LOS ANGELES — For Nets fans wondering whether their team has a legitimate shot to land a top-tier free agent this summer, the news that D’Angelo Russell is scheduled to give two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant of the Warriors a tour of Brooklyn as part of a three-part video series is sure to send hopes soaring.
According to a report in Adweek, Durant will be the focus of a video series titled “Fly By” that will be produced in partnership with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s “Uninterrupted” platform along with the media arm of Durant’s “Thirty Five Ventures” company and Alaska Airlines. In addition to visiting Brooklyn, Durant will tour San Francisco with teammate Quinn Cook and Los Angeles with Lakers standout Kyle Kuzma.
Asked for his thoughts on this development with Russell and Durant before the Nets faced the Lakers at Staples Center Friday night, coach Kenny Atkinson said he “had no idea” about the report. “I really don’t want to comment on it,” said Atkinson, acting mindful of tampering rules. “There’s some players in this league who are friendly with each other, and if you want to get together and take a tour of Brooklyn, that’s great. Obviously, it’s a great place to live…We love living there. I’m glad DLo is showing his friends around.”
Durant’s Nets connections extend beyond the planned production with Russell. When he played for the Thunder, Durant trained with current Nets assistant and conditioning coach Adam Harrington. He underwent foot surgery by Dr. Martin O’Malley, who handles foot surgery for the Nets, and he has trained with guard Caris LeVert, who also was operated on by Dr. O’Malley.
Asked if he believes Russell’s involvement might be significant, LeVert said, “It’s pretty cool. I think it speaks to not only what we have done this season as a team but to what D’Angelo has done on the court and being a leader off the court that guys like Kevin Durant want to be close to him and a part of what he’s doing. I think that speaks volumes to how [Russell] has grown as a player and a person.”
LeVert said he doesn’t believe the seventh-place Nets have to make the playoffs to attract a top free agent because major markets like New York and Los Angeles are popular destinations. But he suggested it helps to have a youthful core group to relieve some pressure on a player like Durant, who will turn 31 before next season.
Russell’s ascension to All-Star status could help attract Durant or another top free agent. “Absolutely,” LeVert said. “Obviously, he’s played at an All-Star level this year. Everybody wants to play with a great point guard, and I think he’s put himself in that conversation for sure. I think that lessens the load for a guy like Kevin Durant or another superstar who wants to come play with us. So, I think that’s very attractive that a guy like D’Angelo has elevated himself to that level to play with.”