The Brooklyn Nets' attempt to trade Kevin Durant after the superstar's demand was basically doomed after the Utah Jazz dealt Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
While the two deals are in no way related, the fact that the Jazz got four first-round picks and a pick swap for Gobert set a precedent on how much Durant could go in the market. If a player like Gobert can command that much, what more can someone of Durant's caliber get in return?
According to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, league executives highlighted that the Jazz's lopsided Gobert trade inflated Durant's value as well. Unfortunately, it also made trading KD even more difficult. As Sotto noted, “if the Nets got anything less than that for Durant, Brooklyn’s front office would’ve looked foolish, according to numerous rival executives.”
“I always thought returning was the best thing for Durant to win. The Nets weren’t going to get anything close to what they wanted, so the best thing for them to do was salvage the relationship. After the Rudy Gobert trade, they would’ve had to get more for Durant,” added an anonymous Eastern Conference GM.
For much of the offseason, it looked like Kevin Durant and the Nets were at a point of no return. KD even reportedly issued an ultimatum to Joe Tsai, making the team owner choose between him or head coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks. If Tsai wants the superstar forward back, he must fire his coach and front office leader.
Of course Tsai didn't back down and showed support to his staff. It only fueled more speculations that Durant was on his way out.
Interestingly, as trade talks slowed down and it was made clear to Durant and the Nets that they won't be able to make a trade, they had to find a way to resolve their differences. Durant eventually re-committed and put an end to what has been an exhausting saga.
It is worth imagining, however, how things would have turned out had the Rudy Gobert trade didn't happen.