More Details On Kevin Durant Trade Negotiations

Kevin Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman asked Nets management for a meeting earlier this week and submitted another trade request during that sitdown, according to Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Insider link).

Unlike last summer’s trade request, this one didn’t go public right away. Another key difference? This time around, Durant specifically asked to be sent to the Suns, per ESPN’s duo. He had no interest in kicking off another bidding war and being the subject of intense speculation all week, so he told the Nets that he’d play out the 2022/23 season in Brooklyn if the team couldn’t work out a deal with Phoenix.

Still, both the Nets and Durant recognized that the partnership was on its last legs, according to Shelburne and Windhorst, who say the only question was whether the star forward’s exit would happen now or after the season.

Here are a few more highlights from the excellent, in-depth ESPN story on how the final days of the Durant era in Brooklyn:

  • Before Durant injured his knee on January 15, it looked like both he and Kyrie Irving would both finish the season with the surging Nets. However, when Irving’s offensive numbers spiked during Durant’s absence, he determined it was the right moment to exact some leverage and pursue a contract extension. The Nets were willing to discuss an extension of up to three seasons, but wanted protections; Irving was seeking a four-year extension without conditions, according to ESPN’s report. The difference of opinions on his value resulted in Kyrie’s trade request, and while Durant wasn’t happy with the situation, he didn’t “immediately tie his future” to Irving’s, per Shelburne and Windhorst.
  • The Nets had zero interest in any Irving trade that saw them take back Russell Westbrook. As a result, the difficulty of working out a three-team trade with the Lakers made Brooklyn’s decision on Irving fairly straightforward, since dealing with the Mavericks was simpler and the Nets liked the players they were getting from Dallas.
  • After Irving’s situation was sorted out and the Nets received Durant’s trade request, they presented the Suns with the pieces they wanted in any deal involving KD: four unprotected first-round picks, an unprotected 2028 first-round pick swap, Cameron Johnson, and Mikal Bridges. Suns general manager James Jones wanted to negotiate those terms – perhaps subbing out for Bridges or adding protections to one or two of the picks – but the Nets were steadfast in their demands, according to ESPN’s reporting.
  • New team owner Mat Ishbia was quickly willing to sign off on the extra $40MM the deal would cost the Suns in salaries and tax penalties, representing a departure from the old ownership group. However, it took the team a while to come around on paying the Nets’ price in players and picks. The Suns recognized that if the Nets held onto Durant until the summer, they’d be up against several bidders, which gave Brooklyn some leverage in the process. Phoenix ultimately agreed to meet the Nets’ asking price.
  • However, according to Shelburne and Windhorst, the deal nearly hit a roadblock when the Nets also requested Jae Crowder, whom the Suns wanted to trade in another deal (while ESPN’s story doesn’t specify who would’ve been in the Durant offer in place of Crowder in the original framework for salary-matching purposes, a previous report suggested Dario Saric was involved). The Suns pivoted to other trade discussions, including a possible John Collins acquisition, but ultimately circled back to the Nets and agreed to include Crowder too.
  • The Nets viewed Durant as a “beacon of light” during several the last few dramatic years, according to Shelburne and Windhorst, who say the team was heartbroken to trade him but felt good about sending him to his preferred destination.
View Comments (15)