Kevin Durant said he was upset with how his partnership with Kyrie Irving ended after their fourth season together on the Brooklyn Nets was cut short.
“I was upset that we couldn’t finish. I thought that we had some good momentum. We were finally building the culture that we always wanted,” Durant said Thursday at his introductory press conference with the Phoenix Suns, courtesy of Erik Slater of ClutchPoints.
He added, “It was a blow to our team. It just took away our identity. He was a huge, huge part of what we do. He’s a Hall of Fame player. A great, great player that can do everything on the floor, and we relied on that. So without him, we didn’t have a clear identity. That was tough for me to stomach.”
Irving requested a trade on Feb. 3 and was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks two days later after reportedly reaching a standoff with the Nets over the terms of a potential contract extension.
The Nets then traded Durant to the Suns in a deadline-day blockbuster, bringing Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, four unprotected future first-round picks, and a future pick swap back to Brooklyn.
Durant says the team’s shortcomings during his time there simply came down to availability, particularly for the Big Three of him, Irving, and James Harden. The trio played just 16 total games together from when the Nets acquired Harden in January 2021 until they traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers in February 2022.
“We just didn’t get on the court enough,” Durant said. “I think when you’ve seen James, Kyrie, and myself, it was amazing basketball – for (16) games, though. In order for you to win a championship and be a great team, you just need more time on the floor.”
Durant added that he’s hopeful to return “soon after” the All-Star break from a knee injury that’s kept him out for over a month.
The 13-time All-Star is averaging 29.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 39 games this season.
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