Steve Nash

Nets Notes: Nash, Durant, Morris, Watanabe

Asked on Monday about Kevin Durant‘s reported offseason ultimatum to the Nets to either trade him or fire GM Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, Nash downplayed the issue, likening it to a family squabble. The two-time NBA MVP offered a more in-depth answer on Tuesday when asked again about his relationship with Durant, as Nick Friedell of ESPN details.

“We’re good,” Nash said. “Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.”

Nash, who said he wasn’t “overly surprised” or “overly concerned” about the way the Durant saga played out, also pushed back on the idea that the star forward really wanted him fired.

“I never thought that was 100 percent,” Nash said, per Friedell. “There was a lot of things. It’s not black and white like that, so there was a lot of factors. A lot of things behind the scenes. A lot of things reported are not accurate. A lot of things that are reported are not 100 percent accurate. So you get fragmented bits of truth. You get things that are flat out not true. It happens. … So I never really get caught up in all that stuff.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • New Nets forward Markieff Morris said the perception around the NBA is that last year’s Brooklyn team was “soft,” per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Morris is hoping to bring grit and toughness to this year’s roster, and Nash believes the veteran will have an important voice in the locker room. “Markieff is a need for us, his presence, his personality,” Nash said. “He has a voice, he has an experience, he has an understanding of the game. That’s a need. We need guys that can speak to the group.”
  • Camp invitee Yuta Watanabe told Japanese reporters this week that he hopes to be able to play a three-and-D role for the Nets this season, as Jordan Greene of NetsDaily writes. Watanabe, who is on non-guaranteed contract, isn’t a lock to make Brooklyn’s regular season roster — assuming the team retains its 12 players on guaranteed salaries and Morris, Watanabe would have to either beat out Edmond Sumner for the 14th spot or hope the club carries a 15th man despite the additional luxury tax penalty.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along several of the most notable quotes from the Nets’ Media Day earlier this week.

Nets Notes: Durant, Nash, Irving, Curry, Warren, Simmons

Addressing reporters at the Nets‘ media day on Monday, Kevin Durant explained that he requested a trade this offseason because he had some “doubts” about whether the Nets were building a legitimate championship culture (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The New York Times).

“I wanted everybody to be held accountable for their habits as a basketball player,” Durant said, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. “I think a lot of stuff was getting swept under the rug because we’re injured or this guy’s not around or just the circumstances. I thought we could have fought through that a little bit more and focused on the guys that were here a little bit more.

“When I went out with the injury, we lost 10 in a row. And I’m like, ‘We shouldn’t be losing some of these games that we lost, regardless of who’s on the floor.’ So I was more so worried about how we’re approaching every day as a basketball team. And I felt like we could have fought through a lot of the stuff that I felt that held us back.”

Durant said he wasn’t disappointed not to be dealt and that he’s committed to the Nets going forward (Twitter links via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic and Adam Zagoria of NJ.com). He also admitted that he wasn’t surprised to remain a Net, since general manager Sean Marks and the team’s front office set a sky-high asking price.

“I know I’m that good, that you’re just not going to give me away,” Durant said.

In his own media session, Marks said that he feels good about where things stand with Durant, adding that if the star forward “still wanted out, he wouldn’t be here” (Twitter link via Vorkunov). He also said the Nets made a legitimate effort to trade Durant, though he admitted he was fielding outside inquiries more than he was instigating discussions.

“Yeah, absolutely we made those calls and we at least picked up the phone when teams called us,” Marks told YES Network (Twitter link via Zagoria). “I gotta be honest, I wasn’t making a whole lot of outgoing calls, I mean why would you do that?”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Steve Nash downplayed the fact that Durant reportedly called for the head coach’s job as part of his ultimatum to the Nets, likening it to a family squabble and telling reporters that he and KD got together to talk it out (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).
  • Kyrie Irving, who referred to Brooklyn’s summer as a “clusterf–k,” said he came close to leaving the Nets before picking up his player option, adding that he had some other options, but “not many,” Sanchez writes for The Post. Irving admitted that potential suitors had concerns about his availability and his commitment.
  • Interestingly, Irving stated that his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 cost him a lucrative long-term extension offer from the Nets during the 2021 offseason. “I gave up four years, $100-something million deciding to be unvaccinated, and that was the decision,” Irving said, per Sanchez.
  • A pair of Nets wings are still awaiting full clearance following injuries, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter links). Seth Curry, who underwent ankle surgery in May, said today that he’s at “85-90 percent” and isn’t fully cleared to participate in camp. Meanwhile, T.J. Warren said the foot injury that cost him all of the 2021/22 season is fully healed, but he still needs to do more rehab work to get cleared by team doctors.
  • Ben Simmons is “ready to go” and will be a full participant in training camp, he said today (Twitter link via Friedell). As long as he remains healthy through the preseason, the plan is for the former No. 1 overall pick to be on the floor when the Nets’ season begins, tweets Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Simmons also said he’s willing to play center for his new team (Twitter link via Zagoria).

Nets Notes: Durant, Collins, Outlook, Nash

A number of rival NBA executives subscribe to the theory that the Rudy Gobert trade made it more difficult for the Nets to move Kevin Durant, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. As Scotto explains, there was a sense that if the Nets couldn’t get more in exchange for Durant than the Jazz got for Gobert, Brooklyn’s front office would’ve looked “foolish.”

[RELATED: Kevin Durant, Nets Agree To “Move Forward” With Partnership]

Within his story on the Nets and Durant, Scotto also reports that multiple members of Brooklyn’s front office are fans of Hawks big man John Collins. A report earlier this week stated that Atlanta offered Collins, De’Andre Hunter, and a draft pick in exchange for Durant. However, Collins wasn’t viewed as the sort of star who could headline a KD package, Scotto says.

Here’s more on the Nets in the wake of this week’s Durant-related developments:

  • Multiple general managers who spoke to Scotto predicted that the Nets will be a top-four team in the East this season, though one acknowledged that there’s a wide range of conceivable outcomes for the club. “There’s a very predictable unpredictability, a predictable chaos, a predictable waffling,” the GM said. “What really would surprise you at this point?”
  • While Brooklyn’s high asking price was one major reason why Durant is still a Net, one league executive who spoke to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today suggested that suitors may have been turned off by the aggressive way the star forward pushed for a trade. “Teams don’t want to overpay for someone who has proven he will burn your house down,” the exec said.
  • During a segment on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Brian Windhorst referred to the truce between Durant and the Nets as a “tentative” one, while Adrian Wojnarowksi said that things will “continue to be fragile” in Brooklyn going forward. Sam Amick of The Athletic agrees that it would be naive to consider the Durant saga over, given that “this kind of discontent doesn’t just disappear overnight.”
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic each list five questions facing the Nets now that they’ve decided to hang onto Durant.
  • Within his story at The Athletic, Schiffer says that a possible new look in 2022/23 from head coach Steve Nash – who has several new assistants on his staff – has been a “selling point” in Brooklyn during free agency. Schiffer suggests that the Nets have the personnel necessary to run a faster-paced offense this season after leaning on an isolation-heavy system during Nash’s first couple years in Brooklyn.

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 NJ.com. “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 SNY.tv 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.

Atlantic Notes: Curry, Simmons, Nash, Mitchell, Knicks, Celtics

Nets guard Seth Curry acknowledged that a difficult road likely awaits Ben Simmons next season, as relayed by NetsDaily.com. Curry and Simmons were acquired from Philadelphia in a deal featuring James Harden last season. Simmons didn’t play a single game with either club due to personal reasons and a back injury.

“There are always challenges. Foremost, he has missed a whole season. It is going to be a challenge getting his rhythm back playing basketball,” Curry told Australian newspapers The Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

“I don’t know specifically what he has been through, mentally – that’s hard for me to comment on – but having that year off, having that time off, of competing and playing five-on-five basketball is going to be just as hard … just taking some time and getting re-acclimated to playing high-level basketball, but he is a special talent, has all the skills. The Nets need him on the floor.”

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic:

  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post explores where the Nets‘ sudden upheaval leaves head coach Steve Nash. Nash was hired with the intention of guiding Brooklyn to a title, but with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant‘s futures unclear, it’s unclear how much longer he’ll be tasked with managing a team led by multiple veteran All-Stars.
  • The Knicks remain the most likely landing spot for Donovan Mitchell if he gets traded, Steve Popper of Newsday reports. Aside from Mitchell having ties to New York, the Knicks own a significant amount of draft capital and young players to offer in discussions. Mitchell is coming off a season where he averaged 25.9 points per contest  — his second straight 25+ PPG campaign.
  • The Celtics‘ offseason has received good reviews from rival teams in the Eastern Conference, as noted by Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. Boston is essentially bringing back its defensive-minded starting five, packaging it with Grant Williams, plus new additions Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari“(Brogdon) will be good for them,” a rival Eastern Conference general manager said. “Going to Boston, with strong people around him, unfortunately, yes, he’ll be good for them. I think he’s going to make them a lot better — which pisses me off.”