For months, NBA rumors indicated that Kevin Durant was joining the New York Knicks to become the biggest star in the sport’s biggest market.
It turns out they may have just been off by a few miles.
On Sunday, reports emerged that Durant was actually headed for the Brooklyn Nets after the team’s aggressive push to turn into a title contender and attract Durant to the Eastern Conference. As Chris Broussard noted on Twitter, there were “strong rumblings” around the league that Durant was headed to Brooklyn.
The Nets had already worked out the outlines of a deal for Kyrie Irving, which will reportedly prompt the team to cut ties with D’Angelo Russell. As Ian Begley noted on Twitter, the Nets had the cap space to go after Durant and was planning on making a run for him.
As Begley’s report for SNY noted, Durant was planning to communicate with a number of teams when free agency starts on Sunday evening, including both the Nets and Knicks. It could create a difficult situation for the Nets, he noted, as Durant is notoriously independent and wanted to avoid the perception that he is joining the Nets only to follow Irving. There had been a number of reports in recent months that Durant and Irving, who have grown very close, were hoping to play on the same team together for the upcoming season.
It’s not clear if Durant was still sensitive from the criticism he took when joining the Golden State Warriors that he was tagging along to chase a championship ring, but Begley believes that his sensitivity could affect his chances of joining the Nets.
“But several executives monitoring the Durant situation don’t believe Durant would be interested in being seen as someone who followed another player to a team. Assuming Brooklyn agrees quickly to a deal with Irving and Durant and did so subsequently, the narrative could be shaped that Durant was following Irving to Brooklyn,” Begley wrote.
Kyrie Irving is headed to Brooklyn, per ESPN. The Nets, as expected, will not pair Irving & All Star guard D'Angelo Russell in the same backcourt. They will now have enough space for Kevin Durant. We'll find out if Durant wants to join Kyrie in BK shortly: https://t.co/zYE6GXVd4n
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 29, 2019
Kevin Durant may not be the only player in the sights for the Brooklyn Nets. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic(via Clutch Points), the Nets were also hoping to land big man DeAndre Jordan in creating a “big three” that would allow the team to jump into contention to win the Eastern Conference. Landing Durant would be the more difficult task, he noted, and Jordan would be considered likely to join if Durant were signed.