Kevin Durant’s Best Option is Brooklyn

Just stick it out for once, Kevin

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KD & The Nets

Ryan Griffin: The first topic we have tonight is, of course, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets’ drama that’s going on. It started with Kyrie Irving. So yeah, just to give it a timeline, right? It started with Kyrie Irving saying essentially, I’m not sure if I’m gonna opt-in. I want a long-term contract. 

And his leverage to that was if the Nets weren’t gonna give him a long-term contract, then you guys might lose Kevin Durant as well. You’re not just gonna lose me. You’re gonna lose KD. And then Kyrie opts in. So you start thinking like, oh, okay. 

It might all be right a day after Kyrie opts in, two days or whatever it is, maybe a little bit later, Kevin Durant requests a trade. Now, Kevin Durant wants out of Brooklyn and it sets the entire NBA world on fire. More than half the teams are called and the Nets want two all-star level players and a bunch of future picks. 

A king’s ransom for KD. Which makes all the sense in the world. And of course, if they trade KD you have to assume that they’re gonna trade Kyrie Irving as well. Because I don’t think the Nets want anything to do with Kyrie Irving.

I think they would love to keep Kevin Durant, but they don’t want anything to do with Kyrie Irving and the headache that he’s given them. And even the Nets owner, man I don’t think he said this on record, but there was a report that Joe Tsai would essentially have a team that he’s quote-unquote proud of and gets 40 or 45 wins. 

They just compete really hard. As opposed to a team with these superstars. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons that are gonna more or less take over the team and try and run it like we’ve seen other NBA superstars do with their franchises. And it seems like Joe Tsai is just not about that at all.

And we’ll get to that in a minute. But a report came out today where the Nets are pretty content with having Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back on the team. I think the report was from Woj and it said the Nets are operating as if Durant and Irving are going to be on the roster on opening day. Which is what I thought made the most sense in the world from jump street. 

We did a show, maybe two weeks ago and I was saying, Hey, just run it back, run the Net situation back. I know it was an abject disaster last year. No doubt about it. You had Kyrie Irving, miss all the games because of the vaccine mandates. James Harden was not playing and then he was playing. And when he was playing, he wasn’t playing very hard. He wanted to get the hell out of Brooklyn. 

You bring in Ben Simmons who doesn’t play at all. And then they get to the playoffs and get, unceremoniously swept by the Boston Celtics. I understand all that horrible laughing stock all the jokes running NBA, Twitter, Facebook, wherever you can see ’em. But there’s still a situation with the Brooklyn Nets where they’re the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Like I know Kevin Durant wanted to get traded and the trade destinations that were listed were Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat. If you keep this Net situation together, that’s a better situation to win than either Phoenix or Miami. 

So instead of Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, you’re gonna go hitch your wagon to a 37-year-old, Chris Paul and Devin Booker? Who might not be all that excited about you taking some shots away from him, right?

Like with Devin Booker and Chris Paul, and even Deandre Ayton is cool. Because Devin Booker still gets to take the most amount of shots. Chris Paul is way more likely to feed Devin Booker than he is to shoot the ball himself. 

And now you add Kevin Durant to that mix and I think Devin Booker’s a great player. And obviously, they’ve made the finals, they’ve won a round in the playoffs last year and made it to the second round.

There’s no guarantee in my mind that Devin Booker would be okay, playing second fiddle to Kevin Durant. I think Devin Booker wants to be that guy. I think Devin Booker has that Kobe mentality in him. Where he wants to be the man, no matter what. 

I think he would rather lose in the NBA Finals or like the Western Conference Finals being the man than he would be in like the second banana on a championship team.

This is my opinion, obviously, I don’t know. But it just seems like Booker has that, Mamba mentality in him if you will. And back to Brooklyn with next year, if you’re gonna look at it with rose-colored glasses or Coogee-colored glasses in honor of the Biggie Smalls Brooklyn Nets jerseys. No mandates, I assume mandates are gonna be in effect next year when the NBA season starts.

This means Kyrie Irving should be able to play. And at least 41 more basketball games than he was able to last year. That’s provided that nothing else weird with Kyrie comes up. When he just says, Nah, I don’t wanna play, which might very well happen. But the mandate shouldn’t be an issue.

So Kyrie should be available for a bunch more games. Right? Ben Simmons is gonna have basically two years of getting healthy. You should be able to start the regular season healthy and then play the entire way, which is gonna help tremendously on defense. And it’s gonna help their offense as well. 

Because you can get all the jokes off about Ben Simmons that you want. But Ben Simmons is a number three offensive option. A guy who, while he’s not gonna shoot the ball, can obviously distribute the ball and he can drive it to the basket anytime he wants. 

He might be a little scared of getting fouled, which is true, but all the attention is gonna be on Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving anyway. Which is gonna make Ben Simmons’ job and his responsibilities on offense, way less.

And I think he’s just gonna be in a more comfortable role than he ever was with Philadelphia. And then you have improved depth, right? The Nets have made some sneaky off-signings. We’re gonna get to some other teams who have snuck around in the off-season and added to their team. 

The Nets haven’t had a quiet off-season because of the Kyrie and Kevin Durant drama, but the moves that they made in the off-season have been quiet if that makes any sense.

So they reassigned Patty Mills, and they traded for Royce O’Neale who’s a three and D wink. And then they just picked up TJ Warren, who would be a really good scoring option off the bench. So if you’re looking at the Nets’ top 10 players, you got Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Nick Claxton, and then their bench is Patty Mills, Steph Curry, Royce O’Neale, Cam Thomas, and TJ Warren. 

That’s a really solid 10-man lineup. And I know the defense is still gonna be an issue, but you are adding Ben Simmons back. I think Durant will be better as, like a help defender. If Ben Simmons can cause problems on the perimeter and KD can just help and use his length to alter shots, the block shots to get in those different paths.

And Royce O’Neale’s a good defender as well, coming off the bench. Now they’d still need help on that end. But I think you’d see a much better Brooklyn defense this year if all the guys were to actually play basketball better than they did last year. 

One thing that the Nets really need to do and where it seems like all this has stemmed from is their relationships with the front office. There was another report again, probably about a week ago. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would actually not be opposed to playing with each other still. 

They just didn’t wanna do it in Brooklyn. So what that tells me, and I think that’s what tells everybody, unless that’s a lie, unless Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are butting heads, is that their problem doesn’t stem with each other, right?

It’s not Kevin Durant saying, oh man, Kyrie, I trusted you. And then you went and you did all this vaccine stuff, and then you weren’t able to play in the games. And by the time we got you back for the playoffs, we weren’t anywhere near ready. That’s not what that report would suggest. 

What that report would suggest is that there are problems with the front office. Whether it’s Sean Marks, Joe Tsai, or Steve Nash, who’s the coach for the Nets that there’s something broken there.

And I think that’s really easy to fix. And if I’m the Nets, I know Joe Tsai, we talked about his comment where it seems like he, he would rather be in charge of a mediocre team than be in the backseat on a winning. I think you just need to check yourself at that point. Like your job as the owner is to bring a product to the fans that’s a winner, right? 

If you’re an owner of a professional team, your job, your goal, your mission, whatever you wanna call it should be to win as many games as possible and bring that city that you own that team in, a championship. The best way for the Nets to do that is to keep this core together.

Obviously, mix in the off-season signings that the Nets have already had, which I’ve already thought have done that they’ve done a pretty good job of. Now I think those are gonna be all for not if Kevin Durant does end up getting traded and Kyrie Irving ends up being on the move, then you’re probably gonna have a pretty bad team. Right? 

Or a team that’s maybe fighting for the play-in six, seven-seat in the Eastern Conference, which they were last year. But as we talked about, that’s because nobody was playing basketball for them. 

If all these guys had played even, a respectable amount of games, then the Nets would’ve been nowhere near the playing game. I don’t know if that’s really arguable. 

But I guess if you just really hate the Nets that much you’ll probably think, no they still would’ve been bad because of the defense and all these other problems that they had. If that’s the opinion, you wanna have fine go for it. It’s just not one that I’m here for. And it’s not one that I personally subscribe to. 

And back to the front office. It seems like you just need to have a meeting right? Where everybody went in there and then they all hashed it out. Hey, here are our problems. Here’s how we proposed to fix it. And that’s what it would have to be.

Maybe the front office is really mad at Kyrie, which I could understand because you pay this guy to play all these games. He didn’t end up playing in the games. I think you go in there and you say, this is what helps us win a championship. Are all of us together with X, Y, and Z. Right?

I think they’ve already done a good job of trying to fill in some of those ancillary pieces. And if they keep it together, I think the Nets can still be a really good basketball team next year. 

If I were the front office, that’s the pitch I would try to make to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, because I want those guys on my team. Because I am trying to win basketball games. And in my opinion, that is the best way to do it.

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Written by Amy Price

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