PHOENIX SUNS

Kevin Durant disappointed to not win in Brooklyn, eager for opportunity with Suns

Feb 16, 2023, 5:00 PM

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Barcla...

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center on December 09, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Suns forward Kevin Durant showed emotion while discussing his Brooklyn Nets tenure during his Phoenix introductory press conference on Thursday.

His time in Brooklyn ended abruptly after his co-star Kyrie Irving requested a trade on Feb. 3, and Durant was dealt five days later to Phoenix. The Nets signed the duo ahead of the 2019-20 season, which Durant missed with a torn Achilles.

He said his time there involved a lot of ups and downs, but he appreciated the effort put in with his teammates.

“I built a family over there, it’s going to always be a part of my journey,” Durant said. “We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish as far as winning the championship, but I enjoyed the grind. And everybody there, we tried our hardest every day regardless of what was going on … So I love those guys.

“I get emotional talking about them because that was a special four years of my career coming off the Achilles and they helped me through a lot.”

In the midst of Durant’s second season in the building, Brooklyn traded future assets for James Harden to form a potent offensive big 3. It worked for 16 games in which the Nets went 13-3, but the group didn’t play with each other beyond that for various reasons. Injuries and Irving’s inability to play because of his COVID-19 vaccination status led to Brooklyn flipping Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers last year at the trade deadline.

Durant said they did not have enough time on the court together. Their only playoff run came in 2020-21 when they took the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals without Irving and with a hobbled Harden.

Still, the Nets were looking unbeatable for a stretch of this season, as they were 13-1 in Durant’s last 14 games with the team before an MCL strain sidelined him after Jan. 8.

He felt that they were building chemistry but did not know what was happening behind the scenes that led to Irving’s trade request.

“I felt like we had dudes that were stepping up and doing stuff that they didn’t do on their previous team, so I enjoyed everything about it,” Durant said. “It was tough to not finish the season. But I just tried to move forward as quickly as I can.

“I’ve tried to figure something out for myself but also still focus on trying to rehab and get back. It all happened so fast, but I’m glad it worked out this way.”

Durant reportedly wanted to come to Phoenix last summer after requesting a trade from the Nets. Brooklyn kept him, he said he was committed and played like it.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP put up 29.7 points per game before his injury and earned a starting spot in the NBA All-Star Game, which he won’t play in.

He now joins a Suns squad less than two years removed from an NBA Finals run and looking to get over the hump.

Durant has played with Devin Booker and Chris Paul on Team USA and was coached by Monty Williams with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I know how significant a championship is to a franchise and to a city,” Durant said. “I’ve been a part of two of those. I’m looking forward to getting back on the road to try to do it again.

“This fan base is looking forward to cheer for a winner.”

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