Kevin Durant Gives Major Assist to Nets Owner Joe Tsai

Kevin Durant, Nets

Getty Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

After the back and forth between Kevin Durant and Brooklyn Nets ownership when he demanded a trade from the team, it seemed unlikely that the Nets star would ever help Joe Tsai get other star players to Brooklyn. But sixth months later, that is exactly what has happened.

Tsai’s New York Liberty of the WNBA signed star free agent Breanna Stewart on February 1, and Durant said he had been one of the people who helped recruit her.

“I hit [Stewart] the other day — and I never do this — and was, like, ‘Yo, it would be an incredible dynasty in New York City if you came here.’ I don’t think she’s seen it yet, but. They are cooking up,” Durant said on the January 30 of his podcast, “The ETCs.”

“You get the MVP, former MVP. You got, I think, the fifth pick in the draft, and there are some good girls coming up,” Durant said. “You got Sabrina [Ionescu], obviously. Yeah, they cooking man. They doing their thing. They’re bringing the best talent to New York. If they win a chip here, Barclays gonna be jumping.”

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Kyrie Irving Sounds Off on Hot Button WNBA Issue

Durant isn’t the only Nets star involving himself in WNBA affairs. So has their superstar point guard, Kyrie Irving. With the WNBA season starting in May, travel for the players continues to be an issue.

Safety concerns in the wake of the star Brittney Griner’s nine-month detention in Russia last year have become a top focus for WNBA players, including Stewart, who made private travel part of free agent negotiations, according to a January 22 story by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburn. Typically, WNBA teams fly commercially to away games.

Irving, a vice president of the NBA Players Association, said he recognized that travel within the NBA is now more important of an issue than ever. He said the NBAPA is working with WNBA players union to find resolution to the issue before the WNBA season opens.

“We’ve discussed a range of these things, and I wish it was as easy as getting it tomorrow, but business takes a little bit of patience, and our W ladies have been patient long enough,” Irving said, according to a January 26 story by SB Nation’s Nets Daily. “We’ve definitely gotta get something done, and I’m with them no matter how much it costs. I think we could all collectively come together and make something very doable happen, and we just want to have our ladies have peace of mind while they’re playing.”

Irving also touched on the WNBA’s players’ need to play overseas during the offseason to supplement their WNBA income. It was during the offseason that Griner was detained at the Moscow airport.

“[WNBA players] don’t need to be overseas all the time. They need to be here playing in front of their families every single day doing what we do,” Irving said. “So, I think it’s a lesson learned right now of how we can attack this as a family, because the W and the NBA, we’re a family. And I think things will be figured out before the season gets started. I’m very optimistic about that.”

Nets Guard Praises ‘Inspirational’ Jacque Vaughn

At the beginning of the season, the Nets’ outlook appeared grim. Following an offseason filled with turmoil and a sluggish 2-5 start to the year, it seemed the Nets were headed toward yet another disappointing season.

But since the Nets fired former head coach Steve Nash and Jacque Vaughn took over as head coach on November 1, the Nets have a record of 29-14 and have looked like legit title contenders when healthy. Second-year guard Cam Thomas had high praise for the job that the new Nets coach has done, thus far.

“He’s been inspirational to the team just by keeping the guys hungry and keeping their energy up, and as you can see, the guys play real hard every game that they’re in,” Thomas said to Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports.

“We might be down, but they’re going to fight back. He’s very instrumental in that and very inspiring to me.”