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Speculation growing that Nets have inside track on Kevin Durant

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NBA: Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

(Didn’t think I’d ever be writing that.)

In both a conversation on ESPN’s “The Jump” and in the pages of the New York Times, NBA pundits —and a good friend of Kevin Durant’s — say the Nets are confident they’re in the lead for KD’s services.

In the back and forth on The Jump, Brian Windhorst says the Nets are “gaining confidence” that they’ll sign Kevin Durant.

Kendrick Perkins, a former teammate of Durant’s as well as a friend, responds by saying he thinks the Nets are now the “front-runner” to land KD.

Windhorst then adds that Perkins is “not the only person involved in the NBA that has told me that.

Here’s the video posted by Tommy Beer of Yahoo! Sports...

Similarly, Marc Stein reports on the Nets confidence re KD who of course will miss all of next season after suffering a ruptured achilles in the NBA Finals. In his summary of the NBA Draft, he writes...

Unpredictability is so rampant that the upstart Nets are convinced that they are not only firmly in the lead to sign Irving, but also a legitimate threat to persuade Durant to ignore the Madison Square Garden lure of the Knicks and join his good friend Kyrie in Brooklyn.

Stein says he doubts that Irving will be able to “recruit” Durant, that he’ll make a decision on his own terms. He writes, “My personal read there is that Durant is more likely to choose the destination he prefers and then tell Irving he can join him if he wishes.”

The Nets of course have been on a bit of a cap-clearing tear to create enough room to sign both KD and Kyrie Irving. They dumped Allen Crabbe’s $18.5 million expiring contract on June 6, then renounced Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s rights and finally passed on making a first round pick Thursday to add more cap space. According to most estimates, the Nets could get within a million or so dollars of the $70 million needed to sign both ... if they are willing to renounce their rights to D’Angelo Russell.

Observers in the media and elsewhere in the NBA have long believed that Sean Marks would not be making such moves without some belief that Durant is willing to sign with Brooklyn.

Free agency begins in eight days, at 6 p.m. June 30.