Analysis On Nets Prospective Durant Deals Disrespectful To All-Time Great
As a Nets fan, I was quite content to turn the page on the calendar with Kevin Durant still listed on Brooklyn’s roster. The organization has not found a deal for their superstar forward, who reportedly requested a trade during a meeting with Nets owner Joseph Tsai a month ago, to their liking, which should be their posture for however long it takes.
All reporting since the request has been sketchy at best—we don’t know what prompted KD’s turnabout nor do we know the truth behind any of the reported negotiations between the Nets and other teams. We also don’t know what will happen if Durant remains a Net at the start of September’s training camp.
If, however, we are to believe any of the reports from the most highly-regarded NBA journalists plus the general characterization of Durant’s mindset, he should be feeling madly disrespected these days.
It takes too sides to come to an agreement, and it’s likely that the Nets are asking for the sun and the moon in return, but the analysis surrounding some of the proposed packages aren’t properly factoring in that we are talking about Kevin Durant, for heaven’s sake. You know who he is.
Yes, he will turn 34 in September and comes with an injury risk. But let’s not dismiss how he has come back from his 2019 Achilles surgery an even BETTER overall player than before the devastating injury and that maybe the in-season ailments he incurred during the last two seasons could have been avoided had Head Coach Steve Nash not needed Durant to consistently play 40-plus minutes just to beat teams like Detroit.
Durant isn’t just one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, he’s terrific on both ends and he has been ridiculously efficient. To clarify, he is STILL ridiculously efficient. In each of his two active seasons in Brooklyn, KD barely missed joining the 50/40/90 club, one so exclusive that it has just nine members, including Durant in 2012-13. He would have only needed to have converted five of his missed three-pointers to again crash through the barrier last season after falling five made free throws short in 2020-21.
It was only 13-plus months ago when Durant nearly singlehandedly knocked out the eventual champion Bucks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Despite the absence of injured guard Kyrie Irving and fellow Big 3 member James Harden hobbled by a strained hamstring, a half-size smaller shoe would have likely had both of KD’s feet behind the three-point line for a buzzer-beating game-winner instead of a tying bucket that forced overtime.
It took a supreme team-wide defensive effort (abetted by a poorly-constructed Brooklyn supporting cast) for Boston to suppress Durant’s unique abilities during last postseason’s four-game playoff sweep. Still, despite the lousy shooting and turnover numbers, KD averaged 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists during the series.
Now add in the fact that Durant would be nothing close to a rental for the acquiring team—he is signed for the next four seasons for about $194 million. Even if time starts to take its toll and diminishes his athleticism towards the end of the deal, you’d still looking at a peak Dirk Nowitzki-type performer. If you’re a team that has accumulated sufficient pieces to contend for a championship, how do you not part with a boatload of draft picks when adding KD would clearly put you at the front of the pack in terms of betting odds?
More shocking was when I read reports concerning how certain players should be “off the table” in trade talks. For instance, Scottie Barnes had an excellent rookie season in Toronto and, with good health, should have a long and prosperous NBA career with All-Star potential. But (again, if the consensus reporting is accurate) to declare him a dealbreaker? For Kevin Durant? Are you kidding?
Obviously, including a player of Barnes’ caliber in a trade would reduce the compensation value of the remaining pieces, but to insinuate that his value alone is superior to that of Durant, even with the age and contract dollar amount difference, is beyond disrespectful.
Similarly, the Celtics are acting like they didn’t have the luck of the Irish on their side in advancing to the NBA Finals last postseason. The Eastern Conference will likely be up for grabs again this season, with Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Miami all equal to the task of dethroning Boston. Even Brooklyn, if it maintains the status quo and then plugs a few holes, can challenge for the conference title. It will all come down to who is healthy in May.
As such, at least in my view, the Zach Lowe’s of the world are insane if, like the hard-working ESPN writer, they couldn’t justify Boston trading Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart for Durant. In this case, the Nets would need more in the form of draft picks since there is a high risk that Brown, whose 2021 All-Star appearance was his sole honor during his six-year career, could bolt after the next two seasons. Durant, by the way, has earned an All-Star berth in every season since 2010 except for his season-long 2019-20 sabbatical.
More importantly, KD is still performing at the highest level. That the rest of the league has been devaluing what he has left should have him frothing at the mouth.
Actually, I hope that’s how he feels so he is more inclined to give Brooklyn at least one more shot with his pal Irving to make this work.