It’s exhausting just to think about everything the Nets went through during the past year.
Injuries. Vaccination issues. Trade demands. More injuries. A blockbuster deal. An 11-game losing streak. A first-round playoff sweep. More trade demands. Kevin Durant’s me-or-them ultimatum regarding coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks.
And then, finally, a supposed reconciliation.
The No. 1 question as the Nets opened training camp this past week was about that reconciliation, about whether they can put everything that happened during the past season and offseason behind them and make a run at the title.
On the surface, it’s hard to imagine coaching a star player who tried to get you fired. Yet Nash doesn’t completely see things like that, saying the situation wasn’t as black and white as it was painted in the media.
Durant also thinks the team can get past the past. On Friday, he declined to get into the details of what transpired in the meeting in Los Angeles that led him to rescind his trade demands. What he did say is that he thought the Nets listened to his concerns.
“Well, I was upset. And as a family, they understood I was upset,” he said. “Some of the stuff they agreed with, and so we talked about it.”
When a team is in crisis — which the Nets certainly were this summer — it’s best to honestly talk about it. So says new Net Markieff Morris, who is on his seventh team and has seen his fair share of drama.
“I would say just put it on the table,” Morris said, adding that he was on the Wizards when there was a lot of reported drama between John Wall and Bradley Beal. “A lot of times it comes from the media but it’s not really what people think it is. Me personally, you just put it on the table and figure it out.
“That’s the NBA, man. You break up with a girlfriend, you get back with her. Same [expletive]. You air your differences until you figure it out . . . Yeah, I mean, broke up with my wife a couple times. We’re still married. Sometimes you need space to figure some things out.”
If the Nets can figure it out, they have the talent to be a contender.
Durant still is one of the best players in the history of the game. Kyrie Irving is a seven-time All-Star who, when motivated, is as good as or better than any other point guard in the game. And Ben Simmons is a shoo-in for comeback player of the year if he can find a way to revert to the facilitator he was his first four years in the league.
The Nets also have a better surrounding cast. Joe Harris, who missed almost all of last season with an ankle injury, is back. Royce O’Neal is a versatile addition on the wing in that he’s willing to do just about anything the team needs. Seth Curry, who played with a bad ankle all last season, should be a big weapon post-surgery.
The problem has never been about talent in Brooklyn, not since Durant and Irving joined forces. Rather, the problem has been injuries and the overall lack of cohesiveness that has led to some players putting their personal needs ahead of the group’s.
Durant believes injuries have kept the team from fully coming together. James Harden, Durant and Irving — you may remember the Big 3 — played in only 16 games with one another, winning 13 of them. Irving and Durant have never played with Simmons, who did not suit up after getting traded to the Nets in the wake of mental health and back issues.
“It’s hard to build camaraderie when we don’t have guys playing,” Durant said. “It’s tough to build continuity and camaraderie if you are comparing us to the great teams in the league who have been together for two or three years. We got thrown together the last two or three years. It’s going to take some time.”
Time, however, seems to be running out for this group. When Irving and Durant came to the Nets, the talk was of multiple titles. Instead, they have never gotten past the second round of the playoffs.
The time is now.