Nets

Brooklyn’s One and Only Missing Piece

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Coming off a sluggish 6-for-21 shooting performance (14 points and 4 assists) in a 117-106 loss to the 76ers, Kyrie Irving made headlines yet again in his post game interview. Irving said he believes the team is “one or two pieces away” — not including the injured Kevin Durant — and “wants more pieces in Brooklyn”. The point guard listed a few players which may indicate that they’re safe moving forward. Notable players not mentioned include Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, and Taurean Prince.

 

With the return of Kyrie Saturday night, the team is the healthiest it has been all season. The last piece to the puzzle that remains sidelined is Kevin Durant, who continues to rehab from a torn Achilles tendon. At the start of the season, Durant announced that he would miss the entire 2019-2020 campaign, but has anything changed since?

The Nets have stated that Kevin is progressing well and participating in contact drills at practice. Head coach Kenny Atkinson spoke to the media after practice last week and provided an update.

The Nets understand the process and are not in the position to rush Durant’s return. The team has made it clear that they value the importance of their players’ health. One encouraging factor has to be KD’s involvement on the bench at home games. He is consistently making an effort to coach the younger players and interact during timeouts.

No regrets signing with Brooklyn

Durant has made one thing clear: the two-time NBA champion does not regret his decision to sign with the Nets over the summer. Recent news circling the New York media was that Durant signed with the “wrong” New York team. CBS analyst Brandon Tierney triggered a back-and-forth interaction with Durant.

KD responded to Tierney by tweeting “What does it say?” Fans would follow with their own tweets and Durant took the time to tweet back his thoughts. Multiple tweets included the fact that New York City will always be a “Knicks town”. Ultimately, Kevin chose the Nets because of their culture and saw the team’s vision of the future. With a list of young players (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris) fresh off a playoff berth last season, the all-star duo of Irving and Durant viewed the Nets more attractive. Insert petty Knicks fans who say that they don’t care that both superstars chose Brooklyn instead of signing with their team.

Nets fans should be excited when Durant finally makes his return to the court. Teaming up with his Olympic teammates DeAndre Jordan and Kyrie Irving can bring the most media coverage the team has had since the early 2000s. The coverage is one factor, but the ultimate prize for the franchise has to be winning an NBA championship.

Durant vs. Perkins

Kevin’s former teammate and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins had their own back-and-forth on Twitter. The interaction took place the same night Russell Westbrook made his return to Oklahoma City. Perkins lit a fire when he said that Westbrook was the best player in Thunder history.

Kendrick Perkins is now a member of the media following his playing career and his tweets resemble it. He is doing his best and having multiple “hot takes” to get publicity. What better way to get more air time on ESPN than an interaction between a perennial all-star like Durant?

Should Durant Return This Season?

The Nets understood when they signed Durant this past off-season that the chances of him playing this year were slim. Fast forward three full months into the season, there has been encouraging news on his rehab progression. This raises the question: Should KD come back this season?

Let’s look at it from both perspectives. If Durant did suit up this season,Brooklyn would be a scary opponent in the playoffs. The thought of playing a team that has a 1-2 punch in KD and Kyrie would make the Nets a threat to teams like the Bucks, Heat, Sixers and Celtics. The more cautious approach would be to have Durant miss the rest of the season and fully complete his rehab. The team would start fresh the following season with an entire training camp of preparation.

The Nets are currently the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference with an 18-22 record. If the playoffs started today, the team would be faced with a difficult first round opponent in the Milwaukee Bucks. Durant’s return could prove to be a boost to the team’s morale. The Nets could easily contend for the 5th or 6th spot in the conference. The goal should be to avoid a first round match up with the Bucks. Any other opponent in the East would not be as daunting of a task. If the team wants to fire up their fan base, a return of one of the league’s best players in Durant would have the New York market in a frenzy.

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About Rob Siwiec

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