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One decade after ill-fated trade, Brooklyn Nets facing another defining moment

It was back in June of 2013, that then-Brooklyn Nets front office head Billy King pulled off one of the largest blockbusters in the history of the Association.

King acquired future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as the centerpieces in a deal with the Boston Celtics during the 2013 NBA Draft that included three first-round picks and another pick swap heading to their conference rivals.

For Brooklyn, the idea was to finally get over the hump and contend for an NBA title after being disposed of by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs the previous season.

The duo of Pierce and Garnett wouldn’t even play two full seasons together in Brooklyn as this iteration of a super team failed big time. Fast forward a decade, and two components King gave up in the blockbuster in that of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are starring for a Boston Celtics team that is considered favorites to win the NBA championship.

In Brooklyn, things are going south in relatively quick fashion. It was just this past Friday that enigmatic guard Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the organization. Within 48 hours, current general manager Sean Marks sent him fishing quicker than Tony Soprano and the Lupertazzi Family.

Irving’s trade to the Dallas Mavericks was made official on Monday with Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith heading back to the Nets. Less than four years after the Nets signed Irving and Kevin Durant as a packaged deal, their time as teammates concluded with the two having played in all of 74 games together.

Now that we’re two days from the 2023 NBA trade deadline, there’s an open question about whether Durant wants to remain with the Nets. He had requested a trade last summer, only to pull said request when Brooklyn’s asking price became too steep for other teams.

Behind the scenes, Durant expressed unhappiness over Irving’s trade request and the Nets’ decision to move his running partner. Meanwhile, the two-time NBA Finals MVP is not enthralled about having a limited Ben Simmons as his top dog moving forward.

One decade after that ill-fated trade for Piece and Garnett came to frution, and these Brooklyn Nets are now facing another defining moment in franchise history.

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that teams have inquired about the possibility of acquiring Durant ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

“In the aftermath of the Kyrie Irving trade, the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant are having ongoing conversations on the direction of the franchise, but (the) orgnaization has thus far told inquiring teams that they’re not planning to trade him before Thursday’s deadline,” Woj reported.

These are the same discussions Durant and the Nets had last offseason before he opted to request a trade. At that point, Brooklyn was coming off a four-game sweep at the hands of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Funny how things come full circle.

Simmons had not yet suited up in a game with the team after being acquired in the James Harden blockbuster during last season’s NBA trade deadline. The fact that these discussions are being had several months later in the midst of a season that Brooklyn seemed destined for title contention can’t be seen as a good thing.

The backdrop here is pressure on Nets general manager Sean Marks to make a notable second deal ahead of the trade deadline. Remember, Durant issued an ultimatum to owner Joe Tsai last summer before pulling his trade request. Said ultimatum included either firing Marks and then-head coach Steve Nash or trading the first ballot Hall of Famer. Tsai pushed back against it at the time.

“Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets,” Tsai said after Durant’s request last August.

Nash was fired seven games into the season, leaving Marks as the last-man standing. As the Nets’ discuss a way forward with Durant, it’s not a reach to say that this situation will come up behind the scenes. At the very least, Marks has to feel that his job security is tied to what happens over the next two days.

“Some observers took Durant’s ultimatum as an artificial ploy to force a trade. But there has been some disconnect between Marks and Durant during their shared tenure in Brooklyn,” SNY’s Ian Begley reported on Tuesday.

Durant is now reportedly putting pressure on the Brooklyn Nets’ brass to do something substantial ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Could this be his latest and last ultimatum before another trade request surfaces? Given that we’ve heard more from LeBron James about the Kyrie Irving trade than KD himself, it’s pretty hard to read between the lines.

The backdrop here is a Nets roster built to win now. There’s very little young core pieces that have proven they can be integral parts in a rebuild. Sure Cam Thomas is coming off two consecutive 40-point games. But he’s been in and out of Jacque Vaughn’s rotation throughout the season. Nic Claxton has shown flashes. That’s all fine and dandy. However, it seems far-fetched to believe his ceiling is as a franchise cornerstone.

Marks and Co. are discussing trade possibilities with the Toronto Raptors surrounding the likes of Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. The drama we’re seeing unfold in Canada right now could lead to a blockbuster trade. Would that be enough to appease Durant?

At this point, getting a read on the enigmatic star seems to be a fool’s game. Not even the most in-touch individuals have a feel of what’s happening right now. Take ESPN’s Brian Windhorst as a recent example. He just recently relayed the feeling around the NBA world right now.

Perhaps it’s time for the Brooklyn Nets to quote Kyrie Irving when discussing the situation behind the scenes

“It just didn’t work out.”

Right now, this seems to be the end game in Brooklyn right now. The next 48 hours or so will dictate whether that’s the case. But we wouldn’t be surprised if Durant requested a trade and the Nets simply decided to blow this entire thing up.

What’s the definition of insanity, again? Ask the Brooklyn Nets in roughly 48 hours or so.

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