KD Delivers Ultimatum to Nets Owner Joe Tsai: Either Fire Steve Nash & Sean Marks, or Trade Me

So KD has not backed off his trade request, and he has made his demands clearer:

I am not sure why KD specifically wants Nash and Marks fired. It probably explains it in the Athletic article but I’m not paying for to read it.

ESPN is not reporting it at all. There’s nothing about this story on their website. Woj hasn’t tweeted anything about it at all, in fact he hasn’t tweeted since August 6.

So we just have to take Shams’ story at face value here and go off the tweet.

I’m honestly getting sick of KD. He’s not worth the trouble he brings.

This dude is never happy.

LegendOfWinning had a great take on it during a Twitter Space today, and since I don’t know how to link to spaces and I don’t feel like transcribing it all, I’ll just summarize what he said. But I want to give him the credit for making this point first, I don’t want to act like this is my original take.

He basically says that KD has tried to portray himself as a guy who is strictly concerned with hooping, all he wants to do is play basketball. He doesn’t want to meddle in the front office, he just wants to play ball. At least according to him.

And now we have KD reportedly demanding the coach and the GM be fired. Legend says it’s “some of the most destructive shit” he’s ever seen in the NBA.

I think I have to agree with him: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player outright demand that the coach and GM get fired.

There’s a lot of athletes that get labeled as “coach killers,” and a lot of people will point to LeBron, but LeBron does not actually have a track record of being a coach killer. He had Paul Silas his first two years in Cleveland but Silas was replaced with Mike Brown for the 2006 season. Maybe LeBron got Silas fired, but I find it hard to believe that a 20 year old player–even one as great as LeBron–already had the power to get his coach fired. LeBron played for Mike Brown for the remainder of his time in Cleveland, from 2006 through the 2010 season. Then in Miami he had Erik Spoelstra all four years. People thought LeBron was going to get him fired, and it may have been rocky at the start, but Spoelstra stuck around and he remains the coach in Miami.

David Blatt is the one coach of LeBron’s that you could probably argue LeBron was the reason he got fired. He coached the Cavaliers for the 2015 season, they lost in the Finals in 6 games to the Warriors because Kyrie and Kevin Love were hurt. David Blatt got fired 41 games into the 2016 season, even though he had a record of 30-11. Ty Lue replaced him, and it was widely acknowledged at the time that LeBron didn’t like Blatt and wanted him gone, so he was canned.

And it turned out to be the right call. With Ty Lue at the helm, the Cavs won the Championship in 2016. Ty Lue remained LeBron’s coach until he left the Cavs again after the 2018 season.

Luke Walton was LeBron’s first coach in Los Angeles, but Luke Walton could not get the job done and he was fired after the 2019 season. But Walton’s firing wasn’t LeBron, it was the front office: Magic Johnson was in charge of basketball operations at the time Walton was hired, and when Magic stepped down, and Rob Pelinka took over the front office, he wanted to bring in his own guy. That was Frank Vogel, who lasted three seasons in LA, winning a Championship in 2020, before being unceremoniously and shamefully dumped after the 2022 season ended in abysmal failure for the Lakers.

LeBron didn’t get Vogel fired. Vogel was put in an impossible position, first of all, trying to win with Russell Westbrook and a bunch of ancient veterans, most of whom are still to this day not even signed to an NBA roster (Bazemore was just signed yesterday by the Kings, but Dwight, Melo, Rondo, Ariza, Wayne Ellington, DJ Augustin and Avery Bradley are still free agents). Second of all, Vogel was used as a scapegoat by the Lakers front office. They wanted to blame someone other than themselves for how bad the season went, even though it was they who put together the roster. Third, LeBron and AD were both hurt for large portions of the season, something Vogel could do nothing about.

It wasn’t LeBron who got Vogel fired.

If there’s one coach in LeBron’s career that you can point to and say, “LeBron got him fired,” it would be David Blatt. But at the same time, it’s impossible to deny that replacing Blatt with Ty Lue was the right move. David Blatt didn’t get another NBA job after his tenure in Cleveland; he went right back to the EuroLeague, and has never once since 2016 been rumored to be in the mix for any NBA head coaching jobs. I think that tells you everything about how he’s regarded in the NBA.

More importantly, LeBron never once went public with his demand that a coach be fired–much less the GM of his team. He may have had disagreements with his coaches and GMs behind the scenes, but he’s never come close to publicly saying, “Either you get rid of these guys or you get rid of me.”

This is pretty unprecedented territory for KD here. In my opinion, it’s player empowerment gone too far.

A bit of research reveals that Magic Johnson was in a similar situation back in 1981 with head coach Paul Westhead. Magic couldn’t stand him and demanded either the Lakers trade him or fire Westhead. The Lakers chose Magic.

The difference here was that in 1981, Magic Johnson was a 22-year-old with a Finals MVP under his belt.

And, Jerry Buss said, in 1982, that he was going to fire Westhead no matter what–he said it was unfortunate that Magic said what he said and allowed the media to seize on him as the reason for Westhead’s firing.

Whoever’s decision it was, it worked out. The Lakers won four additional Championships under Pat Riley in the 1980s, and Pat Riley is widely regarded as one of the greatest head coaches ever.

KD right now is 33, turning 34 next month, and has never won anything outside of his years in Golden State when he was on the most stacked team in the league.

LegendOfWinning also adds that, while there’s no concrete evidence that KD told the Nets to hire Steve Nash, it defies belief that KD did not give his stamp of approval on the hiring back in 2020. There’s no way the Nets hired a head coach without at least the tacit approval of Kevin Durant.

Because nothing else can really explain why the Nets fired Kenny Atkinson after the 2020 season. Atkinson led the Nets to the playoffs in the Bubble in 2020 despite KD missing the whole season and Kyrie missing all but like 20 games. Atkinson wasn’t doing a stellar job or anything with the Nets, but he had led the team to steady improvements over his four seasons with the team. In 2016, the year before he arrived, they won 21 games. In 2017, his first year, they won 20 games. Then 28, then 42, and then during the Covid-shortened 2020 season, they went 35-37 without KD and with Kyrie only playing like 20 games. Then Atkinson got fired.

We’re supposed to believe Atkinson got fired with no input at all from Durant, and then Steve Nash, a guy with zero prior head coaching experience, got hired, also without any input from KD?

LegendOfWinning also asks: “Are we supposed to believe the Nets signed DeAndre Jordan without KD and Kyrie’s input? And that the Nets would trade for James Harden without KD and Kyrie’s input?”

Of course not. It doesn’t make any sense. KD has had plenty of influence on team decisions.

He had a hand in Steve Nash getting hired, now he wants Steve Nash fired–or else he’s outta there.

I’m officially out on KD. He’s not worth the trouble anymore.

First of all, if he’s The Best Player In The League, as so many people claim, how come he couldn’t even win a game in the playoffs this year? Losing in the first round is one thing, but getting swept? Come on. He couldn’t even win a game against the Celtics.

Second, let’s say the Nets grant his wishes here and they fire Nash and Marks. They then hire whoever the hell KD wants. What’s to say KD won’t become dissatisfied in another year, or two years, when things don’t work out? He’ll request a trade again.

If he’s willing to request a trade with 4 years left on his deal, then why wouldn’t he be willing to request a trade with 3 years, or 2 years, or 1 year left on his deal? He clearly doesn’t care about his contract status when it comes to him demanding trades.

If you give in to him right now, you are now–as Joe Tsai–basically KD’s bitch. You just do whatever he tells you to do because you’re so terrified of him demanding a trade again. You’re walking on eggshells around him 24/7, afraid that at any moment he could become dissatisfied and demand a trade.

And for what? One playoff series win in three years?

There was a report on July 15 that the Nets and Sean Marks had agreed to a contract extension. The Nets then denied the report, which is strange, and then we never heard anything on the matter. So we don’t know if the Nets have given Marks a new contract. It’s up in the air currently.

Maybe the Nets are denying the rumor because they don’t want the news to be out that Marks is there long-term. Maybe they specifically didn’t want KD to know because of what we just learned: KD wants Sean Marks gone. I really have no idea–KD would’ve found out eventually, wouldn’t he?

It’s a very strange situation and I don’t have an answer here.

But it doesn’t change my overall viewpoint that KD is not worth the trouble anymore.

And it sucks because I actually like KD as a person. I like that he’s accessible–he does podcasts all the time, he responds to people on Twitter and doesn’t hold anything back. He seems like a cool and down-to-earth guy.

But I’m starting to wonder if that’s all an act, a front, to cover for the fact that behind the scenes, he’s a high-maintenance diva.

And I don’t want to ever hear about how he’s the best player in the NBA.

Where is the proof that he’s the best player in the league? People just say look at him, he’s 7 foot tall and he’s got a bag and he can shoot the three!

He’s 34 years old. He is about to be in year 15 in the NBA. Why are we talking about him like he’s 24 and has all this potential and so much time to be great?

He could’ve been the best player in the world. Maybe he even SHOULD have been the best player in the world. But that hasn’t happened.

Oh but he’s the best scorer in the league,” people will say.

Really? Is he? There are plenty of players who are just as productive as he is offensively. They may not have as deep a bag or as aesthetically pleasing a game, but guys like Giannis, Embiid, Jokic, LeBron, Luka, Trae, Tatum, Steph—they all score as much as Durant, or right around his average. Durant has never been clearly and demonstrably a tier above these guys in terms of scoring.

So where is the proof that he’s this unparalleled, unprecedented scorer?

Don’t tell me about his skill set and his bag—I want results. Proof.

And, more importantly, where is all the proof that he’s the best player in the league?

Again, I don’t want to hear about how he’s as tall as a center but shoots and moves like a guard. I want actual results.

Don’t tell me how much horsepower the car has; show me what races it’s won.

Durant has played with THREE MVPs in his career–Steph, Russ and Harden. And the only rings he got were when he was on Golden State.

I can’t believe people actually think this guy is the best player in the league.

I mean, I do understand why they might think that way. They see how tall and long he is, and how he can pull up and shoot over damn near anybody, and how he can handle the ball, and they think, “This dude could score 50 a night if he wanted.”

But he doesn’t.

And yet people still call him the best player in the league based purely off of this idealized version of him that they hold in their minds–based off of what he could do.

I swear they just have that image of him pulling up over LeBron in the 2017 Finals burned into their minds and they think, “Literally no one can stop KD. All he has to do is pull up and he’s wide open. He’s completely unguardable.”

I get it. It seems like given his size, length and shooting ability, he should be the most unstoppable player alive. If he can pull up on LeBron like that, he can pull up on anybody. Literally anybody.

But that just hasn’t been the reality.

When KD doesn’t have Steph, Klay, Draymond, Iggy and Steve Kerr backing him up, what has he won?

Nothing.

People talk about KD like he’s a guaranteed trip to the Finals, but he’s not. He never has been.

It’s all these “hoopers” on social media–“Bag Twitter”–that hype up KD as the best player in the league. And then you have certified LeBron Haters in the media like Skip Bayless and Stephen A. who cling to Kevin Durant because he just HAS to be the best player in the league–anyone but LeBron!

It’s year 15 for KD. We can’t be judging this guy based on his skillset and his potential–his “bag.” He’s been in the league way too long for that.

He’s been in the NBA for 14 years and if he didn’t go to Golden State, he would have zero rings. I am confident of that.

I’m sorry but KD just is not a winning player.

He went to Golden State because he was terrified of retiring ringless. With as much time as he spends on Twitter, if he went his whole career without winning a ring, he’d be slandered mercilessly for the rest of his life, and he didn’t want that.

He left Golden State after getting two fake rings to prove he could win on his own and he’s failed. Golden State won a ring this year without him, and I think he took it personally.

I’m not going to say he’ll retire without winning another ring, because I’m sure he’ll force his way out of Brooklyn and on to some other unbeatable superteam. For instance, if he goes to Boston, that’ll be a superteam. Not quite on the 2017 Warriors level, but close.

Boston is already the favorite to win the Championship without KD on the roster. We need to keep that fact front and center. That article at the link was published July 19.

If he ends up in Boston, he’s on track for another fake ring once again.

So I won’t say KD will retire without winning another ring.

But I am confident he will retire without winning a real ring. I am certain of that.

He’s just not a winning player. He is not a TONE-SETTER. He is not an emotional leader, he does not elevate those around him; he is not a “culture guy.” LeBron, Steph and Giannis are. Luka is. Kobe was. Even Chris Paul is, as much as I can’t stand him. Trae Young, say what you want about him, he’s a culture guy. He’s a tone-setter. Jimmy Butler is, too.

KD doesn’t want to be a leader in the locker room, he doesn’t want to hold guys accountable, he doesn’t want to confront people. Physically, he has all the traits of an elite player. But his mentality and leadership are not those of a winning player. And that’s why he’s not a top-5 player in my book.

If I’m Brooklyn, I would trade him.

He’s not leading you to a Championship even if you give him what he wants and he stays.

I think the Nets just need to move on here. Trade KD, trade Kyrie (if they can), try to get out of Ben Simmons’ contract if possible.

Compile draft picks and bring in solid talent so that you can attract a star player in free agency down the road. The KD-Kyrie experiment was an abject failure. Cut your losses and move on.


UPDATE: Joe Tsai speaks.

Way to stand strong, Joe. KD just is not worth it.

Now, granted, I’m sure the 29 other NBA owners are backing Joe Tsai here. Probably, they told him there’s no way he can allow KD to get what he wants here.

Because this isn’t just a Nets matter, it’s an NBA matter. This is another battle in the management vs. players power struggle. The players have been gaining ground for a while, and I’m sure the owners have been wanting to put their collective foot down.

This is their moment to do so. It’s one thing for a player to request a trade with 4 years left on his contract, but it’s another for a player to outright demand the coach and GM get fired.

It’s too much player empowerment. I’m sure the owners have had enough. You know they’re all in Tsai’s ear saying, “You’d better not fold.”

Because if Tsai folds here, then players all around the league suddenly have veto power over not only their head coaches, but their GMs as well.

The owners and front offices of the league just aren’t going to let that happen.

If that happens, and it becomes normalized for players to get GMs fired, then how long until some superstar player tries to force an owner to sell a team?

That’s the logical endgame of the player empowerment movement, isn’t it?

Even if Joe Tsai wanted to give in to KD’s demands here, his fellow owners would not allow it. They and Adam Silver would step in and put a stop to this. You cannot allow a player to transparently force out both a head coach and a GM. It’s too much.

Maybe behind the scenes it can happen (and probably has).

But not in plain view of the whole country. No way.

You know what? Maybe this was KD’s plan all along.

He knows there’s no way Joe Tsai can acquiesce to his demands here. Everyone would know Joe Tsai has basically become KD’s bitch.

Maybe this is KD’s way of making it known that there’s no way he’s staying in Brooklyn or changing his mind here. Maybe this is how he guarantees he gets traded: by posing a wholly unreasonable demand.

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