Former GM Reveals How Nets Were Targeting Kevin Durant Since 2013 Free Agency

Published 05/25/2021, 5:00 PM EDT
Apr 25, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up prior to the start of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports


The Brooklyn Nets are the favorites to win the title this season. One of the driving factors behind that is Kevin Durant. He returned to action this season with a bang, after sitting out an entire season because of injury.

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Many fans were surprised that Durant joined the Nets. There were many rumors linking him with a move to their rivals, the Knicks. It had to be a serious pitch to draw him away from the Knicks to a team that made the playoffs just once in the last five seasons (2015-19).

In his new book, author Matt Sullivan revealed that the Nets recruiting for Durant began almost a decade earlier. He explained how the Nets had made the huge Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade in 2013 to impress Durant. They wanted to build a Big 3 with KG, Pierce, and KD in the 2016 Free Agency and they were preparing three years prior to it.

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LeBron James was another big name free agent in 2016, but they chose to focus on Durant instead. “The focus was Durant,” former Nets GM Billy King said through Sullivan. “It wasn’t LeBron, it was: Do EVERYTHING we can to put ourselves in position to get Durant…I was in a position where he saw me—and knew. You just make sure that, if you do everything right, they take notice” 

May 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant helps Brooklyn Nets to form an improved Big 3

The Nets’ huge splash to acquire Garnett and Pierce failed horribly. At the time of the trade, Pierce was 36 and Garnett was 37. Both of them had career lows (at that time) in their debut season at Brooklyn, which was unsurprising.

The Big 3 plans fell apart within a year as Pierce left in the 2014 Free Agency. A year later in 2015, Garnett waived off his no-trade clause so he could get a return to his first team, the Timberwolves. So when the 2016 Free Agency arrived, the Nets were in no state to attract Durant.

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May 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) and Brooklyn Nets forward Blake Griffin (2) and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) react during the first half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately, they were able to sign him three years later in 2019. And now with Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets have an actual Big 3. They are likely to win it all this season, and finally put an end to the Nets’ drought for an NBA championship.

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Aaron Mathew

1653 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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