Kevin Durant ‘balked’ at being traded straight-up for D’Angelo Russell
Additional details continue to emerge related to the machinations involved in Kevin Durant ultimately selecting the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, and it sounds like the superstar made sure his new team would not be hamstrung by the deal that delivered him to New York.
There were of course several other moving parts and players in the deal between the Nets and Golden State Warriors beyond the Nets and Warriors exchanging Durant and D’Angelo Russell. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Durant believed a straight-up trade involving himself and Russell was not a “fair deal” for the Nets.
“Leverage was applied by the player, and Golden State had to include a first-round pick before Durant would agree to sign off,” Windhorst writes. “The Warriors begrudgingly gave it up and did so with a heavy condition: If the pick falls within the top 20 next year, they don’t have to send it, and instead will only give Brooklyn a second-round pick … in six years. It’s one of the most unusual pick protections the NBA has seen recently.
When it was all said and done, the Warriors were required to give up two first-round picks — the other one attached to Andre Iguodala in the trade with the Memphis Grizzlies — and $5.6 million in cash to bring in Russell, a player the team may ultimately decline to retain.
In the end, it was arguably preferable for the Warriors to sacrifice the picks than lose Durant for nothing, but the superstar’s moves, as highlighted in Windhorst’s piece, illustrate how big-name players now wield unprecedented and unparalleled power in today’s NBA.