Another week and no resolution to the Saga of Kevin Durant. It appears that the Nets aren’t lowering their price and KD isn’t rescinding his request to be traded. It appears he wants no part of “run it back,” although (surprisingly?) Kyrie Irving does.
But we can dream, can’t we? Sure, but with some risk to our fragile psyches.
We’re not alone. As games get closer and teams get more solidified, others feel the same way. On “The Hoop Collective” Thursday, Brian Windhorst mused about what Brooklyn could be, one of the most potent shooting lineups ever. And in doing so, Windhorst added his voice to those who think Be Simmons will play a lot at the 5, with or without KD...
“There’s been some concept that Ben Simmons could play center for this team this year. And when you think about those lineups, we’d have Simmons at center, and he could be protected by Durant and Kyrie and Seth Curry and Joe Harris. That would be one of the most potent shooting lineups that you could ever see,” Windhorst told Marc J. Spears.
“And you could have Simmons defend (the) center position and then potentially be the creator or work in pick-and-roll with any of those guys, spreading the floor. I mean, that’s terrorizing stuff.”
Terrorizing indeed, but there is still no clarity on whether that will ever happen. There’s no clarity on whether Durant would join training camp and play games or sit out. In that same podcast, Windhorst touched on that as well.
“A week ago, if you had asked me, ‘will Kevin Durant hold out of training camp if he’s not traded?’ I would have been like, ‘I can’t see it.’ Now I can see it. That is what we’re headed towards.”
We learned this week that Durant face any financial risks if he goes in that direction. Marc Stein reported that he has already gotten the first quarter of his $44 million salary and will get another quarter on October 1. In theory, and again we have no indication of whether this could happen, Durant could participate in the first few days of camp to get past October 1, get paid, and then sit out.
Although Ramona Shelburne noted that Durant laid out his grievances in more detail during their London meeting a week ago and the Nets see the meet-up as “part of process,” Durant is sticking to his ultimatum: fire Sean Marks and Steve Nash, or trade me. Tsai in a tweet noted his support for the front office and coaching staff and reiterated that the organization is prioritizing “the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”
So, things do not look good unless you have entirely given up the ghost on KD. In that case, you could say things are getting a little better if the rumors about the Sixers now being interested in KD are true. The more teams are interested and waving trade offers in your face, the more likely the Nets will get close to their asking price. However, would a trade creating a superteam in either Philadelphia or Boston be in “the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets?”
The rumor has some validity at least on the surface. Durant and James Harden are just back in each other’s good graces. They are on a European tour together moving from St. Tropez on the French Riviera to London for a Travis Scott concert, then to Barcelona and a 5-star hotel on the beach. Also, the salaries match if Tobias Harris is in the mix. Tyrese Maxey is a player with All-Star potential and Matisse Thybulle is already a solid defender. He might thrive if teamed with fellow Aussies Ben Simmons and Patty Mills on the bench and the “Melbourne Mafia” on the performance team. BUT the Sixers have limited draft capital to fill the Nets need of picks. And again, trading Durant to Philly under duress after trading Harden under duress would be hard to swallow, particularly for fans.
So as far as we know, that’s where we stand ... emphasis on “as far as we know.”
Ric Bucher pushes Nets rumors hard, despite denials
There was a time when Ric Bucher was a go-to reporter on ESPN. He broke the news of the Deron Williams trade on television back in 2011. DWill when asked who told him he was headed to New Jersey answered “Ric Bucher on ESPN.” Now with FOX Sports, he’s more of an NBA commentator but this week, he was out there providing what he said was news about Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving.
In the first instance, Bucher reported that a source told him Simmons dropped out of a Nets group chat during the Nets sweep to the Celtics when asked if he was going to play in Game 4. Bucher also told Colin Cowherd that the incident angered Kevin Durant.
Not long after, Shams Charania and Kristian Winfield both said nothing happened, that the the story wasn’t true, which caused Bucher to reiterate his claim and suggest it was Charania who was wrong. He did not mention Winfield.
Simmons also seemed to make fun of the Bucher report, tweeting this...
slow news day— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) August 9, 2022
... and retweeting Charania telling Pat McAfee “This NEVER happened.. it’s an amazing story but it didn’t happen.”
In the second instance, Bucher said of Irving’s contract talks, “I’m told he wanted his new contract to guarantee he wouldn’t have to play more than 60 games in a season and would not have to play any back-to-backs, which he apparently referred to as inhumane.”
Irving quickly responded with a tweet showing a GIF of a baseball player doffing his hat, indicating that Bucher is “capping,” or “lying.” He also went further, calling out the media in general. His agent and stepmother, Shetellia Riley Irving, had earlier denied a report in the Post that Irving “hates” Sean Marks and Steve Nash...
When you’re ready to Break free from the media’s control over your subconscious thoughts and emotions, meet me on One of my platforms and let’s chop it up.— A11Even (@KyrieIrving) August 11, 2022
We the A11Even tribe love our conversations about the TRUTH and what is truly happening.
Welcome to the
It got 11,000 likes.
Is Bucher focusing on the Nets? It might be a smart strategy. The Nets have dominated the off-season on television and social media. It’s no accident that NBA Today on ESPN had its highest ratings ever in July when the biggest NBA news was where will Durant and Irving wind up. I guess we can console ourselves with that.
And at least one American city is obsessed with Simmons and it is truly amazing. A “F*ck Ben Simmons” chant broke out this week between sets at a Kendrick Lamar concert in Philadelphia. Whoosh.
As we’ve noted, Kevin Durant were all buddy-buddy in Europe last week. Here they are working out in Barcelona Tuesday night...
Kd and Harden are both in Barcelona working out together lmao. pic.twitter.com/UQDox4EMr5— Tristan (@Tristan96182246) August 11, 2022
And if that pairing doesn’t have you scratching your head, here’s Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook working out in L.A...
Ben Simmons is also in L.A. with his trainer Chris Johnson...
Johnson was asked if Simmons is working on his 3-point shooting. “Absolutely,” he responded.
Meanwhile, Saturday night, Friends of Nic will be celebrating his new two-year deal, valued at between $17 million and $20 million, depending on bonuses.
Enjoy big guy!
Note of Thanks
The Nets lost two of the hardest working guys on their staff in the last couple of weeks. Jordan Ott, who had been an assistant coach for more than six seasons, and Matt Riccardi, who went from intern to director of scouting operations and Long Island Nets GM over a span twice as long, are both leaving for better jobs elsewhere in the NBA. Ott is headed to the Lakers, Riccardi to the Mavericks.
Both were enormously popular with generations of Nets players. They will be missed but we hope they succeed in their new jobs as much as they succeeded in Brooklyn (and in Riccardi’s case, New Jersey.)
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDESport.org) issued its annual report on the NBA, its “Racial and Gender Report Card.” It’s a lengthy compendium of where the league is at, particularly in the roles people of color and women play across the league, including the NBA headquarters staff and team offices. It’s a good read.
Among teams, the Nets rank 10th out of 30 in terms of People of Color and Women in VP or above roles. That’s not just basketball operations but in everything from finance to human relations to marketing. The Knicks, to their credit, top the list.
There have been some sketchy reports that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving want more diversity in the coaching ranks, although neither have said anything public on the issue. Of the Nets eight assistants, three are African-Americans and one is Hispanic. That’s down one from last season. The Nets apparently will not replace Amar’e Stoudemire who held the singular position of Player Development Assistant. He was listed on the coaching staff but was not an assistant coach. Stoudemire described his departure as a “mutual decision.”
The report also noted that there are four teams with people of color as the principal governor, including Joe Tsai, and three women. Clara Wu Tsai is often referred to as “co-owner” of the Nets but that’s not an official title. She is “co-governor” of the Liberty with her husband.
No updates again this week. While other teams are starting to fill their training camp rosters, the Nets still have openings. Again, they have 12 players on guaranteed standard NBA contracts, one player with a partial guarantee and one two-way. David Duke Jr. remains a restricted free agent. We assume nothing is happening so the Nets have some flexibility if they have to take on extra contracts in a Kevin Durant trade. They are among the few NBA teams who haven’t filled out 15 + 2 roster. By one estimate, there are only 17 openings for standard contracts still open among the 30 teams and two of them are in Brooklyn.
Expect some news this week. Also expect the NBA schedule to be released. Without knowing if and where KD will be moved, the big dates to look for are Ben Simmons return to play in Philadelphia, Royce O’Neale’s return to Utah and T.J. Warren and Edmond Sumner’s return to Indiana. And the four dates the Nets play the Knicks.
Root, root, root for the home team, that is the New York Liberty. If they win Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center, they’re in the post-season for the second straight year after missing out for four straight years.
Here’s the scenarios for the WNBA playoffs. If the Libs win they’re in. If they don’t they still have a chance.
In fact, instead of just rooting from home, head over to Brooklyn. Seats are available.
Our Brian Fleurantin will have the game preview Sunday morning. Go Libs, Own the Crown!