The Brooklyn Nets’ summer season saga continues to take bizarre turns, and on Saturday, it reached an ultimatum.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Nets star Kevin Durant, in a gathering with proprietor Joe Tsai in London, doubled down on his trade request and knowledgeable Tsai that he wants to decide on between Durant or the pairing of normal supervisor Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash.

The assembly got here roughly every week after it appeared Tsai made peace along with his different disgruntled star, Kyrie Irving, by tweeting an endorsement of well-known New York City level guards praising Irving’s playground/streetball sport. The place the place the feedback got here from? The opening of a Showtime documentary on the Big Apple’s observe report of flooring generals co-produced by none apart from Durant.

The London assembly got here on the one-year anniversary of Durant’s four-year, $198 million extension with the Nets — which he signed whereas Marks was the GM and Nash was the coach.

It’s why there appears to be a lacking piece to this weird puzzle that isn’t including up.

Just 4 months in the past, after the Nets’ brutal season led to a four-game sweep by Boston, Durant strongly endorsed Nash’s return as coach.

“I mean, come on now, yeah,” Durant stated after a season with championship-or-bust aspirations ended within the first spherical. “Steve’s been dealt a crazy hand the last two years. He’s had to deal with so much stuff as a head coach, a first-time coach: trades, injuries, COVID, it’s just a lot of stuff he’s had to deal with, and I’m proud of how he’s focused and his passion for us. We all continue to keep developing over the summer and see what happens.”

If Durant needed Nash out however didn’t really feel like placing him on blast to the media 10 minutes after the season ended, he may have mentioned Nash’s future with an “I don’t know” or “Now’s not the time for that.” But he didn’t.

Durant and Nash have a historical past collectively that predates Brooklyn. The two labored collectively in Golden State when the Hall of Fame level guard was a marketing consultant for the Warriors. Nash was employed as coach in September 2020 with important affect from Durant.

Until lately, Nash’s teaching workers largely comprised assistants with ties to Durant. The Nets plucked Royal Ivey, one other Texas Longhorn, from the New York Knicks in a participant growth function. Ivey and Durant performed collectively in Oklahoma City, and Durant is the godfather to Ivey’s son. Brian Keefe was with Durant for years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and David Vanterpool, a local of Durant’s Prince George’s County, Md., joined the bench too. Adam Harrington, Durant’s private coach who was a longtime Nets assistant initially employed by Kenny Atkinson and performed with Nash in Dallas, further connected Nash and Durant towards the tip of Nash’s profession and stayed on his former teammate’s workers.

If Durant had any points with Nash, whether or not or not it’s his switch-heavy protection or lack of in-game changes, they didn’t rise to the extent of being on his thoughts when Boston eradicated the Nets. Shortly after the playoffs, the Nets let go of Vanterpool and Harrington, the latter of which reportedly bothered Durant.

Marks, however, would extra naturally be in Durant’s crosshairs, if solely as a result of this entire factor appeared to begin with Irving’s contract standoff in June. As Brooklyn’s chief negotiator, Marks is by default “on the other side,” since Durant was clearly selecting sides and backing Irving.

Beyond that, although, many of the strikes Marks has made over the past three seasons have been due to, or in tandem with, Durant.

Dating again to the summer season of 2019, when Irving and Durant agreed to hitch Brooklyn as free brokers, Marks awarded Durant a four-year contract extension figuring out that the 6-foot-10 ahead would miss all the season due to a torn Achilles suffered within the NBA Finals. Durant even obtained a $1 million bonus for Brooklyn making the playoffs regardless of by no means suiting up. Signing Durant and Irving would in fact limit salary-cap flexibility going ahead, however the Nets had been relying on the duo’s star energy to hold them.

Instead, Brooklyn parted methods with Atkinson in March 2020 earlier than he ever obtained to teach his star tandem, traded its belongings away for James Harden to type a superteam that will play collectively lower than 20 occasions in a season and a half and got here inside inches of beating Milwaukee within the 2021 convention semifinals. But apart from Irving’s contract state of affairs, which Marks and Tsai had been in settlement on, Durant had loads of roster say all through, endorsing offers for LaMarcus Aldridge, Mike James and Harden regardless of the dangers.

This led to Saturday. One believable clarification for Durant’s newest ask is the Nets’ incapacity to commerce him to date. Yes, the telephone strains have been open, however Brooklyn has requested potential commerce companions for a lot in return for a 34-year-old Durant who has performed in simply 99 video games over the past three seasons that no deal has materialized. Tsai seems to be affected person in a commerce, wanting to amass each attainable asset. Was this an try by Durant to both decrease the Nets’ ask or energize a rather quiet trade market?

Before Durant’s sitdown with Tsai, there was hypothesis that he might be wavering on his commerce request. Instead, he drew a line within the sand. Now the query is what’s the “or else?” Will Durant, who constantly says how a lot he likes to play, sit out the season till a commerce is made? Could he pull a Carmelo Anthony and play by the commerce request, which probably wouldn’t finish the drama that has adopted the Nets for roughly the previous yr?

On the flip facet, what does Nets’ administration do assuming Marks stays in his place? Does he use the strategy his two-time current commerce accomplice, Daryl Morey, took with Ben Simmons and sit and anticipate the precise supply irrespective of how lengthy it takes or how the season goes? Durant’s ultimatum opened a chest’s value of questions whereas the clock to coaching camp continues to tick extra loudly.

Related studying

Harper: A timeline of Kevin Durant’s time in Brooklyn

(Photo of Kevin Durant and Steve Nash: Photo by Eric Espada / Getty Images)

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