One after another, Nets players reflecting on their 4-1 first-round series playoff loss to the talent-laden 76ers said in their exit interviews on Wednesday that, to take another step toward championship contention, it’s important to add a bona fide All-Star level free agent. The name at the top of everybody’s wish list is Warriors superstar forward Kevin Durant.
Most speculation about Durant centers on him possibly joining the Knicks, who have cap space to add two maximum-salary free agents. But the Nets are projected to have $30 million to spend on one elite free agent, and they might have an inroad via emerging star Caris LeVert, who has trained with Durant.
The obvious question for LeVert was whether he will make a sales pitch to Durant for the Nets. “He’s his own guy,” LeVert said. “He’s obviously in the middle of a season right now, trying to chase a championship. Whatever he does, I’ll be happy for him.”
Describing how his relationship with Durant developed, LeVert said, “He reached out when I was in college. We had similar [foot] injuries and the same surgeon [Dr. Martin O’Malley, orthopedic surgeon at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery].
“He’s like a big brother. He gives a lot of good advice.”
The shoe might be on the other foot if Durant has questions about Brooklyn’s place in the New York market. LeVert is optimistic that many free agents are beginning to see it as an attractive destination.
“I think it’s a great place to come,” LeVert said. “Obviously, a great city, a basketball city. We’re growing as a franchise, great coaches. I feel like the team made a lot of noise this year.”
As for his own situation, LeVert is eligible for a rookie contract extension. “I would love to play here as long as possible,” LeVert said. “I love the city of Brooklyn, I love the coaches and team here. Whatever we decide to do, I’ll be happy with.”