In doing so, he will be playing on a team that has some significant question marks but also has immense potential.
By asking to be traded, Durant was risking major damage to his legacy, which had already been marred to a certain extent.
But now, by remaining put and looking to finish what he started, he may have salvaged that legacy that he cares so much about.
Many Criticized Durant For Wanting Out
Three years ago, Durant joined the Nets along with Kyrie Irving, and it looked like the league had a new superpower.
The two-time Finals MVP missed the 2019-20 season while rehabbing from a torn Achilles, but in his two seasons with the team, it has failed to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.
This past season was particularly disappointing, as Durant missed 27 games due to injury and Irving suited up for just 29 games after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As a result, the Nets never built any real chemistry, and after winning just 44 regular season games, they got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
Durant asking to be traded came off as an attempt to run away from his problems and not finish what he had started.
Many fans felt he had tarnished his legacy by doing so, and even by coming to the Nets in the first place.
@KDTrey5 horrible decision to leave the warriors. You wanted a place to create your own legacy and it blew up in your face. You bet on Kyrie and it didn’t work out and then you wanted out and that didn’t work either as the Nets had no deal for you. Good luck.
— Joe (@expliz) August 23, 2022
Has there been a basketball player as good as Kevin Durant who has done more to tarnish their own legacy?
— TBD (@susqmusings) August 23, 2022
Durant first hurt his legacy, according to many fans, by leaving a very good Oklahoma City Thunder team in 2016 to join the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors had just come off a record 73 regular season wins and had won the championship in 2015, plus they had just overcome a 3-1 series deficit versus Durant’s Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
Ur 1 sad individual. Ur legacy gone be remembered as the guy who left steph curry. Calling for ppl to be fired smh. god gonna come for u man and when he do I hope he unleashes the hammer
— Brandon Popovic (@PopovicBrandon) August 23, 2022
It was seen as an incredibly weak and cowardly move, even though the Warriors probably needed him to win the championship in 2017 and 2018.
But throughout the 2018-19 season, with free agency looming, he seemingly had one foot out the door even as the Warriors had a great chance at a third straight world title.
Now, by staying in the New York City area, Durant has a shot at elevating his legacy the way he thought he would when he first went there.
What Another Ring Could Do For Durant
Durant is already one of the better players in NBA history, as he is one of just a handful of players who has won back-to-back championships and Finals MVPs.
He has the fourth-highest scoring average of all time in both the regular season and playoffs, and with 25,526 regular season points, he ranks 24th all-time in that category.
If Durant is fortunate enough to stay healthy and play at a high level into his late 30s, he could have a shot at finishing in the top five in career points.
But what matters most of all when debating where a player ranks in the totality of the greatest to ever play the game is championships won.
By leading the Nets to a ring (and winning a third Finals MVP), Durant could very well enter the list of the 10 greatest players ever.
After all, look what winning a fourth ring did for Stephen Curry‘s legacy this June, as it gave him much more recognition than he had ever gotten before.