Kevin Durant was the one whose trade request went public, but Brooklyn Nets governor Joe Tsai may have been ready to break up this iteration of the roster regardless.
Per The Athletic's Joe Vardon, Tsai "had already reached his limit" with this era of the Nets "after years of injuries, off-court embarrassments and playoff failures were followed by threats leaked by Irving and Durant during Brooklyn’s contract negotiations with Irving."
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant formally requested a trade on Thursday shortly before the new league year began at 6 p.m. ET.
Rich Kleiman, Durant's business manager, told Wojnarowski that Nets general manager Sean Marks is working with them to find a trade partner.
Irving told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium earlier in the week he was opting in to his $36.5 million salary for next season. It came after only one known team—the Los Angeles Lakers—showed interest in acquiring the seven-time All-Star in a sign-and-trade, per Wojnarowski.
In the wake of Durant's request, Wojnarowski noted the entire Nets' roster will be made available in trade talks.
Assuming this marks the end of the Durant-Irving era in Brooklyn, it will go down as one of the most incredible failures in NBA history. The duo paired up to join the Nets in the summer of 2019.
Durant was still recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors that made it unlikely he would play in his first season in Brooklyn.
Irving only played 20 games during the 2019-20 season due to a shoulder injury. Vardon noted in February that his decision to seek multiple opinions on the injury, except from Nets team doctors, led to frustration before he eventually decided to have surgery in March.
During the 2020-21 season, Irving essentially went missing from the Nets for two weeks before returning on Jan. 19. He told reporters his absence was due to a "lot of family and personal stuff going on, I just want to leave it at that."
As a result of his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Irving wasn't eligible to play in Nets home games until March 27 last season. He has only appeared in 103 games in three seasons since signing with the club.
James Harden, who was acquired by the Nets in a Jan. 2021 trade with the Houston Rockets, didn't seem to mesh well with Irving during their time together as teammates. The former NBA MVP wound up getting dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers in February.
Ben Simmons, the key player who came back to Brooklyn in the Harden deal, didn't appear in a game all season because of back injuries and mental health issues.
Durant has only played in 106 games (including the playoffs) with the Nets.
Brooklyn's lone playoff series win during the Irving-Durant era was in the first round of the 2021 postseason against the Boston Celtics.
It was the Celtics who may have ended the Irving-Durant experiment this postseason. They swept the Nets in the first round to end a disappointing season.