Kevin Durant requests trade away from Brooklyn Nets

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Kevin Durant requests trade away from Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant has requested to be traded away from the Brooklyn Nets.

Nets GM Sean Marks is now working with Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman on finding a trade for the franchise star.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic's Shams Charania both reported the news and it's understood that Durant made the request directly to Nets owner Joe Tsai earlier on Thursday.

Wojnarowski reported that Durant and his good friend and team-mate Kyrie Irving had no contact with the franchise after Irving opted into his deal on Monday, and "a sense of inevitability existed that Durant would eventually ask for a trade."

The news of Durant's request comes hours before the beginning of NBA free agency at 11pm on Thursday night, and just a few days after his fellow star in Brooklyn, Irving, opted into his contract for the 2022-23 season.

Irving had until Wednesday to inform the Nets of his opt-in decision. It closes one element of the ongoing saga regarding Irving's future, which has been one of the biggest storylines as the league prepares for the start of free agency.

Durant and Irving are very close and came to the Nets together in July 2019. Durant signed his own extension last summer, but had Irving not remained with the franchise next season, it certainly could have led to Durant pondering his own future in Brooklyn.

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Now, Brooklyn faces another headache by trying to offload Irving as well, with the point guard also presumably wanting now to leave. He may have opted in, but there was no way Irving was going to take a $31m pay cut - from the $37m in his player option to about $6m available in some team's mid-level player exception.

However, it could still get more complicated. Irving could still have his contract extended before free agency begins. Also, the Nets could still trade him – and in fact, teams might be more interested in a deal now that Irving is on an expiring contract.

So, although Thursday's issue centres on Durant, the Nets' issue is now very much two-fold.

Durant joined the Nets via a sign-and-trade deal in the summer of 2019 and signed a contract extension with the team last summer, through the 2025-26 season. When he signed that extension the Nets still had the biggest 'Big Three' in the NBA with Durant, Irving and James Harden.

The latter's departure to the Philadelphia 76ers signified the beginning of the end, with the trio only managing 16 games on court during their time together.

The Nets finished 44-38 last season and were considered dangerous against the top teams because of Durant and Irving.

Their tumultuous season featured Irving missing 53 games because he was unvaccinated, Harden forcing his way to Philadelphia, Joe Harris needing multiple surgeries on his injured ankle and Ben Simmons being unable to play after he arrived. The Nets needed to qualify for the playoffs via the Play-In Tournament and they were the only team swept out of the first round, beaten by the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

With Durant, Irving and Harden, the Nets had expectations of being the last team standing, but instead, they were the first team sent packing. After their playoff exit, the Nets acknowledged that all their distractions off the court kept them from becoming a great team on it.

"We had our expectations. Everybody had expectations for us," Durant said in April. "A lot of stuff happened throughout the season that derailed us, but I'm proud of how we just kept fighting and kept keeping the faith and every day were trying to work towards something."

With the security of having four years on his contract, plenty of teams will be willing to unload assets for Durant, and the Nets are expected to demand a historic slew of draft picks to move one of the NBA's top stars. A three-level scorer and top-calibre defender, Durant is one of the most valuable trade assets to ever hit the market.

ESPN reports the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat are two teams that Durant has at the top of his wish list, but the Nets plan to move Durant wherever they can get the best possible deal.

The Suns have a valuable piece at a good age for a rebuild in Deandre Ayton and that could make it a very interesting suitor for the Nets. No doubt though, the Nets will be prioritising picks after giving most of theirs away in the process of assembling their Big Three.

Other teams to consider are the OKC Thunder given the ridiculous amount of picks they have to trade, the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans, both of whom have a combination of young talent and picks. Whether any of these teams feel KD fits their roster or timeline though, remains to be seen.

It's going to be very interesting to see where this whole situation ends up.

One thing is for sure, free agency just got an absolute firecracker lit under it, ahead of it opening at 11pm on Thursday night.

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