Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant Defend Trade Demands

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant Defend Trade Demands

Dave McMenaminESPN Writer3 minute read

SALT LAKE CITY — Returning to the same location just weeks after their individual trade demands ended a tantalizing era of Brooklyn Nets basketball, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have defended their decisions.

And according to Durant, the roster shake-up they initiated actually benefits the NBA.

“I don’t think it’s bad for the league,” Durant said Saturday at his star player’s press conference. “It brings more attention to the league, more people are more excited. The tweets I get; the news hits we got from me being traded, Kyrie being traded; it just brings more attention to the league and that’s really what rakes in the money, when you get more attention. So I think it’s great for the league, to be honest.

Irving was making $38.9 million in the final year of his contract with the Nets and was seeking a long-term extension when contract talks broke down and he asked to be traded. Brooklyn found a willing business partner in the Dallas Mavericks within days and made the deal to send Irving.

Durant, who was in the middle of a four-year, $198 million contract with the Nets, asked to be traded next — going back to a request he originally made during the offseason. The day before the trade deadline, Brooklyn brokered a deal with the Phoenix Suns to send the former MVP to the Western Conference.

Irving balked at the backlash he and Durant received for taking matters into their own hands.

“It’s a bad situation,” Irving said Saturday. “Why doesn’t anyone have the ability to request trades? That’s my question. When did it get terrible to make good business decisions for yourself and your happiness and peace of mind? All Employers that you won’t get along with, so if you have the option of going somewhere else and you’re doing it legally, I don’t think there’s a problem.”

Irving and Durant’s requests followed a recent trend of top NBA players asking to be traded, from Jimmy Butler with the Minnesota Timberwolves to Anthony Davis with the New Orleans Pelicans, to Paul George with the Oklahoma City Thunder, to Russell Westbrook with the Washington Wizards, to Irving doing it once before with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017. Not to mention James Harden with the Brooklyn Nets last season, putting the first crack in the foundation of the supposed Brooklyn super-team that never fully formed.

While those players’ commitments to honor the contracts they originally accepted could be questioned, Durant pointed out that the league had for years held all control with the roster moves.

“Teams have been trading players and making acquisitions for a long time,” Durant said. “Now when a player can kind of dictate where they want to go and go in free agency and demand a trade, that’s part of the game now. So I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It brings more and more excitement at the game.”

Irving said the professional sports industry places undue pressure on players’ career decisions that don’t exist for employees in other industries.

“Speculation and storytelling is what makes this kind of entertainment seem a bit more important or a higher priority than it actually is,” Irving said. “Like, this is my life. It’s not just a dream that everyone can talk about. … When you work as hard as me or anyone else in a specific profession, I have the feel like you should have the freedom and freedom to go where you’re wanted, where you’re celebrated, and where you feel comfortable.”

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