Kevin Durant reportedly wanted Kyrie Irving to remain with the Brooklyn Nets and tried in "some ways" to convince the front office to sign the point guard to a long-term contract extension.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday on Get Up that while Durant has so far been unsuccessful in getting Irving a new deal—he instead opted in to the final year of his contract for the 2022-23 NBA season—KD will still play an important role in Kyrie's future with the team (5:45 mark of the video).
In April, Durant confirmed to Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill he hoped Irving would stay with the Nets despite occasional postgame frustrations when the point guard was sidelined because of his unvaccinated status and New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
"Of course," Durant said. "I would love for him to play more. Life is way more important to me than that. I can’t be pissed off. I can’t end the friendship based on something like that. Our friendship is based off who we are as human beings."
KD also replied "hell no" when asked whether last season, which saw the Nets eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, had any impact on his friendship with Irving.
"There's no involvement at all," he said. "I mean, I can't be involved with, this is this man's livelihood, you know? This is much bigger than me. Being a free agent is one of the most important times in your career. That can't be swayed by anybody else."
Durant and Irving arrived to Brooklyn together in July 2019, which was expected to vault the Nets into the championship conversation.
A variety of factors, including injuries and Irving's vaccination status, has so far prevented that from happening. There have also been other changes, including the arrival of James Harden, who lasted just over a year with the team before getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now the Nets will probably attempt to make one more push with their current core, which includes Ben Simmons, who may return next season after missing the entire 2021-22 campaign while focusing on his mental health and dealing with a back injury.
A healthy trio of Durant, Irving and Simmons would give the franchise a realistic shot to finally live up to the sky-high expectations it's faced in recent years, but there are a lot of variables involved.
If Brooklyn doesn't take that major leap toward title contention, widespread changes can be expected either at the trade deadline or next summer.