Durant and the Nets plan to move forward together instead of trading

NEW YORK — Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets are staying together.

The trade request that rocked the franchise and dominated NBA headlines has been removed. The Nets will be back next season with their All-Star power forward in uniform — and with championship hopes alive.

The Nets said Tuesday that team management met with Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman in Los Angeles a day earlier and “agreed to continue our partnership,” general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.

Marks attended the meeting along with trainer Steve Nash and owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai.

“We are focused on basketball with one common goal in mind: to build a strong franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn,” Marks added.

That’s certainly more likely if you keep Durant, who remains one of the best scorers in the NBA. He’s about to begin the four-year extension he signed last summer, and the possibility of him being traded has been the biggest story in the NBA this summer.

It’s unclear exactly why he sought the trade, which came at the end of a tumultuous year in Brooklyn. The championship favorite before the start of last season, the Nets barely made the playoffs before losing to Boston in four games in the first round.

Then the Nets declined to extend the contract of Kyrie Irving, a close friend of Durant’s, forcing him to pick up his option for next season, the final year of his deal.

The uncertainty surrounding Durant’s future in Brooklyn likely contributed to the Nets being left out of a five-game Christmas slate and appearing just eight times on ABC and ESPN.

But with Durant, the Nets could still be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. He averaged a franchise-high 29.9 points last season and the Nets were in contention for first place in the East before a knee injury kept him out for 21 games.

With Durant, Irving and Ben Simmons, who is expected to return after not playing for the Nets last season following a trade from Philadelphia, the Nets will have a top trio. Joe Harris will also return after the two-time NBA leader in 3-point percentage was limited to just 14 games due to left ankle surgery.

Durant would be hard-pressed to find many better situations, and the Nets probably weren’t interested in trying to create one for him. Few teams could offer the kind of trade package the Nets would be looking for and still be able to remain a championship contender.

The Nets believed they had built one in 2020-21 after acquiring James Harden to play with Durant and Irving. But they dealt with injuries throughout the season and were eliminated by eventual champion Milwaukee in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals, despite Durant scoring 48 points in the final game, the most points in a Game 7.

Durant was brilliant again last season, but couldn’t salvage a season marred by Irving missing most of Brooklyn’s home games because he refused to get a coronavirus shot. Harden then asked to be traded, and he was traded for Simmons in February.

All of this likely frustrated Durant, who left Golden State in 2019 after two championships in three seasons to join Irving in Brooklyn.

And now he will stay there.

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