The uproar about Rockets superstar James Harden forcing a trade to the Nets has died down, and the organization on Monday issued formal statements announcing the previously reported signings of their own free agent, Joe Harris, and newcomer Jeff Green. So it appears the Nets’ roster is pretty well set for the opening of training camp Dec. 1, with the first formal practice on Dec. 6.
As this abbreviated NBA offseason draws to a close, it’s fair to say the Nets’ major acquisition really was going to be Kevin Durant all along. Yes, Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Nets as free agents more than a year ago, but Durant missed the entire season while rehabbing from right Achilles tendon surgery. Even Irving was limited to a mere 20 appearances before having shoulder surgery.
So the real source of excitement for Nets fans is the long-awaited prospect of seeing Durant and Irving take the floor together when the season starts Dec. 22.
The two are in Brooklyn now, and the excitement in general manager Sean Marks’ voice was palpable in a couple of recent interviews, including a media Zoom conference call and a one-on-one with YES Network.
"I don’t think anybody is more excited than Kevin himself to get back on the court," Marks told YES. "As it pertains to how those guys look, from what we’ve seen of them — they’ve been back in our gym now for [several] days — being around the feedback from the performance team and how they’ve looked preparing has been terrific.
"So I know they’re hungry. They’re putting themselves in a great place to succeed. As I’ve said a couple times before, it’s been nothing short of remarkable to watch Kevin’s development and the way he’s attacked his rehabilitation over the course of the last year. We’re all champing at the bit and very excited to see him out there, to see the entire group out there. But I think that pales in comparison to how he’s feeling."
Marks emphasized that he expects to work "hand in hand" with Durant in terms of monitoring his workload and providing help. Given the surplus of rotation players at guard and small forward, it seems logical that Durant will be the stretch power forward the Nets have lacked rather than play small forward, as he did most often with Golden State. Green’s addition gives the Nets a veteran backup for Durant, and Taurean Prince and Rodions Kurucs also can play the four.
"Kevin has been so diligent in his rehab and working with the performance team, and as I’ve mentioned, how he’s attacked it has been inspiring, to say the least," Marks said. "So we’re going to have to be careful with Kevin [and] just all of our guys and just continue to monitor them. That’s why depth is so important. Guys will get opportunities to play, and we’ll track that load as it goes. Kevin knowing his body and knowing what’s at stake here, a lot will be dictated by how he’s feeling and the response that he’s giving back to us."
New Nets guards Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown, who were acquired in a three-team trade last week, had the opportunity to work out with Durant and Irving recently.
"They looked great," Shamet said. "KD looks great. Kyrie looks great. I’m not them, so I don’t know where they’re at or if they’re all the way [back from injury]. But from the outside looking in, they look really good."
Even after all of the offseason moves, that’s the best news Nets fans can hear.