I think KD demanded this trade because of Kyrie. Think about it: if he was happy that Kyrie opted-in, would he have requested out? No. If his goal was to run it back with Kyrie while adding Ben Simmons, it was already mission complete.
We thought KD was about to request a trade if the Nets failed to reach a deal with Kyrie.
But what if KD wanted to separate from Kyrie, and was hoping the Nets would do it for him?
I think it was the exact opposite situation of what everyone thought it was: KD was not trying to exert his leverage to get the Nets to give Kyrie a long-term deal. He was trying to get them to move Kyrie out.
What if KD made a deal with the Nets like, “Hey, look: I’m 34 years old. I’ve torn my Achilles in the past. I don’t know how much longer my window will be open. I don’t want to play with Kyrie this year. I can’t waste my age 34 season with this dude. He’s unreliable. I can’t count on him. If you guys can’t get rid of him, will you just trade me?”
And the Nets were like, “Sure.”
Why do you think the Nets were so accepting of KD’s trade demand? It was like, “KD demanded a trade,” and the Nets were like, “Yes sir. Coming right up!”
KD has 4 years left on his contract. And the Nets are willing to trade him just because he says he wants to be traded? No pushback? No begging and pleading him to stay? What’s up with that?
I think the Nets tried to move Kyrie, but the only offer on the table was from the Lakers and it included Russell Westbrook, and that warranted an emphatic “NO DICE” from Kevin Durant. So because the Nets couldn’t trade Kyrie, KD said, “Okay, that’s it for me. I’m done with this experiment.”
I think KD’s rationale for asking out was that he wants to split up with Kyrie. He’s 34 and he doesn’t want to spend another precious year of his prime not knowing if he can count on Kyrie to actually show up.
I really do. I don’t think it was because of intractable differences with the Nets’ front office, the more I think about it. The Nets gave him everything he could’ve ever wanted. The Nets gave him $38 million in 2020 when he missed the whole entire season recovering his Achilles. They signed DeAndre Jordan, just like he and Kyrie wanted. They fired Kenny Atkinson and hired Steve Nash as head coach for him. They traded away a king’s ransom to bring in KD’s old teammate James Harden.
The Nets could not have been more accommodating for KD. It’s not possible. What more could they have done for him? Nothing.
I think it was Kyrie. I think Colin Cowherd was right: KD is done with Kyrie.
I don’t see any other explanation, really. I think KD is trying to separate from Kyrie, and this is the only way it can be done at this point. Kyrie opted in, which means he has to be traded. The Lakers are the only team that wants to trade for Kyrie, but accepting Westbrook for Kyrie is completely unacceptable to both KD and the Nets. So it’s basically impossible for the Nets to trade Kyrie right now.
And then KD requests a trade.
Pretty easy to connect the dots, if you ask me. Once it was certain that Kyrie couldn’t be traded, that was that: KD was done in Brooklyn.
Now, because this is KD, it’s worth asking: could he have salvaged this situation if he was just more confrontational, and just talked to Kyrie about it, man-to-man?
Like, “Look, man, you know you’re my brother. But I gotta know I can count on you out there. You gotta promise me you’re gonna be all-in for this next season. I know you have concerns that are bigger than basketball, but we have the chance to do something special here. I gotta get 100% from you.”
Maybe he’s tried it, and he can’t get through to Kyrie. Maybe Kyrie won’t listen to him, or anybody. But I don’t think Kyrie is that hard-headed, or stupid. I think Kyrie is a smart guy, even though he says some questionable stuff from time to time.
I just have a suspicion that KD doesn’t have the balls to confront him and really put it all out there on the table. I don’t think KD is the type of guy to have that man-to-man talk and hash out differences.
It’s why it all blew up in OKC (at least partially): I don’t think KD was willing to assert his will in the locker room with Russell Westbrook. He never established himself as the alpha dog on that team and made it clear to Westbrook: “I’m the #1, you’re the #2. The offense goes through ME first, okay? That’s how we’re going to win championships.”
I think he ran from his problems and went to Golden State to take the easy, guaranteed route to a Championship.
And then, guess what? He only lasted three years in Golden State. Why? Because instead of confronting Draymond and airing his grievances with him, he withdrew and brooded. He turtled. And then when it came time for free agency in the summer, he just left.
If he could’ve worked out his differences with Draymond Green, he could’ve stayed in Golden State and they would’ve probably won more Championships. Obviously not in 2020 because KD had blown out his Achilles in the 2019 Finals, but that team would absolutely still be elite. Hell, they just won the damn Championship without him!
Now, there’s a chance he would’ve left Golden State no matter what after 2019. Draymond, in his conversation with KD, said straight up, “I thought you were done with us after year 2.”
Part of it was certainly that KD wanted to leave Golden State and prove he could win on his own. Maybe he was never going to find fulfillment with the Warriors because he knew, deep down, they had stacked the deck and won cheap rings. This is why I don’t really blame him for leaving Golden State; because we all know those were cheap rings–“Yeah, but” rings. I respect the fact that he left in order to prove he could win legitimate rings. He’s failed thus far, but at least he tried.
So maybe KD was always destined to leave Golden State, regardless of whether he patched over his relationship with Draymond Green. But we do know that there were unresolved issues with Draymond in Golden State, and that they did play at least a partial role in KD leaving the Warriors.
Look, I just think this has been a recurring thing with Kevin Durant: that he’s non-confrontational and perhaps has trouble asserting his dominance, squashing beef, settling differences, being a leader, etc.
This is why, for as great a player as he is, in my view, he’ll never be LeBron. He can never be LeBron. LeBron is an undisputed alpha. LeBron is the locker room leader, the floor general, the shot-caller. When LeBron is on your team, there’s no question about who everybody looks up to, and who everybody defers to. When crisis hits, everybody looks to LeBron for answers. Everybody knows he’s the boss.
I don’t think KD has that presence, that authoritative personality; that gravitas. This PRESENCE, beyond just basketball ability, is what makes a true alpha superstar. Chris Paul has it, Jimmy Butler has it, Giannis has it, Trae Young has it, Steph has it in his own way, Draymond Green has it. Westbrook even has it. Luka Doncic has it. Dame, I think, has it. Embiid has it.
Kobe had it. Michael Jordan had it. Shaq had it (which is why he and Kobe clashed). Magic had it.
There are some some superstars, however, that don’t have it. I don’t think Kawhi has it. I don’t think Jayson Tatum has it. These guys are insanely great basketball players, but I don’t think they have the PERSONALITIES to be true alphadog superstars.
(Does Jokic have it? I’m not sure. It’s tough to tell. I think so, but I’m not 100% convinced).
I don’t think AD has that alphadog personality, either, and that’s part of the reason he works so well with LeBron: because basketball-wise, AD is elite, but I don’t think he has that commanding presence to be a true #1 on his own team, nor do I think he wants that responsibility. LeBron serves as the emotional, patriarchal leader of that team and AD falls into line behind him. And AD is cool with that.
I don’t think KD has it, either. I think he would rather just play basketball, and that’s it. Let someone else handle all the problems that inevitably crop up. I think the fact that he didn’t have to be this emotional and authoritative leader with the Warriors was a major reason he went there in the first place–along with the fact that it was a perfect fit for his skillset and guaranteed rings. I think the fact that Golden State had Steph and Draymond to be the emotional leaders of the team was attractive to KD–he figured, “Great, I don’t have to be that guy and take on those responsibilities. I can just ball.”
But he still eventually walked out the Warriors.
I think KD runs from confrontation. I think he’s the kind of guy who will let issues fester rather than embracing them head-on. And then when those issues boil over and turn into serious problems, he bolts.
Like I said earlier, I don’t know if he’s had that man-to-man talk with Kyrie. Maybe he already has and I’ve got him sized up all wrong. Maybe he’s tried to get Kyrie to buy in and Kyrie just won’t. Maybe KD has exhausted all possible options.
But I suspect not. My suspicion is that instead of airing all his grievances with Kyrie, having that mano-a-mano conversation and hashing out all their issues, he’s bailing.