The Brooklyn Nets got a facelift in the days leading up to the 2023 NBA trade deadline. When talks of a max extension between Kyrie Irving and the Nets became stagnant, he decided to cut the cord before he became a free agent in July and demanded a trade from the franchise. Days after he made his demand, he was sent to the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster deal. After the Irving trade, the Nets decided to enter a full rebuild and sent Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns.
There was speculation that Durant made his demand to the Nets after seeing Irving get sent to Dallas. The Suns’ star confirmed that was the case in his latest interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“Once [Kyrie Irving] asked out, I was just trying to figure out what direction the team is going in,” Durant said of the Irving trade. “Once I had no understanding of what direction we’re going in, I tried to make the best decision for me.”
Despite demanding a trade from the franchise, Durant insists that there is no bad blood between him and the Nets.
“Nah, hell nah. I want the best for that organization. I wanted the best for us every game. I hated it had to go down like that,” Durant added. “I wasn’t trying to prove the Nets is a s***** organization. I was trying to prove that the Nets are a great organization, that they care about their players, and want the best for their players. Certain s— just didn’t work out. I understand that.”
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Kevin Durant ‘Upset’ He Didn’t Finish Season With Nets
The Nets started the season off slowly with a 1-3 record. But following the firing of former Nets head coach Steve Nash and the elevation of current Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn seemingly could not lose, firing off 12 straight wins in December, threatening for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
No one knows what could have come of the Nets if Irving did not request a trade from the franchise. Perhaps they could have even competed for a title. Durant is “upset” that he never got a chance to see it through.
“I was upset that we couldn’t finish. I thought we had some good momentum,” Durant said during his introductory press conference with the Phoenix Suns on February 16.
“We were finally building the culture that we always wanted. I felt like every game we were building our chemistry, but I didn’t know what was going on with Kyrie and his situation with the organization. I didn’t focus on that. I focused on what we were doing on the court. It was a blow to our team. It took away our identity.”
Kyrie Irving Sounds off on Trade Demand From Nets
Things went awry for the Nets when Durant sprained his MCL in a matchup with the Miami Heat on January 9. At that point, they were 27-13, trailing the Boston Celtics by just a game for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. But after Durant got injured, the Nets lost four straight games and plummeted in the playoff standings.
The Nets never really got to recover from Durant’s injury. Less than a month later, Irving was traded, and Durant shortly after. While Irving still hasn’t gone into detail on why he demanded a trade so abruptly, he says that his intent was always to finish out the season in Brooklyn.
“I didn’t expect to ask for a trade at that point in the season. So, I wanted to finish out with Brooklyn, finish out with the season that we had going, and I didn’t get a chance to do that. So, some of the goals I had previously this season had to be shifted, and I had to be more than willing, which I am, to be flexible and adaptable and live with the results, whether we make the playoffs or not,” Irving told reporters on March 29.
“I just have to be at peace with where I am and which I am and trust the guys that I’m going to be in that war room with every single day. So, I’m appreciative of them giving me the opportunity. It’s been nothing but great here. And I’ve been at peace. So, it’s been good — outside of the losses, of course. We’d like to win every game.”