Kevin Durant

Nets Notes: Durant, Nash, Irving, Curry, Warren, Simmons

Addressing reporters at the Nets‘ media day on Monday, Kevin Durant explained that he requested a trade this offseason because he had some “doubts” about whether the Nets were building a legitimate championship culture (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The New York Times).

“I wanted everybody to be held accountable for their habits as a basketball player,” Durant said, per Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. “I think a lot of stuff was getting swept under the rug because we’re injured or this guy’s not around or just the circumstances. I thought we could have fought through that a little bit more and focused on the guys that were here a little bit more.

“When I went out with the injury, we lost 10 in a row. And I’m like, ‘We shouldn’t be losing some of these games that we lost, regardless of who’s on the floor.’ So I was more so worried about how we’re approaching every day as a basketball team. And I felt like we could have fought through a lot of the stuff that I felt that held us back.”

Durant said he wasn’t disappointed not to be dealt and that he’s committed to the Nets going forward (Twitter links via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic and Adam Zagoria of NJ.com). He also admitted that he wasn’t surprised to remain a Net, since general manager Sean Marks and the team’s front office set a sky-high asking price.

“I know I’m that good, that you’re just not going to give me away,” Durant said.

In his own media session, Marks said that he feels good about where things stand with Durant, adding that if the star forward “still wanted out, he wouldn’t be here” (Twitter link via Vorkunov). He also said the Nets made a legitimate effort to trade Durant, though he admitted he was fielding outside inquiries more than he was instigating discussions.

“Yeah, absolutely we made those calls and we at least picked up the phone when teams called us,” Marks told YES Network (Twitter link via Zagoria). “I gotta be honest, I wasn’t making a whole lot of outgoing calls, I mean why would you do that?”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Steve Nash downplayed the fact that Durant reportedly called for the head coach’s job as part of his ultimatum to the Nets, likening it to a family squabble and telling reporters that he and KD got together to talk it out (Twitter link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).
  • Kyrie Irving, who referred to Brooklyn’s summer as a “clusterf–k,” said he came close to leaving the Nets before picking up his player option, adding that he had some other options, but “not many,” Sanchez writes for The Post. Irving admitted that potential suitors had concerns about his availability and his commitment.
  • Interestingly, Irving stated that his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 cost him a lucrative long-term extension offer from the Nets during the 2021 offseason. “I gave up four years, $100-something million deciding to be unvaccinated, and that was the decision,” Irving said, per Sanchez.
  • A pair of Nets wings are still awaiting full clearance following injuries, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter links). Seth Curry, who underwent ankle surgery in May, said today that he’s at “85-90 percent” and isn’t fully cleared to participate in camp. Meanwhile, T.J. Warren said the foot injury that cost him all of the 2021/22 season is fully healed, but he still needs to do more rehab work to get cleared by team doctors.
  • Ben Simmons is “ready to go” and will be a full participant in training camp, he said today (Twitter link via Friedell). As long as he remains healthy through the preseason, the plan is for the former No. 1 overall pick to be on the floor when the Nets’ season begins, tweets Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Simmons also said he’s willing to play center for his new team (Twitter link via Zagoria).

Warriors Notes: Green, Durant, Wiggins, Poole, Baldwin, Rollins

Kevin Durant took a lot of heat for joining the Warriors in 2016 just weeks after they defeated his Thunder team in the conference finals, but Draymond Green believes Durant was interested in making the move long before that series. Appearing this week on the “Checc’n In” podcast, Green said Durant was attracted to Golden State because of its style of play (hat tip to Eduardo Razo of NBC Sports Bay Area).

“Everybody’s running pick and roll and taking advantage of mismatches because that was the cycle that the NBA was in,” Green said. “We then changed the game of basketball and how basketball was played. KD saw that. KD wanted to play that brand of basketball. KD wanted to play with us … In my heart, believe before it ever came to them being up 3-1. KD wanted to come to the Warriors.”

There’s more on the defending champs:

  • Andrew Wiggins‘ future with Golden State appears set, but Jordan Poole‘s is more uncertain, an anonymous Western Conference executive told Sean Deveney of Heavy. Both players are nearing the end of their current contracts, and the Warriors will face tough financial decisions on who they can keep. “Wiggins is like the opposite version of Harrison Barnes, where Barnes won rings early, then wanted to get a bigger role and be the star,” the executive said. “He got to do that for some bad teams and now it is, ‘Jeez, I wish I was winning again.’ Wiggins is going the opposite way. He’s pretty well set on staying with the Warriors, if they can pay him.” The executive believes Poole, who’s only 23, may have a desire to leave for a larger role with another team.
  • First-round pick Patrick Baldwin Jr. is expected to be ready when training camp opens, but the Warriors haven’t decided if he’ll play in the first two preseason games in Japan, according to C.J. Holmes of The San Francisco Chronicle. Baldwin sat out Summer League and rested through much of this offseason because of an ankle injury that dates back to high school.
  • A loaded roster will likely keep Ryan Rollins in the G League for most of his rookie season, per Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Still, the Warriors liked the Toledo product enough to trade up to grab him with the 44th pick and give him part of their mid-level exception in a three-year, $4.8MM contract.

Stephen Curry Would Have Supported Kevin Durant Trade

Kevin Durant is still in Brooklyn after his trade request dominated the news for most of the summer. No one was willing to meet the Nets‘ high asking price, but Stephen Curry tells Matt Sullivan of Rolling Stone that he would have gladly welcomed Durant back to the Warriors.

Golden State was believed to be in a strong position to bid for Durant because of the team’s collection of young talent and draft assets. Curry revealed that there was “a conversation internally” involving Warriors management and selected players about pursuing a trade, and he was completely on board.

“I was never hesitant,” Curry said. “The idea of playing with KD and knowing who he is as a person, from our history in those three years, I think KD’s a really good dude. I think he is misunderstood. I think he has had certain things happen in his life that hurt his ability to trust people around him, in a sense of making him feel safe at all times. So all of those things, I understand, having played with him and gotten to know him. I love that dude.

“And if you said, ‘Oh, KD’s coming back, and we’re gonna play with him,’ I had so much fun playing with him those three years, I’d be like, ‘Hell, yeah!’ Then you have to think: What does that actually mean? What does it look like? You tell me I’m playing with [Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Draymond Green], I’m like, ‘Hell, yeah!’ There’s all types of emotion and things that happen to the league. And if anybody’s saying that you wouldn’t entertain that conversation — no disrespect to anybody on our team — but you don’t know how things work. But you also understand, like, if we run this thing back, I’ve got complete confidence in my team that we can win it again, as constructed.

“So, all those things were true. And it started with me wanting to play with KD at the beginning. Yeah, it’s about winning, it’s about having fun, playing the game of basketball. And that was part of the reaction of, like, ‘Yeah, it’d be amazing.’ What does that actually mean?”

The Warriors were extremely successful during Durant’s three years with the franchise, winning two NBA titles and losing in the 2019 Finals amid bad luck with injuries. He averaged 25.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists over those three seasons and was named Finals MVP in 2017 and 2018.

However, Durant was heavily criticized for his 2016 free agency decision to join Warriors, who were coming off a record-setting regular season and a seven-game loss in the NBA Finals. There were also outward signs of unhappiness, especially in his final year in the Bay Area. Durant ultimately made the decision to head to Brooklyn when he became a free agent again after the 2018/19 season.

One of Durant’s current Nets teammates is Seth Curry, who said he talked to his brother about the possibility of Durant returning to Golden State.

“For him to even be entertaining the thought of having KD back on the team kind of speaks to his character,” Seth told Rolling Stone in July. “Who knows? I might be in the trade with him.”

Sullivan also recounts a conversation that Stephen Curry had with Snoop Dogg regarding what Curry viewed as Durant’s unrealistic expectations of how much talent a team would have remaining after trading for him. Curry concluded that under the circumstances, Durant’s best move was to stay with Brooklyn.

Suns GM: “Brooklyn Wanted To Keep Kevin Durant in Brooklyn”

Suns general manager James Jones doesn’t believe the Nets were ever serious about moving Kevin Durant after his trade request in late June. In an interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, Jones said Brooklyn set its asking price on Durant so high that no team would be willing to meet it.

Durant reportedly named Phoenix and Miami as his preferred destinations when he first asked to be traded, and there was massive speculation that the Suns were the favorites to land him because they had what the Nets reportedly wanted: young talent and multiple first-round picks. However, Jones doubts that Brooklyn’s front office made a legitimate effort to part with its star.

“Cause Brooklyn wanted to keep Kevin Durant in Brooklyn,” Jones responded when asked why a trade didn’t happen. “And that’s why he’s in Brooklyn and not on some other team, but as far as with us, I get it. It’s always a great topic of discussion, but the one thing people forget is that when you’re talking about trades, or any player acquisition, the team that has the player has to be willing to move the player. And so if they’re not moving the player, which they didn’t, it’s just conversation and it’s great discussion. Great interest for the NBA fan base and the team fan base.”

Jones added that trade talks with the Nets never progressed past the initial stage. He said every team in the league probably made a call to Brooklyn to see what it would take to get Durant, but there was no “in-depth discussion” between the Suns and Nets.

Jones addressed a few other topics in the interview:

Dealing with Mikal Bridges after he was prominently mentioned in Durant trade rumors:

“Mikal’s watching and he’s watching reports and third parties report about him. I get it. Being a player on both sides of it, I truly understand it, but it’s a testament to Mikal’s ability. He’s a really good player. So I would assume any time someone is linked to us, a good player is linked to us, that our good players will be brought up by someone. It’s the nature of it, but I think speaking to Mikal, he understands the business. He understands he’s put himself in a position to be regarded as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Any discussion around great players, I would assume he’d be one of the first guy’s names that’s going to be thrown out there.”

The status of extension talks with Cameron Johnson:

“We’re having discussions. Cam is a big part of what we do. Really excited for the progress he’s shown over the last few years, especially last year. I think he’s primed to take some steps forward. We’re excited about this team, and we’re excited about the guys on this team one through 16. He’s definitely someone we’re going to need to take another step if we want to continue to progress and grow as a group.”

Possible roster moves before the start of training camp:

 “Always in evaluation mode. Always looking. Right now, we’re at 16 guys (14 standard, two two-way). There’s a chance I may add a couple more guys for training camp, but I think we’re close to the end of where we’ll be as far as our training camp roster goes.”

Western Notes: Westbrook, Rockets, Jones, Durant, Saric

While Lakers star Russell Westbrook hasn’t asked for a trade, he remains open to the possibility, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said on The Lowe Post podcast. Training camps open later this month, so Los Angeles is running out of time if it wants to deal Westbrook before the season officially starts up.

In 78 games last year, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per night, shooting a respectable 44% from the floor. He played more games than any other player on the Lakers and had a better season than most fans give him credit for.

Of course, film and advanced metrics certainly wouldn’t reveal the player that was once a league MVP, nor would it reveal a player worth the $47MM he’s owed next season. However, it’s still possible Westbrook doesn’t finish — or even start — the 2022/23 season with the Lakers.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Rio Grande Valley Vipers — G League affiliate of the Rockets — have hired Kevin Burleson as head coach, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). Burleson replaces Mahmoud Abdelfattah, who was promoted to become a Rockets assistant coach. Burleson was most recently an assistant coach with the Timberwolves.
  • The Suns didn’t have in-depth discussions with the Nets about a potential Kevin Durant trade, general manager James Jones said, as relayed by Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic (subscription required). Phoenix re-signed starting center Deandre Ayton, while Durant ultimately returned to the Nets last month. The Suns were reportedly one of Durant’s preferred destinations when he requested a trade in June.
  • In a separate article for the Arizona Republic, Rankin explores five takeaways from Dario Saric‘s EuroBasket play. Saric, who was traded to the Suns in 2019, suffered a torn ACL in 2021 and missed all of last season, but he plans to be ready for the start of the 2022/23 campaign.

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, Smart, Durant, White

New Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon is comfortable with the idea of playing a sixth man role for his new team as Marcus Smart retains the starting point guard job. As Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes, Brogdon is also confident that the two guards will complement one another well when they share the floor.

“I think we have different strengths,” Brogdon said. “He’s an All-Defensive player and Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s incredible in that facet, but I also think he contributes offensively. You’ve seen his game grow and seen him be able to knock down shots and create for his teammates.

“And we both can play on and off the ball. That’s the beauty of us. We’re smart, we have high IQs, and we’re unselfish, so I think it’s going to work well.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Although they were once viewed as a serious suitor for Kevin Durant, the Celtics never came “remotely close” to actually acquiring the former MVP, according to Himmelsbach, who heard from league sources that the Nets never pushed particularly hard to trade Durant.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic considers possible trade options the Celtics could explore with Danilo Gallinari expected to miss most or all of the 2022/23 season, suggesting that Derrick White could potentially become a trade chip if Brogdon is healthy and effective. However, Weiss notes that Gallinari was more of a luxury than a necessity, meaning the team won’t feel urgency to go out and acquire a replacement.
  • In his latest mailbag, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston discusses Sam Hauser‘s role, the battle for back-end roster spots, and expectations for Payton Pritchard, among other Celtics-related topics.

Eastern Notes: Gallinari, Hauser, Durant, Holden, Pistons

Danilo Gallinari‘s knee injury could open up some playing time for second-year Celtics forward Sam Hauser, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Gallinari suffered a meniscus tear during a World Cup Qualifier while playing for Italy and there’s no timetable for his recovery.

Hauser, who remained with the Celtics by signing a three-year deal in early July, can provide some perimeter shooting as Gallinari mends, though he needs to improve defensively. Boston could also go with more small-ball lineups with Grant Williams or even Jayson Tatum playing the center spot.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Kevin Durant and the Nets have smoothed over their differences for the time being and Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report delves into the question of whether they can continue to maintain a peaceful relationship. It’s likely the team will keep an awkward status quo while hoping to make a deep playoff run, Pincus writes. If things go awry, they can revisit offers for Durant at the trade deadline or next offseason.
  • Speaking of the Nets, former Euroleague standout J.R. Holden is expected to be named GM of their G League affiliate in Long Island, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Holden would replace Matt Riccardi, who accepted a front office position with Dallas this summer.
  • While there’s a good vibe coming out of Detroit, it will be very difficult for the Pistons to improve enough just to make the play-in tournament, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com points out. They may be better than they were last season but none of last year’s playoff and play-in tournament participants, save perhaps Charlotte, project to take a big step backward. At the same time, lottery teams New York and Washington have made major roster additions.

Heat Weren’t Aggressive In Pursuit Of Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant reportedly listed Miami as one of his preferred destinations when he demanded a trade from the Nets, but the Heat didn’t make a strong effort to acquire him, Shams Charania of The Athletic said in an appearance on the Stugotz podcast.

Heat officials believed it would cost too much of their roster to trade for Durant, added Charania, who said that the last contact between the two teams regarding Durant occurred either before or during Summer League.

Charania noted that Miami reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season and didn’t see a need for major changes. He pointed to hypothetical trades involving Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro or Adebayo, Max Strus and another player and asked whether that really gets Miami any closer to winning a title.

On top of that, any consideration of trading Adebayo would have been limited by the designated rookie extension rule, which would have prevented the Nets from having both him and Ben Simmons on their roster at the same time. A third team would have been needed to complete a deal, which made the prospects of a trade even less realistic.

Durant also was interested in joining the Suns, but Charania hears that Brooklyn didn’t want Deandre Ayton in return. Ayton became ineligible for a sign-and-trade this summer after Phoenix matched his offer sheet from the Pacers.

Charania said there were opportunities to deal Durant, but no one was willing to meet the Nets’ asking price. The Celtics wouldn’t part with Marcus Smart or Robert Williams along with Jaylen Brown, while the Raptors weren’t willing to include Scottie Barnes in trade talks. Charania said Brooklyn could have made a deal that was heavy on draft compensation with the Suns, Grizzlies or Timberwolves before they sent their assets to Utah for Rudy Gobert, but the Nets were only interested in trades that would keep them competitive.

Nets Notes: Durant, Championship Odds, Irving

With the dust settled (for now) on a dramatic summer full of trade and personnel demands from Nets superstar Kevin Durant, Zach Harper of The Athletic has compiled a list of the five “winners” and five “losers” following a torrid two months in Brooklyn.

Team president Sean Marks and the young players mentioned as possible centerpieces in Durant trades score high marks from Harper, while Celtics wing Jaylen Brown and Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash are among the folks involved in the rumor mill who suffered in the saga, with Nash’s long-term future with the Nets and Brown’s standing in Boston now less certain than they were at the start of the summer.

Net Income of NetsDaily penned a similar piece unpacking the winners, losers and “innocent bystanders” of the Durant chatter. Nash fares more favorably in Net Income’s appraisal.

There’s more out of Brooklyn:

  • With Durant seemingly in the fold at least to start the 2022/23 NBA season, Brooklyn’s title odds instantly improved at various sportsbooks, per Lance Pugmire of USA Today. Pugmire writes that Tipico Sportsbook projects the Nets as having the third-best odds to win the championship among Eastern Conference teams, behind only the 2022 finalist Celtics and 2021 champion Bucks.
  • Net Income of NetsDaily wonders if star Nets teammate Kyrie Irving‘s decision to opt in to the final year of his contract with Brooklyn – and a subsequent truce between Irving and the team – helped the club quell its issues with Durant for the time being.
  • In case you missed it, the Nets are considering free agent big men Markieff Morris and Tristan Thompson as possibilities to shore up their frontcourt.

Nets Notes: Durant, Collins, Outlook, Nash

A number of rival NBA executives subscribe to the theory that the Rudy Gobert trade made it more difficult for the Nets to move Kevin Durant, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. As Scotto explains, there was a sense that if the Nets couldn’t get more in exchange for Durant than the Jazz got for Gobert, Brooklyn’s front office would’ve looked “foolish.”

[RELATED: Kevin Durant, Nets Agree To “Move Forward” With Partnership]

Within his story on the Nets and Durant, Scotto also reports that multiple members of Brooklyn’s front office are fans of Hawks big man John Collins. A report earlier this week stated that Atlanta offered Collins, De’Andre Hunter, and a draft pick in exchange for Durant. However, Collins wasn’t viewed as the sort of star who could headline a KD package, Scotto says.

Here’s more on the Nets in the wake of this week’s Durant-related developments:

  • Multiple general managers who spoke to Scotto predicted that the Nets will be a top-four team in the East this season, though one acknowledged that there’s a wide range of conceivable outcomes for the club. “There’s a very predictable unpredictability, a predictable chaos, a predictable waffling,” the GM said. “What really would surprise you at this point?”
  • While Brooklyn’s high asking price was one major reason why Durant is still a Net, one league executive who spoke to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today suggested that suitors may have been turned off by the aggressive way the star forward pushed for a trade. “Teams don’t want to overpay for someone who has proven he will burn your house down,” the exec said.
  • During a segment on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Brian Windhorst referred to the truce between Durant and the Nets as a “tentative” one, while Adrian Wojnarowksi said that things will “continue to be fragile” in Brooklyn going forward. Sam Amick of The Athletic agrees that it would be naive to consider the Durant saga over, given that “this kind of discontent doesn’t just disappear overnight.”
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic each list five questions facing the Nets now that they’ve decided to hang onto Durant.
  • Within his story at The Athletic, Schiffer says that a possible new look in 2022/23 from head coach Steve Nash – who has several new assistants on his staff – has been a “selling point” in Brooklyn during free agency. Schiffer suggests that the Nets have the personnel necessary to run a faster-paced offense this season after leaning on an isolation-heavy system during Nash’s first couple years in Brooklyn.