Kevin Durant explains trade request in summer, says he’s enjoying his time with Nets more now despite turmoil
One of the biggest storylines of the offseason was Kevin Durant’s trade request from the Brooklyn Nets at the start of free agency. It sent shockwaves across the league as Durant listed the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat as his two preferred destinations for a trade. He also reportedly issued Nets owner Joe Tsai an ultimatum during that time: trade him or get rid of head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks.
Ultimately, Durant rescinded his trade request after he and the Nets agreed to move forward together, but as the two-time Finals MVP explained to Chris Haynes, there were very valid and tangible reasons for his trade request.
“It wasn’t difficult at all to request a trade because it was about ball,” Durant said via Bleacher Report. “I went to them and was like, ‘Yo, I don’t like how we are preparing. I don’t like shootarounds. I like practices. I need more. I want to work on more shit. Hold me accountable. Get on my ass in film if that’s going to help you get on everybody else’s head. I want to do more closeouts. I want to work on more shell drills at practice.’
“This was the type of shit I was coming at them with. It wasn’t like, ‘Yo, y’all need to make sure everybody around me can make my life easier.’ Hell nah, I want to make everybody else’s life easier. Ask Steve Nash, you can go call him right now. I would say, ‘Yo, I need more closeout drills. We need to practice more.’ That’s what I was on.”
Durant goes on to further explain how he didn’t like the team’s overall preparation last season.
“I wasn’t feeling that, and nobody was on that same vibe with me,” Durant said. “Jacque Vaughn is. I had some complaints in the summer, and my complaints were not about just me; it was about how we are moving as a unit. I want us to be respected out here in the basketball world. I don’t want players to look at us and say, ‘Oh man, these [expletive] are full of shit. That’s not the type of team I want to be on.’ So when we’re all playing like shit, you know the one person they’re going to look at. That’s why I requested a trade.”
Durant wouldn’t be the first player who has taken issue with Nash’s coaching or preparation style. In fact, in the lead-up to James Harden being traded from Brooklyn to the Philadelphia 76ers it was reported that Harden didn’t enjoy how Nash handled rotations, specifically in crunch time. The Nets have since parted ways with Nash as head coach, and elevated Vaughn as his replacement, but that hasn’t been the only issue plaguing Brooklyn so far this season.
In addition to a mid-season coaching change, there’s the fact that Kyrie Irving is serving a team suspension for sharing an antisemitic film on social media, and there’s been “growing frustration” around Ben Simmons’ availability and his play when he’s on the floor. All of that has resulted in a disappointing 6-9 start to the season for Durant and the Nets, with the latest loss coming in disappointing fashion as the Kings embarrassed them on national television to the tune of a 153-121 loss.
Despite all the turmoil surrounding the Nets both on and off the court this season, Durant said he’s enjoying his time with the team right now even though the wins aren’t stacking up at the moment.
“I just like good practices. I like a good preparation. I like good energy, and we’ve been showing that, to be honest,” Durant said. “Coaches have been doing a great job, regardless of this loss [against the Kings] and last game. I think we’ve been preparing ourselves well. Guys want to win. We’re out there playing as hard as we can. That’s really what I need.”
Durant also explained that he recognizes the expectations on his shoulders despite the availability of Brooklyn’s other two stars — Irving and Simmons — constantly changing.
“Look at our starting lineup. Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton and me. It’s not disrespect, but what are you expecting from that group,” Durant said. “You expect us to win because I’m out there. So if you’re watching from that lens, you’re expecting us to play well because No. 7 is out there.”
Durant isn’t wrong; if he’s on the floor he’s expected to carry the Nets to a win even when the team is down two key starters. It’s the same situation Harden was in last season when Durant missed significant time with injury and Irving was ineligible to play due to his vaccination status. It’s part of the reason Harden requested a trade then, and while Durant rescinded his trade request in the offseason and maintains that he’s “having a good time” right now, how much longer can that last if this team isn’t living up to the lofty championship aspirations it keeps talking about?
For the time being Durant sounds happy, especially after the departure of Nash as head coach. But if Simmons continues to under-impress, and Irving continues to miss time because of his actions away from the floor, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see Durant approach the topic of a trade request again in the future.