That’s the biggest question in the NBA at the moment.
And Durant’s head coach, Jacque Vanaughn, wasn’t going to try to answer it on Monday night.
“I’m not going to speculate and get in Kevin’s mind at all,” he said when asked about Durant’s desire to remain with the Nets. “I’m not even going to try to do that.”
Vaughn is the best person to keep Durant in Brooklyn.
“At the end of the day, Kevin wants to win. That’s always been our goal. He wants to win shootaround. He loves to win any game. That’s why he loves to play. That’s why he wants to play 82 games. That will be our holy grail,” Vaughn said Monday. “We’ll continue to try to put a group out that wins. Until there’s something for me to be concerned about, then I’ll carry on business as usual.”
Vaughn’s right. The 2022-23 Nets could compete for the title. This would decrease the chances of Durant asking for a trade at season’s end.
Vaughn and I are not interested in speculations about Durant’s future plans. Maybe he requests a trade prior to Thursday’s deadline. But let’s assume that he doesn’t.
If he stays and the Nets make a run to the Eastern Conference Finals – or NBA Finals – it’s fair to assume that Durant would have a harder time asking for a trade at season’s end.
That’s what makes the next three days pivotal for Nets GM Sean Marks.
As it stands today, Brooklyn’s roster is solid. In Spencer Dinwiddie And Dorian Finney Smith, Marks acquired players in the Irving deal who can help Brooklyn immediately.
Are the Nets able to play with the Eastern Conference’s top teams over seven games? No.
And that’s why members of the Nets spent Monday talking to the Toronto Raptors about potential trades. SNY reported that Brooklyn had spoken with Toronto in the Irving trade talks. Sources confirmed that the teams met on Monday. The Raptors and Nets discussed the possibility that they might have a Fred Van Vleet Marc Stein reported that the Irving deal was not finalized.
You can be sure that the Nets will be calling the Raptors – and other teams – over the next few days as they look to upgrade the roster. (Prior to Irving’s trade request, the Nets and Atlanta Hawks continued to touch base on a John Collins Brooklyn: Multiple teams spoke with Brooklyn about possible deals Joe Harris The Nets kept taking calls Patty Mills).
Durant may not reissue his request for a trade if the Nets make an offer that allows them to make a deep postseason run. And Marks’ job security is probably bolstered.
How do these issues relate?
Durant issued an ultimatum. Joe Tsai Durant told Tsai that he wanted to trade him or fire Marks and then-head coach. According to The Athletic Durant suggested to Tsai that he trade Marks for Marks and the then-head coach. Steve Nash.
Some observers took Durant’s ultimatum as an artificial ploy to force a trade. Durant and Marks have had a difficult time relating to each other in Brooklyn during their tenure together.
Durant and Irving both were put off by Marks’ public comments about Irving in the GM’s end-of-season news conference last spring, per people familiar with the matter.
Durant requested a trade. Durant rescinded his request seven weeks later.
Marks, Durant and Nash all publicly put Durant’s ultimatum and trade request behind them late last summer. So it’s fair to assume that Durant and Marks are on the same page at the moment.
The Nets must win more games. They didn’t do enough winning in the Irving-Durant era. Only one playoff series win in the three seasons.
Many people within the organization strongly believe that Irving is responsible for these poor results. It makes perfect sense. Irving was only part of 143 games in his three-plus years. Irving was absent due to injury, team suspension, and vaccination status. He also missed unapproved personal leave.
Irving is still with the Dallas Mavericks. He can’t be blamed for organizational shortcomings moving forward.
It’s on everyone else – from Tsai on down – to make it work. The first test? The first test?