Kevin Durant has cleared up swirling speculation that he would be willing to retire from basketball altogether rather than don a Nets uniform this season.
An unnamed but reportedly “well connected” NBA team manager told longtime NBA insider Marc Stein, Durant is “more likely to retire than play again for the Brooklyn Nets.”
Naturally, the NBA universe torpedoed the topic into virality, forcing the two-time Finals MVP to deny the claims.
“S*** is comical at this point,” Durant wrote on Twitter Monday night.
“I know most people will believe unnamed sources over me, but if there’s anyone out there who will listen, I’m not going to back down anytime soon.”
Monday’s report comes after Durant reiterated his trade demands to team owner Joseph Tsai in London two weeks earlier. As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported at the time, Durant said he would stay if Tsai was willing to fire head coach and former NBA star Steve Nash as well as general manager Sean Marks.
Kevin Durant took to social media to shoot down reports made earlier today by Marc Stein
Durant (look at Boston’s Jaylen Brown) and the Nets remain deadlocked over his trade request, but there may be a new level of urgency: An unnamed NBA executive believes the former league MVP is more likely to retire than to play for Brooklyn again
Tsai has since responded with a public statement, voicing her support for both Nash and Marks.
Team spokesmen 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 calling for Steve Nash and Sean Marks to be fired,” Windhorst said Monday on ESPN. “And guess what 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 influence,” Windhorst said. “First, the Nets don’t have leverage in trade talks with other teams. They don’t give them the offers they want. They see no reason to increase them. So they make no progress there.
Likewise, Durant doesn’t have much leverage because he’s under contract.
“Kevin Durant obviously doesn’t have leverage with the Brooklyn Nets,” Windhorst added. He asks for things: ”Get me the loot. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.” He is told no. So when you’ve denied influence, you have a deadlock.’
Monday’s report comes after Durant reiterated his trade demands to team owner Joseph Tsai (second right) in London two weeks ago. As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported at the time, Durant said he would stay if Tsai was willing to fire head coach and former NBA star Steve Nash (far right) as well as general manager Sean Marks (left)
Kyrie Irving’s days in Brooklyn may be numbered despite the All-Star guard’s previous statements assuring Nets fans that he has ‘no plans to go anywhere’. Irving (left) joined the Nets in 2019 with Kevin Durant (right), but the two have failed to live up to expectations in Brooklyn
The specific reasons for Durant’s displeasure 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 left on his contract, while Brown has two seasons and $56 million left.
Durant’s future in Brooklyn has been complicated by the situation with his current Nets teammate, Kyrie Irving, who opted out of the final year and $37 million of his contract to stay with the team, but is rumored to be pushing for his own exit.
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 remain intact.
“I played with him in 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 have.
(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 13. June
Brown has not commented directly on the report, but tweeted “SMH” – short for “shaking my head”.
While the Celtics’ reported interest first 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 responded to the trade rumor by writing ‘SMH’, which means shake your head.
A potential obstacle to a deal is the Nets’ asking price for the 33-year-old Durant, who was third in the NBA in scoring last season with 29.9 points per game.
According to Woj, the Nets want more unprotected first-round picks, trades and more impact 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, gave up unprotected first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, as well as additional trade picks, which allowed the Celtics to draft Brown and Tatum in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, managed a second-round playoff appearance in Pierce’s only season with the Nets.