It was a surprise for some when Kevin Durant chose to spurn the Warriors in free agency and go join up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn to play for the Nets. The two players grew close together, along with DeAndre Jordan who also joined them with the Nets, thanks to Team USA and wanted to play together, and when the opportunity to play together came up they took it.
While surprising for some, the entire season had this ominous feeling of being Durant’s last with the Warriors and Irving’s relationship with the Celtics soured to the point that by the time their season ended no one expected him to return. There were rumblings Irving would be headed to the Nets for some time, but the question was whether he’d get Durant or someone else to join him.
Ultimately, the two confirmed the rumors and went to Brooklyn, which wasn’t a shock, but never felt like a guarantee until June 30. However, according to new Knicks big man Bobby Portis, there was never a doubt in where those two were going.
Players across the league had known the two would join forces in Brooklyn for months, as he told The Athletic.
“I knew what was gonna happen in February,” he said. “We all knew that (Durant and Kyrie Irving would go to Brooklyn). Everybody knew that. I just don’t think the media knew that. Us basketball players, we all knew that.”
(No, he won’t tell you how he knows. Even players don’t reveal their sources. “I’m not going to leak my source,” he said. “But we all know where they were going. I’m protecting mine, but we all knew where they were going.”)
Considering the timeline above, if everybody in the league knew those two were joining up by February as Portis says, that happens to coincide with around when Irving’s situation in Boston worsened. It had begun to grow tense due to the team struggling, but around the All-Star break is when rumors of problems inside the locker room began to leak out. The cracks began showing and by the playoffs, it was pretty obvious that there was a problem.
Add in the constant murmurs that this season was likely to be Durant’s last in Golden State, going as far back as last summer, and all this starts to add up a little. Then there’s the video of Irving and Durant meeting at the All-Star Game and chatting in the tunnel that only furthered the rumors they’d be joining up this summer.
If Portis is right and this all came out in February then maybe that really is the moment they decided on joining the Nets and Portis just happened to catch word of it. That or he’s just really good at watching rumors.