Kevin Durant’s decision to play for the Nets was never directly tied to Kyrie Irving's decision to do the same but "the opportunity to play with his close friend certainly appealed to him," Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix wrote in a recent story.
The Nets emerged as Irving’s preferred home as soon as the season ended, sources familiar with the situation told SI in a behind-the-scenes look of the Nets' recruiting of Durant and Irving this offseason. With Irving seemingly on board, the team then persuaded Durant to come to Brooklyn—a decision that wasn't "directly tied to Irving's," but also not dissuaded by it.
The duo previously played together when they were teammates on Team USA during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Irving and Durant had reportedly planned to team up before they announced their free agency decisions—the two were both also being courted by the Knicks but veered away from signing with them and decided on Brooklyn. Mannix added that the "all-but-done-deal" that Durant to the Knicks had been reported as was never accurate.
From Mannix's story:
"Durant’s decision took longer. The Knicks were in play, though never to the all-but-done-deal extent that had been reported. So, too, were the Warriors, who could offer a five-year, $221 million contract—one year and $57 million more than Brooklyn could pay. What Durant wanted was simple. A good team. A strong, supportive environment. The Nets checked all the boxes. Durant’s decision was never directly tied to Irving’s, but the opportunity to play with his close friend certainly appealed to him."
Durant, 31, tore his Achilles in Game 5 of the Warriors NBA Finals series against the Raptors, an injury that will cost him the 2019-20 season. The two-time NBA champion should be ready to take the floor with Irving come the 2020-21 season after undergoing surgery to repair the tear, giving Brooklyn at least three seasons with both players on the roster (each signed a four-year deal with the Nets).