It’s Kevin Durant’s other trade that will haunt his career forever

It’s Kevin Durant’s other trade that will haunt his career forever

Kevin Durant deserves no hate from the haters. He got here, he noticed, and he didn’t conquer, however he did present as much as play each single evening in Brooklyn and past, and delivered one of many greatest pictures within the not-so-storied historical past of New York ball.

He made that fallaway 2-pointer with one second left in Recreation 7 that felt like a 3-pointer to everybody watching, a dagger that might have knocked out the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks if not for what Durant known as “my big-ass foot.” His big-ass foot that was barely on the road. In 30 years of writing concerning the metropolis recreation as a columnist on this market, I’d by no means seen a shot extra clutch than that one.

The remainder of Brooklyn’s two-year mess, not counting Durant’s yr spent recovering from the torn Achilles he suffered in a dropping three-peat bid with Golden State?

Go forward and blame Kyrie Irving and James Harden – however largely Irving – for turning the Huge Three into what would be the Huge Flee by the point the Nets honor Durant’s commerce request. Go forward and stuff proprietor Joe Tsai and basic supervisor Sean Marks right into a capsule that may be hurled straight into the solar for presiding over one of many extra embarrassing franchise face-plants in all of American sports activities.

Kevin Durant (left) and Kyrie Irving on April 23, 2022.Getty Photos

I imply what, precisely, did Marks find out about constructing a championship workforce from Gregg Popovich in San Antonio?

However as free as Durant is to pursue private {and professional} happiness – “IM ME, I DO ME, AND I CHILL” KD proclaims to his 20 million Twitter followers – he additionally must be held accountable for his selections, similar to Marks, Tsai, and Irving have to be held accountable for theirs. And by asking out of Brooklyn on Thursday, Durant made what was lengthy suspected official:

He executed maybe the worst commerce in NBA historical past. That belongs on his resume proper together with the 2 NBA Finals MVP awards, the one league MVP award and his rock-solid standing as an all-time nice.

By exchanging Stephen Curry for Irving, Durant value himself at the very least one championship ring, if not two or extra down the highway, and betrayed the imaginative and prescient he had six years in the past within the Hamptons, the place he hosted a Golden State delegation that had simply eradicated his Thunder workforce within the playoffs. The Warriors satisfied Durant that he would match proper in and switch their program right into a dynasty. It could be an ideal marriage of selfless champs (2015) and a famous person in want of ring validation – so long as that famous person may ignore the noise about becoming a member of the stacked workforce that had simply overwhelmed his.

And man, that noise was intense, coming from all instructions. Whether or not the residual results of that criticism and the general public dispute with Draymond Inexperienced conspired to ship KD wandering off to a brand new journey in 2019, and an opportunity to show he may assemble his personal winner, doesn’t a lot matter anymore.

All that issues now’s this: Durant had an opportunity to spend the remainder of his prime with Curry, the best shooter ever, a professional’s professional and the uncommon franchise participant who was genuinely keen to imagine the function of Robin to Durant’s Batman after enjoying Batman himself. Ditching that associate for Irving, who had ditched LeBron James (and the fabled Celtics), by no means appeared like a good suggestion. Three years and one other Golden State title later, it looks like a worse concept than Brooklyn’s 2013 commerce for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

However Durant didn’t simply make a Curry-for-Irving swap. He additionally traded Steve Kerr for Steve Nash (through Kenny Atkinson and Jacque Vaughn), Bob Myers for Marks, and a authentic office tradition of shared team-first values for a pretend one which bounced from participant empowerment to participant enablement to no matter Marks decides it is going to be by lunchtime tomorrow.

Durant did every little thing he may to make it work on the courtroom, and his one-man efficiency within the 2021 Milwaukee collection was, effectively, basketball in its highest kind. It was artwork. It shouldn’t be forgotten. It received’t be forgotten.

Possibly a wholesome Irving and a wholesome Harden would have helped Durant win all of it final yr. Possibly not. Unchallenged is the truth that a wholesome Durant and Irving had been swept within the first spherical this yr by the Celtics and a former Nash assistant, Ime Udoka, one more star the Nets let stroll out the door.

Additionally unchallenged is the truth that Irving’s Irving-ness arrange this epic fail, and compelled his overmatched employers to make selections that Durant didn’t like. So after Kyrie opted in, KD opted out. The New Jersey Nets had been lengthy outlined by dysfunction and the comedian reduction they supplied the remainder of the league, at the very least till Jason Kidd confirmed up (although Kidd in the end demanded a commerce too). However Durant’s fastbreak from Brooklyn takes the organizational cake.

It’s laborious to consider Durant will double-down on his mistake and attempt to take Irving with him to wherever he lands. Both means, his partnership with the purpose guard already belongs to the ages.

Stephen Curry (left) and Kevin Durant through the 2019 NBA playoffs.Getty Photos

Again within the day, Charlotte traded Kobe Bryant. Seattle traded Scottie Pippen. Milwaukee traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Philadelphia traded Wilt Chamberlain. St. Louis traded Invoice Russell.

Kevin Durant matched all of them by buying and selling Steph Curry for a participant who’s the polar reverse of Steph Curry. And that deal can be a haunting a part of his document ceaselessly.

About Muji Sakawari

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