Extending Kevin Durant Is Not the Most Important Move the Brooklyn Nets Made to Solidify Their Championship Future

What makes the Brooklyn Nets so intriguing is that they are all but guaranteed to have a roster that will once again be among the NBA’s best. And that’s precisely why the Nets made the moves they did. The morning after the season ended, the Nets picked up Derrick Favors, DeMarre Carroll, and Bojan Bogdanovic, which was the block the Nets needed to make their 2017-18 squad even better. And, though the franchise went through a rough patch this season, it’s important to remember that the Nets were only slated to be above-.500 for the first time in seven years.

The Brooklyn Nets have been on a crash course to building a championship team for a few seasons now, and it has been a long road. In 2013, the Nets selected the best player on the planet, Kevin Durant, as the first overall pick. In 2014, they added a couple key parts, the most notable being the signing of Deron Williams. In 2015, they added another key piece in Paul Pierce, and this year they added another key piece in Kevin Durant. In spite of all their key moves, the Nets still have a lot of work to do before they will be a championship contender.

With the draft in the books and free agency in full swing, the Brooklyn Nets have set themselves up for a potential dynasty. After acquiring All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, the Nets bolstered their bench by adding coveted free agent forward Durant.

Although Kevin Durant is probably the greatest player in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets did not make the most significant decision this summer by signing him to a contract deal.

Durant is without a doubt the most important piece of Brooklyn’s championship jigsaw. This past season, he proved it with a series of bizarre postseason performances. In terms of guaranteeing long-term success, though, his deal is just a tiny part of a much larger picture as the Nets attempt to create the next NBA dynasty.

In the NBA Draft of 2021, the Nets struck gold.

The Nets have three of the most dangerous scorers in the NBA in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, but they discovered another bucket-getter in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Given his three-level scoring ability with the Tigers, Brooklyn was lucky to choose LSU guard Cameron Thomas with the 27th overall selection. During his rookie season at Baton Rouge, Thomas averaged 23.0 points per game. His shooting statistics (just over 40% from the field and 32% from beyond the arc) aren’t great, but his ability to create off the bounce and go downhill in transition can’t be overlooked.

When it comes to Thomas’ slashing skill, the shooting percentages only signify so much. He shot 7.6 free throws per game last season, which is an amazing figure for a college player, much alone a rookie guard. Thomas’ ability to go to the line and create off the dribble will only make him more dangerous as he refines his stroke.

With Durant, Harden, and Irving leading the way, it may not seem like the Nets need more scoring. Thomas, on the other hand, injects playmaking into the bench squad and is a vital backup option if any of Brooklyn’s players are sidelined again.

By selling DeAndre Jordan for a promising kid, Brooklyn was able to alleviate budgetary constraints.

Sources at ESPN: In exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya, Brooklyn will send C DeAndre Jordan, four future second-round selections, and $5.78 million to Detroit. Jordan owes the Pistons $20 million over two years, and the agreement will save the Nets $47 million in pay and taxes.

September 3, 2021 — Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn)

Kevin Durant was just the first of many dominoes to fall. The Nets are also frantically attempting to extend The Beard and Uncle Drew’s contracts. They needed to carve out more future cap space while avoiding luxury tax penalties in order to do so. That objective was achieved by trading DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan was traded to the Detroit Pistons for $47 million in salary and luxury tax savings. According to Spotrac, the Nets still have the second-highest luxury tax, but they were able to spread Jordan’s money around by adding Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya (both from the Pistons) as well as free agents LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap.

When it comes to Doumbouya, keep in mind that he was the No. 15 overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft. The 20-year-old didn’t get much playing time in Detroit, but he may blossom in Brooklyn. Over his last nine games, he averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds. Even though the sample size is tiny, there is some benefit.

Doumbouya has the potential to be an athletic wing who can both defend and rebound. He’s also developed a great sense of awareness away from the ball, which may come in handy when his perimeter jumper and handling improve.

Due to Brooklyn’s packed frontcourt, Doumbouya may be forced to spend the most of the 2021-22 season in the G League, but he is the kind of upside player who may someday complement Durant and the rest of the team’s talents and even grow into a star in his own right.

Will Durant’s co-stars agree to participate?

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden celebrate a Nets playoff win

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden celebrate a Nets playoff win Will Harden and Irving follow in Durant’s footsteps and commit their futures to Brooklyn? | Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Durant signed a contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets, reaffirming his commitment to the team. The issue now is whether or not Harden and Irving will follow suit. The Nets seem to be in a better position than they were before to sign all three.

Jordan trading relieves a lot of financial stress. Brooklyn can also feel comfortable spending so much money on its three stars since the team was able to sign several young players, most notably Thomas and Doumbouya, who will ultimately play significant roles, eliminating the need to rely on free agency or the trade market to fill out the squad. All that’s left now is for Harden and Irving to sign the dotted line.

The extension of Kevin Durant set the tone for Brooklyn’s offseason. However, the supplementary moves provide them with depth and complementing pieces for the future, making the job of re-signing the other members of the “Big 3” seem less onerous in terms of the luxury tax.

Basketball Reference and CBB Reference provided the statistics.

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