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Nets call Durant bluff

NEW YORK (AFP) — Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai backed head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks on Monday after reports of a them-or-me ultimatum from National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Kevin Durant.

After a report from The Athletic detailed Durant meeting Tsai in London and saying he won’t stay with the team as long as Nash and Marks remain in their jobs, Tsai made his position clear in a Twitter posting.

“Our front office and coaching staff have my support,” Tsai tweeted.

“We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

The decision likely burns the last bridge between the Nets and their top scorer, who asked for a trade in June.

Durant indicated that he lacks faith in the team’s direction after the Nets were swept out of the playoffs by Boston in the first-round last season.

The 33-year-old forward, a two-time NBA champion and 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), is entering the first season of a four-year contract extension worth $198 million that he signed a year ago with the Nets.

Durant’s ultimatum came after the Nets struggled to a 44-38 record last season, when they traded James Harden to Philadelphia and watched Kyrie Irving miss most of the season with Covid-19 vaccination issues.

Nash, a 48-year-old Canadian and two-time NBA MVP as a guard, got his first coaching job with the Nets in 2020 and has gone 92-62 in two seasons guiding Brooklyn.

Marks, 46, was the first player from New Zealand in the NBA and won two league titles, one as a forward with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 and the other as an assistant coach with the Spurs in 2014.
He spent most of the next two seasons as the Spurs’ assistant general manager before being hired to oversee the rebuilding Nets.

The team’s best record in his six full seasons with Brooklyn was 48-24 in 2020-2021, Nash’s first season as coach.

Tsai has said it will take a king’s ransom to pry loose Durant from the Nets, a price tag of players and NBA Draft picks that leaves most of the NBA unable to contend without complex multi-team swaps.
Irving has opted into a $36.5 million option to stay with the Nets next season but the club’s long-term future depends upon Durant’s fate.

The Nets also hope that Australian guard Ben Simmons will recover from back surgery and provide a backcourt lift after coming over from Philadelphia in the Harden deal.

The Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors are considered top candidates to obtain Durant.

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