Brooklyn Nets: Kevin Durant panic the new normal in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Recent commentary of Kevin Durant’s injury status, the option on his contract and general manager Sean Marks talking about Durant’s return is the new normal.

With the signing of marquee free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets have achieved a status they really haven’t often held in the franchise’s 52 seasons, dating all the way back to their rebel beginnings in the American Basketball Association.


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The last time the Nets were talked about this much on the national stage was six years ago, when former general manager Billy King executed a trade with the Boston Celtics to acquire aging superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in exchange for what would be four first-round picks.

(Of course, the fact the Nets now have the best player Boston pulled out of that deal — Irving — may change perspectives about the trade, but it was still God-awfully shortsighted.)

But that brief bit of relevance wasn’t the fun sort — it was mostly national commentators bashing King — rightfully — for a move that. while is would have been genius in say, 2005 or 2006, was doomed to flop by 2013.

King doubled-down on the idiocy by putting those two strong-willed veterans on a team coached by a first-time NBA head coach in Jason Kidd, who went immediately from competing against those two to trying to coach them.

Any chance the Nets had of achieving relevance early in their NBA days was dashed when then-owner Roy Boe had to sell Julius Erving — the ABA’s most marketable name — to the Philadelphia 76ers in October 1976.

After that, it was decades of being that “other team” in New York, playing in a bland arena in the New Jersey Meadowlands, without so much as a city to identify with as just another exit number.

The Nets achieved some relevance in the early 21st century when they acquired Kidd from the Phoenix Suns and made back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals, but even that relevance was tinged with “New Jersey: The best the horrific Eastern Conference can offer up as a sacrificial lamb in the Finals” vibes.

But now with Durant and Irving in tow, the Nets are facing a level of national attention the franchise may have never experienced. And with that comes the type of reactions to news that Nets fans are unaccustomed to.

The reports that Irving and Durant signed four-year deals that had player options in the final year prompted all sorts of angst from New York and other media.

It was as if the concept was completely foreign. Player options? But that means you might only have these guys for three years instead of four! And with Durant’s Achilles, you may only have him on the court for two years instead of three!

As the fictional Peter Venkman said all those years ago in Ghostbusters: “Dogs and cats, sleeping together … mass hysteria!”

For the record, here are just a few of the players who entered this summer’s free-agentpalooza after declining player options for next season:

The first two names on this incomplete, off-the-top of the head recollection look familiar, no?

Then came Mike Vaccaro, the New York Post columnist who may or may not have been aware of the Nets’ existence before June 30, with a panic-laden piece about how general manager Sean Marks created a “distraction” with a massive “slip-up” related to Durant’s health status.

"But it is also curious, then, that (Marks) would have said the following to reporters in Las Vegas … regarding Durant, the crown jewel so far of what he has created on Atlantic Avenue, and the status of his Achilles injury, which it is believed will keep him sidelined for all of next year:“He will be evaluated with the performance team and so forth. A timeline will be given in due time, but as of now, we’re certainly not going to comment on when or if and make any sort of hypotheticals. It’s too early.”Now, this isn’t exactly Rex Ryan terrain, admittedly. But it sure does open the door toward wondering if Durant might well be able to return toward the end of next year, which would certainly throw a wrench into whatever the season might look like through 65 or 70 games.He didn’t say: “We don’t expect to see him next year.”"

Vaccaro goes on to worry that the Nets will be besieged by Durant questions come February … like that wasn’t going to happen in the first place.

Marks said nothing, like he always does when discussing injury prognoses. Only this time, because it was Kevin Durant and not say, Allen Crabbe or Caris LeVert, at the heart of the discussion, the pundits went full … well … pundit.

That means reading meaning into places where said meaning doesn’t really exist. That means taking a narrative and attempting to shape the actual reality to fit it. That means taking a nice little mole hill and building Mount Kilimanjaro.

The New York Knicks and their fan base know this movie all too well. So, too, do the Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics and … most recently, the Golden State Warriors, Durant’s last team.

The Nets and their fan base have long sought to be a relevant player on the NBA landscape.

This initial foray into “the sky is falling” commentary is part of the price that must be paid for that, however.

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Welcome to the big time, Brooklyn Nets … and welcome to the new normal.