Not long ago, the Nets looked like one of the strongest teams in the league. However, Kyrie Irving made sure to put the last nail to their title hopes' coffin by requesting a trade this year, as it also led to Kevin Durant's departure.
Though the timing took many by surprise, Brooklyn had already started to fall apart a year ago when James Harden left after just one season. But all of them seem to be better since the breakup.
Irving is carrying much of the Mavericks' aspirations next to Luka Doncic, while KD is under a lot of pressure to help the Suns win a championship. On Sunday, the pair will meet for the first time since the trade and Irving is already looking forward to it.
Kyrie Irving addresses first game vs. Kevin Durant since the trade
“Playing against the new-look Suns with KD may be an exciting time just for us to compete against each other,” Irving said, via ClutchPoints. “That’s my brother for life, but when we’re stepping out there, I’m looking forward to the competition. Friendly competition.”
After being teammates for many seasons, Durant and Irving now find themselves as conference opponents with both of their teams aiming to challenge for the title. However, KD knew it was time to leave Brooklyn.
Kevin Durant admitted he was done with the Nets
“I was looking at the year we was in the last year and then this year, what are we doing [for the future]? I’m here. I signed the contract [extension], but nobody else around me signed. It was too much confusion. I’m glad I can move forward," Durant told Yahoo Sports.
"I was thinking about who’s in the building, then when s*** started happening. We’re not playing well. KI requested a trade. It felt like a lot of s*** wasn’t happening for us. But I was locked in. I felt like my play showed people that I was really committed to the organization. I looked up, like what am I gonna do? I don't know who's gonna be my teammates, so I was a little nervous with that happening," he added. "And we were able to work something out."
Irving and Durant will face each other for the first time since parting ways on Sunday, March 5, when the Mavericks welcome the Suns to the American Airlines Center.