The Brooklyn Nets must play hard with the destinations desired by Kevin Durant, Miami Heat or Phoenix Suns

Here’s a fresh take on Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks as he navigates Kevin Durant’s demand that the superstar be traded to very specific teams: To hell with player power.

Say it better than that, of course. Use charm and professionalism to communicate to Durant’s business manager, Rich Kleiman, that they can all work together to reach an amicable settlement. Sing kumbaya together. Imagine the world is made up of puppies and rainbows if you must. Leaked, as has happened before, that Marks and the Nets intend to work with Durant while trying to find the right return for Brooklyn.

Say what you owe. The real task, however, is to fend off the temptation to even remotely care that Durant aspires to play next for this team or this team, the Heat or the Suns or any other group of contending teams that catches his eye. During has been part of the Nets’ power structure and a partner in trying to navigate the choppy waters of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Ben Simmons and a disappointing year.

Now he’s an asset, an all-time great with four years — four! — left under contract. He is, in fact, perhaps the most valuable player of all time on the trade market given those years, the one who allegedly circled Marks, directly to Nets owner Joe Tsai, to demand a exit. Supposedly without communicating with the Nets front office all week.

He wants to play hardball?

No problem, Kevin. Here’s some hardball for you:

The Heat, one of the teams on their “wish list”, can’t trade Bam Adebayo to the Nets while Ben Simmons is on Brooklyn’s roster because neither team can carry two players with the rookie extension designated. And no Bam should be equal to any chord. It’s tough, and moving Simmons right now would be even more daunting than, say, the Lakers leaving Westbrook. Also, Bam/Tyler Herro/Duncan Robinson/picks aren’t enough, even if it were possible.

· Potential offers from the Suns – the other team on the “wish list” – also add up to an equally unattractive return for a player of Durant’s stature with so many years left under contract. First, a DeAndre Ayton signing and trade would cap the Nets. Second, even Ayton, Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges and draft picks that may be of little value suggest that a Durant-Booker CP3 team probably isn’t spitting out lottery picks even for years. years.

Seriously. Why the hell would you want, basically, the Phoenix Suns of last year, but with Simmons replaced by Devin Booker and Chris Paul.

No thanks. You.

There are several things happening here at the same time, and they all point to the Nets needing to push back against a player empowerment movement that has morphed into a star player movement that has all the power.

First, Durant, who has an injury history and turns 34 in September, still has those four years on his contract. There’s not one iota of chance that, if KD had blown his MCL, or otherwise badly injured himself, or just regressed in performance, that he would have woken up one morning in Brooklyn and accepted to give some of that money back. It’s a contract. It’s an affair. He drew security from it in case of bad luck or sudden old age. The Nets should keep what they got – Durant for four more years, or the appropriate return commensurate with the value of Kevin Durant over those four more years.

Second, the Nets, under Marks, traded a host of young talent, bringing together Irving, Durant and Harden, and then, when they caved to Harden’s demands, Ben Simmons. This list includes: Jarrett Culver, Caris LaVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAngelo Russell and DeMarre Carroll. This young team has made the playoffs before and looked interesting enough to be one star away from real competition. They also boasted of a strong culture with a cap.

So here is Sean Marks, having bet it all on Durant and Irving, now faced with his superstar – as so many people do these days – demanding an exit. and precise definitions.

Which brings us to the third reality: GMs are expected to act in the best interests of their team, but they also, of course, act in their own best interests. Marks can’t, deep down, covet a trade of picks and young players he may not be able to see through if he doesn’t survive the post-Kyrie and Durant wreckage.

KD played tough, not caring one bit about the future of the Nets or Marks’ career. Good. Everyone is an adult here. But why the hell would Marks do anything that isn’t in his best interest and that of his team?

Marks has, for years, been the steward of a team that has gone from severely limited in its options, to promising and young, to a supposed suitor, to, on Durant’s change of mood, a potential fire of garbage dumpster.

So there’s only one word Marks has to offer to this latest request from Durant’s wishlist: No.

In the hope that Durant might go down this route, I had conversations this week with NBA league sources about refusing to comply with a star’s request for an exit. They received a range of responses. Incredulity. Reminders that the stars can just turn it off, and in Simmons, the Nets have a front-row example. The devastating impact of a star who plays but doesn’t try.

All valid points.

But Durant’s desires aren’t about the Nets. Meet his hardball with theirs. Want to sit down? Good. Sit down the next four years. Want to play elsewhere? We will see. Go find us an offer we want, not a favorite (again) that meets your purely self-interested needs. Want a ring somewhere else? Yeah, we’ve seen that story of you before. Just understand that we are chasing our own ring, and we won’t move you without the necessary pieces to make that possible.

Talk to the Grizzlies to find out if they would part ways with some of their unnamed young stars Ja Morant and a load of picks. See if, for example, the Atlanta Hawks would trade Trae Young and a first-round pick for Durant. Call Houston about all those picks. Point out — and, yes, sure, it might push him — that irony aside, it turns out that two of the most compelling packages might actually come from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors. See if the Boston Celtics want to trade KD for Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown (and, in Brown’s case, then some).

Explore all the crazy ideas. Because trading KD for less than the Nets need is more senseless, more destructive, and more likely to end badly, just as it did when they succumbed to the same request from Harden.

Durant once went to mattresses with his GM. So it’s time for Marks to remember that this isn’t personal. It’s strictly professional.

And the Brooklyn Nets are in the Brooklyn Nets business, not Kevin Durant’s next team daydreams.


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