off-season drama

The Nets May Be Truly Screwed Now

Photo: Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday via Getty Images

Today, several reporters covering the NBA broke the news that Kevin Durant was requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, preferably to the Miami Heat or Phoenix Suns. It’s the latest sign of chaos for a team that seemed poised for greatness at the beginning of last season and now appears utterly adrift.

It’s also a weird move for Durant, who has four years and an obscene amount of money remaining on his contract in Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving — the team’s other other mercurial superstar — just agreed to extend his contract for another year after weeks of reported dithering on whether or not to bail. And Durant is the rare centimillionaire superstar athlete who remains extremely reactive to criticism from the nosebleeds.

Durant remains sensitive to criticism around his decision to join the ascendant Golden State Warriors in 2016 — just months after his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, blew a 3-1 lead to Steph Curry and company. Fans accused Durant of ring-chasing; KD, who was making more than $26 million at the time, responded by apparently making a fake Twitter account to defend himself in arguments with random users. After he won two championships and two Finals MVPs as part of Golden State’s death lineup, Durant moved on to Brooklyn to try to win one on his own. “I’m looking forward to having some new energy, some fresh energy to play with on this team,” he said when he joined in 2019. “Especially the younger players on this team. I’m looking forward to helping them any way that I can.” Durant performed admirably but couldn’t single-handedly catapult the Nets to a title. Then he recruited Irving and James Harden to form a superteam in Brooklyn — but their first season together was a drama-filled bust thanks, in part, to Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated and Harden’s hesitation to suit up at all. And Durant is still arguing with randos online about what leadership means to him.

If Miami and Phoenix really are preferred destinations for Durant, he’s leaning into the ring-chasing criticism he has fought so hard against. Both teams feature veteran leaders who have already helped build those teams into deep-playoff contenders. Both finished in first place in the regular-season standings last year. Ending up in either destination would make Durant’s endless internet arguments considerably harder to win.

The Nets May Be Truly Screwed Now