October 8, 2020 | 11:57pm
Kevin Durant’s last two NBA stops — Golden State and Oklahoma City — ended in ugly breakups and highly publicized exits. The Nets, he said, will be different.
When Durant picked Brooklyn last offseason, he signed a four-year, $164 million contract that has an opt-out after the third season. That could let him go back onto the free-agent market in 2022-23. Considering he missed this season following Achilles surgery, that could cut the Nets’ window of contention to just two years.
But Durant went on The Player Tribune’s “Text Message Talk Show” on Thursday, and said he plans to make Brooklyn the final stop of his surefire Hall of Fame career.
“As of today, this second, yes…” Durant texted on the show.
Durant will be 34 going into that fourth player-option season — and LeBron James already is 35 but going strong as he aims to close out his fourth title Friday — so that news will be welcome to Nets fans. Especially considering their star player’s last two stops.
After eight high-scoring seasons with the Thunder, Durant opted to leave for the Warriors, who had rallied from 3-1 down to beat Oklahoma City in the previous year’s Western Conference finals. He was excoriated by fans league-wide. Durant went on to win a pair of Finals MVP awards for Golden State, but a blowup with Warriors teammate Draymond Green hastened his exit there. He seemed on the verge of claiming a third ring, but suffered a season-ending Achilles injury during the 2019 NBA Finals against the Raptors.
After being operated on at Hospital for Special Surgery by Dr. Martin O’Malley (the Nets’ team orthopedist), Durant joined Brooklyn. And he discussed the long road back, one which ultimately will have kept him away from the court for 18 months.
“The toughest thing was the injury stopping the momentum I was on, I was in a nice groove shootin and thinking the game … I was having so much fun playing and not to be around for a year was Wack lol but it was cool to get some personal time to myself so I’m a little conflicted,” Durant texted on the show.
“It was tough, I just wanted to make sure I was going 100% every rep, no matter what it was. It’s a process recovering from an Achilles, had to have patience and when I see a court I’m always on 10 lol. I had to learn to relax.”
Durant is expected to be 100 percent healthy for training camp, as is Kyrie Irving, who saw this season cut short after just 20 appearances due to shoulder surgery. New head coach Steve Nash will have the benefit of both stars being fully fit, but also the respect and friendship of both Durant and Nets general manager Sean Marks.
“I’m excited about Coach Nash…I think he’s gonna build a fun culture in Brooklyn….having a former player walk the sidelines is always dope to see,” texted Durant, who expressed confidence in the Hall of Famer’s communication.
“I felt like Sean Marks always had a relationship with steve…he’s a brilliant basketball mind but on top of that he’s a great communicator…..everything he did on the court was efficient so hopefully he brings that mentality to our team.”