Now, months later and with the Nets in a tenuous position at best, Durant explained the reasons behind his request in an interview with TNT's Chris Haynes. Basically, the former MVP said he wanted out from the Nets because he was unhappy with the level of intensity around him and how much the team's failures could be ascribed to him:
"It wasn’t difficult at all to request a trade because it was about ball," Durant told B/R. "I went to them and was like, ‘Yo, I don't like how we are preparing. I don't like shootarounds. I like practices. I need more. I want to work on more s—t. Hold me accountable. Get on my ass in film if that's going to help you get on everybody else’s head. I want to do more closeouts. I want to work on more shell drills at practice.’
"This was the type of s—t I was coming at them with. It wasn't like, ‘Yo, y'all need to make sure everybody around me can make my life easier.’ Hell nah, I want to make everybody else’s life easier. Ask Steve Nash, you can go call him right now. I would say, ‘Yo, I need more closeout drills. We need to practice more.’ That's what I was on.
"I wasn’t feeling that, and nobody was on that same vibe with me. Jacque Vaughn is. I had some complaints in the summer, and my complaints were not about just me; it was about how we are moving as a unit. I want us to be respected out here in the basketball world. I don’t want players to look at us and say, ‘Oh man, these [expletive] are full of s—t. That’s not the type of team I want to be on.’ So when we’re all playing like s—t, you know the one person they’re going to look at. That’s why I requested a trade."
Durant also discussed why the team fell flat on its face last season, admitting the team didn't have "good preparation" or "great energy," something he feels is changing under new Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn.
Kevin Durant's Nets are still struggling
It's been something of a nightmare season for the Nets, even with Durant looking good as ever with 30.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Kyrie Irving, Durant's right-hand man throughout his Nets tenure, remains suspended for sharing and refusing to denounce an antisemitic video on social media, though he's reportedly nearing a return. Ben Simmons, the Nets' ostensible third star, has been in and out of the lineup due to a knee injury.
Above all, the team has a 6-9 record in a season they were supposed to be contenders, one year after finishing 44-38 and getting swept in the first round, ending a season they were supposed to be contenders.
Maybe it's unfair to put that on Durant, though he did choose to join the Nets and clearly had a say in many of their major decisions. He certainly seems to think that way, as he made a point of noting the talent currently around him and acknowledging the expectations he still faces.
He also insisted he is having a very good time with the Nets:
“Look at our starting lineup. Edmond Sumner, Royce O’Neale, Joe Harris, [Nic] Claxton and me. It’s not disrespect, but what are you expecting from that group?" Durant said to B/R. “You expect us to win because I’m out there. So if you’re watching from that lens, you’re expecting us to play well because No. 7 is out there.
"I’m really having a good time. I wish y'all could hear me talk during the game. If I got mic’d up more, people would stop asking me if I'm happy or not. I'm enjoying every moment I get to step on this f—king court, and part of it is because I tore my Achilles. And the pandemic, I didn’t know if we were going to play again. I didn't know if I was going to play again.
"I was just like, 'This can't be it for me.' I have to really enjoy every single moment I'm out here. That’s part of being a pro. I have to be coachable, I have to knock down shots, I have to be aggressive, and I have to talk to my teammates the right way. That's the journey and the battle."
Given that he's in the first year of a four-year, $198 million contract extension, it's probably good that Durant is happy. We'll see if that changes if the Nets don't turn it around this season.