Kevin Durant is staying in Brooklyn and what it means for the Raptors

It’s been a fun and wild two months, filled with speculation and « insider » knowledge, information from sources and back and forth about where Kevin Durant would play at the start of the NBA season.

What price would his new team pay? What would they be left with after being stripped of assets to acquire one of the best players in the league?

And now, like a bucket of cold water in the face of the fans taking a collective summer nap, nothing.

Nothing, that is, except the delicious mix of another Big Three with Brooklyn Nets who never played a single second together and could be the best team in the league or another personalities tire fire volunteers and diverse talents that turns into an unworkable group of Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons.

For now, though, the Nets are moving forward with what they have after Durant was convinced it would be in his best interest to stay where he is.

It ended with a social media statement late Tuesday morning it seemingly ended Durant’s wish to be traded and chart Brooklyn’s course after an off-season Come To Jesus meeting between the recalcitrant superstar, franchise owners, front office bosses and a head coach who now has to make it work.

« (Team coach) Steve Nash and I, along with (owners) Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, met Kevin Durant and (agent) Rich Kleiman in Los Angeles yesterday, » the manager said. General Sean Marks.

“We have agreed to continue our partnership. We are focused on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: to build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn. »

What does that mean, other than all the angst, twists, speculation, rumors and innuendo of the past seven or eight weeks league-wide has been much ado about nothing?

That means the Nets must be considered legitimate contenders today for not just the Eastern Conference title, but the NBA championship as well, as long as Durant, Irving and Simmons can co-exist and thrive. The other teams in the conference now have another giant hurdle to contend with.

For the Raptors in particular, that means they have a goal to aim for in the Nets and can continue to meld the team they’ve built without distractions. They will likely announce the signing of second-round pick Christian Koloko soon. because they don’t have to worry about hoarding every penny in case they need to add Durant in a trade and no serious roster questions exist anymore.

Whether they, or the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, are able to challenge the Nets will only be learned through the ups and downs of a long regular season and the intensity and turmoil of two months of playoffs. But everyone knows where they stand and what they have and can prepare for the start of training camp next month with a clear mind.

But it’s not like the Nets are deadbolts to becoming a super team capable of challenging the defending champion Golden State Warriors or any of the half-dozen legitimate title contenders.

Simmons hasn’t played a game in over a year. Irving missed more than half of last season because he refused a COVID vaccination and his ability to deconstruct a team is well documented. Durant, for all his brilliance, will turn 34 when the season begins in October.

They are certainly stacked on paper and each of the three is a gifted player but they still have to play the matches and prove their cohesion on the court. If there’s one thing that’s certain in professional sports these days, it’s that nothing is certain.

The Nets, however, weathered a storm with a masterclass in modern-era NBA crisis management. They spoke to Durant’s teams once his trade request became public, but set the price so high no one would pay it and were unequivocal in their support for Marks and Nash when Durant allegedly played the ‘them or not’ card. me ». They continued to engage in conversations with Durant — he and Tsai reportedly met in London earlier this month — and everything Marks, the Tsais and Nash said in Los Angeles on Monday hit home.

That doesn’t mean it’s all going to be soft and light, but they’ve given themselves enough lead before training camp begins to make any hurt feelings run their course.

So what’s left?

It’s madness to think that Brooklyn’s handling of Durant will end an era of player empowerment in the NBA and who knows when the next big star might be on the move.

Utah can still trade Donovan Mitchell — and wouldn’t a move to New York soon be a true Knicks-type attempt to gain backpage in the tabloids’ battle against their intra-borough rivals?

Will Russell Westbrook return to the Lakers and how does LeBron James reappearing in Los Angeles figure into what’s going on there?

The big story, the big question, the big gaping NBA wound that needed to be healed was Durant and that saga appears to be over.

It was an exhilarating and fascinating few weeks that kept fans on their toes and the NBA in the headlines during an otherwise dull time on the schedule.

Some days it was fun, most days it was tiring.

Now it’s over.

As you were, fans.


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