Kevin Durant has clarified swirling speculation that he would be willing to retire from basketball altogether this season rather than don a Nets uniform.
A unnamed, but reportedly ‘well connected’ NBA team manager told longtime NBA insider Marc Stein, Durant is “more likely to retire than play for the Brooklyn Nets again.”
Naturally, the NBA universe torpedoed the subject to virality, forcing the two-time Finals MVP to deny the claims.
“S*** is funny right now,” Durant wrote on Twitter Monday night.
“I know most people will believe anonymous sources above me, but if there’s anyone willing to listen, I don’t plan on retiring 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 and general manager Sean Marks.
Kevin Durant took to social media to take down reports made by Marc Stein earlier today
Durant (seen on the Boston Jaylen Brown) and the Nets remain in a stalemate over his trade request, but there could be a new level of urgency: An unnamed NBA team manager believes the league’s former MVP is more inclined is to retire then play for Brooklyn again
Tsai has since responded with a public statement expressing his support for both Nash and Marks.
Team spokespersons and Durant’s publicists did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s email requests for comment.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, little has changed between the two sides since that meeting in London.
“Durant was really trying to put pressure on Steve Nash and Sean Marks to get fired,” Windhorst told ESPN on Monday. ‘And guess what happened? Nothing. Nothing has happened.’
Windhorst thinks the Nets aren’t seeing the offers they want for Durant because they have no influence if he’s willing to sit.
“I think what we have here is really a study of leverage,” Windhorst said. “First, the Nets have no influence in trade talks with other teams. They don’t give them the offers they want. They see no reason to increase them. So they are not making any progress there.’
Likewise, Durant doesn’t have much influence because he’s under contract.
“Kevin Durant clearly has no influence on the Brooklyn Nets,” Windhorst added. He asks for things, ‘Let me trade. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.” He is told no. So if you’ve denied leverage, you’re in a stalemate.”
Monday’s report comes after Durant reiterated his trade demands to team owner Joseph Tsai (near right) two weeks ago in London. 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) and general manager Sean Marks (left).
Kyrie Irving’s days in Brooklyn may be numbered, despite the All-Star security guard’s previous statements assuring Nets fans that he “has no intention of going anywhere.” Irving (left) joined the Nets in 2019 with Kevin Durant (right), but the two failed to live up to expectations in Brooklyn
The specific reasons for Durant’s discontent remain unclear, at least publicly, but Charania reported last week that the Nets have “direct knowledge” of the details. Durant was previously accused by some of the departure of former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, who split from the organization in 2020, although it remains unclear whether he had a hand in that decision.
Durant’s Nets were defeated 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 the disgruntled Brooklyn superstar.
The Nets, meanwhile, asked for both Brown and All-Star Jayson Tatum, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
Durant has $198 million and four years to go, while Brown has two seasons and $56 million to go.
Durant’s future in Brooklyn has been complicated by the situation with his current Nets teammate, Kyrie Irving, who chose to stay with the team for the last year and $37 million of his contract, but is rumored to be pushing for his own departure.
The crosstown rival New York Knicks, as well as the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers are said to be interested in taking over Irving, according to various reports.
Celtics star Jayson Tatum told reporters last month that he wants the core of the reigning Eastern Conference champions 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 like the guys we have.’
(Left to right) Nets GM Sean Marks, Clara Wu Tsai, wife of Joe Tsai, Nets striker Ben Simmons and Nets coach Steve Nash attend the premiere of “Unfinished Business” during the 2022 Tribeca Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on June 13th
Brown did not immediately respond to the report, but did tweet “SMH” – short for “shake my head.”
While the Celtics’ interest did not surface until late July, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Boston front office, headed by Brad Stevens, had been in regular contact with Nets general manager Sean Marks weeks earlier. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has since reported that the Nets are not actively involved in trade talks involving Durant.
Brown responded to the trade rumor by writing ‘SMH’ which means ‘shaking head’
One potential hurdle to a deal is the Nets’ asking price for 33-year-old Durant, who tied for third place in the NBA last season with 29.9 points per game.
According to Woj, the Nets want multiple unprotected first-round picks, pick swaps, and several high-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, then under general manager Billy King, have relinquished unprotected first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, as well as additional pick swaps, allowing the Celtics to draft Brown and Tatum in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, managed to reach the second round of the playoffs in Pierce’s only season with the Nets.