Kevin Durant wanted out, and the Brooklyn Nets wouldn’t oblige. Now, both sides are trying to figure out how to make it work moving forward.
Brooklyn had an interesting offseason, to say the least. In addition to Durant’s trade demand, there was also plenty of smoke about a potential Kyrie Irving trade. In fact, Irving on Monday called the Nets’ offseason a “cluster (expletive),” and that might be understating it.
When the dust settled, though, Durant, Irving and even Ben Simmons, if you want to count him, too, are back with the Nets. As it pertains to Durant, the Nets ultimately called his bluff; Durant this season is in the first year of what was a four-year contract extension worth $194 million. The former MVP doesn’t really have any outs, either. Long story short, the Nets held the most important cards, and they exercised that leverage, which is why Durant is still a Net.
Brooklyn reportedly had trade discussions about Durant, but it asked for the world to unload him. As a way of trying to mend fences, the Nets apparently communicated that to Durant once it became clear he was going nowhere.
“I know I’m that good that you’re just not going to give me away,” Durant said Monday at Nets media day, as seen in a video shared by SNY. “That’s one thing I did appreciate about (general manager Sean Marks and owner Joe Tsai) is, like, (they said) ‘You’re too great for us to give you away just that easy, that simple.’ I get that. I know who I am.”
Focusing on “one thing” amid all the drama does stand out, especially considering Durant’s reported it’s-them-or-me ultimatum regarding Marks and head coach Steve Nash.
Brooklyn technically isn’t wrong regarding Durant’s value. The Nets’ asking price for Durant was understandably high. Even at his relatively advanced age and given his injury history plus mileage, the Nets might have shipped him out if someone met their price. Then again, it was probably an inflated price given the aforementioned factors, because Brooklyn knew there wasn’t much Durant could do otherwise.
When asked whether Nets fans could trust Durant to keep his feet planted in Brooklyn, the superstar gave a tepid defense of himself and his thinking regarding the future.
“Nets fans should know me after three years and the work I’ve put in. We’ve been through a lot as a team, and I still go out there and do my job,” Durant said.
Translation: I’ll play hard enough even if I’m not completely committed to this place.
He added: “I feel like I don’t gotta prove anything to Net fans after three years. I’m committed to moving forward with this team. If they have doubts, I can’t control that. That’s on you. They’ve seen me, you know what I do, you know how much I care about playing and how much I care about my teammates and this organization and what I’ve shown this last three years.
“I’ll just keep being me every day. Some people are not going to like it, but they may come around to it. It is what it is,” he said with a shrug.