The biggest question for the Brooklyn Nets is how Kevin Durant will react to Kyrie Irving’s trade request. Durant is just a few months removed from requesting a trade of his own before patching things up with the Nets. It remains to be seen just how permanent this patchwork job is given the team’s inability to reach a long-term deal with his favorite teammate. Durant remained quiet in the day following Irving’s trade request, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the superstar was “surprised” by the news.
“That’s really the bigger storyline … and that’s the teams who are watching what happens with Kyrie Irving are really much more interested in Kevin Durant’s response to this,” Wojnarowski detailed on a February 3, 2023 edition of SportsCenter. “I’m told that the trade request surprised everyone in Brooklyn today including Kevin Durant.”
NBA Execs Are Watching to See if Kevin Durant Will Demand a Trade Like Kyrie Irving
As Wojnarowski indicated, the Irving news has NBA executives wondering if Durant could be next in line to push his way out of Brooklyn. NBA insider Marc Stein reported that general managers are watching to see if Durant will once again request a trade with some expecting the superstar to back Irving on his way out of town.
“It is not yet known for sure how Durant feels about Irving disrupting the Nets so abruptly … and so soon after Brooklyn’s recent 18-2 surge interrupted by Durant’s Jan. 8 knee sprain,” Stein wrote on February 3. “This might be the most important variable of them all, because the Nets have to brace themselves for the threat of Durant reissuing his trade demand from the offseason if they can’t keep the roster at its current level.
“…One well-placed league observer cautioned me Friday against buying into any suggestions that Durant might see Irving’s trade request as some sort of last straw in their rocky partnership that, to date, has produced one victorious playoff series in three-plus seasons. …From the player perspective, according to the observer, Irving undoubtedly feels that he has done his job well for the Nets and thus deserves this in-season extension closer to his terms … and that no one should be surprised if Durant sees it the same way and backs his fellow All-Star.”
KD on Previous Trade Request: ‘It Was About Ball’
During a November 16, 2022 interview with Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes, Durant revealed that his previous trade request was partly due to frustration with coaching. Now that Jacque Vaughn has replaced Steve Nash, could Durant be more inclined to stick with the Nets even if Irving is moved?
Durant is just beginning a four-year, $194 million contract extension he signed that runs through the 2025-26 season. Yet, in today’s NBA, long-term contracts do not carry the same weight with new stars pushing for trades each season.
“It wasn’t difficult at all to request a trade because it was about ball,” Durant explained to Haynes. “I went to them and was like, ‘Yo, I don’t like how we are preparing. I don’t like shootarounds. I like practices. I need more. I want to work on more s***. Hold me accountable. Get on my a** in film if that’s going to help you get on everybody else’s head. I want to do more closeouts. I want to work on more shell drills at practice.’”