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Durant wants out

No matter how things turn out, the Nets will be holding scraps in light of the trade request of top dog Kevin Durant. There’s simply no way they can get fair market value in return for him, not when he’s aiming to land in a situation where he can continue to chase championships. He’s said to have identified the Suns and the Heat as his preferred destinations, and his reasons are obvious. The need to ensure the competitiveness of his new digs is precisely why the likes of Devin Booker or Bam Adebayo cannot be among the assets going the other way.

There is likewise the not inconsiderable hurdle posed by Durant’s public admission that he wants out. Because everybody and his mother know he’s angling to leave, the Nets’ leverage has been undercut; they’re hard-pressed to come up with a deal sooner rather than later. Never mind that he’s inked to a four-year deal that will just be kicking in; for all the supposed stability it should provide, it’s trumped by the fact that he’s no longer inclined to burn rubber in black and gray. And the extent of the tumult hasn’t even taken into consideration the disruptive presence of mercurial guard Kyrie Irving.

To be sure, the Nets haven’t exactly been blameless, never mind that they’re getting a raw deal three years after spreading the welcome mat for the marquee names. From the outset, they effectively gave Durant and Irving crate blanche; they allowed the two buddies to dictate ostensibly onerous arrangements. For instance, the arrival of well-past-prime DeAndre Jordan and wet-behind-the-ears Steve Nash was upon the insistence of their new headliners. Little wonder, then, that when they decided to restore some order to the setup, they were met with significant resistance.

And so the dominoes have started falling on top of each other, scuttling a seemingly well-built path that led to the Larry O’Brien Trophy. No one quarter comes out clean. Not the Nets, who perpetuated an unstable culture. Not Durant, who appears to still be searching for happiness even after reaching pinnacles of success with model franchises, and even after being the clear Number One in another team. And not Irving, whose petulance drove James Harden away and ultimately caused the biggest disappointment in National Basketball Association history.

It will be years before the Nets recover, at least as long as it took them to pick up the pieces after ill-advised acquisitions of has-been stars early in the last decade. They invested heavily in Durant, giving him the keys while he sat out an entire season convalescing from a serious injury. They allowed him — and, by extension, Irving — to dictate terms of engagement. In the meantime, they set aside nothing for a rainy day, which came when their luck turned against them. They gambled and lost, and are now left to survey the rubble along with the rest of the league.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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