Durant was reportedly pursued by the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, the Toronto Raptors and, most recently, the Memphis Grizzlies. His decision to stay with Brooklyn comes two weeks after Durant reiterated his request to be traded and told Nets owner Joe Tsai to choose between him or Marks and Coach Steve Nash, according to the Athletic.
Tsai responded with a tweet showing her support for the front office and the coaching staff.
Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.
– Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) 8 August 2022
A two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP, Durant will continue a tenure in Brooklyn that has been defined by drama.
Durant, who left Golden State to team up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn shortly after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 Finals, tried to pull the plug on the venture just three years later. Hours before the The NBA’s free agency period opened on June 30 and just two weeks after the Warriors won their first title since his departure, Durant formally requested a trade after an exhausting 2021-22 season, which ended with a a humiliating first-round sweep by the Celtics.
Durant’s Brooklyn tenure unfolded obscurely, in part because it aligned so closely with the corona virus pandemic. The four-time scoring champion sat out the 2019-20 season while recovering from his Achilles injury, and he opted against rushing back for the bubble staged in Orlando. During the condensed 2020-21 season, Durant was limited to 35 games due to injuries and coronavirus protocol absences before making a spectacular postseason run that ended with a second-round loss to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks.
Last season, Durant again missed time with an injury that limited him to 55 games, and then he turned in one of the most forgettable postseason performances of his career against the Celtics.
On the way, the Nets swung a blockbuster with the Houston Rockets for James Harden in January 2021, then reversed course of trading the all-star guard to the Philadelphia 76ers this past February.
A key driver of Brooklyn’s instability has been Irving, who has missed significant time over the past three seasons with injuries, personal absences and eligibility issues related to his refusal to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. While Durant was careful to always defend Irving publicly, it was clear the Nets needed major changes after their disappointing showing against the Celtics. In one sign of how quickly Brooklyn has unraveled, Durant’s trade request came less than a year after he signed a four-year, $198 million extension.
In the beginning, Durant seemed to view the Nets as an opportunity to be the face of his own franchise again, expand his business and media presence in a major market and build a roster filled with his friends. Brooklyn has vowed to cultivate a player-friendly culture, even deferring to its stars on things like playing time and injury management.
That philosophical approach backfired in the 2021-22 season, as Irving’s vaccination saga overshadowed the Nets’ season, contributed to Harden’s departure and placed an enormous burden on Durant. Organizational inexperience was the main cause of many of Brooklyn’s shortcomings: Tsai only took full ownership of the franchise in 2019, Marks was a relatively new executive with no previous experience managing A-list superstars, and Steve Nash was a first-time coach when he. was hired in 2020.
Time and again after landing Durant and Irving, the Nets looked like they bit off more than they could chew. While Brooklyn had the NBA’s second-highest payroll last season — behind only Golden State — it was the only one of 16 playoff teams that didn’t win a single game in the postseason.
Even so, Durant played at an MVP-caliber level when healthy during his Nets tenure, averaging 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game last season. Yet with just one playoff series win during his time in Brooklyn, the undisputed highlight of Durant’s post-Achilles period was his. central role on USA Basketball’s gold medal winning team at the Tokyo Olympics. Otherwise, he was forced to watch as major rivals LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry won championships while the Nets repeatedly fell short of expectations.