Kevin Durant’s Role in Kyrie Irving, Nets Saga Revealed

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant

Getty Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn Nets All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the franchise on February 3. His request comes less than a week before the February 9 trade deadline. But as gargantuan as the news of Irving’s trade request is, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski says there is a “bigger issue” concerning the Nets. That is the impact Irving’s trade request will have on their star forward, Kevin Durant.

“The bigger issue for Brooklyn becomes how All-NBA star Kevin Durant responds to Irving’s trade request, and if it causes him to rethink his future with the organization ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Numerous teams are far more interested in how that situation could play out than in trying to inquire on Irving,” Wojnarowski writes.

“Prior to the season, Irving had sought the possibility of a sign-and-trade, but interest around the league was minimal and Irving finally decided to opt into the final year of his contract. Durant had requested an offseason trade before rescinding the request in September.”

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Kevin Durant Details Reason Behind His Trade Request

The concern regarding Durant’s feelings about Irving’s trade request is validated. For those who may be tardy to the party, Durant requested a trade from the franchise hours before the 2022 NBA free-agency period started.

The request was puzzling to many, especially because Kyrie had opted into the final year of his deal just days prior. In October, Durant detailed why he made his trade request to Chris B. Haynes of Bleacher Report.

“It wasn’t difficult at all to request a trade because it was about ball. 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–t. Hold me accountable. Get on my ass 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,” Durant said via Bleacher Report.

“This was the type of s–t I was coming at them with. It wasn’t like, ‘Yo, y’all need to make sure everybody around me can make my life easier.’ Hell nah, I want to make everybody else’s life easier. Ask Steve Nash, you can go call him right now. I would say, ‘Yo, I need more closeout drills. We need to practice more.’ That’s what I was on.”

Nets ‘Reluctant’ to Sign Kyrie Irving To Long-term Deal

One of the reasons the Nets were so hesitant to sign Kyrie to a long-term extension was his sporadic track record concerning his availability. Last season he only played 29 games because he was unvaccinated against COVID-19, which was mandatory for him to play at Barclays Center. The season prior, he only played 54 games, and the season before that, he played just 20 games (due to injury). He has yet to play a full 82-game season in Brooklyn.

This season was supposed to be a prove-it year for the Nets star. So far, Irving has played 40 of the Nets’ 51 games, averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. But as good as Irving has been this year, the Nets wanted “further evidence” he would be as available in the future before inking him to an extension. According to Wojnarowski, Irving is seeking a huge payday for his next contract.

“The Nets and Irving’s agent, Shetellia Riley-Irving, had discussed an extension recently, but Brooklyn remained reluctant to rush into a long-term commitment without further evidence that Irving could stay reliable, perform at a high level and remain controversy-free,” Wojnarowski added.

“Irving, who’s in the final year of a deal that pays him $36.9 million, has been seeking in the neighborhood of a four-year, $198.5 million maximum extension available to him until June 30, sources said. No teams are privately expressing a desire to make that investment into Irving, especially after the turbulence of an eight-game suspension for him failing to initially rebuke an antisemitic film shared to his social media platform.”

It will be interesting to see where Kyrie winds up after the trade deadline.