Sean Marks

Kevin Durant, Nets Agree To “Move Forward” With Partnership

Nets general manager Sean Marks has issued a statement indicating that star forward Kevin Durant has rescinded his trade demand and will remain in Brooklyn. Marks’ statement is as follows:

“(Head coach) Steve Nash and I, together with (team owners) Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, met with Kevin Durant and (Durant’s manager) Rich Kleiman in Los Angeles yesterday. We have agreed to move forward with our partnership. We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.”

The news represents a major about-face for Durant, who requested a trade on June 30, then reiterated that request earlier this month and told Tsai he’d only stay if Marks and Nash were fired.

Although Durant pushed for nearly two months to be traded, his leverage was somewhat limited by the fact that he had signed a four-year extension with the Nets a year ago. That contract begins this season and will keep the former MVP off the free agent market until at least 2026.

With Durant locked up for four years, the Nets could afford to play hardball in trade negotiations this summer, reportedly demanding impact players and a series of unprotected first-round picks from suitors interested in the 33-year-old.

Although many teams inquired and some made intriguing offers (including a Celtics proposal that reportedly included Jaylen Brown), Brooklyn never seemed to gain any serious traction in trade discussions. The Nets’ sky-high asking price and hard-line stance perhaps reflected that hanging onto Durant was their desire outcome all along.

Given that we’ve only heard from the team so far and haven’t gotten Durant’s perspective, it’s unclear how genuine or long-term his newfound commitment to the Nets is. But for what it’s worth, Brian Lewis of The New York Post says this isn’t just a case of the team convincing Durant to stay for one more year and be placed back on the trade block next summer — the plan is for it to be a long-term marriage, Lewis tweets.

With Durant staying put, it appears Brooklyn will enter the fall with its Big Three of Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons intact after an offseason full of trade rumors. With talented role players like Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Royce O’Neale, Nic Claxton, Patty Mills, and T.J. Warren also in the mix, the club has a high ceiling as long as its stars remain healthy and effective, though there may be some lingering tension to work through after all that has transpired this summer.

Meanwhile, the teams that most seriously explored the possibility of a Durant trade will have to move on from those trade discussions. That group includes the Suns, Heat, Celtics, Raptors, and Sixers, among others. It’s possible that one or more of those clubs could pivot to pursuing Donovan Mitchell, who is now the biggest star available on the trade market, but many will simply focus on preparing for the coming season with their current cores.

Nets Notes: Durant, Marks, Nash, Simmons, Curry

Kevin Durant‘s four-year contract extension with the Nets, which he signed last year, went into effect the day after he made his trade request and includes advance payment language that required the team to cut him a hefty pay check on July 1, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack story.

As we noted earlier today in our list of this season’s highest-paid players, Durant is owed a $42,969,845 base salary in 2022/23. According to Stein, the star forward’s contract calls for him to receive 50% of that figure ($21,484,922) in a pair of installments on July 1 and October 1. That means that Durant received $10,742,461 from the Nets on the day after he asked the team to trade him.

As Stein observes, the fact that Durant is owed another $10.7MM+ on October 1 adds another layer of drama to the question of whether or not he’ll show up for training camp during the last week of September if he hasn’t been traded by then. If he doesn’t report, it’s possible the Nets would decide to withhold that payment.

Here’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • Elsewhere in his Substack story, Stein says there’s a growing belief among rival teams that Durant knew Nets owner Joe Tsai wouldn’t actually fire GM Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash when KD made his ultimatum. One prevailing theory, according to Stein, is that Durant is trying to sow discord in an effort to make the Nets lower their asking price and trade him “out of exasperation.” If that’s the endgame, it doesn’t appear to being according to plan so far.
  • ESPN and ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said during a Sirius XM Radio appearance that he believes the relationship between Durant and the Nets (including Marks and Nash) can still be salvaged.
    “I think it would be an awkward couple of days and then you win three in a row because I think if (Ben) Simmons comes back, (Joe) Harris comes back, (Kyrie) Irving is in a right space and is able to play and Durant comes back, they’ve got a really good team,” Van Gundy said, per Adam Zagoria of “And so winning helps camouflage any bad feelings and so I don’t think it will be as bad for as long as people might suspect on the outside.”
  • Simmons and Seth Curry are both eligible for contract extensions with the Nets, but Alex Schiffer of The Athletic doesn’t expect Brooklyn to lock up either player until the team has more clarity on its future. Even if the Nets get resolution on Durant and Irving, it seems unlikely they’d pursue an extension with Simmons, who has yet to play a game for the club and still has two years left on his current contract, but Curry – a free agent in 2023 – would be a logical candidate for a new deal.

Kevin Durant Rumors: Ultimatum, Harrington, Nash, Sixers, Celtics

The ultimatum that Kevin Durant presented to Nets owner Joe Tsai – trade me or fire Sean Marks and Steve Nash – hasn’t had its intended effect so far, Brian Windhorst said during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday (video link).

Windhorst suggests that by presenting Tsai with such a “preposterous” alternative to trading him, Durant was hoping to “speed up the process,” since trade talks between the Nets and potential suitors had stagnated in recent weeks. However, the Nets appear to be digging in their heels, while Durant is running out of options.

“He has asked for a trade and it hasn’t been granted. He has asked for the coach and general manager to be fired and that hasn’t been granted,” Windhorst said. “And so now, how do you go forward and report to training camp when you’ve been told no? That’s now the coming drama with this situation.”

Given that multiple reports have indicated no team is willing to meet the Nets’ sky-high asking price for Durant, the 33-year-old’s goal may have been trying to force the team to lower that asking price to a point where a potential trade partner would meet it. But Windhorst points to Tsai’s statement supporting Marks and Nash as a sign the team isn’t willing to reduce its trade demands, at least for now.

“Obviously, the first sentence – where he’s saying he’s not firing his coach and GM – is important,” Windhorst said. “The second sentence was a message to Durant and the whole league, which is, ‘We’re going to do what’s best for the Brooklyn Nets.’

“That is code for, “We’re not going to make a trade just to satisfy this player, no matter how good he is and no matter how much pressure he’s going to put on us. We have all the cards, we have a four-year contract.’ And so I suspect that that will be their position come the start of training camp, and that could lead to Durant not showing up.”

Here’s more on Durant:

  • A source tells Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman of The New York Post that the Nets’ decision to fire director of player development Adam Harrington this spring without consulting Durant is one source of tension between the player and the team. “There are simple things that erode a relationship,” the source told The Post. “You fired someone he was close to and didn’t have a conversation about it.” The same source suggested that Durant wants Marks to be fired because the star forward feels as if the GM “traded away too many pieces.”
  • Both The New York Post and Ian Begley of pushed back against the idea that Durant was the one who urged the Nets to hire Nash as its head coach in 2020. Sources told Lewis and Kosman that Marks was the driving force behind that hiring, and Begley has heard the same thing.
  • According to Begley, there are some “high-ranking” members of the Sixers who have been interested in engaging the Nets in discussions about a Durant trade. A Philadelphia offer would likely have to include Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and draft assets. However, the 76ers’ ability to trade additional first-round picks is limited (they already owe two to Brooklyn), and Harris’ pricey multiyear contract limits his trade value, so it’s unlikely such a package would appeal to the Nets.
  • Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe hears from a source that the Nets “initially tried to pry” both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the Celtics for Durant, which Boston obviously had no interest in. The C’s also rebuffed Brooklyn’s attempt to acquire Brown, Marcus Smart, and several first-round picks in exchange for Durant, Himmelsbach adds.
  • According to Begley, Durant would have interest in playing in Boston, but he’d like to play with Smart if he’s traded to the Celtics. Begley also cites people familiar with the situation who say Durant would view Philadelphia as a “desirable landing spot.”
  • Celtics president Brad Stevens and head coach Ime Udoka have kept Brown in the loop about the Durant trade conversations, and Brown seems to understand the situation, a league source tells Himmelsbach.

Irving’s Agent: Kyrie Doesn’t “Hate” Marks, Nash

Responding to a New York Post report in which a source claimed that Kyrie Irving “hates” Nets general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, Irving’s agent and stepmother Shetallia Riley Irving told Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman of The New York Post that’s not the case.

“I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean,” Shetallia Riley Irving said. “That’s not a part of his being nor how he represents himself in the world. He’s about peace, love and acceptance.”

While Kyrie and agent may dispute the notion that he “hates” Marks or Nash, that doesn’t necessarily mean he loves the job they’ve been doing in Brooklyn.

Irving and the Nets have been at odds in multiple instances over the past year. The club’s front office and ownership group opted not to allow Irving to be a part-time player at the start of last season when he was ineligible to play in Brooklyn due to New York City’s vaccine mandate. The Nets were then unwilling to offer him a lucrative long-term contract this summer, prompting him to explore a move to another team before he eventually decided to pick up his 2022/23 player option.

According to Lewis and Kosman, Shetallia Riley Irving declined to comment on whether Irving agrees with Kevin Durant, who reportedly told Nets owner Joe Tsai that he must decide between trading Durant or firing Marks and Nash.

Nets Owner Tsai Publicly Supports Marks, Nash

Nets owner Joe Tsai went on social media Monday night to declare his support for the team’s front office and coaching staff, apparently closing the door on the possibility of Kevin Durant wearing a Brooklyn uniform again.

On his Twitter account, Tsai stated “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Tsai met with the disgruntled superstar forward in London on Saturday. Earlier on Monday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Durant reiterated his trade request at that meeting, declaring he would only withdraw it if Tsai fired general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash. Durant, who is entering the first year of a four-year max extension, told Tsai that he doesn’t have faith in the team’s direction.

It would have been stunning for an owner to bend to his superstar’s wishes and fire the GM and coach, then essentially let the player pick the replacements. So Tsai’s decision to publicly back Marks and Nash isn’t surprising.

The franchise’s approach to Durant’s trade request remains to be seen. There’s speculation that Durant made the ultimatum to put pressure on the front office to lower its trade demands. It’s also uncertain whether Durant will show up if he’s still on the roster during training camp.

Nets’ Durant Reportedly Reiterates Trade Request, Gives Tsai Ultimatum

In a face-to-face meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai in London on Saturday, star forward Kevin Durant reiterated his desire to be traded and gave Tsai an ultimatum, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, Durant told the Nets owner that he needs to choose between trading him or firing general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash. Durant said that he doesn’t have faith in the team’s direction, sources tell The Athletic.

Charania says his sources described Saturday’s meeting as “transparent and professional,” adding that the Nets have “direct knowledge of the reasons behind Durant’s request” and have reason to believe he’ll be resolute in his stance. People around the NBA have speculated about the possibility that the two-time Finals MVP won’t report to training camp if the Nets don’t make a deal within the next seven weeks, per Charania.

Sources tell The Athletic that Brooklyn has spoken to nearly every team in the NBA about a possible Durant trade, but no club has met the Nets’ “sky-high” asking price. According to Charania, the Celtics, Heat, and Raptors are widely viewed as the most legitimate suitors for the 33-year-old, who is entering the first season of a four-year, maximum-salary extension.

Charania cites sources who say that Tsai and the Nets have “made clear privately that they will take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant.” However, it’s hard to see how the team has the leverage to make that sort of deal, given these latest developments in the summer saga.

Of course, Marks and Nash held their current positions when Durant signed that four-year extension a year ago, and the star forward was believed to have played a role in Nash’s hiring in the first place, back in 2020. It’s unclear why Durant has soured to such a significant extent on Brooklyn’s leadership group.

It’s possible Durant’s dissatisfaction is related, at least in part, to the team’s handling of his good friend Kyrie Irving. The Nets refused to allow Irving to be a part-time player during the first half of last season when vaccine requirements prohibited him from playing home games. The club then opted against offering Kyrie a lucrative long-term extension this offseason.

While recent reports have indicated that Irving plans to be a Net to start the 2022/23 season, there’s a belief that Brooklyn will seriously consider trading him if and when the team finds a Durant deal it likes.

Lakers Notes: Ham, Rivers, Pelinka, Brockington

Bucks assistant Darvin Ham is the only finalist for the Lakers‘ coaching vacancy without previous head coaching experience, but he apparently has the support of LeBron James, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report“He’s the guy LeBron wants,” a source from a rival team tells Pincus.

Ham, 48, also has the advantage of a previous relationship with the Lakers. After his playing career ended, his first NBA job was an an assistant coach in L.A., where he stayed for two seasons before joining Mike Budenholzer‘s staff in Atlanta and later in Milwaukee. Ham possesses a strong personality and plenty of energy, and Pincus believes he could be the best choice to motivate the Lakers’ veteran-laden roster.

Assessing the other finalists, Pincus calls Terry Stotts the “safest choice,” but says he’ll need an experienced assistant to handle the defense, and he views Kenny Atkinson as a “wild card” with a reputation for being rigid in his approach to the game.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • None of the finalists inspire any excitement, in the view of Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times, who says the Lakers need to find a way to acquire Doc Rivers from the Sixers. Rivers still has three seasons left on his contract in Philadelphia and recently received a vote of confidence from president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, but Plaschke cites rumors that Morey would prefer Mike D’Antoni, especially in the wake of the Sixers’ second-round exit. Plaschke theorizes that the Lakers would have already hired Rivers if he weren’t under contract with another team.
  • Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Nets GM Sean Marks were seen meeting at the NBA Combine this week, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog. While no details of the conversation were made public, it’s worth noting that the Lakers had internal discussions about acquiring Kyrie Irving before he resumed playing in January. Marks is also very familiar with one of Pelinka’s head coaching finalists, having hired Atkinson during his first year in Brooklyn.
  • The Lakers are part of a growing list of teams that have lined up a workout with Iowa State guard Izaiah Brockington, per Spencer Davies of Basketball News. Brockington wasn’t invited to the Draft Combine or the G League Elite Camp, but he has already worked out for the Hawks and sources tell Davies that as many as 14 teams are interested in seeing him in action. The Lakers don’t have any picks in this year’s draft, so they would have to trade for one or hope to sign him as a free agent if he goes undrafted.

New York Notes: Brunson, Stoudemire, Baldwin, Sotto

The Knicks’ top executive, Leon Rose, needs to go all out this summer to sign free agent Jalen Brunson, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post opines. The Knicks settled for Kemba Walker last summer instead of engaging in an all-out bidding war for Fred VanVleet. The same mistake can’t be made this time around, in Vaccaro’s view, so Rose must figure out a way to clear more cap space and give Brunson a competitive offer. Vaccaro also notes Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, was Rose’s first ever client as a player agent.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire clarified comments he made on ESPN shows regarding Kyrie Irving and the Nets organization in an Instagram post (hat tip to Chris Milholen of Stoudemire told coach Steve Nash he was leaving his post as a player development coach due to his religious obligations prior to his TV appearances and has no issue with Nash or GM Sean Marks. He also said he wasn’t trying to blast Irving when he said Irving “hurt us” due to his lack of availability during the season. “You’re not going to turn me against Kyrie. You’re not going to turn me against the Nets. You’re not going to turn me against anyone. So you can forget about it,” Stoudemire said.
  • The Knicks have quietly added Vince Baldwin — a longtime Nike talent scout — as a “talent evaluator,” Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Baldwin has extensive contacts in the high school and college ranks and is close with Knicks senior executive William Wesley. The Knicks also hired Tim Hardaway Sr. as a scout without making an official announcement.
  • Center prospect Kai Sotto will work out for the Knicks on Monday, Adam Zagoria of tweets. The 7’3” big man from the Philippines spent last season in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaging 7.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Adelaide 36ers.

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Rosas, Jokubaitis, Ainge

In a recent interview with Michael Grady of YES Network (video link), Nets team president Sean Marks once again defended embattled Brooklyn guard Ben Simmons. Simmons, who missed the entire 2021/22 season due to mental health issues and a herniated disc in his lower back, had reportedly aimed to return in the first round of the playoffs, but experienced a setback.

“It’s a little bit of a testament that one, he tried to get back out there and tried to help his teammates and secondly, we have to be careful not judge people,” Marks said. “And if you’re outside that medical profession, when you’re chiming in from afar, you just have to be a bit careful of what you’re saying because you really don’t know.”

Simmons opted to treat the back injury with surgery after the Nets were officially eliminated in a 4-0 first-round sweep by the Celtics.

“Nobody wants to have surgery,” Marks said. “It’s the last resort but it’s bygone now and we’ve got to move forward on this, we’ve got to support him and so forth.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Timberwolves team president Gersson Rosas has an official title with the Knicks, having been named a senior basketball advisor, per Ian Begley of Rosas was let go from Minnesota under murky circumstances and later joined the Knicks as a consultant. Begley notes that determining where Rosas slots in among the Knicks’ front office pecking order will be important during a critical 2022 offseason for New York.
  • The Knicks are considering leaving 2021 draft-and-stash second-round pick Rokas Jokubaitis, currently playing for Barcelona in the EuroLeague Final Four, overseas to develop for another year, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman opines that New York could have more flexibility to sign the point guard prospect in 2023, after several short-term Knicks contracts come off the books. Jokubaitis averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.8 APG across 17 MPG in 35 EuroLeague contests this season.
  • Former Celtics team president Danny Ainge, now in the Jazz front office, has enjoyed seeing the progress of his old team, writes Steve Bulpett of The Celtics are now trailing the Heat 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. “I’ve been proud of this team all year,” Ainge said. “I really liked watching guys develop when I was there, and it’s been great watching guys like Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] and Marcus [Smart] and Rob [Williams] and all of them take another step this year. They just beat a great team, the defending champs.” Ainge drafted Tatum, Brown, Smart and Williams during his Celtics front office run.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Irving, Marks, Draft, Offseason

As we relayed yesterday, Nets general manager Sean Marks said at his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday that Ben Simmons is feeling better after having a microdiscectomy to relieve the pain from the herniated disc in his back, which had gotten worse over time. Brian Lewis of The New York Post has more details from Marks on how Simmons is doing post-surgery.

Ben had a tricky buildup, to be quite frank,” Marks said on Wednesday. “He got here and there was a setback obviously as he went through his ramp-up and we saw him on the court. We saw him participating in 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 games with the stay-ready group. We were hoping, just like Ben was, he was going to be out there.

It got to be too much and we had another follow-up MRI and we could see the herniation had expanded. At that point, there was really nothing but surgery that was going to fix this. … From the communications I’ve had with him multiple times since the surgery, he’s feeling relief already and feeling great. He knows that, it goes back to that five months, he has a big buildup to get ready and contribute.”

Simmons battled physical and mental health problems for several months and missed the entire 2021/22 season. Lewis asked Marks how the team plans to assist Simmons in both of those areas to see him return to action next season.

Regarding Ben post-surgery, I don’t want to speak for him but I can sense there’s a relief. There’s a new lease on life, when you’re able to take a problem and say that should be fixed and move that out of here and now it’s on to the rest,” said Marks, hesitant to discuss the touchy topic of Simmons’ mental health. Marks added that the Nets plan to have Simmons in the gym and around the team as much as possible, as we previously relayed.

Here’s more from Brooklyn:

  • Head coach Steve Nash envisions Simmons playing multiple positions, saying that he’ll act as a facilitator on offense at times and a “positionless” role at others, per Ian Begley of (Twitter link).
  • All of the drama and lack of availability from Kyrie Irving since he signed with the Nets is no one’s fault but Marks’, argues Ian O’Connor of The New York Post, who adds that the Nets GM “is the one who made this mess (and) is the one who will almost certainly fail to clean it up.” Irving has appeared in just 103 of a possible 226 games with the Nets, and the team has only won a single playoff series in his three years with the team. Trading for James Harden, who sulked his way out of Houston and then Brooklyn a year later, further eroded team chemistry and created a “culture of player appeasement,” if there was any culture at all, says O’Connor.
  • Marks said the Nets plan to keep their draft pick (via the Sixers) as long as they can find a player who can help in 2022/23, Lewis tweets. The Nets hold the No. 23 pick and have until June 1 to decide whether they want to keep it or defer it until 2023.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explores seven key questions Brooklyn will be faced with this summer, including whether the team should keep Irving.