Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors

Does Kyrie Irving trade affirm Kevin Durant’s mistake leaving Warriors?

After the Brooklyn Nets traded All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks, did Kevin Durant make a mistake leaving the Golden State Warriors in 2019?

The Brooklyn Nets‘ latest attempt at building a super team to win multiple NBA championships has backfired tremendously once again. They brought in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving via free agency in the summer of 2019. They then followed that up by acquiring James Harden from the Houston Rockets midway through the 2020-21 season.

At the 2022 trade deadline, the Nets traded Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers. Just days ahead of the deadline this year, the team dealt Irving to the Dallas Mavericks after he requested a trade this past Friday.

Now, that leaves Durant as the lone remaining piece of that super team. It remains to be seen if that will be the case after the Feb. 9 trade deadline. That leaves the question — did Durant make a mistake leaving the Golden State Warriors in 2019?

That is what ESPN analyst Jalen Rose believes. During “NBA Countdown” on Sunday, Rose said that Durant is “gonna regret leaving the Warriors.”

“They just won two championships, he was the Finals MVP, and both of these guys had something to prove,” said Rose. “Kyrie wanted to prove that he can win without LeBron [James]. KD wanted to prove he that, like Stephen A. [Smith] said, that wasn’t the weakest move by a superstar ever. So they teamed up in Brooklyn to do something special, and they’ve come up short.”

Did Kevin Durant make a mistake leaving Warriors, betting on Kyrie Irving?

Did Durant make a mistake leaving the Warriors?

For fans looking in hindsight, with the Nets not making it past the second round of the NBA playoffs with Durant, Irving, and Harden, some of them would believe that he made an error leaving Golden State.

Irving missed time due to a variety of reasons during his time in Brooklyn with Durant, such as injury, refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when New York City had a mandate, and his spreading of an antisemitic film on social media that led to his suspension after failing to apologize multiple times. Durant missed time as well during his time with the Nets, most notably due to injuries.

Then, there’s obviously the fact that Durant made it to the NBA Finals in each of his three seasons with the Warriors, where he twice held the Larry O’Brien trophy and the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP award. The Warriors recently won an NBA championship before Durant, as they defeated the Boston Celtics in six games last season.

But when asking Durant, he said multiple times that he wanted to play elsewhere. From his introductory press conference with the Nets in 2019, to an interview with Michael Lee of the Washington Post (subscription required) last December.

“It was another pivot,” Durant said, h/t “I just wanted to play ball somewhere else. But a lot of people see it as I’m chasing something. And I think it probably stems when I said, ‘I don’t want to be number two no more.’ I was number two in high school, in the draft. But what I had to explain to people was, I had just lost in the Finals. I wanted to go back and win the Finals. It wasn’t about: ‘I want to be the best ever. I want to be better than LeBron or [Michael Jordan].’ I don’t give a s— about that. I want to wake up every day and do what I do. If we win, I know that stuff comes with me being the best that I can be.”

This past offseason, Durant did request a trade from the Nets that sent shockwaves throughout the NBA world. The Warriors were linked to Durant, as were other teams like the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat (both of whom were reportedly on his list of preferred destinations). Ultimately, Durant remained with the Nets.

It will be interesting to see what the Nets do in regards to the team now. They did acquire Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick, and 2027 and 2029 second-round picks from the Mavericks. Will the Nets try to make another addition to pair alongside Durant? Will they pursue a trade for him?

Fans and media personalities may feel that Durant made a mistake leaving the Warriors. But Durant has said he wanted to play elsewhere after becoming a free agent in 2019, and that was the decision he made.

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