The Nets’ latest foray into the world of super teams may be over.
12-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant asked for a trade, and the Nets gave him permission to find a business partner, Durant’s chief business officer, Rich Kleiman, told ESPN. Durant’s request came three days after Kyrie Irving decided to opt for the final year of his four-year contract.
Durant and Irving signed with the Nets in 2019 on four-year contracts, but last year Durant signed an extension through 2026.
Durant, 33, is widely regarded as one of the best forwards in NBA history. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2014, which was one of four seasons in which Durant led the league in goalscoring.
During his final season with the Nets, Durant played in 55 games and averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game.
Durant and Irving came to Brooklyn hoping to win a championship together after Durant recovered from tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2019 Finals while with Golden State. They had been close friends before joining the Nets.
“We want to end our careers together,” Irving told reporters at their introductory press conference. “We want to do it as a team, and what better place to do it than Brooklyn?”
Even when Irving was criticized by media and fans, Durant publicly supported him. Irving missed much of the season when he was ineligible to play at home because he refused to get a coronavirus shot.
“I can’t end the friendship based on something like this,” Durant told Yahoo in April, after the Boston Celtics swept the Nets in the first round of the playoffs. “Our friendship is based on who we are as human beings.”
As rumors swirled recently that Irving wanted to leave Brooklyn, Durant said on his podcast that he was not involved in Irving’s potential free agency.
“Basketball is obviously the most important thing, but I try not to let that get in the way of someone else’s personal decision. Like I said, no matter what, friendship will always be there,” Durant said.