If you’re a Brooklyn Nets fan, you can let out a sigh of relief… at least for the next few months. It has been almost three months since Kevin Durant requested that the Brooklyn Nets trade him, and at the time, it seemed like it was the most likely outcome.
For the past 12 or so years, the NBA has been in a player empowerment era, which has given some of the top-tier players more of a voice in where they want to play even while having a year(s) left on their contract. Because of that, it looked as though Durant would be on his way out of Brooklyn. However, with only a handful of teams being a viable option for Durant – and Durant still having four years left on his contract – it made it increasingly difficult to get a trade done.
In the end, Durant and the Nets knew that the best course of action was for Durant to return to the team so they could play out the start of the 2022-2023 season.
With it looking as though the Nets and Durant have resolved some of their issues, where does the franchise go from here? We are only a couple of weeks removed from Durant reportedly asking Nets owner, Joe Tsai, to choose between him or general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash.
Even if the two parties had a meeting with “We Can Work It Out” playing in the background, it’s hard to believe that everything will be kumbaya. On top of that, there are a lot of questions that will need to be answered next season; How long will Durant be content with the Nets until this situation arises again? How many games will Kyrie Irving play? What type of player are the Nets getting in Ben Simmons? Will the Nets have enough size to thwart the problems they had last season?
If the Nets don’t get the answers they are looking for with those questions, it may be difficult for them to pivot midseason. They are locked into a couple of their more valuable assets for the foreseeable future.
Brooklyn tried to move on from Irving, but there was not a team that could meet the Nets’ demands while also taking on Irving’s last year of his contract. They were unable to fulfill Durant’s request because their asking price was too high and the amount of teams that were in the running for Durant dwindled down as the summer went on for various reasons.
Even with all of that going on, the Nets still managed to make some good acquisitions over the offseason by adding T.J. Warren and Royce O’ Neale. However, like I mentioned before, their frontcourt depth is still a bit of a question mark.
As of now, Nic Claxton figures to be the Nets’ starting center. In 20.7 minutes a game for the Nets last season, Claxton averaged 8.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks a game on 67.4% shooting. He’s shown his defensive versatility the past couple of seasons, but has been a liability on offense at times due to his lack of spacing.
Even if the Nets want to address their center depth, there aren’t a lot of options left in free agency. Hassan Whiteside and Dwight Howard could provide solid rim protection and rebounding, but they have a lot of the same deficiencies on the offensive and defensive end. Solving their frontcourt depth won’t be the most difficult thing they’ve had to deal with in the past couple of months, but it could play a key part in how the next few months unfold.