The Brooklyn Nets came just a few bad breaks away from advancing in the postseason, though Kevin Durant tried his best to make up for an injured Kyrie Irving and hampered James Harden.
Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, spent yet another postseason on the couch at home.
Durant and Love were both trying to find mutual success in their quest to help Team USA win a gold medal in the Olympics. However, due to a nagging calf injury, Love was sidelined and will not be on the roster in Tokyo.
The reason he was even there in the first place might be thanks to KD’s influence.
Breakout Knicks power forward Julius Randle was passed over on both the initial roster and when Gregg Popovich needed to find a replacement for Love. The official reason given was that they wanted a “role player” like Keldon Johnson to get called up, but the New York Post is reporting that Durant may have played a part in this situation.
Marc Berman is reporting that rumors around the team claim that Durant wanted Love on the squad over Randle. Is this part of an elaborate plan to help the Nets find a new starting center?
Is Kevin Durant trying to bring Kevin Love to the Brooklyn Nets?
Love is coming off of a very down year with Cleveland, which is why there are even talks of a potential buyout and move to Brooklyn in the first place. This season, the vaunted PF played in just 25 games due to the same calf injury that sidelined him from Team USA.
His 41% field goal percentage is the third-worst mark of his career, and his 12.2 points per game average is the lowest mark he has tallied since his rookie season in Minnesota.
The Nets need to upgrade at the center position this offseason. The DeAndre Jordan contract isn’t looking very savory right now, Nicolas Claxton apparently isn’t a trusted member of Steve Nash’s rotation at this point, and late-season starter Blake Griffin is on the market as an unrestricted free agent.
If things came down to Griffin or Love, Durant should use the considerable influence he clearly wields within the organization to bring Griffin back. However, if Blake has his mind set on a bigger payday after rehabilitating his value in Brooklyn, the Nets need to at least check in on Love if he gets bought out.
In the two seasons he played in Cleveland following the departure of LeBron James, Love averaged 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while making 37% of his 3-point attempts. Injuries have done little to impact Love’s two money-making traits, and that might give the Nets some confidence that he can perform well if he leaves the Cavs.
Cleaning the Glass (subscription required) shows that Love is a below-average defender who made the Cleveland defense worse when he was on the floor. The Bucks showed that you can take the ball to the rack against the Nets if you size up their defense properly, and Love would be hunted relentlessly if an athletic big got switched onto him.
Still, playing Griffin at the center spot shows that the Nets couldn’t care less about that rim protection if they can score enough to make up for it. If Love starts stuffing the stat sheet and securing rebounds, he could make up for that flaw in his game.
Durant has to know that Love will not fix some of Brooklyn’s biggest holes. However, you can never have enough bigs who can shoot in the modern NBA. If the Nets can somehow bring in a shot-blocking center AND someone with Love’s combination of rebounding and shooting, that could be the secret ingredient that puts them over the top.