Kevin Durant Rumors

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#7
Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant
Position: F
Born: 09/29/88
Height: 6-9 / 2.06
Weight:225 lbs. / 102.1 kg.
Salary: $37,199,000
In reality, a source told the Daily News that the Nets were confident deals for Durant and Kyrie Irving were done the day before free agency. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Nets organization tampered. There are many different avenues for recruitment and information without a direct line between player/agent and team. People are connected everywhere in 2019. But it does underscore that tampering is difficult to prove or enforce.
Globally, there has been a lot of talk about Team USA’s absences, and the 32 players who withdraw their names from the preliminary roster. Fournier, 26 was critical of his competitors in the NBA: “It does [bother me]. To be honest, when you look at LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and all these guys… they came here already and won, so it’s fine. But for friends of mine like Tobias [Harris], I thought it was a great opportunity for him to see something different and compete. I think they don’t realize how beneficial this is for their career. It’s a great tournament, great basketball, super intense. I know you have to work on your game, but this is way better.”
With injured Kevin Durant expected to miss most, if not all, of the season, Wilson Chandler suspended for 25 games for PEDs and Rodions Kurucs facing a possible suspension after being charged in an alleged domestic assault, the Nets have dire needs at forward. That makes Anthony more of a position fit. Sources had told the Post that several veterans were lobbying the front office on Anthony’s behalf. The Athletic reported that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were among them and that GM Sean Marks had taken a look at the former Knicks star recently.
While Durant was always the best player on the Thunder during his tenure in OKC, Smith is reporting Westbrook had trouble following KD as the team’s leader for a couple of reasons. “Several people have come up to me. A couple of people who used to play in Oklahoma City. Several people that are incredibly familiar with the history of KD in Oklahoma City. They said when he was in Oklahoma City, he wasn’t viewed as the leader,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday. “They said it was hard for Russell Westbrook to follow him because KD, the man that you see right now, was a boy back then. And Russell Westbrook came in a man. “So to go to Russell Westbrook and to ask him to follow that guy, Russell Westbrook was a man lookin’ at you like you’re asking him to follow a boy. I’m quoting. I’m not tellin’ you who. But I’m quoting folks that said that and it was more than one person.”
Clearly, Durant never felt that love in Golden State. Though he rubbished the narrative that he left because of a one-off tiff with Draymond Green that he dismissed as “a bulls–t argument that meant nothing,” he admitted he always felt like an outsider, saying he’s “just different” than his old Warriors teammates. “I came in there wanting to be part of a group, wanting to be part of a family, and definitely felt accepted. But I’ll never be one of those guys. I didn’t get drafted there. Steph Curry, obviously drafted there. Andre Iguodala, won the first Finals, first championship. Klay Thompson, drafted there. Draymond Green, drafted there,” said Durant, citing the other Warriors as rehab projects. “It didn’t feel as great as it could have been,” Durant added. In short, he wanted to be a part of the team, but always felt apart from them. “And on top of that, the media always looked at it like KD and the Warriors. So it’s like nobody could get a full acceptance of me there.”
In case you forgot, Kevin Durant is a Brooklyn Net, and on Friday, he sat down (in front of Nets’ logos) to discuss his new team, offering the smallest of hints that he might be back this season. “I’m excited about this group,” Durant told Chris Henderson (SEEHENDO on YouTube). Obviously with me not starting off the season, being injured, you’re gonna see a lot of guys step up, do some things and go to another level as a player.”
Storyline: Kevin Durant Injury
Writer comings, goings, stayings, and movings: Malika Andrews is set to move from Chicago to New York, where she will cover the Knicks and Nets (who added Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant) and also have a general national footprint. Any belief that this is a result of Giannis Antetokounmpo walking out on her question at a press conference would be inaccurate; she will still do some Bucks coverage. Expect her to appear on a lot more television this season, on programs such as Get Up and SportsCenter.
Carmelo Anthony is all in on joining forces with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn … telling TMZ Sports he considers the 2 NBA superstars “family” … and teaming up would be “bigger than basketball.” The 10-time All-Star has been jobless since November … but has publicly made it clear he’s NOT ready to ride off into the sunset just yet.
Storyline: Carmelo Anthony Free Agency
KD and Uncle Drew don’t want that to happen either, with the new Nets ballers reportedly “pushing” for the team to sign the 35-year-old free agent. We spoke with Melo out in NYC on Saturday night about being recruited by the pair of NBA champs … and he seems more than ready to team up. “That’s family,” Melo said. “So, that’s bigger than basketball. If something happens, something’s gonna happen.”
Did you have a “welcome to the NBA” moment that stands out? Kevin Huerter: Yeah, we had a road trip early in the year where we played the Lakers and the Warriors on the road back-to-back. That was one of our early road trips and it was my first time playing against LeBron James in Staples Center and playing against Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors in Oracle Arena. I think getting to play against those two teams and getting a chance to see the level that those guys are at was kind of my “welcome to the NBA” moment. You go from watching these guys on TV and looking up to them and to competing against them and trying to beat them. Both of those games were big for me, especially having them back-to-back like that.

Nets stars interested in Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony is scheduled to work out on Thursday with a group of New York Knicks in Manhattan but it’s the other team in town that continues to closely monitor the 10-time All-Star.The Brooklyn Nets remain interested in potentially signing Anthony, who recently trained with a group of their players in Los Angeles, including Kyrie Irving. In fact, one source told The Athletic that Irving and Kevin Durant, who both joined the Nets in July, are “pushing” the club to sign Anthony.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 225 more rumors
Lacob said after Durant’s departure in July that no Warrior would ever wear No. 35 while the team still was under his ownership. He joined The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on “The TK Show” podcast this week, and clarified his thoughts regarding whether KD’s number will join the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Al Attles in the rafters at Chase Center. “The intention is to retire his number, but we specifically said it that way, for now,” Lacob told Kawakami. “Because he’s still playing, it’s kind of inappropriate to some extent to say you’re gonna retire his number when he’s still playing in the league, but that’s the intention.”
When asked about Iguodala’s No. 9, Lacob echoed a similar sentiment. “We always wanna be gracious. I’ve said all along, he and any player like Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, whoever it is, a free agent, it’s their choice. They earned it,” Lacob said. “They have the right to make the choice they want to make.”
Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown form the group that’s transformed Team USA into “Team Shamrock,” and it turns out they’re making some history along the way. One NBA team having four representatives has never happened before, according to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman. The Celtics are the first team ever to have four players on the Team USA roster at the same time. The 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden) and the 2016 Golden State Warriors (Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson) are the only other teams to have three representatives simultaneously on the roster.

Have you talked to Kevin the summer? Green: Absolutely. I actually talked to K yesterday. You know, Kevin is my brother. He came to Golden State for three seasons. We won two championships … if someone would’ve told me, man, Kevin Durant’s gonna come to the Warriors and you guys are gonna win two championships and then have a shot at winning a third, would you take that? In a heartbeat. And so that was a major success. That’s my brother, and I’m happy for him.
1 month ago via ESPN
Storyline: Durant-Green Dynamic
His early trials have been well-publicized by college recruiting sites and breathlessly quoted in anonymity by awestruck scouts, but for the unindoctrinated, Bates, a 6’8” guard from Ypsilanti, Mich., has been crowned by many as the best NBA prospect since LeBron James (or Kevin Durant, depending how you feel). He faced arguably the stiffest test of his fledgling career last week at the Nike Skills Academy in Thousand Oaks. Bates was the youngest player and only rising sophomore in attendance at the prestigious camp, which brings together the most promising prospects from the sneaker giant’s youth circuit and throws them into drills and scrimmages for NBA scouts to evaluate and pick apart. After playing in his own 15-under age group all summer, Bates held his own in a key proving ground against older players and stronger bodies, though not without some ups and downs. And while you can hedge and qualify everything while trying to guess at the future, it’s now impossible to deny the fact that Bates is on the way.
On Thursday, Haynes said Durant’s “deep dive” entailed not speaking to his Warriors teammates. “There was a point with Kevin Durant when he just stopped talking to his teammates,” Haynes said during an appearance on Fox Sports’ “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.” “He was really on an island and didn’t have somebody that he was close with on that team. The only person he was close with was Quinn Cook, because they’re from the same area. But Quinn is a younger guy that doesn’t have much clout within the franchise.”
Storyline: Durant-Green Dynamic
Haynes did not specify when this shift occurred, but said it was after the courtside spat with Draymond Green in November. “After the Draymond stuff went down and then the New York Knicks chatter started going haywire, Durant just stopped talking,” Haynes said. “He felt like if he said something, it would give a lot of credence to people saying he’s only thinking about free agency. You would see Durant leaving the arena by himself and entering the arena by himself and really not speaking to anyone.”
The injury and its aftermath were heavily scrutinized and the Warriors were criticized for allowing the 10-time All-Star to return from a Grade 2 right calf strain he sustained in Golden State’s second-round series with the Houston Rockets. “I know you didn’t come over here for nothing,” Durant said. “I’ll give you something.” So we got straight to it. Did the Warriors mishandle the injury? Durant slowly straightened up with a perplexed expression on his face.
“Hell, no. How can you blame [the Warriors]? Hell, no,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and [director of sports medicine and performance] Rick [Celebrini] working out every day. Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5. Hell, nah. It just happened. It’s basketball. S— happens. Nobody was responsible for it. It was just the game. We just need to move on from that s— because I’m going to be back playing.”
When he was escorted off the Scotiabank Arena almost two months ago, he was in a daze. Unable to process what had just occurred, all he knew was that he was being helped to the locker room. Initially, he was met with an awful gesture of cheers and applause from fans in attendance before Raptors players signaled the crowd to stop. Durant doesn’t remember hearing the fans that night, but he has something for them to hear now. “It will probably be the last time they will be in the Finals,” Durant told Yahoo Sports with a smirk.
Three straight Finals appearances, two Finals MVPs and a starting five that could rival any in history — while playing in one of the league’s more attractive cities — left many within the organization wondering why Durant wanted to leave. “Because I wanted to,” Durant said. “The basketball was appealing.” Asked when a decision was made, he replied: “June 30. That morning. I never wanted to disrespect the game by putting my focus on the future. It was always about that day, focusing on that day and what was most important that day. And throughout the season, basketball is the No. 1 thing.”
The Nets have a nice young nucleus, a bright head coach in Kenny Atkinson and a promising young GM in Sean Marks, but not many predicted the organization would overshadow the Knicks for elite talent this offseason. “If I was leaving the Warriors, it was always going to be for the Nets,” Durant said. “They got the pieces and a creative front office. I just like what they were building.”
Q: Do you see Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie as good fits with Kyrie Irving because of their versatility? A: Definitely; their versatility and that they can guard multiple positions. The way the league is trending now, it’s a positionless league. You can go with those three guys, and KD, as you’re 1, 2, 3, 4. And they’re all interchangeable. All of them can bring the ball up the floor, all of them can defend multiple positions. All of them can be placed in pick and roll reads. All of them can play catch and shoot because they all can shoot the ball very well. It’s pretty dynamic. I won’t say that it’s Golden State-esque yet. But that’s what makes Golden State so special. Klay Thompson can catch and shoot, Steph Curry can catch and shoot. Kevin Durant can catch and shoot. But you can also put the ball in their hands. Back in the day, you could either catch and shoot or you’re really good at creating off the dribble. There wasn’t this combination. And then the fact that they want to get after it defensively as well, Spencer’s a really good, cerebral defender. Caris LeVert is a good defender. It can be really scary, it can be scary.
John Wall: I don’t like to talk about other team doctors or whatever, but if you watched Kevin, the whole time before he played that Game 5, if you watch where he was icing at, or when he had his injury, I know what a calf strain is like. I know what an Achilles injury is like. When you look back like that, I knew it was an Achilles injury from the start. I can’t diagnose what those doctors said. But if you look where he was icing his leg, it was the Achilles the whole time. I had a teammate, Sheldon Mac, that tore his Achilles the same way and once he made that same move, I knew exactly what it was. I talk to Kevin all the time. We’re great friends. He’s doing great. He’s taking his time, I guess. I don’t know. I just wish him the best. He’s one of those guys, if he has the Achilles or not, it’s not going to affect him, I feel, because he can score at all levels.
Storyline: Kevin Durant Injury
Curry, his then-Warriors teammates Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, along with the Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown are among the NBA players who have hosted and participated in NBA player-focused tech conferences in San Francisco. Iguodala, whose investment portfolio includes startups Casper, NerdWallet and Zoom, has led such events in each of the past four years and told the audience at the Players Technology Summit in June, “We have a group of athletes who want to come in and become more knowledgeable in this space. Tech is everywhere now. It’s disrupting everything, just at the forefront of leading many different sectors and the players realize that.”
Kevin Durant seems to be making great progress — because the NBA superstar was out in Los Angeles on Wednesday … cruisin’ around the restaurant scene WITHOUT crutches! Remember, Durant tore his right Achilles on June 12 during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals … but the recovery is expected to be so tough, he could miss the entire 2019-20 season. Which is why we were so impressed when we saw KD walking out of Catch restaurant in L.A. — sure, there was a little hitch in his giddy up … but overall, he was moving pretty well.
Storyline: Kevin Durant Injury
On the season finale of Curry’s Facebook series “Stephen vs The Game,” the point guard revealed why he ran into the tunnel and what he told Durant during the small forward’s final minutes in a Warriors jersey. “I don’t know why I ran into the tunnel, I think I knew it was something serious,” Curry said. “I threw a Bible verse at him just to encourage him, to keep his spirits high.” Curry did not specify which Bible verse he used, but later commended Durant for “sacrificing” his body for the Warriors.
“So there’s always unknowns, right –when you’re a player and going to a new organization,” admitted Kittles. “Even though you’re a superstar player, I can remember when the Nets brought in Jason Kidd, and he was already an All-Star and a well-established superstar in the NBA, but he came to a new organization with a bunch of new faces, and new coaches, and new system. It’s going to take some time for those guys. I think Kevin Durant sitting out most of this year, if not the entire season, will give Kyrie a chance to grow and to learn how to play the style of play that Coach Atkinson has and how to lead. I think will be his first real chance of leading and grow in that role.”
Brooklyn hopes that their championship window stays open longer since they still have developing players on the roster and didn’t go all-in on short-term success. Spencer Dinwiddie: “One of the craziest things about this ‘rebuild’ is that we got two stars and a third semi-star and we didn’t have to mortgage everything to do it. We still have Rodi , we still have Jarrett , we still have Caris all on rookie deals. Joe and myself are only 26 years old. We’re not very old.”
Wilson Chandler: “We have so many great young players. is amazing and was looking so good before his injury and then came back strong too. Allen is a great defensive player, a great rim protector. Spencer is amazing and should’ve been in the race for Sixth Man of the Year. Taurean is really talented. A lot of the great pieces that we have around are guys who will just continue to grow.” Garrett Temple: “Kyrie just turned 27, so he still has another four or five years in his prime. The rest of the guys are so young – Spencer, Joe, Caris (who’s a really talented young guy), Jarrett. Then, you add in DeAndre, who’s a great vet, and KD coming back next year… There’s a lot to look forward to with this team.”
Now Jordan is talking about not only his new team, but also his old friend — and how Durant is recovering from his ruptured Achilles, arguably the most-watched body part in New York City. “We’ve got a lot of talent on this team,” Jordan told Gothamist during a promotional event Wednesday at a Dunkin’ in Midtown Manhattan. “You know obviously Kevin had a tough injury, he’s going to be out for a while, but he’s progressing great, he’s recovering fast, we’ll be even better when we get him back and healthy.”
Are the Nets the new kings of New York? Seven years after moving out of New Jersey to Brooklyn, the team has positioned itself to overtake the rival Knicks, if not in franchise valuation then in success on the court and hype off of it. The blockbuster additions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, long rumored to be joining the Knicks, has rejuvenated a Nets fan base itching for a reason to fill the Barclays Center in a sea of black and white.
“We’ve been able to capture the moment and leverage the moment to drive the business forward,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, the Nets’ parent company. “No one’s getting carried away here with two weeks of success — I look at this as a marathon, not a sprint. But obviously we’ve had signs of progress and momentum and we’re making the most of it.” On June 30 alone, the first day of free agency, the team received 1,000 inbound calls by fans looking to buy tickets — a big deal for any team, let alone one that finished last in attendance last season. On that same day that it was reported Durant and Irving had chosen to come to Brooklyn, the team’s website saw a 675 percent spike in traffic. And in the first week of free agency, the Nets gained more than 100,000 new Instagram followers. The revamped roster has given fans reason to seek out and actively engage with the team, as its ticket sellers discovered.
“This is an outbound business, not an inbound business, so when a thousand calls are starting to come in, you get pretty excited. You realize momentum is shifting,” Yormark said. “They can pick up the phone or meet someone across the table and reference a great moment now here in Brooklyn Nets history and have a great story to tell. We’re not there yet and we’ve got a lot to prove, but we’re making great progress, and I think fans see that progress. Fans typically buy into hope and promise and progress, and they’re seeing it. They’re gravitating to it. And I’m just happy that the sellers have an opportunity to tell that story that’s being built here.”
Durant’s familiarity and comfort level with the Nets medical staff was a major determining factor in him ultimately signing a deal to come to Brooklyn. While most critics are scoffing at the thought of Durant seeing the hardwood this upcoming season, according to Weinfeld, Durant’s chances are exceedingly better than that of injured Wizards star John Wall’s. “A point guard plays a different kind of game than Kevin Durant does,” noted Dr. Weinfeld. “An explosive type athlete, his demand is different than that of Kevin Durant’s. You talk about odds of coming back to where he was, I think Durant’s odds are better than an athlete like John Wall whose whole game is quickness and explosiveness. He [Wall] counts much more on those muscles being exactly where they need to be as opposed to a player like Durant and his style.
Storyline: John Wall Injury
While many expect not to see either Wall or Durant until the 2020-2021 season, Dr. Weinfeld is confident that Durant can return to the player fans saw lead the Warriors to two championships, three straight finals appearances, and dominate the NBA as a two-time Finals MVP and league MVP. “I think he’ll probably be somewhere between 90 and 100 percent,” stated Dr. Weinfeld. “That’s my thought assuming everything goes smoothly and he doesn’t have any setbacks I think you can expect somehwere in the 90 to 100 percent range.”
The Clippers inquired about Washington’s Bradley Beal and Houston’s James Harden, according to league sources, but neither star was available. As The Athletic previously reported, Leonard had an interest in joining forces with Jimmy Butler on the Clippers and, according to ESPN, also reached out to Kevin Durant about teaming up in Los Angeles.
Asked when he expected the 10-time All-Star to return, Marks said, “I have no idea. We’re certainly not going to rush him back. There’s going to be absolutely none of that. We have far too much invested in him, and we owe it to Kevin to get him back to 100 percent.” The Nets’ position in the standings won’t play any role in when Durant comes back, Marks said. “This is entirely going to be a Kevin Durant decision,” he said.
2 months ago via ESPN
Storyline: Kevin Durant Injury
“What we knew was we were either getting a teleconference call with Kevin that night or we were going to potentially get a meeting,” Marks said. “We’d seen some media reports earlier in the day that Kevin had crossed several teams off his list and we were still one of them (being considered). And those reports were there for everybody to read. And when Kevin posted it on The Boardroom Instagram site, that was news to all of us in the office.”
Marks said the Nets will not push Durant to return, but again wouldn’t rule anything out. “I have no idea,” he said of a date for a possible Durant return to the court. “We’re certainly not going to rush him back. There’s going to be absolutely none of that. We have far too much invested in him, and we owe it to Kevin to get him back to 100 percent.”
Storyline: Kevin Durant Injury
Speaking for the first time since acquiring Russell in a sign-and-trade that sent Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets, Myers said the organization hasn’t decided whether Russell fits into the team’s long-term plans, despite speculation throughout the league that Russell could land somewhere else in the next year. “I know it’s been written and speculated. That’s fine,” Myers said Monday. “That’s what everybody’s job is to do. We didn’t sign him with the intention of just trading him. We haven’t even seen him play in our uniform yet, and a lot of people have us already trading him. That’s not how we’re viewing it. Let’s just see what we have. Let’s see what he is. Let’s see how he fits.
2 months ago via ESPN
“Part of our job in the front office and the coaching staff and the organization is, ‘How does it all work?’ … So much of our sport at least, and maybe other sports, is, ‘What are you doing next?’ We got to figure out what we’re doing now.” Myers added: “We’re just happy that we got a young player that has a lot of upside, in our opinion, and we’re excited at the possibility of him in our uniform.”
2 months ago via ESPN
But before the free-agency frenzy started two weeks ago, Curry needed to say something to Durant, face to face. There were things Curry wanted to look him in the eye and convey. “I knew full well it was decision time, whatever way he was going to go,” Curry said Saturday during a break in the second round of the American Century Golf Championship celebrity tournament, a delay created by a logjam at the par-5 16th hole at Edgewood Tahoe. “There was no need to pitch. He knows what we’re about and what we accomplished. He just had to make a decision that makes him happy. That’s what everybody wants to do in this league. It was more about a respect factor, not letting the BS of this league get in the way of our relationship, and not let it change who I am or anything like that. I feel like he just knew what he wanted. And at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for as a player.”
Curry opened up in an extended Q&A session about Durant’s exit with the type of diplomatic answer one would expect from Curry. “The three years that we had were special,” Curry said via The Mercury News. “With KD, we had three straight Finals appearances. We won two of them, and we accomplished a lot as a group. Everybody talks about the amount of talent that we had on our team, but that doesn’t guarantee that you can figure it out on the court, that you can put all the pieces together to be successful. I’m really proud of what we accomplished.
“The beauty of free agency is everybody has a decision, everybody has a choice. You want to find your happiness wherever that is. The beauty of the NBA is everybody has that decision at some point, especially guys that deserve it, like KD and other top free agents. I like to look at what we accomplished and focus on that and be extremely proud of this run that we had. Now we are going to have to recreate it in terms of what it means going forward.”
In mid-April as the Nets were in the midst of a playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, a high-ranking source close to the Nets told ND that Durant was “seriously considering” the Nets. The same source discussed how Durant was intrigued by the idea of playing with Caris LeVert. LeVert said he didn’t pressure KD, but they did talk. “We have a good friendship, but I never really pressured him about it or that type of stuff. When he got hurt I reached out, kind of made sure he was OK and everything like that. But obviously he knows that he’s a great player, he knows that I would love to play with him. But I kind of left him alone with that stuff.”
The Brooklyn Nets included about $1 million in yearly performance-based incentives into maximum contracts for both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, a tweak that allowed them to maneuver to fit contracts for DeAndre Jordan and second-round pick Nicolas Claxton into cap space, according to contract data obtained by ESPN. Both deals have player options in their fourth seasons, meaning Durant and Irving can hit free agency again in the summer of 2022.
2 months ago via ESPN
Storyline: Kevin Durant Free Agency
Marks, though, refused to speculate about when Durant could potentially return to the court. “He will be evaluated with the performance team and so forth,” Marks said. “I think a timeline will be given in due time, but as of now, we’re certainly not going to comment on when or if and make any sort of hypotheticals. It’s too early.” Both Nets leaders were also asked about the process of integrating Irving — who is coming off a tumultuous season in Boston — into the mix in Brooklyn.
2 months ago via ESPN
Another point: Leonard, Durant and Irving have the luxury of leaving elite teams because all three have won championships. “These guys are now saying, ‘Well, I’ve already achieved what I need to achieve,'” the agent said. “‘Now, what are the outside factors that can influence my life? I want to be home, I want to do movies, I want to be in music, I want to be in venture capital,’ whatever the case may be. And I think at this point, those are factors that you can’t determine.” They also are factors some teams can’t satisfy. “Masai can’t change the fact that Toronto is not Southern California,” the agent said. “I mean, Kawhi had an entire country that was behind him, and he chose to go close to home. … You can’t compete with that.”
On the afternoon of June 30, Marks and his staff gathered in the war room for the opening hours of free agency. Internally, there was confidence that the team was positioned to land two of the biggest names on the market: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. “Nervous anticipation,” says Marks. Just before 5 pm came the first reports: Both planned to sign with the Nets. It wasn’t until an Instagram post an hour later confirmed Durant’s intentions that Marks fully believed KD was coming. “That sent a shock wave through everyone,” Marks says. Later that evening, Irving made his scheduled visit. Gazing out a window at the city, he spread his arms, savoring the moment. He talked about how long he had been waiting for this. He talked about coming home.The next day it was official: He was in, too.
Let’s stipulate: For the Nets to pull off this offseason heist, location mattered. For months, Durant had been linked with the Knicks. A successful, three-year partnership with Golden State that yielded three Finals trips and two titles was winding down, and there was belief around the league that Durant wanted something different. The Knicks could offer the 30-year-old an opportunity to be the face of—all boils aside—one of the NBA’s flagship franchises. Being in New York gave Durant the chance to take more of a hands-on role with Thirty Five Ventures, the Manhattan-based business and entertainment enterprise Durant cofounded with his manager, Rich Kleiman. Irving, raised on New Jersey blacktops and coming off a chaotic two-season run in Boston, was keenly interested in playing closer to his roots.