The Kevin Durant Era in Brooklyn appears to be over.
Durant requested a trade from the Nets on Thursday, Newsday has confirmed. According to ESPN, Durant made the request directly to Nets team owner Joe Tsai.
Durant’s bombshell completely upends the free-agent market (which opened on Thursday) as the Nets prepare to move one of the most valuable assets in the league.
Durant, who signed a four-year, $194-million contract extension with the Nets last summer that is set to start this upcoming season, has reportedly presented the Nets a very short list of teams he would like to join.
The Miami Heat and the Phoenix Suns are on that list, according to ESPN. Durant does not have a no-trade clause, so the Nets are under no obligation to pick a team on his list – or to trade him at all.
But the NBA is a star’s league, and when a star wants to go he usually goes.
Nets general manager Sean Marks is working with Durant and Durant’s business manager Rich Kleiman on finding a trade, Kleiman told ESPN.
Durant’s request comes just three days after teammate and friend Kyrie Irving decided to opt into the final year of his contract that will pay him $36.9 million. Neither Durant nor Irving, according to several reports, had talked to the Nets since Irving announced via Twitter that he was opting in.
“See you in the fall,” Irving wrote on Twitter when he opted in. But it seems likely that the Nets will try to trade Irving, too, perhaps in the same deal as Durant so the two pals can stay together and play together.
The Nets will likely be seeking a mega-haul for Durant, who at age 33 is still one of the top players in the world.
This is far from the first time that Durant has shaken up the basketball world. Thursday was the three-year anniversary of his announcement that he and Irving had picked the Nets over a bunch of suitors, including the Knicks. Brooklyn was supposed to become the center of the NBA universe.
At the time, multiple championships were being projected for the Nets. Now, it appears that the KD-Kyrie era will end with the Nets never having advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
The Nets were swept out of the first round by Boston this past season.
The Nets, who did not comment on the Durant situation, did confirm one move on Thursday.
Brooklyn acquired forward Royce O’Neale from the Utah Jazz in exchange for a 2023 first-round draft pick.
O'Neale, 29, averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds with the Jazz this past season, and is under contract for this year plus a non-guaranteed year for 2023-24.
“We are excited to welcome Royce and his family to Brooklyn,” Marks said in a statement. “He is a versatile wing defender and floor spacer whose tenacious style of play fits the fabric of the team we are building.”
Exactly what kind of team the Nets will be building – or rebuilding without Durant and possibly Irving – remains to be seen.
ESPN reported that the Nets will re-sign guard Patty Mills and center Nic Claxton, both on two-year deals. Mills will get $14.5 million and Claxton will earn $20 million, ESPN reported. The Nets did not confirm those pacts.
Durant is a 12-time All-Star and four-time NBA scoring champion. In 2021-22, he averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 55 games (he missed six weeks with an MCL injury).
Durant, Irving and James Harden were supposed to be a big three that led the Nets to a championship. But Irving ran afoul of New York City’s COVID-19 mandates when he refused to get vaccinated and only appeared in 29 regular-season games.
Harden grew disgruntled and forced a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. Now the Nets will start over with the key player they got in that trade, Ben Simmons, although Simmons never played for Brooklyn after the deal because of a back injury. He is supposed to be ready for training camp.
Tsai has spent millions in luxury taxes in what has so far been a fruitless quest to bring an NBA championship to Brooklyn. The Nets will have to start again with the players they have under contract and the players they get back in a Durant deal.