It wasn’t about anything personally, per se, but when Kevin Durant talked with Nets brass about being traded out of Brooklyn, it was because he was worried about the culture that wasn’t quite right within the organization.
“My whole thing was I wanted everyone to be held accountable for their habits as a basketball player every day," Durant said Monday during Nets media day. "I felt things were getting swept under the rug because we’re injured or this guy’s not around or just the circumstances. I thought we could have fought through that a little more and focused on the guys that were here a little bit more.”
Indeed, the Nets’ 2021-22 season was hamstrung by numerous factors, from injuries to Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status, but one of the biggest issues KD pointed to was how the Nets, 27-15 when he hurt his knee in January, went into a tailspin and lost 10 in a row at one point.
“When I was out, I was like, we shouldn’t be losing some of these games regardless of who is on the floor. I was more so worried how we were approaching every day as a basketball team and I felt like we could have fought through a lot of the stuff that held us back,” Durant said. “Championship teams do that. You saw it with Steph Curry and the Warriors. I felt we had enough talent to do that, and that’s what brought up some doubt in my mind, was if we have adversity, can we push through that?”
To KD, it was more about the journey than the destination, and because he didn’t want to affect the season, he waited until this summer to tell Nets brass how he felt. It took all summer to work it out, but Durant is back, and he got his point across.
“It was a matter of team building. I know it was hard, but I thought we could fight through it, and I didn’t like it being about just me,” he said. “That’s what great teams do: regardless of anyone being out of the lineup, the train just keeps going. Steve (Nash) agreed with me, so it’s not like we were on different pages. I’m glad we were able to talk through it.”
Durant likes what the Nets did this summer, adding Royce O’Neale and Markieff Morris among others and re-upping some of their own free agents, and he believes the 2022-23 Nets will be better simply because of those who are back that went through the fire last year.
“I think that with all the adversity we had last year, guys will be working to be better and not make that a trend,” Durant said
Clearly, in his mind, the free agents the Nets did add (including the opted-n Kyrie Irving) prove that the chaos in Brooklyn didn’t deter anyone outside the organization, and Durant isn’t worried about anyone believing the Nets are an untenable rubber band about to snap at any time.
“We got some good guys here that chose to come here this summer, so I guess it didn’t matter to them too much,” Durant sad. “We know how the NBA is; it’s a business, and once business is involved, sometimes relationships may hit forks in the road, but at the end of the day, people understand what we bring to the court and understand how we play. We want to bring respect to our name on the court, around the league. The other stuff we’ll figure out, and that’s just the nature of the game at this point.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN