The first big dominoes to fall in free agency this offseason were Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving agreeing to deals with the Nets, both of which got reported prior to the moratorium period even beginning.
The two long-time friends had been rumored for months to be considering teaming up together in New York, although for some time it was assumed the Knicks would be the team they’d join, not Brooklyn. After they agreed to their deals, there were tons more major deals left to happen, and coupling more recent star pairings with Durant likely being out all season, the Nets are among the least discussed going into the upcoming season as far as teams that made the biggest upgrades this summer.
That’s understandable, since this season will be about how Irving meshes with the established young core in Brooklyn before Durant’s eventual return, which most expect to be the start of the 2020-21 season, but Durant and the team refuse to confirm that officially. While we know the future is bright in Brooklyn, many were wondering how Durant came to his decision so quickly as he didn’t take any meetings with any teams.
As Durant recently told Chris Haynes of Yahoo in his first interview since making his decision, the choice wasn’t made until the morning of June 30, but there were only two teams that were in the running.
“If I was leaving the Warriors, it was always going to be for the Nets,” Durant said. “They got the pieces and a creative front office. I just like what they were building.”
It’s clear that he Irving are believers in Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson’s vision for where the team is headed, as well as the core of young players in place like Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen. Still, that friendship factor and getting to team up with Irving played its own role, even if Durant downplayed it as being a necessity for him this summer.
“I think the friendship part of the league has really grown, especially since LeBron James and Dwyane Wade became such great friends and ended up playing together,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “People see friendship as the way guys are teaming up. There’s nothing wrong with people speculating. That’s just what it is, but we’re just good friends no matter what. We didn’t have to play together. It wasn’t necessary. But, we were friends before anything, and we just happened to want to hoop together. But it wasn’t a thing we planned. It just came together.”
All of this is to say, Durant was apparently laser-focused this summer on two choices and when he came to the decision that Brooklyn was the spot, it wasn’t all that difficult for him to make it official. That’s why he got it done as early as he did and now has shifted full focus to rehab and trying to get back so he can prove he’s still one of the league’s most dominant players and that he and Irving made the wise choice to team up with the Nets.