The Brooklyn Nets are once again in crisis. In a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai, unhappy superstar Kevin Durant issued an ultimatum. It’s either trade him or fire head coach Steve Nash and General Manager Sean Marks. Fans can blame Durant, Tsai, or Nash and Marks for this new Nets drama, but the real culprit behind the organization’s crisis — for the second time in a decade — is Danny Ainge.

The Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade crushed the Nets 

In 2013, under Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King, the franchise made a blockbuster trade with GM Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics.

The Nets received NBA Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as well as Jason Terry and D.J. White.

In turn, the Celtics got back Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, and Keith Bogans, as well as the Nets’ 2014, 2016, and 2018 first-round picks and a 2017 first-round pick swap.

Brooklyn got 42 games out of Garnett before trading him to the Minnesota Timberwolves and 75 from Pierce before losing him to the Washington Wizards. The former New Jersey franchise won a playoff series the year they got the two Celtics stars. However, without four of their next five first-round picks, they didn’t win another until Steve Nash, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant came together in 2021.

Ainge and the Celtics, on the other hand, secured the future of the organization with this deal. Brooklyn’s picks helped Boston acquire the core of the 2022 NBA Finals team. Having two draft picks in 2014 and 2018 allowed the Celtics to draft Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III with their own picks.

Worse yet for the Nets, the picks they surrendered in 2016 and 2017 became NBA All-Stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, respectively. 

Now, in the 2022 offseason, Ainge is no longer with the Celtics, but he is still tormenting the Nets.

The Rudy Gobert trade makes a Kevin Durant deal near-impossible

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Danny Ainge left the Boston Celtics in June 2021 and in December that year became CEO of basketball operations for the Utah Jazz.

The master trader scored a major hit for his new team this offseason, trading Jazz center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a king’s ransom.

Ainge traded Gobert and got back veterans Malik Beasley and Patrick Beverley, young prospects Leandro Bolmaro, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Walker Kessler (the No. 22 pick in the 2022 Draft), and the Timberwolves’ 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029 first-round picks with a pick swap in 2026.

This trade completely reinvented the future for the Jazz and cemented Ainge’s reputation as an NBA trading mastermind.

More importantly, for the Brooklyn Nets, it made trading Kevin Durant this offseason nearly impossible.

If Gobert — a three-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA player — is worth two vets, three prospects, and five first-round picks, how can you even put a price tag on a 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA member, two-time NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP, and one of the top 15 greatest players in league history like Durant?

Ainge’s trade put Joe Tsai, Steve Nash, Sean Marks, and the Nets in a horrific spot. Unless Brooklyn can get a trade package for Durant that includes All-Stars, role-players, prospects, and so many picks and pick swaps you wouldn’t believe it, media, fans, and NBA insiders will bury the Nets.

And the truth is, no team can give up this type of package and still have any real semblance of a contending team for Durant to come to. Plus, there is no way Durant would want to go to a team that just shed all its assets like this.  

Nearly a decade ago, the Nets traded away a chance at a championship-level team for two washed-up stars. Now, with the Kevin Durant saga, the franchise is once again in one of the worst predicaments in the NBA.

And, once again, it’s Danny Ainge’s fault.