Kevin Durant isn’t going anywhere after all.
The man who wanted out of Brooklyn at the start of free agency on June 30, with Phoenix and Miami being his top two landing spots, is staying with the Nets.
“(Nets head coach) Steve Nash and I, together with (Nets owner) Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, met with Kevin Durant and (Durant’s agent) Rich Kleiman in Los Angeles yesterday," wrote Nets General Manager Sean Marks in a tweet Tuesday from the Nets. "We have agreed to move forward with our partnership. We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.”
The Suns were clearly in the running to pull off a deal, but lost most of their leverage when matching an offer sheet the Indiana Pacers gave Deandre Ayton for four years, $133 million.
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Phoenix matched the offer sheet to keep Ayton and can’t trade him to Indiana.
In addition, Ayton can veto any trade for a year to the remaining 28 teams, but the Suns can't deal him until Jan. 15.
Ayton could’ve been part of a three-team deal that would’ve brought Durant to the Suns to make them arguably the team to beat this season next to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Durant has four years and $198 million left on his contract with the Nets.
Earlier this month, The Athletic reported Durant met with Tsai to not only reiterate his trade request, but told the Nets owner he needed to choose between him and his head coach and general manager.
Tsai responded with a tweet in support of Marks and Nash.
Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.
— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) August 8, 2022
The Nets have one of the league's best rosters starting with Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and Durant. The question now becomes can they put it together to contend for a championship with Boston, Milwaukee, Miami and Philadelphia as formidable opposition in the Eastern Conference.
The Toronto Raptors, Heat, Celtics and 76ers were named as teams interested in trading for Durant, with Boston appearing to make the strongest offer headlined with All-Star Jaylen Brown.
The Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Suns were reported candidates as well, but the Nets were looking for an All-Star, multiple first-round picks and a rotation player for Durant, who was named to the NBA's 75th-anniversary team.
NBA training camps start next month.
Durant had several ties to the Suns. He won Olympic gold with Chris Paul and Devin Booker and was coached by Monty Williams in international competition.
Phoenix would've had to part ways with some of its key players, such as Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson and draft picks, to obtain Durant in a trade.
However, a team with Durant, Paul and Booker coached by Williams would've made the Suns a clear-cut championship contender.
Without him, the Suns are still one of the NBA's best teams with a roster that's pretty much intact from last season's record-setting squad.
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Phoenix won a franchise-best 64 games to post the NBA's best record, but the top overall seed lost to fourth-seeded Dallas in the conference semifinals.
Such an early exit made the idea of Durant joining the Suns an appealing one. Durant would've given them one of the game's ultimate closers to go along with Booker, a first-team All-NBA selection last season, and Paul, who is also on the NBA's 75th team.
As weeks went by without the Nets finding a deal to their liking for Durant, the less likely it appeared they'd trade him. Then when Tsai expressed support for Nash and Marks, it seemed less likely Durant would start this season elsewhere.
Nash, winner of back-to-back MVPs as a player with the Suns, didn't have any head coaching experience before taking the Nets job, but Marks, who played with him in Phoenix, hired him.
Now they're all moving forward together in Brooklyn.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kevin Durant to stay with Brooklyn Nets after wanting to join Phoenix Suns