Kevin Durant Request Turns Nets’ Run As Perennial Contender Into Disaster

Durant wants out just 533 days after Brooklyn acquired James Harden

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June 30

It was a balmy 37 degrees in Boston on Jan. 13, 2021, with many still relishing in the holiday season and a pep in their step due to the always sustainable “New Year, New Me” mantra.

And then the clouds quickly darkened over TD Garden as the Brooklyn Nets acquired James Harden in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets that evening. Green Teamers everywhere cursed. The Eastern Conference rival Nets would roster three All-NBA talents in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Harden. It also felt like Enemy No. 1 Kyrie Irving would soon win a championship and perhaps knock out the Boston Celtics along the way.

“It will either serve as the best team in the Eastern Conference, and arguably the most talented offensive group in the entire league, or a complete dumpster fire,” one writer acknowledged that day on NESN.com. “It feels as though there is no in-between.”

We were granted our answer Thursday — 533 days later.

Durant requested a trade from the Nets hours before the start off NBA free agency, according to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. The Nets now are working with Durant to find a trade partner. There’s a chance 29 other teams will pick up the phone to inquire about Durant with the 10-time All-NBA talent already having a few specific destinations on his list.

The title-contending days are over in Brooklyn. And given the trio of Durant, Irving and Harden played merely 16 games together, the short run was an absolute disaster.

Durant’s ensuing departure almost certainly means Irving has one foot out the door. Sure, the talented point guard opted into his $36.5 million player option less than 48 hours prior, but he’s not usually one who feels strongly about fulfilling commitments. The Nets might have a harder time in moving Irving, but regardless of how it ends, it feels like his playing days with the franchise are numbered.

Harden, who was the last to arrive, already is long gone. He was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers back on Feb. 10 — 393 days after initially creating the scary three-headed monster — for disgruntled star Ben Simmons. Simmons, who did not play a game this season, probably was thrilled upon landing with two fellow NBA All-Stars in Durant and Irving, but that too has come crashing down.

It feels like just yesterday Irving and Durant were initially plotting in the tunnel at NBA All-Star weekend — the well-known “two max slots” conversation — about joining the Nets. It feels like just yesterday, although it actually was three years ago Thursday, the two officially agreed to join Brooklyn. It feels like just yesterday they became even better with the trade of Harden.

That once-expected success, however, now is a distant memory.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets
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