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Durant reportedly told Nets he wanted trade to Phoenix right after Irving deal

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 30: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on against the Los Angeles Lakers at Barclays Center on January 30, 2023 in New York City. The Nets defeated the Lakers 121-104. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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Even before Kyrie Irving was officially traded to Dallas, teams kept their eyes on Kevin Durant. Once the first domino fell, everyone thought he was on his way out, but sources I spoke to expected a summer deal, there were too many moving parts to get it done in a few days.

Nope, Durant was traded to Phoenix in a blockbuster that changes the title picture. Now Mark Stein breaks down how this all went down in his latest newsletter.

League sources say that Durant told the Nets shortly after Irving’s abrupt departure that he wanted to be traded immediately to Phoenix if a deal could be struck — but without the public knowing that he had requested a trade for the second time in eight months.

The Nets complied. After three-and-a-half seasons in Brooklyn filled with much more tumult than success, Irving’s sudden trade demand on Feb. 3 was indeed the breaking point for Nets owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks. But they did it KD’s way and still got the deal they wanted.

Phoenix was always rumored to be Durant’s preferred destination, and with new owner Mat Ishbia stepping in and willing to pay up — not only in terms of picks and players out the door, but this trade added $45 million in payroll and luxury tax payments to the bottom line — the deal got done. Stein reports the Suns called the Nets about Kyrie Irving as well hoping to bring the duo West together, but the deal never happened.

Just landing Durant has turned the Suns into a Western Conference contender on paper (it will be after the All-Star break before we see them all together and decide just how good they are this season).

While there was plenty of friction between Irving and the Nets’ front office/ownership, the relationship with Durant was much more smooth and professional. It wasn’t enough to get him to stay in Brooklyn, but there were not the hard feelings that came with Irving. Both sides knew it was time for the Durant era in Brooklyn to end.

Now Durant looks to add to his legacy in Phoenix, and the Nets are rebuilding, but with a nice collection of role players and picks to start with.