Kevin Durant brought chaos to the NBA off-season when he requested an exchange from Brooklyn† While much of the focus in the wake of his announcement has been on the mechanics – Where is Durant traded? Which team can make the best offer? – not so much attention has been paid to the other big question:
Why did Durant ask out?
His only official public comment to date is a: cryptic Tweet that didn’t answer anything† Long-time NBA writer from New York Howard Beck tried to answer the question, asked around for Sports Illustrated and got this answer†
Those familiar with Durant cite two primary factors: a rocky Nets season that ended in a first-round playoff sweep; and the franchise’s soured relationship with Irving, his good friend…
So back to Durant and his alleged reasons for wanting to leave. On the one hand, he would be disillusioned with the Nets’ disastrous season. On the other hand, he would be angry with the team’s attitude toward Irving… which was the root cause of the Nets’ disastrous season.
As one insider sympathetic to Durant noted, “Kyrie sabotaged everything,” but Durant reacts more to the effects than to the cause, and he now views the Nets as irreparable. “There’s no point in taking (him) sides when it’s all too far out,” the person said.
This ties in with the reports that Durant was frustrated Nets management failed to get to know and understand Irving. Through it all, Irving expected maximum long-term contract extension from the Nets, and Brooklyn management (finally) drew a line in the sand and said no. Irving was frustrated and unhappy, but ended up having no choice but to sign up with Brooklyn† And while fans will criticize Durant for his stance, we all did this: standing next to our friend and taking his or her side in a dispute, even when we knew on some level they were wrong. Durant is just doing it on a bigger, more public stage.
Make no mistake, before Durant brought mayhem to the NBA offseason, Irving brought mayhem to the Nets. During the 2020-21 season, Irving played 54 games and went AWOL/Took Personal Time in the middle of the season. Last season he played in 29 games, mainly because he refused to be vaccinated, who violated a New York City workers’ mandate. Frustrated Irving’s in-and-out of the lineup situation and lack of dedication to the franchise James Harden – not a man known as the king of devotion – and Harden forced his way out through trade.
That’s not how Durant sees it. In response to all of this, he has done what he has always done – and should do – and has taken full control of his career and sent the ship where he wants it. From the outside we can shake our heads at his reasoning, but Durant feels for his friend and does what he thinks is best.
The only question now is where does the story end – probably with Irving a Laker and Durant… To be determined.