Kevin Durant shook the entire NBA when he made his request to be traded. Kyrie Irving had just elected to return to play out his final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, and the team was expected to run it back and see what Durant, Irving, and Ben Simmons could do to compete in the Eastern Conference. That reality looks to have gone out the window after Durant’s request and reports that Brooklyn has no plan to retain Irving, even if it means waiving the All-Star point guard.
Irving, before returning on his player-option, had tossed out the idea of leaving for a mid-level exception contract to reunite with LeBron James in Los Angeles. So, after Irving decided to return to Brooklyn, what made Durant request a trade from the Nets? Vince Goodwill of Yahoo Sports talked about what sent Durant over the edge in Brooklyn.
What Brought Durant to Request a Trade?
On a July 13 episode of the Basketball Illuminati podcast, Goodwill joined hosts Tom Haberstroh and Amin Elhassan, and everything going on in Brooklyn was up for discussion. Elhassan asked Goodwill what it was that made Durant ask to be traded. Was it the drama in Irving’s negotiations or realizing it was time to get away from Irving?
“Is Kevin Durant leaving because Kyrie isn’t getting extended or happy with the situation, or is he looking at it as his opportunity to get away from the guy?” Elhassan asked.
Goodwill simply answered “Yes,” implying both of those are true and elaborated, saying,
“I believe he looked at Kyrie Irving not getting his full max extension as a sign that this (Brooklyn) isn’t a serious organization. You don’t jerk a player like Kyrie Irving around like that. Because that’s my (Durant’s) boy, I want the best for him. But sometimes you know that your boy isn’t the best for you either. So it was like, ‘you know what? This ain’t it.’ Even if I wouldn’t have given him the extension, they should have, and because they didn’t ‘get me outta here,’ Goodwill insisted.
The Nets front office being hesitant to bring Irving back is another sign that the team wasn’t committed to building around their two stars. It also signifies how fatigued they are of the whirlwind Irving brought this season and even beyond. The idea that Irving’s contract negotiations played a role in Durant’s request out isn’t completely new. Logan Murdock reported something similar on Durant’s belief in the Nets front office.
Logan Murdock on Durant’s Trade Request
“I made some calls. Kevin Durant has not talked to the team in weeks. I don’t think Kevin is confident in the front office right now. I don’t know if he’s at the stage of leaving, but there’s a big uneasiness from not only from the Kyrie side but the KD side as well…
“His biggest beef is that he feels that the front office didn’t grow to understand Kyrie, whatever that means. I would push back on that when a guy leaves for two weeks at a time … Kyrie earns the lion’s share of the blame. But I think KD believes that ‘hey, you guys didn’t understand this guy. You didn’t try to figure out where he was coming from.’
“The Nets got rid of Adam Harrington. Who’s very close to Kevin. He’s one of Kevin’s guys. And that had a big ripple effect on how Kevin feels about this right now. He’s still in this figure-it-out mode, but there is some fire to that smoke that he’s kind of reevaluating where he stands with this.”
It’s clear something has to give in Brooklyn. Perhaps Durant changes his mind and does run it back for the Nets, but it is hard to see Irving being part of any of those plans. It’s Irving who has brought the chaos that has Durant ready to walk and end the experiment on Atlantic Avenue.