It was not that long ago that it felt like the Brooklyn Nets were building a team that would contend for many years.
The Nets, after an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, are at a franchise crossroads. They supposedly will get Ben Simmons back for next season, but Kyrie Irving doesn’t appear committed to Brooklyn, and with that has ramped up rumors that maybe even Kevin Durant could end up elsewhere.
We could be watching a potential doomsday scenario unfold in Brooklyn. Irving can opt out of his deal at the end of the month to become a free agent, or he could try strong-arming the Nets into a sign-and-trade.
At this point, the salary cap implications of Irving wanting out could tank the Nets’ ability to build a respectable roster around Durant, to the point that the guard staying, even with his flaws, might be the best path forward. After all, a healthy and available Durant-Irving-Simmons trio theoretically should make the Nets one of the top teams in the East.
Whatever ends up unfolding, it’ll be Irving’s decision without much say from Durant, who said on his podcast “The ETCs” that he’s not getting involved.
“There’s no involvement at all,” Durant said. “I mean, I can’t be involved with – this is this man’s livelihood. This is much bigger than me. Being a free agent is one of the most important times in your career, so that can’t be swayed by anybody else. ...
"There’s nothing that can happen right now, I don’t think he can even make a decision on opting out until the 29th I think, so I just kind of let things play out and see what happens. Keep in regular contact with Ky and see what happens, man. It’s something that there’s so much out of my control that I don’t want to be a part of it. We’ll see what happens, though.
“Basketball is obviously the most important thing, but I try not to let that get in the way of somebody else’s personal decision. Like I said, whatever happens, the friendship will still be there.”
A report emerged Thursday that Durant was “monitoring the situation” with Irving and the Nets and considering options for his future, which really isn’t that earth-shattering of a development.
But that uncertainty will swirl around Durant until the Irving situation reaches a resolution. That resolution will have a league-wide impact, and Durant knows that will keep him and the rest of his team in the news cycle.
“It’s just reports, you know how rumors go around this time. It’s draft time, the finals just ended, so we’ve got to keep that dialogue going and keep that engagement going. Obviously we’re an interesting topic, we’ve got a lot going on with our team, uncertainty with Ben last playing last year, us being swept in the playoffs, Kyrie’s situation being a free agent, so there’s a lot of uncertainty around our team. I understand why there’s so much noise around us, but control what you can and move forward.
“When the time is right, everything will work out for us.”
We’ll see if that’s in Brooklyn.