The Brooklyn Nets came into the offseason with plenty of cap space and when they traded Allen Crabbe earlier this offseason to unload his contract, the plan became clear and that was to sign two superstars, and the pipe dream was to bring in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Early on in the process it become clear that Irving was likely going to commit to the Nets when free agency opened up and then early Sunday morning it became known that Kevin Durant was going to make his announcement when free agency opened on where he would be going, but before free agency even started Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the ultimate Woj bomb that Kevin Durant was going to join Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.
Kevin Durant is planning to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Rumors were surrounding Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant all season about a good chance existing of them moving on to new teams in the offseason and then later in the season rumors started floating around that Irving and Durant were wanting to play together, and preferably in New York. When those rumors were out there most people, including myself, thought that meant the Knicks, but then leaks began to come out about the Nets and those rumors made sense.
Brooklyn was a drastically improved team this season, making it to the postseason as the sixth seed, and even though the Nets were never going to be able to keep D’Angelo Russell, who was the key piece in the Nets making it back to the postseason, if they were able to sign both Irving and Durant it would be worth it and they will still have some key players from last years team like Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen. So there would still be pieces for the Nets to have around Irving and Durant going forward.
Obviously Durant is likely going to miss all of the upcoming season after he suffered a torn Achilles in game five of this past seasons NBA Finals, so it will be a good wait before we really see how this new look Nets team is going to look on the court, but Irving will have a head start to try and mesh with the other players that are on the Nets roster and then we can have a good gauge on what they will look like without Durant and then we can assess the season knowing that Kevin Durant will be coming back the following season.
Also not to be overlooked was Irving and Durant getting DeAndre Jordan to sign with the Nets. Jordan isn’t thought of as highly as he was when he was a free agent and seemed to be locked in with the Mavericks before changing his mind and going back to the Clippers at the last moment, but he is still a good player and bringing in his veteran presence and his ability to defend and catch balls at the rim, it will just make the pick and roll game a lot easier for the Nets. Not to mention that he also upped his free-throw percentage to 77.3% this past season, so he’s no longer someone that you can just foul and put at the line.
They also went out and got Garrett Temple on a two-year deal worth $10 million. This is a nice pickup because it’s cheap and Temple is a versatile player who can come off the bench and he’s a capable three-point shooter, shooting 35.3% from distance in his career and he’s a solid defender.
Sean Marks and the Brooklyn front office deserve so much credit for how this rebuild has transpired. They were left for dead when he took things over because it felt like their next 20 first-round draft picks were going to the Celtics and they weren’t any good so they had nothing to build around and no way of attracting any top free agents because they have always been the number two team in New York despite how incompetent the Knicks have been.
They were able to take advantage of the Lakers shopping D’Angelo Russell and then he matured and improved drastically on the court and then they were able to find steals in LeVert and Dinwiddie and then hit on a draft pick with Jarrett Allen and they had the huge improvement that involved them going to the postseason this season and they were able to clear out two max cap spaces.
You just can’t say enough about how well Sean Marks managed this rebuild.
While Irving and Durant are immensely talented and DeAndre Jordan is a really nice under-the-radar pickup, there’s still some risk involved. Irving has had issues meshing with younger players when it comes to his personality and that’s something that we have seen develop this past season in Boston and both Durant and Irving haven’t been the best at navigating media attention and not letting it impact them. The media attention is only going to get louder with them being in New York and playing together, so they will have to be able to maneuver that.
And then there’s the obvious cloud of Kevin Durant’s recovery from the Achilles injury. How well he comes back will be huge and while it wouldn’t be surprising to see him not be quite as dominant as he has been throughout his career, if he is even 90% of that this will still be worth it, but that’s a major wait and see.
Overall though these deals are worth it. The risk is there, but if you’re the Nets nobody is going to fault you if this doesn’t get you a championship for whatever reason, nobody with any reasonable opinion should blame them.
This is also just a huge victory for the Nets when it comes to the battle of New York. They have always played second-fiddle back to their days in New Jersey, even when they made the Finals in back-to-back seasons, but this is huge in them gaining traction in becoming the team in New York, even if it’s not permanent.
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