We’re more than two years out of the trade and signing deal that brought Kevin Durant to the Nets, but it’s still easy to return to hypothetical land and ask the big question: What if Durant decides that Does he want to stay with the Warriors?
Since 2016-19, Golden State has been experiencing nirvana in basketball. Durant repeatedly slipped into Steve Kerr’s rotation, and the Warriors went on to win consecutive championships, only after Durant (Achilles) and Klay Thompson (ACL) both suffered end-of-season injuries in 2019. NBA Finals .
While that campaign ended in disappointment, Durant still seemed to have the perfect situation sitting in front of him as he entered the freelance agency. The Warriors will offer him any type of contract he wants and he will have time to go through his rehabilitation in a familiar environment. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green can hold the fortress, then continue to dominate the NBA when Durant and Thompson return.
But the situation is far from perfect – far from it, in fact.
Why did Kevin Durant leave the Warriors for the Nets?
In Durant’s mind, choosing Brooklyn as the next stop in his career was easy. He said he had a brief chat with close friends Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan around 4:15 a.m. when the free company opened and all three players were immediately on board to guide to the Nets.
“I feel it’s time for a change. I want to play for a new team,” Durant said at the team’s 2019 media day. “Simply put, I just do it. I don’t really think about what I’m going to leave behind or what we’ve achieved. I’ve already put it on the shelf. When it’s time to give it out. deciding about my future, I think only of me.”
In addition to getting ready for a new opportunity in Brooklyn, says Durant JR Moehringer of The Wall Street Journal that, despite feeling accepted by the Warriors, he knew he would never truly be “one of those people.”
“Steph Curry, was clearly outlined there. Andre Iguodala, won his first Finals championship, his first championship. Klay Thompson, was drafted there. Draymond Green, was drafted. there,” said Durant. “And the rest of them restored their careers there. So me? S—, how will you reinstate me? What will you teach me? How can you change anything? What in my basketball life I already have an MVP I already have goalscoring trophies.
“As time went on, I started to realize I was different from the rest. It wasn’t a bad thing. It was just my situation and the way I came to the tournament. And above all, the media was always watching. look like KD and Warriors.So no one can [give] My full acceptance there. “
How Warriors Experience Affects Kevin Durant’s Decision
As Durant has openly admitted, there have always been issues associated with him being seen as separate from the rest of the team because he was added to the roster after a record 73-game regular season.
When he won his first championship in 2017, Durant believed a title would change his status in the league and turn haters into admirers. That didn’t happen.
“He hasn’t had a great summer,” said former Warriors mentor and current Nets coach Steve Nash. ESPN’s Zach Lowe. “He was looking for the meaning of it all. He thought the championship would change everything, but found out it didn’t. He didn’t do well. He didn’t train. as much as usual.”
In a February 2019 story for The Athletic, Ethan Strauss reported that Durant believes LeBron James’ defeat of the Cavaliers will force fans and analysts to reach a consensus and acknowledge that he’s the best player alive, even if he doesn’t. they originally called him because of him. “weak move” for the Warriors. That didn’t happen.
Instead, there’s no major reordering of the rankings, and just plenty of credits for a dominant playoff. Who is KD? “tired of monday” back in 2013, still stuck there in terms of reputation, even with the eventual victory. He’s still behind LeBron in the pundits, basketball Twitter, and perhaps most importantly, at Nike, who has been with Durant longer than any other team. Then the next Finals played out the same way, with similar results, all while Warriors fans cheered loudest for the smaller MVP’s baskets.
Strauss expands Curry’s popularity and the tension it creates in his book, “Victory Machine: Creation and Building of the Warrior Dynasty”:
[Durant] accused me of “trying to piss off Steph’s fans.” He expressed that this is a frequent topic in the Bay. All of us local men just want to kiss Steph’s ass at his expense. This is KD’s constant lament. He frequently argues in direct message chats with Warriors fans on Twitter, frequently accusing them of supporting Steph at his expense. In an exchange that foreshadowed things to come, he was asked by the account WarriorsWorld whether two-time MVP Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving was the better player. “I really had to sit down and analyze it,” Durant said.
And then there was the controversy with Green. During a November 2018 game between the Clippers and the Warriors, Durant and Green exchanged turns after Green shoved the ball to the floor in his final prescribed possession instead of passing it to Durant.
Green reportedly called Durant a “bitch” and was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
When ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith asked Durant about that incident in October 2019, Durant said what role it played in his departure from the Warriors.
“I mean, your teammates talk to you that way, you think about it a little bit,” Durant said. “But you know, like I said, we talked about it. But sure. Sure. I wouldn’t lie about it.”
“I just feel like I need a switch. I feel like a lot of things in the Golden State have sprung up,” continued Durant. “I feel like it’s just going to be the end anyway, especially for that group. Shaun Livingston is going to retire. Andre Iguodala is getting older and older. Our contract will strangle the team and put the team at risk. We enter the hole to get other players .
“It’s time we all parted ways.”
Kevin Durant recovers from injury, regains form with Nets
Brooklyn agreed to a 4-year, $164 million contract with Durant knowing he would not be available for the 2019-20 season. During an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” in October 2019, Durant has made it clear that he is expected to sit out the whole season, even if Brooklyn makes it to the knockout stages. He reiterated that view after the match was temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d better wait,” Durant to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated June 2020. put pressure on themselves in previous injuries, want to return quickly, see teammates happy and want to play.
“This time, I feel like I’m more patient through the process mentally and not too hasty mentally, not too excited when my team plays well or I do well. [rehab] day. I’m looking at everything one by one and I’m trying to figure out what’s best in the long term. “
Durant officially made his Nets debut on December 22, 2020, scoring 22 points in a 125-99 victory, over the Warriors of course. He has struggled with injury issues throughout the 2020-21 campaign, most notably losing nearly two months to a hamstring strain. He averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 35 games.
But he took his game to another level in the knockouts. With Kyrie Irving sidelined and James Harden hobbling on one leg, Durant nearly beat the Bucks on his own in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He scored 49 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and two interceptions in the 5th win. Oh, and he didn’t sit a second.
He finished with 48 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a Game 7 loss, but he didn’t play all 48 minutes of that contest – as he was on the floor for all 48 minutes, plus time. five-minute overtime.
Instead of getting comfortable after being eliminated, Durant committed to Team America’s basketball program. He crossed the Olympic lap with a staggering 29 points in a 9/18 game against France in a gold medal match, ending the tournament as American Basketball’s all-time leader in points, free throws and 3 points.
Durant has done that successfully in the 2021-22 season, averaging 29.6 points per game leading the league while shooting 58.6% from the field and 42.4% from three points. He has kept the Nets near the top of the Eastern Conference standings despite a poorer start to Harden and the absence of Irving, who still left the team because he failed to adhere to safety protocols and local health. He’s arguably the best player on the planet and he’s definitely in the NBA MVP chat.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were once again looking like a rogue at the Western Conference. Curry and Green have been excellent, and the supporting cast is producing on a consistent basis. Thompson will be back on the field at some point this season, making Golden State a lot more dangerous.
Perhaps the Durant-Warriors breakup was inevitable, simply the part of the NBA that the superstar movement has become so pervasive. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what could have happened.
https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nba/news/kevin-durant-nets-warriors-injury-nba-mvp/7q0epndmp29z1th0t3u1fvwz2 | Why Kevin Durant left the Warriors for the Nets and how he recovered from his injury to become an NBA MVP contender