Kevin Durant has requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, according to multiple reports, and interest in the perennial All-Star is expected to be high.
The Nets have been working with Durant to find a trade partner, and it is understood he has several teams on his preferred list.
ESPN first reported Durant’s trade request, citing Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat as two of his preferred destinations. The news came just hours before the NBA’s free-agent period for this summer was set to begin.
The news also came exactly three years to the day after Durant announced that he was joining Brooklyn in a social-media post — a move that came June 30, 2019.
Durant is a 12-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time NBA champion — those rings coming with the Golden State Warriors, the team he was with before joining Brooklyn. He has four years and nearly $200 million remaining on his contract, which means that it may take a haul of players, draft picks or possibly both for a team to acquire him.
Durant has played 14 seasons, not including one year when he sat out while recovering from a torn Achilles. He has averaged 27.2 points in his career — over that span, only LeBron James, at 27.3 points per game, has averaged more.
And even at his age — Durant will turn 34 in September, around the time training camps open — he is still one of the best players in the game, his 6-foot-10 frame making his jump shot almost unstoppable by any defender.
Durant spent three seasons with Brooklyn, not playing in the first of those years while he recovered from the Achilles injury. He averaged 29.9 points in 55 games last season, after leading the United States to Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games last summer.
Unless he changes his mind and stays, his departure will be a huge blow to the Nets. At this time last year, the Nets were banking on contending for a championship with a core led by Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
That plan didn’t come close to reality. Irving missed much of the year because of his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 – he was ineligible to play in home games for the majority of the season – while Harden wound up getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, who didn’t play at all last season.
Durant led Brooklyn into the playoffs, where the team was swept in the first round by eventual Eastern Conference champions Boston Celtics.
And the offseason hasn’t exactly been calm for the Nets, either. Irving’s future was a major question mark until he decided to exercise his $37 million option earlier this week to remain with Brooklyn this coming season.
Now Durant wants out, and the Nets will either have to change his mind or go ahead with moves that will overhaul their team.