Kevin Durant reaffirms commitment to Nets after offseason trade request
Kevin Durant said he’s moved past an offseason trade request and is ready to get back to work with the Brooklyn Nets after a bumpy 2021-22 season.
And for Nets fans who worry he could try to jump ship at the first sign of adversity — or opposing fans in Phoenix who hope his reported interest in joining the Suns remains — Durant had this to say Monday during Brooklyn’s media day:
“Nets fans should know me after three years and the work I’ve put in,” Durant told reporters. “I don’t feel like I got to prove anything to Net fans after three years. I’m committed to moving forward with this team. If they got doubts, then I can’t control that. That’s on you.”
The 33-year-old Durant signed an extension last summer that keeps him under contract for four more years from now, but after last season, he requested a trade on June 30.
The Suns were one of his desired landing spots, per reports, but his contract length and a hot trade market elsewhere in the NBA made moving him incredibly difficult.
Phoenix general manager James Jones on Monday did not deny his team was involved in the Durant trade discussions this offseason but said that does not reflect on how he feels about the squad that remains with Durant still in Brooklyn.
“(People believe) you choose one track. That’s not how it works,” Jones said. “We explore all avenues of improvement. The narrative that we don’t have enough is false, that’s not true.
“We have enough. We’re still a very good team. The thought Durant would be here or was somehow in our control is also false.”
Durant, who averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game last season, said he understood how hard it would be for the Nets to find a trade partner.
“I mean, I know I’m that good that you’re just not going to give me away,” he said. “That’s one thing I did appreciate about (what general manager Sean Marks and owner Joe Tsai said) … ‘You’re too great for us to give you away — that easy, that simple.’
“I get that. I know who I am.”
Durant on Monday said that a 44-38 regular season before a flameout in the first round of the playoffs via a sweep against the Boston Celtics left doubts about the extension last summer. It included a midseason trade of fellow star James Harden after he requested a trade and saw another All-Star, Kyrie Irving, sit out a large portion of the schedule due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I committed to this organization for four years last summer with the idea that I was going to play with that group,” Durant said. “As the season went on, you seen what happened with our season. Guys in and out of the lineup, injuries, just a lot of uncertainty which built some doubt in my mind about the next four years of my career.
“I’m getting older. I want to be in a place that’s stable. Trying to build a championship culture, I had some doubts about that. I voiced them to Joe.”
Durant said discussions with Tsai and Marks made him feel better.
So did Marks holding steady with the roster composition by retaining Irving — he opted into the final year of his contract — and bolstering the role players around Durant, Irving and hopeful starter Ben Simmons, a return piece in the Harden deal.
“I liked what we did, what Sean put together with the team. I know that with all the adversity that we hit and a lot of the failures that we hit as a team last year, guys are going to be working to get better and be better and try to make that not a trend,” Durant said.
“We know how the NBA is. It’s a business and once businesses are involved, sometimes you may have disagreements, relationships may hit a fork in the road you got to figure out. At the end of the day, people understand what I bring to the court, what we bring to the court — the players on this team — they’ve played against us, coached against us. They understand how we play the game of basketball. That other stuff, we’ll figure out.”