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ESSAY: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving discuss their departure from Brooklyn

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Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Pray this is the last time we address this ... but no doubt it won’t be.

In separate discussions with media Wednesday, both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving talked about their departure from Brooklyn. Neither offered anything particularly newsy, but since the deadline deals will effect the franchise’s future for a long time, we are duty bound to report on what they said.

As one one might expect, Durant’s comments to Shams Charania were more edifying, more generous.

“Nah, hell nah. I want the best for that organization. I wanted the best for us every game. I hated it had to go down like that. I wasn’t trying to prove the Nets is a s—ty organization. I was trying to prove that the Nets are a great organization, that they care about their players, want the best for their players. Certain s— just didn’t work out. I understand that.

I’m not here trying to prove that the Nets was wrong, I think they did amazing by me the whole time I was there, not just with the trade. Coming off the Achilles injury, get back into playing — they made sure they were there for me every step of the way. And I appreciate that for life. I feel like we’ll be tied as family members for life regardless of how it finished.”

Durant admitted that Kyrie Irving’s decision to ask for a trade days before the deadline, which he had said was a surprise even to him, was the catalyst for his own trade request.

Once he asked out, I was just trying to figure out what direction the team is going in. Once I had no understanding of what direction we’re going in, I tried to make the best decision for me.

Shams did not follow up.

Meanwhile in Dallas, Kyrie Irving similarly was vague in his discussion of the trade that sent him to the Mavericks. His comments came after Dallas lost again Wednesday night, dropping them into the lottery.

“I didn’t expect to ask for a trade at that point in the season. So I wanted to finish out with Brooklyn, finish out with the season that we had going, and I didn’t get a chance to do that. So some of the goals I had previously this season had to be shifted, and I had to be more than willing, which I am, to be flexible and adaptable and live with the results, whether we make the playoffs or not.

“I just have to be at peace with where I am and which I am, and trust of the guys that I’m going to be in that war room with every single day. So, I’m appreciative of them giving me the opportunity. It’s been nothing but great here. And I’ve been at peace.”

“So it’s been good — outside of the losses, of course. We’d like to win every game.”

Irving did note that things are not what he expected...

“I think that now, again, just where we are in the season, and where other teams are positioned already, it kind of looks like a bit of a clusterf---, to be honest with you. Because we’re 37-40, and we’re trying to fight to get into the play-in game. It’s not the expectations I don’t think any of us had in that locker room.”

Excuse us for being skeptical, yes even cynical, about all this. Both players seem to suggest that events were thrust upon them, that they were nothing more than pawns in a big chess game. It’s a business, everyone can agree, but the lack of introspection can still grate. Irving didn’t want to concede that his myriad absences — and controversial stands — should have played a role in his negotiations for a new deal and Durant was unwilling to give it a go without Irving, who he apparently is no longer bosom buddies, despite how the Nets had catered to his every wish, got him back on the court despite what has often been a career-ending injury.

As for KD’s positive comments about the organization, they are helpful of course, but again, one can be skeptical, yes even cynical about them. Let’s not forget that twice in April 2022, when asked about Steve Nash by reporters, he offered glowing praise, pointing to the many hurdles Nash had to clear ... then four months later, in his first trade request, demanded Nash be fired in meeting with Joe Tsai. Did something change?

Irving’s comments were, as is often the case, were delivered in the passive voice. Things happened to him. He did not control them. He “didn’t get a chance to stay” in Brooklyn?!? It’s also hard to forget his comments the night of the Durant trade. “I’m glad he got out of there,” Irving said of Brooklyn.

So far, the Nets are 9-15 since Irving made his request for a trade on February 5 and will likely wind up the six seed. The Mavs are 8-14 since his arrival on February 8 and out of even the play-in while the Suns are 11-9 since the KD trade on February 9 (with Durant playing only four games), their final seed in the tight Western Conference uncertain.

On Tuesday night, at a gathering of several hundred season ticket-holders in Brooklyn, Durant and Irving’s names were mentioned a few times by current Nets players as they discussed their favorite players, etc. Each time, the mention evoked a smattering of boos among the fans, nothing harsh or vociferous. Instead, fans seemed more focused on who was there, particularly Mikal Bridges. They have moved on. Probably for the best.