The Brooklyn Nets are coming hard and Knicks fans better recognize. It's the dawn of a new era in NY basketball.
According to the Daily News, the Nets will full-court press OKC star Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent in 2016. Durant’s ascent to a Top 3 player in the game and possible MVP this season has been well documented. His recent scoring binge—at least 30-points in 12 straight games—is discussed with the reverence reserved for gray-bearded legends. It’s not like that’s breaking news, because a ton of squads will be vying for the lanky laser-launcher's services and we have a while to go before the 2017 season. But BK is flexing a serious “early bird gets the worm” mentality.Setting up the mission.
The fact that Durant’s a client of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is vital to this potential scenario. We know that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov helped further legitimize Jay-Z’s rise to mogul status by selling him a small share of the Nets, which Jigga later relinquished to start managing celebrity money with an overall goal of locking down the giants of pro sports.
Dare I say this is all a big chess game and Prokhorov and Jay-Z are already 100 steps ahead of everybody? Is it possible Durant signing with the Nets is that favor that Jigga owes Prokhorov? Maybe it was always the plan for Jigga to get his feet wet with the Nets, launch Roc Nation Sports, compile a stable of the finest athletes to ever grace a talent agency and then make the Brooklyn Nets the hottest commodity in the NBA. While they’re at it, why not lay waste to the old-regime, NY Knicks. It makes total sense.
Some cats probably feel the Nets are acting thirsty. Some feel they’re out of line to comment on such things at this juncture. Others are sure to call it dirty pool on the Nets part to so blatantly put it out there that their mission is to steal Durant from his NBA home. The hoopla this will surely stir up is typical Prokhorov. From the moment he stepped on Brooklyn concrete, Prokhorov showed that he’s willing to push the envelope.The Knicks recent four-game win streak and all of the ink Carmelo is getting has stolen some recently earned shines from a Nets team that has started January on 10-2 roll.
The Knicks are still dominating the backpages. Even at 19-27 following Thursday’s 117-86 smashing of Cleveland. The Nets (20-23) had a taste of what being top dawg in NY can be like when they thrashed the Knicks at MSG on MLK Day and the Nets fans in attendance had a serious BROO-KLYN chant rocking late in the bragging rights battle .
Prokhorov isn’t satisfied with just embarrassing the Knicks a couple of times. His mentality is the same one that helped him rise from the crumbled communist ashes of the USSR and become a billionaire and a symbol of the new, free-enterprise Russia. The man wasn’t playing when he said he wanted multiple c’hips and he wanted to annihilate the Knicks from existence. Rumor has it; he did some unsavory things on his way up the food chain. Prokhorov admits that unscrupulous and sketchy maneuvering was common place in a transitioning Russia. The Nets will continue to blow up and gain popularity because a major part of Prokhorov’s existence is fueled by his thirst to be an NBA champion. He’s only going to tread in mediocrity (and play fair) for so long. He’s the anti-Jolly James Dolan. A man with a championship plan beyond cashing checks.
The Nets are a better team than the Knicks, but there’s nothing magical about them. Brooklyn fans can’t realistically see past the first-round yet. Naturally, adding KD would change the championship fortunes of any franchise. Prokhorov had the audacity to think he could bag LeBron back in 2010. The Russian owner made a hardball offer, but the franchise was still in the swamplands of New Jeru and too early in the game to get a real look.
So why not Durant in 2016? The Nets are a much more respectable squad now with a young, celebrity HC leading them into the next half of the decade. They’ve since starting packing a load of talent into The Barclays, including D Will, KG, Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson who was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad as a reserve on Thursday.
SNY was billing Friday night’s showdown with the Nets as a (super) early showcase before KD’s possible arrival on Planet Brooklyn. That rumor is sure to piss off anybody who is not one of the 2.566 million people residing in the borough.
Williams has had his share of zoned-out scoring barrages. He dropped a sick 57 numbers in a game against the generous Charlotte Bobcats in 2012. The oft-injured guard salivates at the impact the revolutionary KD could have on the Nets, the borough of Brooklyn and the game of basketball overall.
“He’s a 6-11 shooting guard,” Williams told SNY. “He’s quick fast, good in transition. You know…you can test his shot and it really won’t affect him. He can post up. He just doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses in his game offensively. His numbers are crazy. It takes a special player to average those numbers.”
You know deep down Jason Kidd would love to add one of those Top 5 talents to his Brooklyn mix of veterans and youngsters.
“This game is built on scoring,” the Nets rookie coach also told SNY, “so he would probably be up there in that category of 1. You'd have 1A, 1B and 1C (superstar caliber players). He’s up there in that Group.”
The Daily News also suggests that Durant may want out in part because the Thunder ownership is luxury tax averse and Oklahoma City plays in the NBA's smallest market. That fear of the luxury tax led to the Thunder dumping James Harden, a decision that broke up Lethal Weapon Three (LWT) and ticks off KD to this day.
Although Durant's contract ends in 2016, there are those in the Nets organization who can see KD letting people in OKC know he wants out at the end of the 2015 season when the Nets want to be below the luxury tax “apron.” Once below that number, approximately $75 million, teams have a lot more flexibility.
D Will kicked it with Stefan Bondy of the Daily News about the lure of a big market for Durant and how the hardest part about playing with the Utah Jazz was his inability to attract free agents to move to Mormontown.
“For someone like (Durant), I think it makes a bigger difference because of the endorsements he’d command in a market like this. I mean, look at what he’s already doing in Oklahoma City. But at the same time, maybe he’s such a big name that it doesn’t matter where he’s at. If LeBron would’ve stayed in Cleveland, he still gets $150 (million) from Nike."
That’s what everyone from Cleveland to Houston to OKC will argue. They’ll say LeBron didn’t need New York to become the center of the basketball universe and neither does KD. Problem is the Nets have a tactical-assassin sitting at the head of their basketball organization. He doesn’t accept defeat easily (see James Dolan) and his philosophies and theories may be considered eccentric to most NBA owners.
Watch this Durant situation as it shapes up over the next few years. Something is going on. If Prokhorov can finally land his mega-fish then the entire game changes and Atlantic Avenue becomes the new Park Ave. The picture may be fuzzy now, but Brooklyn is laying the foundation for when kingdom comes…or when KD comes.