Kyrie Irving says he's going to "protect" new teammate Kevin Durant in Brooklyn.

By Jenna West
September 27, 2019

Kyrie Irving believes the Warriors shouldn't have played Kevin Durant in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

During the Nets' media day on Friday, Irving addressed Durant's Achilles injury that he sustained during June's Finals game.

"Naturally I think you have to go inside the mind of a competitor and realize that a lot of people having responsibilities for why that ended up happening the way it happened on a national scale. We all know [Durant] was not ready to play in that environment," Irving said. "He was out 31 days and we put him on a national stage in the Finals to end up selling a product that came before the person Kevin. And now I'm here to protect that."

Durant will miss the entire 2019-20 season recovering from a ruptured Achilles. Irving called Durant an "integral" part of the Nets and said the team will be patient and not expect Durant to return before he's "101% healthy."

Durant's playoff injury woes started during the Western Conference Finals when he suffered a right calf strain against the Rockets on May 8. He didn't return to the court until June 10 for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors, when he went down during the second quarter with a ruptured Achilles. After having surgery to repair the injury, Durant signed a four-year, $164 million deal with the Nets as a free agent. Irving, who originally planned to re-sign with the Celtics, also signed a four-year, $141 million contract with Brooklyn this summer.

When asked on Friday how seriously he considered re-signing with the Warriors or going to another team like the Knicks, Durant said he "thought about it for a couple of seconds" before landing on the Nets.

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