Nets’ Tsai backs staff amid Durant trade demands

Brooklyn Nets governor Joe Tsai voiced his support Monday night for the front office and coaching staff after Kevin Durant told Tsai to choose between him and the team’s general manager and coach.

Tsai and Durant recently met in London, ESPN sources confirmed, in which Durant reiterated his desire to be traded and suggested the franchise needed to choose between him and coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks.

Durant initially asked for a trade June 30 and hasn’t backed off that request. At 33 years old, Durant has four years and $198 million left on his contract, which means Brooklyn can be patient with waiting out teams for the kind of return it believes will eventually emerge for a star player reaching the trade market in his prime.

The meeting between Durant and Tsai was first reported by The Athletic, which also noted it occurred on the one-year anniversary of Durant signing his extension.

Durant, along with Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, joined the Nets in the summer of 2019 after Marks and then-coach Kenny Atkinson had helped lead the franchise out of the doldrums and to a surprising postseason berth.

Since then, nothing has gone the way the Nets planned.

Durant sat out the 2019 season while recovering from an Achilles tear, Jordan was traded, Nash was hired to replace Atkinson, James Harden has come and gone and Ben Simmons has yet to make his Nets debut. Irving opted into the final year of his contract with the team this offseason, but has not received an extension. He played in 29 games last season after choosing to not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Irving had created a list of teams he would have liked the Nets to consider working with on a sign-and-trade deal if they couldn’t agree on terms for him to stay in Brooklyn, but the Los Angeles Lakers were the only team known to be interested, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Irving is now no longer eligible for a sign-and-trade deal. The Nets could still work to trade him as an expiring contract, but Irving would have no formal voice in a potential landing spot.

He has until June 30 of next year to work out an extension with the Nets before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

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