Amick: Nets won’t budge from Durant’s demands, starting with a team’s second-best player

Writing about the history of the holdouts, Sam Amick of The Athletic notes that there is no change in the Nets’ widely perceived demand for a Kevin Durant return and adds that despite hopes for a ” flashback,” “by most accounts, the end has unofficially come between Durant and the Nets.

For Amick, a Boston Celtic package headlined by Jaylen Brown can be the “unofficial favorite” not just because of the comeback, but because it sets a baseline for other teams to match or surpass.

Of the executives I spoke with, a Boston contract with Jaylen Brown as the showpiece seems to be the unofficial favorite here. In broad terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and possibly other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a deal with Durant without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and get out of this race.

Amick doesn’t indicate which other teams might offer their “second best player”, but notes that due to KD’s place in the top 3 players and the length of his contract (four years with no kicker option or player), the Nets are right not to accept less than full value.

And who can blame the Nets for taking that stance? As our Seth Partnow recently reminded us in his NBA Player Tiers, Durant is as elite as it gets: a “Tier 1A” player in the draft in which Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James are the only other players to receive that accolade.

So we’re waiting for a deal to be done – like we’ve done all those times before.

And despite the rumours, not every team puts their second-best play into the proposed deals. Christian Clarke of the New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote about the Pelicans on Tuesday not put all their chips in it.

If Durant is moved, the New Orleans Pelicans could be players in the draw, but that would likely force them to drop Brandon Ingram. League sources say the Pelicans don’t want to do it.

Ingram is nine years younger than Durant, and in terms of average annual value, he costs about $15 million less.

Amick, however, doesn’t think a rollback scenario will work, especially after KD’s ultimatum to Joe Tsai 10 days ago: trade me or fire Sean Marks and Steve Nash.

It’s next-level audacity on Durant’s part, to say the least. And while he clarified (by Twitter) on Monday that speculation about his possible retirement is irrelevant, the ironic question now becomes: If a trade doesn’t materialize before Nets camp begins in late September, is Durant ready to become Jimmy Butler if he doesn’t get what he wants? Or, perhaps, he’ll go the way of his Nets teammate Simmons and not show up to camp (as Simmons did in philadelphia cream last season)?

… By most accounts, the end has unofficially come between Durant and the Nets.

If Durant thought it would speed up the process, that plan isn’t working either, quoting an NBA executive on the Nets’ position:

“Marks always asks the world; it won’t change,” a front office official emailed late last week. “They could call his bluff and bring him to camp. I don’t see him sitting outside.

That, again, would be complicated by the way Durant’s contract is structured, as Marc Stein wrote last week. Durant received a quarter of his $44.7 million salary on July 1 and will receive the second quarter on October 1, six days into training camp.

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