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#pounditFriday, April 16, 2021

Kevin Durant

This is why Kevin Durant made his first career appearance off the bench Friday

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant came into Friday night having played 866 NBA games, all of them starts. That streak was broken on Friday, as Durant came off the bench against the Toronto Raptors for a very unique reason.

Durant was not in the Brooklyn Nets’ starting lineup due to the league’s health and safety protocols. More specifically, Durant was undergoing contact tracing, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Durant ultimately cleared contract tracing and was cleared to play. He came in with 4:13 remaining in the first quarter, making it the first time in his NBA career he came off the bench.

Durant tested positive for COVID-19 back in March, but was still subjected to the safety protocols. In the end, it leads to what will be a pretty weird footnote to his career.

Kevin Durant appears to throw shade at former Warriors teammates

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant’s relationship with his old teammates has seemed a bit frosty since he left Golden State, and now we are getting further evidence of that.

The Brooklyn Nets star ‘liked’ an Instagram post this weekend about some comments made by Detroit Pistons veteran Wayne Ellington. The Pistons and the Warriors played each other on Friday, which led to some hostility between Pistons swingman Rodney McGruder and the rest of the Warriors. Durant’s ‘like’ indicated that he agreed with Ellington calling Draymond Green and Klay Thompson “unprofessional” for their role in the incident.

Thompson got a bit personal with his comments about McGruder. Green then piled on with even harsher words in his postgame press conference.

As for Durant, he left Golden State for the Nets in 2019 after winning two NBA titles with the Warriors. Since his departure, Durant has denied that there is beef. But this latest development may be an indication otherwise.

Steve Nash reveals how he will handle Nets’ new Big Three

Steve Nash

The Brooklyn Nets’ acquisition of James Harden is an exciting one for the team, but it brings a lot of new challenges. Making things potentially more difficult is the fact that an offense containing Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving will have to be guided by a rookie head coach in Steve Nash.

Before the trade was officially confirmed, Nash was asked on Wednesday how he would handle an offense where three stars will all expect to have the ball in their hands in order to make plays.

“I always talk to our players about making each other better and having all five guys be a threat and working to find commonality on the floor and in space together,” Nash said, via Adam Zagoria of Forbes. “It really is a simple game, but it becomes complicated when you put different personalities and players on the floor and our group has done a really good job being unselfish and trying to move the ball and work together so I’ve been proud of that. I don’t think we’ve struggled to share the basketball this year.”

The Nets may not have struggled to share the ball so far, but adding Harden to the mix adds a whole new degree of difficulty to the situation. Nash is right that the most complicated job he’ll have is to manage the demands and personalities that will come with coaching three superstars. One of those personalities has already proven to be a significant challenge for Nash.

The good news for Nash is that Durant and Harden have extensive experience playing together. Nash also has the experience of being a longtime star NBA point guard to guide him. That may make the process a little bit easier.

Could James Harden trade help convince Kevin Durant to remain with Nets longer?

Kevin Durant

The Brooklyn Nets acquired James Harden to become even stronger contenders for the NBA championship. However, they may have a secondary motive behind the move as well.

The Nets have forward Kevin Durant under contract through the 2021-22 season. Durant then has a player option for 2022-23, after which he would become a free agent. Harden’s current deal is on the exact same timeline as well.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski views the Harden trade as making it easier for the Nets to convince Durant to sign a contract extension in the future.

Durant and Harden grew up together on the Oklahoma City Thunder and are known to be close. In fact, Durant was championing Harden even before Harden blossomed into the superstar he ultimately became. Surrounding Durant with players he likes playing with can only help the Nets’ chances of retaining him.

It’s not just that the two are friends, though. The acquisition of Harden signifies that the Nets are serious about building a long-term contender. Ultimately, if that is what Durant is looking for, the Nets are stepping up to show that they’re legitimate. That matters in the eyes of players, and it wouldn’t be a shock if it factored into the Nets’ thinking when making the deal.

Three takeaways from opening night in the NBA

Kyrie Irving

After the shortest offseason in league history, the NBA is officially back. And while there is still the remainder of a 72-game regular season yet to be played, teams only get one chance to make a first impression. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the first night of action in the association.

Brooklyn Nets have a chance to be special

Heading into the season, the Brooklyn Nets were a popular choice as the team most likely to finish atop the Eastern Conference. During their first game of the season, they justified their burgeoning bandwagon. Kyrie Irving continued his tradition of opening night onslaughts, following last year’s 50-point performance by dropping 24 in the first half. Although Irving only scored 2 points in the second half, that was largely because his services were not required in the later stages of the blowout, as he finished the game playing just 25 minutes. As impressive as Irving was, it was Kevin Durant’s return and the fluidity in which he moved that has Brooklyn firmly in the championship discussion.

There is no defense for a player who is nearly 7 feet tall and can dance with the basketball, then elevate into a picturesque pull-up jumper as depicted above. Coming off a devastating Achilles injury, Durant looked like his former self attacking the defense. While there was little doubt that the former four-time scoring champion would still be able to light it up offensively, there were some questions about how Durant would fare on the other side of the floor. Embracing the shift to power forward, Durant’s defensive impact was profound, as he limited Golden State shooters to 2-13 shooting as the primary defender.

The Nets have assembled a talented roster around their two superstars, with Caris LeVert spearheading a versatile bench unit. Even without Durant and Irving last season, Brooklyn still made the playoffs, with many of the team’s key contributors returning in reduced roles for this season. Although it was just one game, there is no denying that top to bottom, the Nets have assembled one of the most talented, cohesive rosters in the NBA.

The reigning champs are easing their way into the season


TNT crew roasts Kevin Durant for giving stiff interview

Kevin Durant

The TNT crew roasted Kevin Durant after he gave them a stiff interview on Tuesday night.

Durant’s Brooklyn Nets beat the Golden State Warriors 125-99 in the season-opening game. Durant had 22 points in his first game since injuring his Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals over a year and a half ago.

Following the game, Durant gave an interview to the TNT crew, but he showed very little personality or emotion while talking with the hosts. Afterwards, the crew of Shaq, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith mocked Durant for it.

There is some background to the situation.

First off, Durant has long had issues with the media for twisting things he says. His teammate Kyrie Irving even stopped talking with the media. Barkley has been hard on Irving in public comments, which likely explains the chilly interview.

Maybe this will serve as some motivation for Durant to provide a better quality interview in the future.

Here is Durant’s full interview:

Kevin Durant speaks highly of relationship with Draymond Green despite drama

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is set to play against the Golden State Warriors for the first time since his 2019 departure, and he has nothing but love for them.

Before Tuesday’s season opener against the Warriors, the Brooklyn Nets star spoke highly of his relationship with his former teammates in Golden State, including Draymond Green.

“Definitely keep in touch here and there,” said Durant. “I’ve seen Draymond in the summer. We ran into each other at a restaurant. It was good to see him and his family … It’s good to see from afar, see everybody’s doing well and realize that these bonds that we created will never be broken no matter what jerseys we put on, no matter what part of the country we all live in.”

Durant also added that he would “always be a Warrior” in his heart.

The former NBA MVP won two championships in his three seasons with the Warriors but had an acrimonious relationship with Green at times. Green recently said he had an issue with Durant letting his free agency situation linger in his last season in Golden State instead of being more transparent.

In any case, Green has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game against Brooklyn, so the two will not be able to duke it out on the court. It does seem like whatever issues they once had are now in the past though.

Video: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook share nice embrace after preseason game

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook seem to be back on very friendly terms.

KD and Westbrook shared a nice postgame embrace after a preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards on Sunday night.

Durant had 15 points in 24 minutes, while Westbrook did not play.

The two were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009-2016 until Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook remained with the Thunder until being traded to Houston last year. He was recently traded to Washington for John Wall.

Westbrook held something against Durant after KD left for Golden State and the two had some beef at first. But it’s been four years since that happened, and the two are on much better terms now.

Kevin Durant has blunt response to James Harden trade rumors

Kevin Durant

All indications are that James Harden wants the Houston Rockets to trade him, and the Brooklyn Nets are said to be one of the teams on his wish list. Naturally, that has led to Kevin Durant being asked about the possibility of playing with Harden again. Durant showed on Wednesday that he does not want to entertain that talk.

Durant was asked about the Harden trade rumors during his conference call with reporters, and he quickly dismissed the question. He said he is only worried about the players who are with the Nets.

“I don’t think about James Harden at all,” Durant said, per Adam Zagoria of Forbes. “I mean, he doesn’t play on our team.”

Harden may want to play on Durant’s team, but that is not in K.D.’s control. Keep in mind that Durant still hasn’t played a game for the Nets after rupturing his Achilles, and he added that he is “very excited about the future of this group.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported recently that Harden worked out with Durant and Kyrie Irving in Los Angeles. While Durant did not deny that, he dismissed the talk of Harden going to Brooklyn and basically accused the media of making it up.

At this point, it does not seem like the Rockets want to trade Harden. The former MVP has reportedly given them another team aside from the Nets that he wants to play for, but Houston seems determined to smooth things over.

Kevin Durant addresses report about him recruiting James Harden

Kevin Durant

James Harden is rumored to be committed to the idea of playing for the Brooklyn Nets this upcoming season, and reports have indicated that he discussed that with Kevin Durant. If the two have spoken about teaming up again, Durant is not willing to admit that publicly.

Durant was asked during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday if he has had conversations with Harden about playing together in Brooklyn. Not surprisingly, he denied it.

“I don’t know where you’re making these stories up that me and James talked about any of this at a workout,” Durant said. “I don’t know where that came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff. … I heard particularly that James wanted to come to the Nets, but anybody can make up stories and write a story thinking it’ll get some traction.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarwoski is the one who reported that Harden worked out with Durant and Kyrie Irving in Los Angeles. Woj is arguably the best reporter in the NBA, so it would be a surprise if that were inaccurate. Whether or not they all discussed teaming up together during said workout is another story.

Both Harden and Russell Westbrook are said to have informed the Rockets that they want a trade. A new theory about why both superstars want out of Houston recently surfaced.

You can hear Durant’s full remarks below:

Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0