Kyrie Irving constantly affirmed his allegiance to the Brooklyn Nets throughout contract negotiations. But as the season matured and there was no extension offer despite the Nets being among the top contenders, the star point guard decided it was time to rip the bandage.
Irving demanded a trade in February and was sent to the Dallas Mavericks just days later, and Kevin Durant was traded to the Phoenix Suns shortly after. Durant has stated that he wishes he and Irving finished the season together. As for the state of their current relationship? He prefers to keep that in-house.
“That’s something I’m going to keep internal; I don’t want to expose our relationship. I think that’s deeper than basketball, but I wouldn’t say it was a problem. I didn’t think it was a problem,” Durant said of his relationship with Kyrie in a new interview with Logan Murdock of “The Ringer”.
Kevin Durant ‘Upset’ by Kyrie Irving’s Trade Demand
After firing former head coach Steve Nash, things seemed to be looking up for the Nets under the leadership of Jacque Vaughn. The team went on a 12-game winning streak earlier this season and looked like a legit threat to overtake the top seed in the Eastern Conference. But everything went haywire once Irving requested a trade from the franchise just days before the deadline, an event Kevin Durant called a “huge blow” to the team.
“I was upset that we couldn’t finish. I thought we had some good momentum. 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,” Durant said during his Suns’ introductory press conference in February.
“I felt like we had dudes that were stepping up and doing stuff they didn’t do on their previous teams. I enjoyed everything about it. It was tough not to finish the season. I just tried to move forward as quickly as I can and try to figure something out for myself, but also still focused on rehabbing and getting back. It all happened so fast but I’m glad it worked out this way.”
Kevin Durant Sounds off on Time With the Nets
Durant joined the Nets in 2019 when he was at a point in his career where his future was uncertain. He was coming off a career-threatening Achilles injury, unsure if he would ever get back to the level of player that earned him Finals MVP honors in 2017 and 2018. But Durant returned from his injury perhaps better than ever and was the cornerstone piece of a franchise with bright hopes of bringing a championship to New York City.
Things did not go as planned, and the Nets will forever be one of the biggest what-if stories in sports. But as he reflected on his time in Brooklyn, Durant made one thing clear, he is forever grateful for his time with the franchise.
“It was a lot of ups and downs, but I loved the grind, and everybody in Brooklyn loved the grind too, so I built a family over there. They gonna always be a part of my journey. We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning a championship. But I enjoy the grind and everybody there,” Durant added.
“We tried our hardest every day, regardless of what was going on in the media, what was going on with our teammates. Everybody who was in that gym we were grinding. So, I love those guys. I get emotional talking about it because that was a special four years of my career, coming off an Achilles. They helped me through a lot.”