After demanding a trade from the Brooklyn Nets early in the summer, Kevin Durant addressed the media on Monday afternoon in a Nets uniform. In an outcome that felt impossible midway through the summer, Durant remained with the Brooklyn Nets, and now claims to be committed to the organization.
While Brooklyn may have Durant’s commitment, did his trade request hurt their roster? Durant was asked this question on media day, and specifically if he felt that his trade request discouraged players from joining the Nets.
“What players?” Durant asked. “I mean, who knows. We’ve got some good guys here.”
The reality in Brooklyn
A first-round exit last season, in fact, a first-round sweep last season, the Brooklyn Nets did not make any notable offseason moves to improve their roster. Under normal circumstances, this would indicate a team that is either incapable or unwilling to do what’s necessary to compete for a championship. From the framing of the question Durant was asked, the insinuation was that they were incapable of upgrading their roster, largely because players avoided what was an uncertain and messy situation.
While that may be true, Durant’s question was a legitimate one. What players were available that would have potentially chosen the Nets? In a free agent market that was primarily dry, and with a Brooklyn Nets team that did not have money to spend anyways, any real difference makers were simply not available. With that being the reality, does it mean the Nets are once again destined for an early playoff exit?
Enter Ben Simmons
It is not common for a team to not make any major offseason acquisitions and still add a multi-time All-Star and All-NBA team member to their team. For the Brooklyn Nets, that is exactly what they have an opportunity to do. While he has his limitations, Ben Simmons seems to fit in perfectly with this Nets roster, providing a little bit of everything that they need.
When asked about playing alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving so far in practice Ben Simmons said, “We’ve been playing all week.” When asked how that’s looked, Simmons gave a one-word answer: “Incredible.”
Only time will tell if Simmons is the missing piece to Brooklyn’s championship puzzle; however, anyone acting as if the team will be returning a similar roster to last year’s disaster, is simply being disingenuous. At a minimum, Simmons will unlock things the Nets had no ability to do last year. As previously mentioned, the jury is still out on whether or not that will be a championship formula. That said, this team is certainly not the same one that Boston swept last year, and Durant’s trade request likely had little to no impact on who did or didn’t sign in Brooklyn this summer.