Kevin Durant Explains How He And The Nets Were Able To Move Beyond His Trade Request

Kevin Durant wanted to go somewhere else last summer, issuing a trade request to the nets because he had lost confidence in the front office, the coaching staff and the organization’s ability to put together a winning team. But when a deal didn’t work out, Durant recommitted himself to Brooklyn and now he’s playing at an MVP level while the Nets are in the running for the NBA’s best record.

In a compilation of interviews with Nick Friedell of ESPNDurant says his trade request wasn’t nearly as disruptive as those made by other stars, explaining that the impact was lessened because it came during the offseason.

“This was a summer time thing. We wasn’t playing no games,” Durant said. “I didn’t interfere with what we were doing on the court every day. It wasn’t a question of what you were asking my teammates every day after a game or a practice. What I did didn’t get in the way of the games that was being played, so I felt like that’s the difference in everything. So we hashed that all up right before camp, and it was cool, it didn’t get in the way of the hoops. So that’s the difference between what happened with those guys and [me].”

Durant was able to put the chaotic summer behind him as soon as training camp opened. Still, the Nets stumbled out of the gate, beset by lingering media questions about Durant’s desire to be in Brooklyn, along with a suspension for Kyrie Irving related to his promotion of an antisemitic film and doubts regarding Ben Simmons‘ availability due to physical and psychological issues.

The season turned around when Steve Nash and the Nets agreed to part ways after a 2-5 start and Jacques Vaughn replaced him as head coach. A coaching change was one of the demands that Durant made during an offseason meeting with owner Joe Tsai, and it paid immediate dividends. Brooklyn is 23-8 under Vaughn and is tied for second in the East after winning 16 of its last 18 games. Durant remains near his career peak at age 34, averaging 29.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists through 37 games.

“My whole thing was like — are we, does the process matter to us? And that’s one thing I did know that people here enjoy, grinding,” he said. “So that was the most important thing for me. Titles and stuff come with the process in which you — how you prepare. It was more so, “All right, are we going to practice harder? Are we going to pay more attention to detail?” Not just everybody else, all of us, me included. Is that going to be preached to us every day? I had the faith that that would happen because I voiced that throughout the summer as well. Even behind the scenes, like, ‘Yo, this is what I like to do. This is how I like to practice.’ I’ve been saying that for the last couple years, so I figured at that point with me going through that, they understood what I value. That’s what I was hanging my hat on, the preparation side of it.”

Durant addresses a variety of topics during the lengthy interview. Here are some of the highlights:

On how the team was able to survive the early-season drama that surrounded Irving:

“Because we was together regardless. I think coming into the training camp, we understood that it’s going to be a lot on us from a media standpoint, from just the noise in general around our team, so I think that made us tighter once camp started. So we was able to take the Kyrie stuff and move in stride because we were already stuck together before that. We started to win some games, started to get better as a team, and do some things out there that work for us. And now it seems like everything was patched all together, but it felt like it was always cool, to be honest.”

On the perception among some fans that many regular-season games lack intensity:

“Fans have become more entitled than anything. So they’re starting to question our motives for the game, or how we approach the game. The ones that do question — like who are you? Just shut up and watch the game tonight. We go as hard as we want to go. We go as hard as our bodies allow us to go at this point. They only see us when the games come on, but the travel, the practices, the shootarounds — we’re constantly moving around. So every game’s not going to be a high-intensity playoff game.”

On the concern that some teams may decide to tank during the second half of the season for a better shot at drafting Victor Wembanyama:

“Teams have been tanking for a minute. What, you’re going to force them to be competitive? I don’t see a problem with it, because every year there’s only a few teams that can win it anyway. So the rest of the league is trying to figure out where they are. And that’s pretty smart business if you’re a team and you know you’re not going to be a playoff team or play-in team, you might as well try to play for [the No. 1 pick]. You might as well try to get some of the guys who probably won’t get real rotation minutes if you have a good team, get them some reps and maybe those guys can change their lives as well.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *