In interviews with Marc J. Spears of Andscape and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, Kevin Durant laid out in greater detail than ever before why he requested a trade and how despite the Nets early season problems and controversies, he is living the good life and is decidely not miserable.
“I’m incredible. Loving life right now. I don’t think the world understands that. Maybe I need to get mic’ed up more,” Durant told Andscape at Golden 1 Center following the Kings historic blowout of the Nets. “Maybe I need to have more fluff pieces written about me. Smile more in pictures. Maybe people might understand that I ain’t miserable in life. Like [TNT NBA analyst] Charles [Barkley] said I’m ‘Mr. Miserable.’ I guess because I don’t [smile] enough for the cameras. But I’m doing incredible, man.”
“I’m really having a good time,” he told Bleacher Report. “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.”
Beyond that self-assessment, Durant told Spears and Haynes about why he requested a trade, essentially because neither he nor the team was being pushed hard enough in practices and that there was a lack of seriousness.
“It wasn’t difficult at all to request a trade because it was about ball,” Durant told Haynes. “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.”
Durant famously requested the trade on June 30, literally hours before he was to begin a four-year, $198 million contract. Seven weeks — and two meetings with Joe Tsai in London and Los Angeles later — he and the organization agreed to continue their “partnership.” Since then, the team has gotten off to a 6-9 record, Steve Nash was fired and Kyrie Irving suspended for promoting an antisemitic video.
As he did on The Etcs podcast this week, KD offered positives on how Jacque Vaughn and the Nets coaching staff are handling things. He told Haynes:
“Coaches have been doing a great job, regardless of this loss tonight and last game. I think we’ve been preparing ourselves well. Guys want to win. We’re out there playing as hard as we can. That’s really what I need.
“That’s what I said last summer. I didn’t feel like we had those things last year like good preparation, great energy to start real team chemistry, and I feel like we’re building that right now. We got some guys in and out the lineup, but I think guys have been figuring out their roles within that. And it’s been fun, regardless of games like tonight.”
Durant who had praised Nash’s ability to weather all the Nets storms in April then sought his removal in August said he had told Nash he needed more.
“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.’ he told Haynes. “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.”
On Irving, KD told Spears that he hopes things get resolved and Irving is happy but admitted it’s out of his control.
“I think about all my teammates and how they’re doing and what they’re going through as NBA players. I want the best for everybody. Ky, the organization, I just want everything to be, all of us to be aligned, he said. “It was a rough situation and I felt like both sides learned more about each other, so, hopefully, going forward, he can just move on. We can move on, just play ball. I miss seeing him out here. I miss playing with him. But most of that stuff is out of my control, so I try not to focus on it too much. Just worry about what’s in the locker room.”
Will it work out? asked Spears in a follow up.
“Yeah. I can’t think s— ain’t working out just because we’ve been through some adversity, some bumps on the road. We just keep fighting until we can’t no more. That’s how I look at it.”
He also talked about how he wants to inspire his teammates no matter who they are.
“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 asked of 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.”
And he once again took a swipe at those who question his leadership, particularly with Irving.
“I’m not a leader? What the f—k does that mean?” Durant asked Haynes. “A lot of people say I’m not a leader because I didn’t tell Kyrie to get vaccinated. Come on. Or I didn’t condemn Kyrie for leaving the team, going out and living his life. I’m not about to tell a grown-ass man what he can and can’t do with his own life and dissect his views or how he thinks about s—t...
“I don’t need to show or tell everybody what I’m doing with my teammates so y’all can pump me up and say, ‘Yeah, KD, you’re the boss, you’re the leader.’ These other [expletives] need that. I don’t. I don’t come to you and say, ‘Haynes, write this story about me.’ I don’t do that to nobody. But I come here and respect y’all. I talk to y’all like a real one, even after a blowout [loss].”
He also seemed patient in his discussion of how to help Ben Simmons through a tough beginning in Brooklyn.
“Just keep encouraging,” he told Spears. “More than anything, that comes from within. Internally figure that out. And we can encourage and be there for him as much as we can, but it’s all about the individual and I think he wants it. So, you’ve got to be patient, but also know that there’s some sense of urgency as well. So, it’s a balance you got to have with him. But most of the time, most of it’s going to come internally.”
- Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant discusses teammates Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, why he backed off trade request - Marc J. Spears - Andscape
- B/R Exclusive: Kevin Durant Explains Trade Request, Coaching Frustrations and More - Chris Haynes - Bleacher Report
- Nets’ Kevin Durant bothered by claims he isn’t a leader - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Kevin Durant is pointing out the obvious - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- KD opens up about trade request, frustrations with Nets, desire to improve - Colin Martin - SNY