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Durant trade talks over, Nets and star “agreed to move forward with our partnership”

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Dan Patrick reacts to news that Kevin Durant will be staying with the Brooklyn Nets after the team released a statement.

The Kevin Durant trade demand saga is over. For now.

And the Brooklyn Nets are back to being serious title contenders.

The Nets announced that Durant and his manager met with owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks on Monday and have “agreed to move forward with our partnership.”

“Partnership” is an interesting choice of words, but the sides have apparently decided to move on.

On June 30, Kevin Durant upended the NBA world and demanded a trade, preferably to the Suns or Heat. Brooklyn took him at his word and spoke to those teams — and every other team in the league — about trading for Durant, but the Nets kept their demands sky-high: An All-Star level player under 25, multiple other players and picks. While teams put some interesting offers on the table, the Nets refused to lower their trade demands (especially in the wake of the haul Utah got in the Rudy Gobert trade). With four years left on his contract, Durant had limited leverage to force Brooklyn’s hand.

Trade talks stalled out as teams would not up their offers to meet the Nets’ demands; there was no bidding war. Durant and his team tried to ratchet up the pressure on Brooklyn (throwing down a “them or me” ultimatum concerning Marks and coach Steve Nash), but Tsai and the Nets would not back down.

The Nets called Durant’s bluff and won this hand. With four remaining years on Durant’s deal, there may be more hands to be played down the line, but for now everyone is on the same page and is talking title. (There is long-term skepticism of KD sticking with Brooklyn because it all appears to have started when the Nets would not give the unreliable Kyrie Irving a long-term extension — KD and Irving are very close. Irving eventually opted in, but he has just one year left on his contract. Roster issues will come up again.)

This entire situation has echoes of Kobe Bryant’s very public trade demands back in the summer of 2007. The Lakers didn’t really want to trade him, no super-deal came together, Kobe came to camp and by the middle of that season the Lakers had traded for Pau Gasol and were back in the Finals (then went on to win two more titles in the coming years).

Brooklyn now enters this season as serious title contenders, but one with serious questions. If Durant is healthy and his MVP self, if Irving is focused and shows up in a contract year, if Ben Simmons plays and is willing to accept a new role, this roster is stacked with enough talent around them to win it all, and maybe should be the favorite. Joe Harris and his shooting — which was sorely missed last season — is healthy and will return. There are solid role players all around the roster with Seth Curry, Patty Mills, Nic Claxton, T.J. Warren, and the just added Royce O’Neal (we’ll see what he still has in the tank).

The drama is likely not over in Brooklyn. It’s just put on hold for a while.

But the drama at the top of the Eastern Conference just got a lot more interesting.