Brooklyn’s Big Three Winds Up a Big Bust as Nets Trade Kevin Durant

Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played in just 16 games together

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden as members of the Nets.
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden played 16 games together.
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty

Late last night, the Brooklyn Nets agreed to trade aging superstar Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns for a package that includes four first-round picks, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cam Johnson and additional draft compensation. Durant, who will be accompanied by former Sun T.J. Warren in the deal, was dealt just days after the Nets sent Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for picks and players.

With the trade, the Nets officially closed the championship window they opened when they brought Irving and Durant to Brooklyn four summers ago and then traded a boatload of future assets for James Harden to establish one of the most-talented Big Threes in NBA history. Unfortunately, the Irving-Durant-Harden trio was never really able to create any chemistry as they played in just 16 games together and went 8-2 in the regular season and 5-1 in the playoffs.

The Nets began dismantling their failed experiment last season by dealing Harden to the 76ers for misfit toy Ben Simmons and then completely tore it down by trading Irving and Durant. The final results are ugly.

Thanks to this week’s trades, the Nets have gone from title contender to rebuilder in a week’s time and are in worse shape as a franchise than they were before Durant, Irving and Harden came to town. Brooklyn has a ton of draft picks to retool, but they also have a roster devoid of star power and are now on the receiving end of barbs from their favorite anti-vaxxer and anti-Semite.

Around the same time the Durant deal was going down, Irving was in the process of winning his first game with Dallas as the Mavericks were able to take down the Clippers in LA 110-104. After the win, Irving offered his thoughts on Durant, who he could now face in the playoffs in the Western Conference, joining the Suns.

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“I just am glad that [Durant] got out of there…I’m just praying for his happiness, praying for his well-being,” Irving said. “I think this was in the works like after Year 1. I wasn’t sure about whether or not I wanted to be in Brooklyn long-term because of things that was happening behind the scenes. I just did my best to put my head down and work as hard as I could. There were some unfortunate circumstances that came up there that were out of my control, whether it be the mandate with the vaccine, or missing games, being suspended, or just little things that just put just wrenches in our journey.”

Whatever that means, the Mavericks are still long shots to win the NBA title with odds of +1400 to +1600 at most books. The same cannot be said of the Suns, who are now the second favorite to win the NBA Finals at +500 behind the Boston Celtics (+350) after adding Durant to a core that already included Chris Paul and Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

Durant — a four-time scoring champ and former MVP with a couple of titles — has three years left on his contract, so the championship window is open in Phoenix for the foreseeable future. In Brooklyn, it’s slammed shut.

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