Kevin Durant will remain in Brooklyn after a meeting with his business manager Rich Kleiman, Nets general manager Sean Marks, coach Steve Nash, and owners Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai.
With Durant and Kyrie Irving re-committed to the Nets, the healthy returns of Ben Simmons, Joe Harris and Seth Curry, the re-signings of Nicolas Claxton and Patty Mills, along with the additions of TJ Warren and Royce O’Neale, what’s next for Brooklyn?
Below is the latest HoopsHype intel gathered on why a Durant trade never happened, how the Nets will fill out their roster, and expectations for the team according to rival executives.
Why a Kevin Durant trade didn’t happen
Jaylen Brown, an All-Star caliber player, was the best player discussed in any Durant trade scenario, but without Marcus Smart or Robert Williams and potentially additional draft pick compensation included in trade discussions, it wasn’t enough to move the needle for Brooklyn.
Multiple members of Brooklyn’s front office have been admirers of Atlanta’s John Collins from afar for years, league sources told HoopsHype. However, Collins wasn’t enough to be the headline player in a trade package with the Hawks for Durant.
Without Toronto offering Scottie Barnes and New Orleans offering Brandon Ingram, neither team would land Durant in Brooklyn’s eyes. As for Miami and Phoenix, Durant’s preferred destinations at the beginning of his trade request, neither team had the assets Brooklyn’s sought from the outset and would’ve required a complicated multi-team trade.
“I always thought returning was the best thing for Durant to win,” an Eastern Conference general manager told HoopsHype. “The Nets weren’t going to get anything close to what they wanted, so the best thing for them to do was salvage the relationship. After the Rudy Gobert trade, they would’ve had to get more for Durant.”
Numerous NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype believe the Gobert trade made it harder for Durant to be moved. The draft pick compensation Utah received from Minnesota was considered such a lopsided haul for Utah around the league that if the Nets got anything less than that for Durant, Brooklyn’s front office would’ve looked foolish, according to numerous rival executives.
How will the Nets fill out the roster?
Brooklyn has six roster spots to fill with three Exhibit 10s, two standard deals, and one two-way spot available. Brooklyn can use up to $6.48 million from their taxpayer mid-level exception in free agency, as noted by our HoopsHype salary cap expert, Yossi Gozlan.
The Nets are looking to add a veteran backup center, league sources told HoopsHype. One free-agent center to keep an eye on is Tristan Thompson, HoopsHype has learned. The Nets have also expressed exploratory interest in forward Markieff Morris, league sources told HoopsHype. NetsDaily was the first to report Brooklyn’s interest in Morris.
Thompson’s rebounding, energy, locker room presence, and championship pedigree are all characteristics that would potentially fit in well with Brooklyn’s roster and championship aspirations this season. The 31-year-old veteran played with Irving for six seasons and Harris for two seasons in Cleveland. Thompson is also represented by Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, who has Simmons as a client on the team.
Despite separate reports about the Nets considering Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony as free agent additions, Brooklyn doesn’t have interest in adding either veteran currently, HoopsHype has learned.
The Nets still have a two-way qualifying offer extended to David Duke Jr., who has held out for a standard contract. If the Nets add a veteran backup center, they’d still have an NBA roster spot open to give Duke a standard deal. Should Duke return on a two-way contract, he’d join rookie Alondes Williams as Brooklyn’s two two-way players.
Expectations for the Nets
Multiple NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype projected the Nets to contend for a top-four seed in the East.
With Durant and Irving returning, Simmons expected to be fully healthy, shooters in Harris, Curry and Mills, Claxton’s projected development, O’Neale’s on-ball defense, and the scoring upside of Warren, the Nets believe they’ve upgraded their depth and talent.
“I think the Nets could be the best regular season team in the East,” one Western Conference general manager told HoopsHype. “I don’t think they will be, but I think they could be. I think they’re probably a top-four team in the East with Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston.”
“Brooklyn’s a top-four team in the East,” an Eastern Conference general manager predicted. “They can be really good depending on what Simmons can bring.”
However, if Brooklyn gets off to a sluggish or underwhelming start, executives will keep an eye on Durant’s mood, professionalism and production.
“There’s a very predictable unpredictability, a predictable chaos, a predictable waffling,” one NBA general manager told HoopsHype. “What really would surprise you at this point?”
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