Tuesday October 3, 2023

Kevin Durant Trade Request Signals End of Failed Decade in Brooklyn

  • Despite the second-largest cap hit in the NBA, the Nets were swept in the first round of the playoffs this year.
  • The Big Three of Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden played just 16 games together.
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On July 12, 2013, the Brooklyn Nets acquired, among others, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Celtics in a trade for four first-round draft picks.

The Celtics used those picks to bring in Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and, most ironically, Kyrie Irving via trade. The former two led Boston to the NBA Finals this season.

Meanwhile, nine years later, the Nets have yet to play in an Eastern Conference Final — and haven’t learned from their fateful mistake.

On Thursday, Kevin Durant requested a trade out of Brooklyn — the culmination of two seasons of frustration for the 2014 NBA MVP. Phoenix and Miami are at the top of Durant’s destination wish list, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

Any team looking to bring Durant in, however, will have to be willing and able to take on the final four years of his massive $48.6 million AAV contract. Those years — as well as the promise of his supreme talent — could fetch one of the largest trade hauls in league history.

When GM Sean Marks was hired in 2016, he told former owner Mikhail Prokhorov that a “quick fix” would not be the way to get this franchise back to winning. Prokhorov conceded to Marks’ judgment.

In that time, Brooklyn obtained a bevy of young talent — but under new owner Joseph Tsai, who took over in 2019, the franchise’s refusal to be patient and develop its youth is still the culprit for its struggles.

  • The Nets sent D’Angelo Russell away as part of the sign-and-trade deal to acquire Durant.
  • They shipped Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert off in 2021 to get James Harden — who infamously departed in a trade to Philadelphia this season.
  • Last offseason, Brooklyn dispatched Spencer Dinwiddie for draft capital.

All of those players played postseason basketball this year.

The circus at Barclays Center is further accentuated by the fact that the Nets had the second-highest team cap hit ($172.8M) in the league this season, while the Warriors — who had the highest ($184M) — just won an NBA title.

Of course, much of the blame can and should fall on head coach Steve Nash, who wasn’t able to get the most of his superstar talents. But when his depth includes the likes of fading, ineffective veterans Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, it’s easier to sympathize with him.

Now, Brooklyn’s superteam is just Irving, who was the source of many of the team’s issues on and off the court — while teams that have developed homegrown talent are vying for titles.

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