Media Day is usually a good time for an NBA team to show a united front. However, this is less true when the team’s top player requested a trade and then asked the owner to fire the president and coach, only for them all to return.
So on Monday, when the Brooklyn Nets finally had to talk about their chaotic offseason, could Kevin Durant have anything to say to ease the tension?
In fact, yes: when asked if he was surprised the Nets didn’t trade him, Durant replied, “No. I know that I’m so good that you’re just not going to give me away. Sean (Marks) and Joe (Tsai). Just like, “You’re too good for us to give you away so easily, so simply.” So I got it. I know who I am.”
Durant explained why he asked out on a date and how he came to his senses. In the meantime, the team attempted to insert the canceled trade request into their previous culture change post.
In August 2021, Durant signed a four-year extension with Brooklyn worth nearly $200 million. However, he made that commitment, “with the idea that we’re going to play with the group that we’ve been through this little run with, went into the second round,” Durant said. Marks said he thought he was building something with James Harden and Kyrie Irving, who were expected to sign similar extensions ahead of last year’s training camp.
Neither of them did, and when the season started, Irving was unavailable because he refused to be vaccinated. Harden started slowly, Joe Harris was injured, Irving returned as a part-timer, Durant was injured and Harden asked for a trade. In six weeks, the Nets lost 17 of their 20 games.
“As the season went on, you saw what happened to our season: players on and off the roster, injuries, just a lot of uncertainty, which gave me some doubts about the next four years of my career. I mean, I’m getting older. I want to be in a stable place and try to build a championship culture. So I had some doubts about it. And I told them to Joe.”
Brooklyn finished 44–38 for 7th in the East and lost to the Boston Celtics in the first round after winning the game. However, Durant was not so much concerned with “the result,” he said, as “how we got there.” Championship teams overcome difficulties and become stronger, but when he got injured, he felt a different atmosphere. BUT when the dc comes back… atmosphere.
“My whole thing was that I wanted everyone to take responsibility every day for their basketball habits,” Durant said. “And I think a lot of things got swept under the rug because we got hurt, or this guy isn’t around, or just the circumstances. I thought we could fight this a little and focus on the guys that were here. A bit more.”
Duran said the Nets’ approach cost them more than just wins; it cost them respect in the league.
“What I want for us is respect from the NBA community, as a team, for the way we play, from both ends of the court, from GM to equipment manager,” Durant said. “I want that respect. And I think you do it the way you work every single day. And we missed some steps in the way we worked over the past year due to circumstances. The demand for vaccination, people’s discontent, injuries. we could just keep moving forward.”
But there’s good news, according to Durant: “Steve (Nash) agreed with me,” he said. “So what I was saying wasn’t like we were all on different pages with this. We all agreed that we should do the same thing.”
Withdrawal of the application
A few weeks after he told Tsai to choose between him and the Marx-Nash duo, Duran canceled his request to trade and The Nets announced that they had all agreed to move forward together..
Nash said that “families go through this sort of thing” and that “we cleared things up, we talked, we came to a consensus,” adding that he was “glad we put that behind us” and that Durant “has been outstanding ever since.” like we had our conversation.”
More broadly, Nash and Marks talked about learning from what went wrong last season. When Marks talked about getting past Durant, who was trying to fire him, he made direct reference to earlier comments that he was reflecting on the day-to-day processes of the Nets.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” said Marx. “And I think for us it’s not about holding a grudge against what Kevin said, but a little bit of saying, ‘OK, if that’s how he feels, what’s going on here?’ For example, what do we need to change? Does it depend on the staff? Again, is it logistics? Processes? What it is? What can we do to get back to this?”
Asked if he felt overwhelmed when Durant asked for the trade, Marks said: “I hoped it never happened, but at the same time I’m glad it happened in a way because it made us think. on that and get back to what’s important.”
Marks said the Nets were “relatively close” to trading Durant, but “it’s pretty hard to get the same result.” He said they weren’t worried that Durant might ask for a trade again if the season isn’t easy.
“If he wanted to leave and still wants to leave, he wouldn’t be here,” Marx said.
Durant himself was supportive of Brooklyn’s off-season and said that he, Nash and Marks are “pros” who “know how to adapt and move forward.” He even reiterated the view that the team could grow as a result of last year’s setbacks and his close departure.
“It was a year of growth,” Durant said. “And the year we looked in the mirror like we screwed up. Like a team. And it only makes you better. So I’m betting on it.”
Moving forward, Duran said he believes “we all want the same thing. Especially after the summer, when we had a confrontation. It will only make us better and make us more competitive and we want to go out and show what we can.”
What about Nets fans who want to make sure he doesn’t make the same request in the future?
“Nets fans should know me after three years,” he said. “And the work that I have done. We’ve been through a lot as a team and I still go out there and do my job. I am determined to move forward with this team. So if they have doubts, then I can’t control it, it’s on you.”
Prior to Durant’s trade request, Kyrie Irving was unable to reach an agreement on a new contract with the Nets, so he opted for his $36.5 million player option and will become a free agent next summer. When asked if he was going to go somewhere else, he said “Yes” and then laughed. “There were options. But not much, I’ll tell you.”
Irving said he understands and respects the Nets’ negotiating position, but also said he “doesn’t understand why being unvaccinated has suddenly become a stigma in my career and I don’t want to play.” He said not renewing his contract until the 2020-21 season was “a hard pill to swallow” and that he “sacrificed four years, 100+ million by choosing not to get vaccinated.”
Irving said it was “embarrassing” to hear Durant requested a trade shortly after he accepted. said, “and being in the middle was a bit of a cluster—.” However, Irving also said that it prompted Marx, Tsai and “our entire family” to have “a few honest conversations”.
Marks said that while Irving and the Nets were unable to find a happy medium, they are happy to have him back. He said they are “happy to give him all the support they can during this season to make sure he’s healthy, committed and ready to go” and that “we’re going to see a very determined Kyrie Irving – we’ve already seen this summer.”
Despite everything that made this off-season very irregular, Irving showed normal press optimism. He said he was embarrassed by the sweep against Boston and that it was easy to get back “because I knew I didn’t want to give up on something that I hadn’t seen all over.” He said Brooklyn has a “long road ahead” that will require health and synergy.
“The sky is the limit,” Irving said. “I don’t want to say this as a cliché, but it really is because we don’t yet know what this team is going to paint on this canvas this year. But we have drive, we have motivation, we say all the right things.”