Kevin Durant and the Nets opened up about the trade request saga, but what did they say?
If we take them at their word, then everything is perfectly fine between Durant, Marks and Nash, but will that translate into wins?
Given that it was the story of the offseason, there was no doubt that media day for the Brooklyn Nets was going to be full of questions about Kevin Durant’s trade request.
Kevin Durant clears the air on trade request saga
On Monday, the Brooklyn Nets had their media day and of course all eyes were on Kevin Durant. In case you missed it, the former league MVP had previously requested a trade, then gave the team a ‘me or them’ ultimatum concerning the president and coach and then finally they all made up and moved forward. Media day presented an opportunity for the franchise to present a united front and that appears to be what they did. Even Durant himself played his part.
When asked directly if the Nets’ decision to not trade him was a surprise, Durant was open. “No. I know I’m that good that you’re just not going to give me away. So that’s one thing I did appreciate about Sean (Marks) and Joe (Tsai). Just like, ‘You’re too great for us to give you away just that easy, that simple.’ So, I get that. I know who I am.” Indeed, the Nets star went on to speak about why he asked for a trade and more importantly why he walked back on his request.
What did Kevin Durant say about the trade request?
Before we get into Durant’s comments about his trade request and ultimate U-turn, the context of it is important to understand. When he put pen to paper on a four-year extension worth almost $200 million, it was “with the idea that we were going to play with that group that we went on that little run, went to the second round with,” Durant said. That’s to say, that he believed that along with James Harden and Kyrie Irving, they would be building for the future. As we now know, that never happened. Harden departed for Philly and Irving sat out a spread of games due to his refusal to be vaccinated against covid-19. To make matters worse there was also an injury to Joe Harris before Durant himself suffered a knee problem. Across that stretch, the Nets lost 17 of 20 games.
“As the season went on, you seen what happened with our season: guys in and out of the lineup, injuries, just a lot of uncertainty, which built some doubt in my mind about the next four years of my career. I mean, I’m getting older. I want to be in a place that’s stable and try to build a championship culture. So, I had some doubts about that. And I voiced them to Joe. ...My whole thing was I wanted everybody to be held accountable for their habits as a basketball player every day,” Durant said. “And I think a lot of stuff was getting swept under the rug because we’re injured or this guy’s not around or just the circumstances. I thought we could’ve fought through that a little bit more and focused on the guys that were here a little bit more.”
Kevin Durant believes the Nets have lost respectability
Interestingly, Durant went on to voice his belief that not only did the period of uncertainty cost the Nets wins, but the respect of the league as well. “What I want for us is respect amongst the NBA community, as a team, how we play, on both ends of the floor, from GM all the way down to the equipment manager,” Durant said. “I want that respect. And I think you do that by how you work every single day. And we skipped some steps in how we worked throughout that year last year because of the circumstances. Vaccine mandates, people disgruntled, injuries. I felt like we could’ve just kept pressing forward.” Durant also pointed out that it wasn’t just he alone who held such an opinion. “Steve (Nash) agreed with me,” he said. “So, the stuff that I was saying wasn’t like we were all on different pages with it. We all agreed that we should be doing the same stuff.”
Steve Nash and Sean Marks explain reconciliation with Kevin Durant
When it was reported, that Kevin Durant had informed Nets owner Joe Tsai to choose between him and the duo of Marks and Nash, it was widely expected that a split was inevitable. Yet, shortly after the Nets announced that they had all put their differences behind them and would be moving forward together. According to Nash, it was not unlike a domestic issue. " Families go through things like this,” Nash said before adding, “we cleared the air, we spoke, we got on the same page. The Nets coach also went on to add that Durant has “been outstanding since we had our chat.”
In keeping with the apparent sense of maturity in the mentality and behavior of all involved, Marks himself gave a fascinating response, when questioned about the idea that Durant had essentially tried to get him fired. Indeed, the Nets executive doubled down on the idea of reflection and review. “Everybody is entitled to their opinions,” Marks said. “And I think, for us, it’s not to hold a grudge against what Kevin said, but it’s a little bit of saying, ‘All right, if that’s the way he feels, what’s going on here?’ Like, what do we need to change? Is it personnel-driven? Again, is it logistics? Processes? What is it? What can we do to get back to that?”
Can Kevin Durant and the Nets turn the page?
If nothing else, Durant appears to be in full support of the idea of moving forward. Referring to Nash and Marks as “professionals,” the two-time NBA champion said he believes the pair “know how to adapt and move forward.” Further to that, Durant even alluded to the idea that the team’s failure and his near departure, would actually benefit them going forward. “It was a year of growth,” Durant said. “And a year of us looking in the mirror of, like, we f---ed up. As a team. And that only makes you better. So, I’m banking on that.”
Encouraging as Durant’s words may be when placed alongside his coach’s and president’s the real question is whether or not Nets fans can bank on him. To hear him tell it, they should have no doubts as to who he is and what he will give. On the other hand, can they be blamed for their doubts? “Nets fans should know me after three years,” he said. “And the work I put in. We’ve been through a lot as a team and I still go out there and do my job. So, I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to Net fans after three years. I’m committed to moving forward with this team. So, if they’ve got doubts, then I can’t control that, that’s on you.”