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The dysfunctional Nets only have one option: Trade Durant, Kevin.

Steve Nash was fired, Sean Marks was dishevelled, and Kyrie Irving has his fingerprints all over yet another championship contender.
If you’re keeping track, that’s three.
This is why Kevin Durant realised this dysfunction was never going to change, that this powder keg of bad ingredients was always going to explode, and he tried to get ahead of the posse by asking to leave Brooklyn.

 

If Durant was forced to back down from his summer trade demand, what has happened in the first two weeks of this season would give him hope that his worst fears aren’t realised?

 

Even if they don’t publicly admit it, players know when they’re in burning house. 
And Durant has been in the penthouse enough times to know that this isn’t going to change.

 

The Nets don’t appear to be interested in trading him, but Marks should reconsider if he truly wants to serve the organization’s best interests. 
Marks, perhaps foolishly, believes Ime Udoka can save his franchise, just as Marks is saving Udoka from the shame of misconduct in Boston.

 

He claims he didn’t listen to the players, but any rational man wouldn’t have — Irving didn’t respect this coach (or any, for that matter), and Durant made his feelings known over the summer.
Kevin Durant

The Brooklyn Nets should trade Kevin Durant to a team that can maximise his talent. Aaron Gash/AP Photo

Marks had no answers for Irving in the aftermath of his latest blunder, other than to say that the team is consulting with the Anti-Defamation League on how to proceed and that Irving would not be speaking to the media for the next few days.

It appeared to be a hint that his disastrous news conference from Saturday, in which he was irritated at the prospect of being questioned about tweets containing an antisemitic movie, would be repeated.

Even if Udoka were an excellent candidate, is this the mess you want your new guy to walk into?

“We’re looking for someone with poise, charisma, and accountability,” Marks explained. “We’re not a completed product.” We’re not performing to expectations or where we should be, so you’re hoping that this new coach can come in and put this group in the best possible position to succeed.”

It’s a perfect match of two sides, with promising beginnings but internal flaws. Udoka’s brutal honesty and connection with the underachieving Boston Celtics helped them turn things around after January 1, resulting in a trip to the NBA Finals.

Is it possible for the Brooklyn Nets to make the NBA Finals? Nash walked the plank, perhaps too inexperienced and in over his head to deal with all of the drama in such a short period of time.

But, even if Durant remains a top-tier individual player alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry, there isn’t many coaches who can guide this roster through a stacked Eastern Conference.

He’s still uncommonly brilliant, and that basketball brilliance, it seems, deserves to be on display more prominently than a team with no present and no future. Whether it was his role in selecting Nash as head coach, partnering with the destructive, distrusting Irving, or committing to the Nets for another four years when he didn’t have to, he’s backed himself into a corner.

“I’m not proud of the situation we’ve found ourselves in. “I’d like to turn on ESPN or the television and not find you talking about us in that way,” Marks said. “I want to get back into basketball.”

But the basketball is ugly, and it would focus attention on the poor on-court product that has led to this, with the Nets ranking near the bottom of all major defensive categories and on full display in the immediate aftermath of their fourth-quarter collapse against the Bulls.

According to league sources, the recent drama with Irving on Saturday night was the only thing keeping Nash from being fired on Sunday, but Irving can’t save Durant’s vision of taking over New York with victories and vibes from disintegrating.

Irving’s sabbatical is approaching. Keep an eye on it. He’s due for a leave of absence, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll notify the team this time.

Or perhaps not.

That’s why the Nets should do the right thing here and start recouping draught picks and young players by sending Durant to where he can be most effective.

Durant agreed to the Nets’ terms over the summer, especially after Utah’s Danny Ainge acquired the farm for Rudy Gobert, raising the expected return for Durant. Given how bad things appeared, no team was willing to pay the freight.

They appear to be worse, but Durant may be rejuvenated in a new zip code and grateful to have escaped the NBA’s Arkham Asylum and its version of Two-Face. He’s still productive, but he and Irving appear to be as bad on the court as they are off it.

 

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets demanded a trade this summer, then backed down, but now a trade appears to be the only option. Brandon Dill/AP Photo

 

 

Irving is a fantastic soloist, but he can’t maximise Durant, and Durant shouldn’t have to be a connector — that was the beauty of James Harden when he was right (how long ago was that?).

Irving cannot be bargained with, will not blend in, and will not back down because he sees weakness and will set fire to everything he touches. Then he’ll walk away, Angela Bassett-style, smoking a cigarette while it burns.

However, while there appear to be more contenders than ever before, and only Milwaukee has a championship scent early on, every team with Champagne dreams should contact Marks to see if they can acquire Durant.

And, while we’re on the subject, Marks has to own a lot of this, even if Irving is providing some cover. The Nets have a plethora of 6-foot-3 guards but lack athleticism on the wings as well as legitimate size and girth at the rim. The Harden disaster was exacerbated by the acquisition of Ben Simmons, a player who has shown none of the flashes of an impact player, no growth, and now possibly no health.

So much drama has occurred in such a short period of time, from Harden acting up to get to Brooklyn to acting up to get out once he realised Irving wouldn’t get vaccinated. Between those two events, there was Harden’s injury and Irving’s injury in the 2021 playoffs, which left Durant alone in that series against Milwaukee.

And he appears to be all alone now, not just a man without a country, but one who is too good for the one he is in.

The Nets aren’t winning games, selling tickets, or selling hope, so it’s time to call it quits on this farcical experiment. But they won’t; instead, they’ll dig themselves into another public relations quagmire with this Udoka explanation, because, unlike Irving, he’ll have to answer some uncomfortable questions when it’s official, and even then, a large segment of fans in Brooklyn and beyond will feel invisible.

And this is what Marks is giving Durant as he manages these crucial years of his career.

Durant is now being forced to guard centres, which doesn’t seem like the best situation for a man who has suffered Achilles and MCL injuries in the last four years. In Golden State, a 7-footer with long arms on a defensive juggernaut felt like a situational luxury.

It now feels like a necessity for a much older man who must consider how to preserve the remaining years of his prime.

Durant has the potential to be both blessed and cursed. In the face of chaos, he appears to be the stable one, but when there is too much stability and minimal drama, he has to make some noise.

It’s time for a boom box and a bullhorn right now, before Durant wastes another night.

 

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett is a Sports Journalist at Flaunt Weekly

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