Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks was already in a jam with Kevin Durant’s trade request and Kyrie Irving’s general Kyrie Irving-ness.
Inadvertent or not, new Minnesota president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge really put Marks in a squeeze when the Timberwolves sent four future first-round picks and a 2022 first-round pick to Utah for Rudy Gobert.
If Gobert can return that many first-rounders, Marks needs a better haul for Durant — or anything less or equal will be a failure.
And getting more than five first-rounders — or a reasonable equivalent — won’t be easy. Around the league, executives believe Minnesota overpaid for Gobert, and that’s not a realistic baseline for a potential Durant deal. that makes it even more difficult for Marks.
There is also the growing sense among some agents and rival executives that Marks isn’t sold on the idea of trading Durant. When the free agency starts to settle even more, Marks can go to Durant and say, “We can’t trade you for less than what Minnesota gave Utah for Gobert.”
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As one would expect in this era of the NBA, Durant’s brother responded to the idea of Durant staying with Brooklyn. Fox Sports’ Skip Bayless suggested the Nets should keep their core intact with Durant, and Tony Durant responded on Instagram“Uhhhhhh, skip the hell with that and you.”
Brooklyn’s asking price is high, and it should be. It’s Kevin Durant, one of the best players in NBA history. Marks’ objective is to get as much for Durant as he can regardless of Durant’s preferred destinations.
Utah just got a significant haul for Gobert, and as aside, there is no indication yet the Jazz are preparing to trade Donovan Mitchell, according to executives who have had discussions with the Jazz. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about trade talks.
Durant’s contract is attractive. He is entering the first of four years on a $194.2 million extension signed last offseason, and he won’t be a free agent until he’s 37 years old in the summer of 2026. That also gives the Nets some leverage to keep him, even if he wants to play elsewhere. If there’s no deal to Brooklyn’s satisfaction, there won’t be a deal at all.
Any team interested in adding Durant and not on his preferred list of teams must weigh the idea of acquiring an unhappy camper with four years left on his deal. Twenty-nine teams should be intrigued about trading for Durant. But does New Orleans want to take a chance on a player who doesn’t want to be there? Toronto made that gamble in 2018, trading for Kawhi Leonard who had just one season left on his contract. It was worth it for the Raptors. They won the title in 2019, but Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in a free agency that summer.
Brooklyn might just be the team that ends up with the unhappy camper on its roster in the fall.
If that’s not enough for Marks, he has the Irving situation. While a tad easier to resolve because Irving is entering the final year of his deal, the Nets don’t have multiple options. The one desperate team with interest, the Los Angeles Lakers, isn’t all that appealing to the Nets because it could increase their luxury tax bill by taking back Russell Westbrook in a deal. But at least trading Irving for Westbrook is one expiring deal for another. The Nets have reached out to other teams about an Irving deal with nothing more than a polite no so far.
There aren’t many GMs in the league who envy Sean Marks’ predicament as he navigates the offseason.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism