The Nets’ latest foray into the world of superteams may be over.
Kevin Durant, a 12-time All-Star, asked the Nets to trade him, according to a person familiar with the request who is not authorized to discuss it publicly. Rich Kleiman, Durant’s business manager told ESPN that the Nets had given him permission to find a trading partner. Duran’s request came three days after Kyrie Irving attended the final year of his four-year contract with the Nets.
Durant and Irving signed a four-year deal with the Nets in 2019, but last year Durant signed an extension through the 2025-26 season. Irving could be sold in the final year of his contract.
Duran, 33, is considered one of the top scorers in NBA history. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2014, one of four seasons in which he led the NBA in scoring.
Duran played in 55 games last season and averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game.
He and Irving came to Brooklyn hoping to win a championship together.
“We want to end our careers together,” Irving said. journalists at the introductory press conference in 2019. “We want to do it as a team, and what could be better than Brooklyn?”
Durant was selected with the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, which became the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant spent nine seasons with the franchise before signing with Golden State in 2016. There, he helped Golden State win back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018 and was named Most Valuable Player in both of those Finals. Durant tore his Achilles tendon during the 2019 Finals, which Golden State lost to the Toronto Raptors.
Irving, a seven-time All-Star, also won a championship before joining the Nets in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 2019-20 season — Durant and Irving’s first with the Nets — was interrupted by the coronavirus, but it still proved to be a bad one for the Nets. Durant’s recovery from an Achilles tendon injury lasted all year, and the Nets lost in the playoffs. In the 2020–21 season, the team added James Harden midway through the season after he asked to be traded from the Houston Rockets but lost in the second round of the playoffs.
Then the Nets started last season with all three superstars supposedly ready to play. But New York City’s coronavirus vaccination mandate meant that Irving, who refused to be vaccinated, would not be allowed to play games in Brooklyn. The Nets decided to sit Irving until he was eligible for all games rather than let him be a part-time player. But they softened in Decemberand he started playing road games where he was eligible to participate in January.
Duran and Harden helped the Nets climb to the top of the Eastern Conference, but the team faltered after Durant injured his shoulder in January.
Harden, irritated by Irving’s absence, asked for a trade. sent to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons in February. Simmons has struggled with mental and physical ailments and has yet to play for the Nets. In March, New York vaccination rules changed and Irving became eligible to play in Brooklyn.
The Nets finished seventh in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but despite being as complete as they had been all year, the Boston Celtics swept them in the first round.
“We had high expectations,” Durant said after Game 4 of the series. “Everyone had high hopes for us, but a lot of things happened during the season that brought us down.”
He later added, “I don’t regret anything.”
Even when Irving was criticized by the media and fans, Durant publicly supported him. Since there were recent rumors that Irving wanted to leave Brooklyn, Duran said on his podcast that he was not involved with Irving’s possible free agent.
“Basketball is by far the most important thing, but I try not to let it get in the way of anyone’s personal decision,” Durant said. “Like I said, no matter what happens, the friendship will remain.”
Durant’s request comes at a time when league offices are working to determine what their rosters will look like next season, either through a trade or signing free agents. Teams and players were able to start discussing free agent deals at 6pm on Thursday and can make them official on July 6th.
Durant’s incredible talent would have made him attractive to many teams, despite the remaining $193 million on his contract with the Nets. Trades for players of his caliber usually involve several first-round picks.