Over 24 hours later, it’s still sinking in — Kevin Durant is a Brooklyn Net.
Pause and let the idea swirl around in your head. Think of how preposterous of a notion that would have been the past few seasons ago as the team battled through the purgatory that was the post-Billy King era.
Against all odds, Kevin Durant has landed in Brooklyn — but how the hell did we get here?
Some will say that Golden State was never meant to be his permanent home. Many will point to the altercation with former teammate Draymond Green last November. Durant is notoriously private and leaks rarely escape from his camp. Nevertheless, rumors circulated over the past year that the crosstown rival New York Knicks were the favorites to land both Kyrie Irving and Durant.
As the 2018-19 season began to wind down, Anthony Puccio reported that the Nets were a dark horse candidate to land top tier free agents during the offseason, including Durant. Things heated up as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania both confirmed that Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn was all but a done deal, and he was hoping to entice his good friend Durant to sign with him.
Then on Sunday afternoon, the sky fell:
Kevin Durant is planning to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
So, pomp and circumstance aside, what is Kevin Durant bringing to the borough?
On the court, admittedly not much in the near future. He will still be sidelined from his Achilles injury for most — if not the entirety — of the next season, although there have been rumblings that there is a chance he returns in time for a theoretical playoff run. Knowing how the Nets operate in regards to players’ health, they would likely rather be safe than sorry.
Off the court, however, Durant has already given Brooklyn something much more valuable: Respect.
His signing is a testament to the work that Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have been putting in for years. The slew of signings on Sunday show that this is an organization that players and agents want to work with, and that is invaluable in this league. The Knicks still struggle to understand that, and it iss why they have consistently failed to land the big fish.
Every trade, every draft, every interview mentioning “culture” was leading up to this moment — the finale of perhaps may become the most impressive rebuild in American sports history. Regardless of what may happen from here, the maneuvering to get to this point is simply astounding — and it cannot be overstated how masterfully this has all been conducted.
Now, when Durant is finally healed and healthy?
Then it’s on.
He averaged 26.0 PTS, 6.4 REB and 5.9 AST with the Warriors this past season and has a career three-point percentage of 38.1. He is one of the few players in the NBA who steps up and excels under the intense lights of the postseason. He is arguably the most versatile offensive threat that the game has ever seen, with the ability to rain fire from distance, eviscerate in the midrange or dominate inside the paint.
Durant is by no means a slouch on the other side of the ball, even earning multiple Defensive Player of the Year votes in the 2017-18 season. His frame gives him an advantage in covering smaller forwards and allows him to get blocks that are physically impossible for others to replicate.
We could dive into how Durant will slot into the Nets’ system, but the real question is — how will the system sculpt itself to accommodate him?
It’s obvious from his run with the Warriors that he is a fluid and willing passer, not the ball-stopper from earlier in his career. That will be crucial as both Irving and Caris LeVert are at their best with the ball in their hands. There is no question that Durant will be the number one option, but the ceiling of this squad will hinge on how well he can augment and bolster the strengths of his teammates.
The franchise is all-in with this move, and it contains immense risk as there is a serious possibility that KD will never return to the same level that he was pre-injury. Still, this is a league run by superstars — and when you have a chance at an all-time talent, it would be foolish to not take the gamble. The Nets are now unquestionable contenders, and the rest of the league is watching to see what will happen next.
Something powerful is brewing in Brooklyn.
Kevin Durant is a lock for the Hall of Fame. He will likely go down as a top-15 player all-time. He has a very strong argument for being the best in the league right now.
And he chose the Nets.