Kevin Durant has decided to stay in Brooklyn after all. The 14-year veteran requested a trade in June and reportedly wanted the team to fire GM Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash. However, on Tuesday, Durant made the decision to stay with the Nets.
According to a statement from the team, Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman met with Nets’ ownership, Marks, and Nash. Ultimately, they came to a resolution.
“Steve Nash and I, together with Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai, met with Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman in Los Angeles yesterday,” Marks said in the statement. “We have agreed to move forward with our partnership. We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.”
The 33-year-old signed a four-year, $198 contract extension last summer, and that deal begins this season.
Here’s the reality, the Nets have a championship-caliber team. Kyrie Irving, who opted into the final your of his contract after playing in only 29 regular season games due to his refusal to take any COVID vaccines, has a lot to prove this season because he wants to get a big contract in the offseason, so he should be very committed to staying on the court and proving that he’s an elite player that can be trusted.
Additionally, Ben Simmons is on track to be ready for training camp after offseason surgery. We can say many things about Simmons, but he’s a three-time All-Star, an elite defender(two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team), and has a winning skillset. There was pressure on him to score in Philly, but that will not be the case in Brooklyn as Durant, Irving, and others will handle the scoring load.
Furthermore, they have shooting with Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and Joe Harris and acquired a solid player in Royce O’Neal from Utah. Also, they added more scoring with T.J. Warren. They could still use some size, but this roster has a decent amount of depth. On paper, it may be the most talented roster in the NBA. Any place Durant would have gone, that team would have had to deplete their roster and draft assets to get him, so again, staying put makes the most sense and gives him the best chance to win another NBA title.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to punch their ticket to the NBA Playoffs when they battled the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament.
Cleveland never led and trailed by 20 points after the first quarter and was down by as many as 22. The Cavs battled back and cut the lead to five late in the game; however, they could not get any closer as the Nets defeated Cleveland 115-108.
Kyrie Irving had 34 points(12/15 FG, 3/6 3-PT FG) and 12 assists; Irving made his first 12 shots; Kevin Durant added 25 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, and three blocks.
The Nets get the seventh seed in the East and will battle the second seed, the Boston Celtics. The Cavs will try to get the eighth seed Friday night against the winner of Hornets/Hawks.
Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Nets:
The Great for the Cavs:
Darius Garland scored 16 of his 34 points in the fourth. Garland scored the first nine points for Cleveland in the final quarter, and he tried to rescue the Cavs.
The moment was not too big for him, and the moment has not been too big for him all season long. This is what you want from your best player in a big spot. The All-Star also added five assists and two steals.
-The moment wasn’t too big for rookie Evan Mobley as well. He had 14 of his 19 points in the second half to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks. Mobley has been steady all season long, and he was steady Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
-Rajon Rondo morphed into “Playoff Rondo” against the Nets. He made the right play time after time. The stat line wasn’t super impressive as Rondo had seven points and nine assists in 26 minutes of action, but he got it done for the Cavs. Rondo and Caris LeVert were the only two Cavs with a positive rating(+2), and Rondo had the best rating in the second half for Cleveland at +9.
Any Quarter but the First: Cleveland trailed by 20 after the first quarter, but they outscored Brooklyn by 13 points in the final three quarters. They held Brooklyn to 17 points in the second quarter. After shooting 35% in the first half, Cleveland shot 55% from the field, including 50% from deep in the second half. They scored 35 points in the fourth quarter on 55% shooting, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
The Not So Great for the Cavs:
First Quarter: Last Friday, the Cavaliers trailed Brooklyn 34-19 after one quarter, and Tuesday night, the Nets got off to another great start. Brooklyn shot 71% from the floor, including 67% from downtown. Kyrie Irving was 5/5 from the field and scored 11 points in the first quarter; he finished with 20 points in the first half on 9/9 shooting.
The Nets led 40-20 after one quarter and 57-43 at halftime.
Turnovers: Cleveland had 15 turnovers, which led to 24 points for Brooklyn.
-Isaac Okoro: The second-year guard struggled with his shot Tuesday night. He was 0/3 from the field, all threes, and finished with zero points in 13 minutes. No one expects Okoro to score a bunch, but he had open looks, and he has to make some of those open shots.
You can’t spot Brooklyn 20 points and expect to win. Cleveland played well after the first quarter, but they were swimming upstream just like last Friday’s game.
Brooklyn could win a championship, so there is no shame in losing this game. Cleveland has two games to win one. Hopefully, they can get back their All-Star center Jarrett Allen. Cleveland is 35-21 with Allen this season and 9-17 without him, so getting him back would help.
Getting to the playoffs won’t be easy; it should be fun to see the excitement at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Friday night.
The Cavs return home to battle the winner of Hornets/Hawks in the Play-In Game.
Best of the Rest:
-Kevin Love had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds; Lauri Markkanen chipped in with 13 points, and LeVert had 12 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
-Bruce Brown had 18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, and three steals; Andre Drummond chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Nic Claxton had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Listen below as Garland and Love discuss the team’s loss to Brooklyn:
The Cleveland Cavaliers had a big one Friday night in Brooklyn against the Nets. The winner of this game would have possession of the seventh seed in the East.
Brooklyn led by as many as 17 points, but Cleveland did take their first lead in the third. However, Brooklyn dominated the fourth and defeated the Cavs 118-107 at Barclays Center.
Kevin Durant had a game-high 36 points; Kyrie Irving and Bruce Brown added 18 points apiece; Brown also added 10 rebounds. All five of Brooklyn’s starters scored in double figures.
Cleveland(43-38) has now lost three straight and dropped to eighth in the East, while the Nets(43-38) have won three straight. Brooklyn won the season series(3-1) over the Cavs, which means they are the seventh seed.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Nets:
The Great for the Cavs:
-Darius Garland played like a superstar against Brooklyn. He shot 12/24 from the field, including three threes, and finished with 31 points in 41 minutes of action. The All-Star scored 21 of those 31 points in the second and third quarters. He probably should have played the whole second half, but we’ll get to that later.
-Evan Mobley was back after missing five games with a sprained ankle, and he picked up where he left off. The rookie had 17 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. He also became the eighth Cavs rookie to go over 1000 points in a season. Mobley plays winning basketball, and everything he does contributes to winning.
-Lamar Stevens did not fill up the box score as he only had two points on 1/5 shooting from the field to go along with two rebounds, but he did defend his butt off in the third quarter when the Cavs were making their run. Kevin Durant still got his points; however, late in the third, he forced two Durant turnovers. It wasn’t enough, but give Stevens credit.
Second and Third Quarters: Cleveland trailed 34-19 after the first quarter and looked dead in the water. However, in the second quarter, things got better. Garland had 10 points in the quarter; Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 35-28 and trailed 62-54 at the break.
In the third, things got even better for the Cavs. Brooklyn led 70-60 with just under ten minutes left in the quarter, but Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 28-13 the rest of the third and led by as many as seven. Garland again was big time as he had 11 points in the quarter. The Cavs outscored Brooklyn 34-21 in the third and took an 88-83 lead into the fourth.
Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 69-49 in the second and third quarters.
The Not So Great for the Cavs:
First Quarter: Cleveland did not get the start they wanted. Brooklyn shot 57% from the field, including 4/8 from deep. On the other hand, Cleveland shot 40% from the floor, including 0/7 from downtown. The Cavs had issues stopping Durant, who had 16 points in the quarter. Brooklyn took their largest lead of the game at 34-17 and led 34-19 after one.
Second Chance Points: Brooklyn is a great offensive team. They are tough to stop, but they become even harder to control when you give them second and third chances. The Nets outrebounded the Cavs 45-31, and Brooklyn had 25-second chance points Friday night, which is a lot. Rebounding is a big part of defense, and Cleveland had difficulty closing the possessions with a rebound.
Fourth Quarter: Cleveland had all the momentum going into the fourth, but the Nets have firepower for days, and it’s hard to keep them from scoring. Brooklyn went on a 10-4 run to start the fourth to take the lead for good. The Nets led by as many as 15 points in the fourth. The Cavs appeared to run out of gas in the fourth as the Nets outscored them 35-19 in the quarter.
The first 3:09 of the Fourth: You hate to be critical of anybody in this one, but Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff may have made a mistake by resting Garland early in the fourth. Garland was rolling, and so was the team while he was on the court. He did play the whole second and third quarters; however, Garland did get rest at halftime and before the start of the fourth. The Cavs should have ridden its young star to the end. Brooklyn took the lead back while Garland was on the bench and never relinquished it.
Cleveland battled in this one, and they played their hearts out, but Brooklyn is Brooklyn, so winning this game would be tough. The Cavs have to start better to beat a team of Brooklyn’s caliber.
Fortunately, the eighth-seeded Cavs got a little help as the Hawks fell to the Heat, which allowed Cleveland to hold the eighth seed and keep the eighth seed if they beat the Bucks in the season finale. The Cavs can still get the seventh seed, but they need to win and Brooklyn to lose to the Pacers at home, which is highly unlikely.
So, Cleveland could be returning to Brooklyn next Tuesday for the 7-8 game in the Play-In Tournament.
However, unfortunately, Cleveland could fall to the 10th seed if they lose to the Bucks, and Charlotte(Wizards), Atlanta(@Rockets), and Brooklyn(Pacers) win their final game, which would be disastrous.
Getting the eighth seed won’t be easy for Cleveland as the Bucks are still fighting for the second seed in the East, so Sunday’s game should be very interesting.
Remember, the seventh and eighth seeds have two games to win one, while the ninth and tenth seeded teams have to win twice to make the playoffs.
“I’m proud of the way they played and proud of the effort that they played with, the way they kept coming back and staying in the game,” Bickerstaff said after the game.
The Cavs return home to battle the Bucks in the regular-season finale.
Best of the Rest:
-Lauri Markkanen had 17 points; Caris LeVert added 16, and Kevin Love had 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
-Andre Drummond had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for Brooklyn.
-Cavs shot 8/27 from three-point range.
Listen below as the Garland and Drummond react to loss to Brooklyn:
With Ben Simmons getting booed as he watched in street clothes, the Brooklyn Nets went into Philly Thursday night and beat up and beat down the 76ers 129-100 at Wells Fargo Center.
This was Philly’s(40-25) most lopsided loss of the season.
Brooklyn(34-33) led from start to finish and led by as many as 36 points. Kevin Durant paced the Nets with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists, former Sixer Seth Curry had 24 points, and Kyrie Irving added 22.
The Nets shot 56% from the floor and made 18 threes.
There was a playoff environment in Philly with Simmons, who was traded to Brooklyn along with Andre Drummond, and Curry for James Harden, in town for the first time since the trade.
However, the Nets took the fans out of the game early with their dominant play as they led by 17 points after one quarter and 21 points at the break.
“It was a good environment to start, but it didn’t finish that way,” Durant said after the game. “So, it didn’t feel like that when we left off the court, it felt like a regular game like I’ve been saying, but I like how we approached the game. I like how we played with physicality and didn’t let any of that stuff affect what we wanted to do; we just stayed focused on us so the crowd, no matter who we played tonight, I felt like we were locked in.”
Irving added: “It was lovely. I enjoyed it. I hope everybody at home enjoyed it – people here. Like I said, it’s great for our league when you can build up that many emotions before a night like tonight. You know there’s going to be one victor, and you want to be on that other end, so I feel like we committed ourselves to playing aggressive defense and just making it tough on them.
On the other side, Philly struggled with making shots(32% FG). Joel Embiid(5/17 FG, 27 points, and 12 rebounds) and James Harden(3/17 FG, 11 points) combined for 8/34 from the field.
“Just missed shots,” Harden said. “I think I just missed shots. There’s no excuses. I’ve gotta be better individually. Some turnovers were just careless. Individually, I’ve gotta be better. As a team, we watch film to see where can we be better. And we just try to continue to improve. This is only our sixth game together as a unit. I’m still trying to figure things out. But, tonight was good for us; we got our a** kicked.”
According to 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, the Nets just played harder.
“I just thought they played harder. They were more aggressive,” Rivers said. “They played in our airspace all night. I thought they were the more physical team all night. I didn’t think we played together tonight. I thought it was one of those games…a great example of a team that hasn’t been together.”
This was a statement game for the Nets, but it might have just been one of them games for Philadelphia.
Simmons and the Nets get to laugh tonight; however, there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played.
After he captured his third Olympic gold medal (2012, 2016, 2020) this past summer at the Tokyo Games, Kevin Durant was honored as the 2021 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.
“It’s amazing to be honored in this way,” Durant said. “First off to represent your country and do it amongst the best athletes in the world, it’s an honor. So many great athletes come through USA Basketball and the national teams in general in all sports, and so to be chosen as one of the top athletes is an honor. I’m very grateful for the opportunity and thankful that I received this award.”
This is the third time Durant has been honored as the USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. He also was recognized with the award in 2010, and he shared the honor in 2016 with Carmelo Anthony.
“Kevin was an incredible leader for USA Basketball this past summer,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO. “With this being his third Olympics, he had the respect of his teammates, and he clearly is one of the best basketball players in the world. USA Basketball is grateful to Kevin for his time and ongoing commitment to our organization, and we are proud to celebrate him as the 2021 Male Athlete of the Year.”
Durant started in all six Olympic match ups for the USA, and he averaged a team-leading 20.7 points per game and team second-best of 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He shot 52.9% from the field, 37.5% from 3-point and 90.5% from the free throw line and was named by FIBA as MVP of the 2020 Olympic men’s basketball tournament.
“As he has done before, Kevin Durant performed brilliantly on the international stage and led the way to another gold medal,” said USA head coach Gregg Popovich, who was named as a co-recipient of the 2021 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year award on Dec. 15. “I remain awed by his work ethic, leadership and desire to excel.”
Durant’s 20.7 ppg. set a U.S. Olympic men’s single-competition record for points averaged, and he tied Carmelo Anthony for most Olympic gold medals (three). Durant is one of just four U.S. male basketball athletes to play in three or more Olympics.
Durant, who has led the USA in scoring in all three of his Olympic appearances and at the 2010 FIBA World Cup, owns eight U.S. Olympic men’s career records, including the top spot for points (435), points averaged (19.8), field goals made (146) and attempted (276), 3-point field goals made (74) and attempted (148) and free throws made (69) and attempted (80).
Among all Tokyo Olympic men’s basketball athletes, Durant ranked third in points scored and field goals made, fourth in field goals attempted and defensive rebounds and sixth in scoring average.