Durant reportedly asked to be traded, while Irving, who opted in to the final year of his contract, could also be on his way out.
Analyst Bill Simmons feels Tsai will do what’s best for the Brooklyn Nets instead of accommodating Durant and Irving’s wishes:
“I think he’s embarrassed and confused by how the last couple of years went and is now in f**k you mode. I don’t think this is somebody that’s gonna be pushed around because Kyrie’s like, ‘I’ve opted in, now trade me to the Lakers.’
“Joe Tsai already kowtowed to these guys for a couple of years. The Harden trade, bringing Simmons, getting rid of the coach, paying DeAndre Jordan what they did like he kind of rolled over for these guys for a few years.”
Joe Tsai previously gave the go-ahead to sign James Harden, adding another potent weapon to their star-studded lineup. “The Beard” ended up playing only 80 games and practically forced the Nets to trade him to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons.
Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, has been at the core of nearly every issue the Nets have faced since 2019. He was previously suspended for going AWOL and missed a host of games last season after failing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Brooklyn Nets reportedly refused to give him a long-term extension in the offseason following which Irving opted into the remaining year on his contract. A few days later, Durant requested to be traded.
Joe Tsai and the Brooklyn Nets will want to get the most out of a Kevin Durant trade
Kevin Durant doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, which runs until the 2025-26 season. This gives the Brooklyn Nets plenty of leverage in negotiations. Given Joe Tsai’s stance, it’ll take a historic haul for any team to acquire the wantaway superstar.
Bill Simmons put out another reason why the billionaire will not budge in his stance.
“The rich guys’ circles, I’m sure there are people who are like, ‘Hey Joe, what’s going on with the Nets? What are you doing, buddy? Why are you letting those guys run the team? You’re Joe Tsai. You’re Joe F*****g Tsai!!! You let these guys do to you? I just think he’s gonna stare these guys down and get the best deal possible.”
Brian Windhorst of ESPN explained that it could take at least three teams to move Durant out of Brooklyn. The Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat, Durant’s preferred destinations, don't have the assets to acquire the former MVP.
Miami could be a dead end as Durant only wants to play there if Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry are still around. Phoenix, on the other hand, has four first-round picks and three pick swaps they could include in a potential deal. They will certainly need the help of another team or maybe a few teams to land one of the all-time greats.