A LITTLE AFTER after 12 a.m. ET Thursday, the Brooklyn Nets' front office decided to call it a night. They'd take a car back to a local hotel where they had holed up as a group for trade deadline week to carry out what had turned into a sad mission: the final dismantling of the greatest superteam that never was.
The Nets had been waiting for the past couple of hours for their counterparts with the Phoenix Suns, who 2,500 miles away were pacing around their darkened practice facility looking at spreadsheets and whiteboards, to decide whether they would meet the Nets' steep asking price for their superstar forward.
"Nobody wants to give up Kevin Durant," Nets general manager Sean Marks told ESPN. "There's so many things that make him special. They don't come around very often, and our franchise is better off because we had him here. There's no question of that."
On Monday afternoon, Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman had asked for a meeting. It was a somber one. Less than 24 hours earlier, the Nets had traded Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks after a whirlwind three days of action. Now Durant was repeating the words he had said on the eve of free agency last June that had turned the NBA on its side for weeks.
Again, Durant told Marks he wanted to be traded. Only this time, Durant specifically asked to be traded to the Suns. The group then FaceTimed Nets owner Joe Tsai, who was at his home in San Diego, with the decision.
It was not fiery. It was a request, not a demand like Irving had made of the Nets the previous Friday. More importantly, in stark contrast to Durant's public trade request last June and Irving's maneuver, this was to stay a private appeal. Durant didn't want a bidding war and days of being the target of intense speculation and online obsession.
Keeping it quiet was not a simple ask.