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Report: Kevin Durant initially balked at being traded for D’Angelo Russell straight up

Kevin Durant, D'Angelo Russell

Only minutes into free agency, the Golden State Warriors were keenly aware that Kevin Durant would part ways with them and join the Brooklyn Nets. Yet they were determined to salvage something in return, and that came with a steep price to pay.

D’Angelo Russell, who the Nets would have had to renounce to make the Durant signing possible, could have been traded straight up for Durant along with some salary compensation, but the two-time Finals MVP didn’t think the deal was fair and balked at the trade proposition.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Warriors had to satisfy not only the Nets, but also Durant:

Leverage was applied by the player, and Golden State had to include a first-round pick before Durant would agree to sign off. 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.

The Warriors are no longer the favorite to be atop the West, as they have been the last five seasons. And if they aren’t within the top 10 records in the league, they would simply have to give the Nets a 2025 second-rounder — a heady play by a front office that has made a living from making these type of choices.

Golden State was forced to part ways with Andre Iguodala as a result of the four-year, $117 million deal doled out to Russell, but plans to tear up most of the roster were already in place if Durant was to leave, as the team was rapidly aging past the point of survival.

The Warriors have now gotten considerably younger with the additions of Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III and other players who will make up this roster moving forward.