Kevin Durant takes retirement off the table in stalemate with Nets

·3 min read

Kevin Durant is not contemplating retirement. Take his word for it.

The disgruntled Nets star tweeted on Monday he has zero intent of quitting the NBA "anytime soon" in response to a suggestion that he'd rather retire than keep playing in Brooklyn.

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So who's the "unnamed source" Durant has issue with? Per Marc Stein's Substack, it's a "well-connected" team executive. Here's what Stein wrote in his newsletter on Monday:

"During summer league in Las Vegas, one of the most well-connected team executives I speak to regularly insisted to me that, based on what he was hearing, Kevin Durant was more apt to retire than play again for the Brooklyn Nets," Stein wrote. "This was in early July."

Stein himself is skeptical. He couched the report with his own disbelief that Durant would actually consider quitting basketball while still in his prime and in possession of $194 million contract.

"I told the tipster that I simply couldn't believe that," Stein continued. "I was a loyal subscriber to the theory that Durant The Hooper loves playing basketball way too much to adopt such a stance."

Mar 26, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) walks on the court during the second half against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Durant wants to play basketball. (Jasen Vinlove/Reuters)

Where does this leave Durant in his dispute with the Nets? He's conceded any leverage that might have come with the belief that he'd consider retirement without a trade. Durant's not contesting that he badly wants out of Brooklyn. But suggesting that his desire to leave trumps his desire to play appears to be a bridge too far.

For the time being, it leaves Durant and the Nets at a stalemate. Durant wants out of Brooklyn after two healthy seasons produced one playoff series win, significant player turnover and pushback from Nets brass on Durant's and Kyrie Irving's role managing the roster.

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The Nets have obliged by testing the trade market for Durant alongside sky-high demands. They reportedly told the Boston Celtics that they want Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in return. The Celtics are understandably not interested in trading away both their 24- and 25-year-old All-Stars in exchange for a soon-to-be 34-year-old Durant with durability concerns and an Achilles tear on his injury ledger. They just made the NBA Finals with Tatum and Brown.

So don't expect this drama to play out anytime soon. With the NBA's opening night more than two months out, the Nets have no reason to rush a Durant deal. Barring a team willing to meet a ridiculous trade demand, Brooklyn's incentivized to continue to let this play out as the season approaches.

Nets owner Joe Tsai already announced that he backs general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash amid a reported ultimatum from Durant. Now Durant — who's under contract for four more years — has taken some of his leverage off the table by nixing retirement talk.

How this eventually gets resolved is anything but clear. In the meantime, it promises to remain rife with melodrama.