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Woj: Warriors Title, Criticism Contributed to Kevin Durant Asking Nets for Trade

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2022

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Kevin Durant sent the NBA world reeling on Thursday when he reportedly requested a trade away from the Brooklyn Nets.

During Thursday night's SportsCenter, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said that—alongside the Nets' disappointing struggles this past season because of injuries and Kyrie Irving's spotty attendance record due to New York City's vaccine mandate—the Warriors winning the title this year may have played a part in Durant's decision to change things up:

"The expectations having walked away from that Golden State team, I think in the end were overwhelming. ... When you talk to people around Kevin Durant and the Nets—Golden State winning the championship this season, and just the flood of criticism and second-guessing that landed on Kevin Durant, I think it contributed to a tipping point. He wanted to get Kyrie Irving a long-term deal in Brooklyn, wanted to help him get him that. He wasn't able to. And I think once Irving opted back into [his player option], you know, Durant hadn't talked to the organization in weeks. Neither Kevin Durant nor Kyire Irving since Kyrie opted into the deal had been in communication. There was a sense of inevitability around the Nets and around the league that this day was coming."

It has felt as though Durant has battled #TheNarrative created around him for much of his career.

When he first joined the Warriors as a free agent in 2016, he was roundly hammered for signing with the team that had just eliminated his Oklahoma City Thunder from the playoffs. The backlash was immense, though he would go on to win two titles and two Finals MVPs with the Warriors.

When he left to join up with Kyrie Irving in 2019 for the Nets, the reaction was far more muted, though the question of whether he could win a title without Stephen Curry and his former Dubs teammates persisted.

He missed the entire 2019-20 season because of injury, but won just one playoff series over the past two seasons alongside Irving and James Harden for a spell, though Harden was eventually traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then the Warriors won the title, and the chatter started up again:

"Durant still hasn't won without the Dubs."

"Curry was the most important player for Golden State all along."

"Joining up with a volatile character like Irving was a huge mistake."

And now, Durant is going to hear about how he chose his co-star, essentially helped to appoint Steve Nash as head coach and... left the project after three years. All while his former team won a title.

Frank Isola @TheFrankIsola

Your player empowerment recap; sign with a franchise because you like what they’ve built, start picking it apart, eventually ruin it and then ask to be moved to a franchise because you like what they’ve built.

Spike Eskin @SpikeEskin

Durant picked his teammates, picked his coach, won one playoff series in two years and requested a trade with 4 years left on his deal. Sorry that is loser energy!

There is a lot behind the scenes that, at this point, we don't know about. Durant has his reasons for wanting out. Privately, he might feel that hitching his wagon next to the unpredictability of Irving was no longer appealing. Or perhaps Brooklyn's unwillingness to commit to Irving long term was the breaking point.

Maybe, after Harden demanded a trade and the main player they received in the deal, Ben Simmons, didn't play a single game for the Nets this season, Durant lost some trust in the front office's judgement. Perhaps his old team having success cast Brooklyn's own failures into a new light.

Maybe it was all of that. Maybe it was a combination, or something else entirely. Whatever the case may be, #TheNarrative is going to be that Durant is seeking easier waters to swim, yet again, whether that's fair or not.

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