There was nothing to indicate what was about to happen when Kevin Durant dropped a bombshell on Thursday afternoon that he wanted out of Brooklyn. Just like that, in a move as stunning as the Brooklyn Nets’ four-game sweep against the Boston Celtics, Durant is ready to walk away and chase another championship with a new team.
All this fuss over the 33-year-old.
There’s no doubt in our minds that he’s a talented player and when he’s on he can be one of the best players in the NBA. He’s a 12-time All-Star, a four-time scoring champion, and has been widely recognized as the second-best player behind LeBron James. Once again, sadly, predictably, Durant, who just completed his third year with the Nets, feels compelled to take the easy route to an NBA championship.
There is his decision to suddenly ask for a trade to another team where he can partner with another superstar and pursue his third ring. It should come with little surprise that Durant has requested a trade from the Nets. He changed his mind about playing in Brooklyn, he was telling a lie, even after committing to the Nets after signing a four-year deal to stay with the team.
The multiple championships that looked likely after the 2021 season aren’t about to materialize at all. Especially not without Durant. It’s kind of funny in a pathetic way that Kyrie Irving and Durant joined forces to “build something special.” Turns out, even though they created the newest super team, this was an astonishing collapse for the Nets. The season with such promises ended with emptiness after the Nets suffered an early playoff exit.
It was that sort of year from the Nets, nothing accomplished, nothing celebrated, not even a first-round playoff series win. That’s hard to believe for a team that consisted of three superstars and multiple role players around them. It was hard to make a true judgment on this Brooklyn squad, considering it didn’t have all three of its stars in the same game for a majority of the season. The lack of chemistry was undeniable as their talents did not gel together heading into the NBA playoffs where it showed tremendously. On top of that, with Irving, unquestionably one of the best players in the world, the Nets were essentially banking on his availability and reliability, but he missed a chunk of games due to his vaccination status.
This reality is this Nets’ super team experiment failed before it even started. It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Durant. The worse everything became, the more evident was it that a catastrophe was waiting to happen, and it did. Their season derailed quite as spectacularly as many would not have expected. They had the most complete team, the biggest names, and the most star power. There are no playoffs without them, but as we saw, they didn’t live up to the heavy expectations. It was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions as they sunk into the depths of despair. And the Nets have only themselves to blame for this.
It was the kind of a disappointment that comes when you expect something will happen and then, just like that, it doesn’t. This was not what the Nets expected. This was not what the Nets needed. The airwaves were filled with talk about Durant’s trade demands and where he will take his talents next — what team, what city? He sounds like that unhappy kid sitting in the shopping cart and begging for mom to grab a box of cereal off the shelf.
This was bad news for the Nets, who contributed to their demise by trusting in two superstars who couldn’t even keep their promise. And so, as feared, Brooklyn is about to undergo a complete overhaul of its roster. The end came quickly. This isn’t the way it was supposed to end, it was the way it did. And now, with Durant leaving a city for another one, we’re left wondering who could willingly give up a lot to acquire him in a trade.
It’s unclear where he’s going, but after choosing to leave Oklahoma City to join an already stacked Warriors team where he won twice and after ditching the Bay Area for the Nets and a partnership with Irving, it’s almost certain Durant is going to go somewhere he can win a title right away. High on Durant’s wish list of potential landing spots are the Phoenix Suns and the Miami Heat. The conversation centers around not only his clear potential and belief he could lead his next team but whether he could stay put with the franchise rather than join a stronger team that would likely guarantee a championship. But there’s no question that this is a man who will undoubtedly make a playoff-caliber team a real contender wherever he goes. And while he displayed breathtaking talent in his first full season with the Nets, he also showed a maddening lapse in judgment and commitment.
After all, one of the benefits of being a superstar is having the power to force his way out and fully dictate his destination. In the short term, maybe Durant’s acquisition will bring a team closer to their end goal of a championship. But we are kidding ourselves if we truly believe he’s going to stick around when times get tough. He puts up ridiculous stats but bails on his team when his team needs him to step up, lead and take charge.
He loses, and when the going gets tough, he runs. But because he’s regarded as a tier-one player in the NBA, he has a massive trade market, as you might’ve expected for someone as dynamic as Durant. Some say there would be a risk in his acquisition, pointing out that he’s not a leader, that he’s not about the team but only about what’s convenient for him.
Surprised that he’s looking for another place where he can show he’s at his best and where he can enjoy the game?
His fit as a lead guy was never the right one. He didn’t take on a leadership role but took the shots Brooklyn needed from him since his tag-team partner, Irving wasn’t fully committed. It was only a matter of time before he would ask to leave. The truth is that the Nets were a dysfunctional team with Durant as their best player. The story of Durant filing for divorce with the Nets has sent a shockwave through the NBA.
This is reality, and now Nets general manager Sean Marks has a busy offseason ahead. This is not a simple job for Marks to execute. It’s essentially a moving target from a business standpoint. Trading superstars has become more prevalent across the NBA. It’s a complicated process but a deal is likely to get done at some point. That’s assuming Marks, who is going to ask for as many high-value future draft picks as he could, comes away with a nice haul. It’s strictly business.
The Nets have questions, plenty of questions, enough that they have endured weeks of uncertainty over not only a mystery with Durant requesting a trade out of Brooklyn. This season has worn down Durant. His team’s failures have led to his unexpected departure. It’s become too hard for him to remain with the team, and because he’s choosing to move on, the Nets’ title hopes are unrealistic. It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which the Nets will contend for a championship next season after having gone from promising and young, to a viable contender, to a potential dumpster fire.