Report: Kevin Durant Initially 'Wasn't Keen' on Being Traded by Warriors After 2019June 2, 2022
Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers parlayed his relationship with Kevin Durant into convincing the two-time NBA Finals MVP into agreeing to a sign-and-trade deal when he left the team to join the Brooklyn Nets three years ago.
Per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Durant "wasn't keen on the idea of being traded at all" when he was an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.
Myers spoke with Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman about agreeing to be part of a sign-and-trade in order for the Warriors to recoup some assets instead of losing him for nothing.
"Eventually Golden State added a highly protected future first-round pick (which has become a 2025 second-rounder) to make it worth Durant and the Nets' while," Shelburne wrote. "But the bedrock of this entire deal was the goodwill that had been built between Myers, Durant and Kleiman during their short-lived, but successful run together."
There was serious speculation throughout the 2018-19 season that Durant was going to leave Golden State when he became a free agent.
In a February 2020 appearance on the All The Smoke podcast (h/t CBS Sports' Michael Kaskey-Blomain), Durant admitted he knew around "the halfway point" of the season that he wouldn't be back with the Warriors.
"I could feel, you know, the separation between the two. Everybody was just waiting on me to make a decision on free agency—coaches, to my teammates, to the media—it's like January and I'm like, 'Yo, I'm just trying to hoop,'" he said.
In the same interview, Durant said he "looked" at the Los Angeles Clippers and "took a peek" at the New York Knicks but decided he "really wanted to play" for the Nets.
The Nets announced on July 7, 2019, they acquired Durant and a 2020 protected first-round draft pick from Golden State in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham.
During Warriors' media day in September 2019, Myers told 95.7 The Game that the deal had so many moving parts and had to be completed in such a small window of time that it easily could've fallen apart.
Myers specifically noted the "hardest part" was convincing Russell, who was also an unrestricted free agent, to agree to come to Golden State.
"For his situation, once Kyrie [Irving] and Kevin said they were going there, he knew that his days in there were done," said Myers. "So he was probably looking around the league, for him to say, ‘I want to go play there.’ That’s flattering for our organization."
Russell struggled to fit in with the Warriors in the first half of the 2019-20 season. He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in February 2020 after playing just 33 games in Golden State.
The Warriors received Andrew Wiggins and two draft picks in the deal. Wiggins was an All-Star starter and has been an essential part of their run to the NBA Finals this season.
Durant, who didn't play in his first season with the Nets while recovering from a ruptured Achilles, has been great in Brooklyn. The 12-time All-Star is averaging 28.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 90 games since the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
The Nets have made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. They lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season and were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round this season.