Whatever someone chooses to think of Kevin Durant, two things should be unquestioned: He loves to play the game, and he wants to play the game at the highest level and push himself.
He told Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report it was the second part of that — the Nets were not preparing in a way that would get them to the highest levels — that led to his summer trade request.
“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***. 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*** 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.”
It’s hard not to see that as a dig at Steve Nash’s coaching style. However, Durant didn’t demand a coaching change until it provided some last bit of leverage for his failed trade request. Durant went on to say things are different under Jacque Vaughn, guys are being held accountable and are being pushed.
But this roster can only do so much, especially with Kyrie Irving still serving his suspension and Ben Simmons coming off the bench as a backup five.
“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.
“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****** 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.”
Read the entire interview (only so much can be captured here). Haynes earns players’ trust and gets them to talk openly — and Durant does. KD’s passion for the game comes through.
What is harder to pick up from the interview: How much longer will Durant be happy in Brooklyn, and when might the losing and struggles weigh on him and lead to another trade request? Talk to any sources around the league and you hear the vultures are circling: Other GMs think everything is going to fall apart in Brooklyn and they are just waiting for their chance to swoop in and start picking apart the carcass. It may not be until next offseason, but teams are watching and waiting.
Until then, Durant says he is having fun, and what is unquestioned is his All-NBA level of play so far this young season.