Kevin Durant opens up about commerce request, tanking, followers and free agency

Kevin Durant stays to be standing as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

After a tumultuous summer time, and a great rougher start to the season, the big name who requested a commerce some seven months in the past enters Friday’s recreation in the direction of the New Orleans Pelicans (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) taking half in arguably in all likelihood the solely basketball of his profession. He accomplished the month of December averaging 28.three factors a recreation whereas taking pictures fifty eight% from the sector.

The 34-12 months-previous finds himself in a great place and says he believes the league is in a great place as properly. Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford spent final season working with Durant whereas serving as a advertising consultant on Steve Nash’s Nets workers, and recognized Durant’s ardour and knowledge of the sport. “he’ll are accessible and say, ‘Did you watch St. Peter’s/St. Francis?'” Clifford said. “he is always watching basketball, faculty or an all-star recreation. I wager inside the event you spoke to him, I wager you he is aware of simply a few of the very most interesting highschool gamers. He lives it.”

The 6-foot-10 forward, in his sixteenth 12 months, has been the pillar of stability on a Nets staff typically outlined by the selection. He has vaulted the Nets — winners of sixteen of their previous 18 video games, whereas pushing himself to the forefront of one other MVP dialog.

Durant sat down on a quantity of occasions all by way of this season with ESPN’s Nick Friedell to debate his commerce request over the summer time, how the Nets managed to maintain collectively when issues can have break up aside, what the league can do to reinforce the common season and if he believes tanking is a drawback as teams watch the enchancment of prime 2023 draft prospect Victor Wembanyama.

[Editor’s note: Answers have been minimally edited for clarity and brevity.]

Why did not issues splinter aside after all of the Kyrie [Irving] stuff — why have you ever guys get back collectively now when issues can have simply exploded?

as a consequence of we was collectively regardless. i really feel coming into the teaching camp, we understood that it will be tons on us from a media standpoint, from simply the noise on the full round our staff, so i really feel that made us tighter as quickly as camp started. So we was ready to take the Kyrie stuff and transfer in stride as a consequence of we had been already caught collectively earlier than that. We started to win some video games, started to get elevated as a staff, and do some issues on the market that work for us. And now it seems to be like every thing was patched all collectively, nonetheless it felt want it was always cool, to be honest.

Over the summer time, when you decided to return again, why had been you so assured that you merely guys nonetheless may compete for a title?

i do not even take a look at s— that method. My full factor was like — are we, does the approach matter to us? and that is one factor I did know that people right here get pleasure from, grinding. so as that was essential factor for me. Titles and stuff embrace the approach by which you — the way you put together. It was extra so, “All proper, are we going to observe tougher? Are we going to pay extra consideration to element?” Not simply all people else, all of us, me included. Is that going to be preached to us on daily basis? I had the religion that that will happen as a consequence of I voiced that all by way of the summer time as properly. Even behind the scenes, like, “Yo, that is what I want to do. that is how I want to observe.” I even have been saying that for the final couple years, so I figured at that time with me going by way of that, they understood what I worth. that is what i used to be hanging my hat on, the preparation facet of it.

“as a consequence of we devour every thing always, we’re starting to take a quantity of stuff with no consideration. The NBA is taken beneath consideration one of them.”

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant

As you properly know, on a quantity of completely different teams, when a star participant asks for a commerce, i am considering of James Harden with the Rockets, Jimmy Butler with the Timberwolves, Anthony Davis with the Pelicans, every thing round that staff seems to disintegrate even when that participant stays after …

however you receive to understand with their circumstances, when did that happen for them? all by way of the center of the season.

properly, Jimmy’s started inside the summertime …

[He got traded] all by way of the center of the season, when he was in Minnesota. maintain in thoughts, he was taking half in video games when he wasn’t — he was sitting out some video games, he obtained traded inside the midst of the season from Minnesota, proper? James, the identical method. advert, the identical method. This was a summertime factor. We wasn’t taking half in no video games. I did not intrude with what we had been doing on the court docket on daily basis. It wasn’t a question of what you had been asking my teammates on daily basis after a recreation or a observe. What I did did not get inside the method by which of the video games that was being performed, so I felt like that is the distinction in every thing. So we hashed that every up proper earlier than camp, and it was cool, it did not get inside the method by which of the hoops. so as that is the distinction between what occurred with these guys and [me].

Having lived what you only lived over the summer time, do you suppose there may even be an extreme quantity of give consideration to free agency?

The NBA has been round for thus prolonged, the common season — for exact basketball followers, they revenue from the common season for [what it is]. however our league is full of informal people who get pleasure from basketball, nonetheless it is unlikely — they do not take care of it as a lot, you understand what i am saying? They want to look at it as a pastime, nonetheless it is not — there’s some people who discover themselves exact followers of the sport, you understand what i am saying? …

inside the case of people and it entails how they devour issues — every thing seems to be want it is doing unimaginable proper now. So including free agency, summer time league, common season, all that stuff, i really feel that is simply one other avenue for people to be engaged inside the sport. Free agency is an monumental deal — and in addition they should see the place their favourite gamers are going, or their favourite teams are getting, as a consequence of they see guys starting to maneuver. So it is important, nonetheless the video games are the one factor that actually issues, to be honest.

What do you suppose the league can do to reinforce the common season?

What do you imply — “enhance?”

Make it so as that there is extra depth all by way of common-season video games — or be at liberty to disagree with me inside the event you do not suppose that is a drawback?

i do not suppose there’s a drawback in any respect. i really feel the sport is in a great place. i really feel people have found be taught the method to devour issues barely completely different. they might not admire a basketball recreation as a lot as they used to again inside the occasions. The extra one factor’s round, the extra people take it with no consideration. We’re an limitless, enormous company. We transfer a quantity of issues on this earth, as NBA gamers, as a league, so at this level individuals are simply nit-pickin’ set off the numbers current the recognition, all of these scores, analytics how in type the NBA is as a consequence of individuals are intrigued and watching all features of the NBA — common season, summer time league, free agency, commerce deadlines, draft. They’re all, it seems to be like from the chatter and recognition of the league, that all people loves us, so i do not see the place a drawback is.

Do you suppose there is a notion problem in these common-season video games that do not get the further spotlight, that the widespread fan wonders simply how arduous any particular person is taking half in in a imply common-season recreation?

followers have discover your self to be extra entitled than something. so as that they’re starting to impeach our motives for the sport, or how we strategy the sport. these that do question — like who’re you? simply shut up and watch the sport tonight. We go as arduous as we have gotten to go. We go as arduous as our our bodies allow us to go at this level.

They solely see us when the video games come on, nonetheless the journey, the practices, the shootarounds — we’re continually transferring round. So every recreation’s not going to be a extreme-depth playoff recreation. it will be occasions the place as a fan you are going to should look at and see, “Oh, these guys traveled. that is the final recreation of a road journey. they might should dig barely deeper to win this recreation. It may be barely sloppy tonight. we will admire that with reference to the NBA as a consequence of there’s so many video games and these guys endure a quantity of transferring round all by way of the season.” So if followers simply cease taking us with no consideration, for one. cease placing an extreme quantity of strain on every athlete to stay as a lot as their requirements. however then all people admire what we convey to the desk. … (Laughs) it is seven, eight video games on an night. on daily basis. You not often get a time without work as a fan from the NBA, so be taught to understand the grind that we endure and cease simply wanting on the money and anticipating us to merely carry out for you and carry out from the requirements — these extreme expectations that you merely positioned on every thought of one of us as people. after which the dialogue throughout the sport wouldn’t be, wouldn’t be so — what’s the phrase i am inside the hunt for?


Yeah, tense. Diluted. it is narrative-pushed. it is agenda-primarily based. Biased. I simply suppose a quantity of stuff — as a consequence of we devour every thing always, we’re starting to take a quantity of stuff with no consideration. The NBA is taken beneath consideration one of them.

Do you only like the thought of that midseason match?

i do not hate it, i do not want it. it is what it is. It does not have an effect on the season. i really feel we’ll nonetheless go on about it as [part of] the common season. nonetheless the video games will imply barely bit extra, so it actually do not matter to me as prolonged as we’re taking half in.

You observe the sport as intently as anyone I’ve come throughout contained in the sport. Do you suppose the league goes to have a drawback this 12 months given how a lot depth there seems to be round Wembanyama — on the tanking factors coming again as a lot as a consequence of the forefront?

Nah, teams have been tanking for a minute. What, you are going to power them to be aggressive? i do not see a drawback with it, as a consequence of every 12 months there’s simply a few teams that will win it anyway. So the the rest of the league is making an try to get your hands on out the place they’re. and that is pretty good enterprise inside the event you are a staff and also you understand you are not going to be a playoff staff or play-in staff, you’ll possibly as properly try and play for [the No. 1 pick]. you’ll possibly as properly try and get simply a few of the blokes who in all likelihood will not get exact rotation minutes when you’ve obtained a great staff, get them some reps and maybe these guys can change their lives as properly.


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