Kevin Durant says Nets ‘refused to get rid of me’

Kevin Durant says Nets ‘refused to get rid of me’

If it were up to Kevin Durant, he would’ve left the Nets sooner.

The superstar said as much Saturday, telling reporters that Brooklyn “refused to get rid of me” months before it traded him to the Suns in February.

“I tried, but time ran out,” Durant, who is back in New York to face the Knicks with Phoenix, said at Suns practice. “I wasn’t going to miss no games because of this whole thing, so once the season rolled around, I was just like whatever happens, it happens.”

Durant originally requested a trade out of Brooklyn in 2022, with Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reporting that September the Suns were his preferred landing spot.

The Nets ultimately sent Durant to Phoenix in a midseason deal that brought back current starters Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson.

“It worked out, perfect timing, the way it’s supposed to,” Durant said Saturday. “Regardless of anything, it’s been fun playing with [Devin Booker], living in Phoenix, and learning the system.”

The Durant trade came days after the Nets sent fellow superstar Kyrie Irving to Dallas, ending a tumultuous era of Brooklyn basketball in which the big-name duo only won one playoff series in three-and-a-half seasons.

Durant averaged 29.0 points over 129 games with the Nets. He’s averaging 31.4 points this season with Phoenix, which enters Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden with a 10-6 record.

The Nets won’t see Durant for the first time since the trade until Dec. 13 in Phoenix. Durant’s first game back in Brooklyn is set to take place Jan. 31.

Brooklyn faced Irving for the first time since his trade last month in Dallas, with the Mavericks winning, 125-120.

“It was the best decision of my career just to be able to ask for a trade,” Irving said before the game. “I knew I needed peace of mind.”

SHORT-HANDED HEAT

The Heat were far less than full strength for Saturday’s game in Brooklyn, with Jimmy Butler (ankle), Bam Adebayo (hip contusion), Tyler Herro (ankle) and Duncan Robinson (thumb) each ruled out on what was their second night of a back-to-back.

Butler scored 36 points — including 18 in the third quarter — in Miami’s Nov. 16 win over Brooklyn, while Robinson added 26 and Adebayo had 20.

Herro, who missed that game, led the Heat with 30 points in a Nov. 1 loss to the Nets.

NETS UNDERMANNED

The Nets remained undermanned, too, with guards Ben Simmons, Cam Thomas and Dennis Smith Jr. also ruled out with injuries Saturday.

Smith, who is considered day-to-day, has now missed three games in a row with a lower back sprain.

Thomas, who has missed seven straight games with an ankle sprain, was cleared for increased on-court activity, the Nets said Wednesday. Brooklyn’s leading scorer is expected to return to team activities within the week.

And Simmons, who has missed the last eight games, is dealing with a nerve impingement in the left side of his lower back. He recently began light individual court work.

Simmons underwent surgery to treat a herniated disk in his lower back in May 2022. A nerve impingement in the right side of his back ended his 2022-23 season after 42 games.

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