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How Kevin Durant secured a first round pick for the Nets

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, in a report of how players exerted maximum pressure in this summer’s free agency, writes about how Kevin Durant demanded Golden State include a first rounder in the sign-and-trade that brought him to Brooklyn and sent D’Angelo Russell to San Francisco.

The Brooklyn Nets had enough cap space to sign Kevin Durant outright, and there was no specific advantage for Durant to take part in a sign-and-trade deal to help the Warriors out. Nor was it that great an advantage to Nets free agent D’Angelo Russell, who had other teams, including the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves, vying for him, knowing that the Nets would have to make him an unrestricted free agent to complete the Durant signing.

As a result, there were a series of squeezes put on the Warriors, a position with which they are not at all familiar. First, Durant initially balked at being traded for Russell straight up, multiple sources said. He didn’t think it was a fair deal, and in this case, the Warriors had to not just satisfy the Nets, but also Durant.

And so, Windhorst adds, “leverage was applied” by KD. The Warriors wanted something in return after losing arguably the game’s best player in free agency.

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.

And that’s not all. The Nets, knowing they had Durant’s support and needing a certain configuration to maximize the cap space, played hardball with Golden State.

[T]he Nets requested that the Warriors take on two players, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham, to help clear extra space to sign DeAndre Jordan, who is friends with Durant and new teammate Kyrie Irving. Golden State had to turn around and pay Minnesota $3.6 million to take Napier and Graham off its books.

As a result, the Nets were able to sign both superstars as well as Jordan; pick up a first rounder with moderate protections; and not have to trade any of their young players: Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs or Theo Pinson.

It’s just the latest indication of how willing both Durant and Kyrie Irving have been to make concessions and/or help Sean Marks press for other advantages. Just Wednesday, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks reported on how the two players inserted bonuses in their contracts to lower their cap hits.

Moreover, it should be noted that the two, by signing with Brooklyn instead of re-signing with Golden State and Boston, Durant and Irving left a combined total of close to $100 million on the table, KD as much as $57 million.