Sports

Would Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving be better off staying in Brooklyn?

By Yaron Weitzman
NBA Sports Writer FOX

It’s been three weeks since Kevin DurantThe business manager, Rich Kleiman, told ESPN that Durant had requested the trade from Brooklyn Nets. But Kevin Durant remains a member of the Nets.

Not only that, the Durant market also seems to have dried up. As he had just signed an extension and still had four years left on his current contract, Durant was unable to determine where he would go next. At least he couldn’t dictate the extent of the disgruntled stars of the past, who were able to capitalize on the threat of leaving with free agency.

Making matters even more difficult is that the NBA prohibits player transactions within a year of signing the maximum extension. That kept players like Suns star Devin Booker and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson off the trading board for Brooklyn GM Sean Marks.

Then there’s the rule barring two players from going into what’s called a rookie designation extension. Today, the group includes stars like Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and, as it happens, Ben Simmons, who, in case you forgot, is a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

Put it all together, and you can see why the Nets aren’t too overwhelmed with current offerings. Just not much choice. The teams that wanted Durant and that he reportedly wanted to play for – the Miami Heat and the Phoenix Suns – don’t seem to have the package to complete a deal. The Heat cannot trade Bam Adebayo (designated rookie extension). The Suns can’t handle Booker or Deandre Ayton (max offer).

There may be hilarious multi-team deals out there, but right now none of them seem to be close to materializing, or very clear. There are two teams that seem to have the assets to complete a deal as well as the strength and stellar depth to surround Durant with a championship-caliber roster even after grueling roster trades.

The first was the Pelicans, who were able to offer Brandon Ingram (25 years, one-time All-Star, elite offensive player) and a bunch of draft picks and swap rights, some of which belonged to the Lakers (thanks to Anthony Davis Deal), who never be a bad team.

Another squad is the Toronto Raptors, who could offer the Nets Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes. Durant will then have the chance to play in Toronto with some combination of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet. But neither the Raptors nor the Pelicans have so far shown any desire to mortgage their future and flexibility for the chance to pursue titles with Durant.

Hot to make a run on Kevin Durant?

Hot to make a run on Kevin Durant?

FOX Sports NBA analyst Ric Bucher joins Colin Cowherd to discuss the potential Miami Heat trying to catch Nets star Kevin Durant.

All of which begs the following question: What are the Nets supposed to do? Sure, maybe the Mystery Team emerged from the weeds as a potential Durant landing site. Can the Celtics jump with Jaylen Brown? Can the Sixers dangle Tyrese Maxey? Can the Grizzlies try Desmond Bane? Maybe the Warriors dive back in.

Meanwhile, the Nets’ best course of action is to do exactly what they’ve done so far: nothing. Or, to put it another way, they could do everything possible to kick the can in the street, get into boot camp and get their stars—Durant, Kyrie Irving and Simmons—on the field together.

Can KD, Kyrie & Simmons win the title in Brooklyn?

Can KD, Kyrie & Simmons win the title in Brooklyn?

Skip Bayless explains why he believes Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons can still win the championship with the Brooklyn Nets.

It is important to remember that this team has the potential to be filled absolutely. We know what Durant is. We know how great Irving was, at least in the moments when he decided he cared about becoming a professional basketball player. We know that Simmons, when on the field, has the ideal skill set to round out the duo. We know that Joe Harris and Seth Curry are two of the best shooters in the NBA.

The Nets have even made some good wing additions in Royce O’Neale (a strong full-back, something the Nets lacked last season) and TJ Warren (a fine shooter), both of whom should make them better.

Of course, overshadowing all of this is if. Is Simmons ready to play? Can Harris and Curry stay healthy? Does Irving’s promise to “dare to be different” include a commitment to performing on the pitch?

Anyone who has followed the NBA in recent years will bet against this group and this hypothesis. And for good reason. We’ve seen enough to know that there’s no reason to believe that Durant and Irving’s The Web can succeed for an entire season.

However, would you really be surprised if the Nets grabbed, say, 18 wins over their first 21 games? Isn’t that a bet the Nets have to make, at least if the choice is that or flip Durant for some sort of B-level package that keeps the franchise mediocre?

Yes, the KD-Kyrie Brooklyn experiment has been a mess so far. It also very clearly seems to be on its last legs. No NBA team has had more crap over the past three years than the Nets.

But what’s the downside of another one? The advantage may just be a championship. It felt like a bet the team should be comfortable making.

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA writer for FOX Sports and author of Towards the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Brave Process in the History of Professional Sports. Follow him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.


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Would Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving be better off staying in Brooklyn?

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