irving needing time without work following the Jan. 6 revolt and Irving declining to get vaccinated, regardless that New York legal guidelines prevented him from taking part in in dwelling video games. 

Durant and Irving look like remaining in Brooklyn, leaving the Lakers with an enormous dilemma heading into the season: What on this planet are they going to do with Westbrook? — Rohlin

Winner: Adam Silver

Within the wake of Durant demanding a commerce in late June, the NBA commissioner stood in entrance of a room crammed with reporters in July in Las Vegas and reiterated his stance on superstars attempting to drive their workforce’s hand.

“We don’t like to see players requesting trades,” Silver stated. 

Durant was simply the newest famous person to do it, following a number of high-profile gamers partaking within the observe, most just lately together with James Harden and Ben Simmons. Each Harden and Simmons ultimately obtained their needs after Brooklyn and Philadelphia swapped them in a blockbuster deal in February.

However this time, it did not work.

Durant remaining with the Nets is a win for Silver, who has spoken out on a number of events in opposition to superstars attempting to interrupt and bend their contractual obligations.

“This needs to be a two-way street,” he stated in July. “Teams provide enormous security and guarantees to players, and the expectation is, in return, they will meet their end of the bargain.”

For Durant, one of many highest-profile gamers within the league, to determine to honor his contract makes a powerful assertion. Someplace, in some workplace in New York, Silver might be smiling. — Rohlin

Loser: Durant suitors

The Nets may not have acquired a ton of engaging provides, however you might be certain there have been groups fascinated about Durant that have been betting on a drawn-out standoff reducing the Nets’ asking value. 

It is honest to wonder if the Celtics look again on their reported refusal to incorporate Marcus Sensible in a deal. Was that as a result of they honestly felt parting with Sensible and Brown could be an excessive amount of, or have been they banking on the Nets ultimately caving? Would the Warmth have been extra aggressive in turning Bam Adebayo (who, as a result of some arcane league guidelines, had a contract that prevented him from being on the identical workforce as Ben Simmons) right into a package deal that might be flipped for Durant? Possibly the Suns would have come to the desk with an even bigger supply. 

As an alternative, the Nets despatched a transparent message to the remainder of the league that they want much more to contemplate parting with Durant, ought to this case come up once more.

In spite of everything, issues may change once more in some unspecified time in the future. Simply because Durant is (kind of) committing to the Nets at this time does not imply he will not change his thoughts (once more) down the road. And in just a few months, gamers who signed new contracts within the offseason might be eligible to be traded, opening the door to all types of recent prospects. 

Within the meantime, although, Durant seems to be off the desk, which means groups that have been banking on the addition of the famous person propelling them into competition must reevaluate what it’d take to get him subsequent time — if there’s a subsequent time. — Weitzman

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA author for FOX Sports activities. She beforehand lined the league for Sports activities Illustrated, the Los Angeles Instances, the Bay Space Information Group and the San Antonio Specific-Information. Comply with her on Twitter at @melissarohlin.

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA author for FOX Sports activities and the writer of Tanking to the High: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Course of within the Historical past of Skilled Sports activities. Comply with him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.

Get extra from Nationwide Basketball Affiliation Comply with your favorites to get details about video games, information and extra.