KEVIN Durant wants to embrace his return to the NBA and new beginnings with the Brooklyn Nets.
“I’m looking forward to having some new energy, some fresh energy,” Durant said as the Nets reported to training camp on Tuesday. “Especially the younger guys on this team, I’m looking forward to helping them in any way I can. Telling them about the experiences I went to in this league. … I’m looking forward to stepping into this position, this role. I’m excited about taking it on.”
Durant, who signed as a free agent with the Nets in July 2019, did not play last season while recovering from a torn Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals as a member of the Golden State Warriors. He said his recent workouts have been without restriction — “full speed, 100 percent” — and he expects to be greatly involved as the Nets kick off the 2020-21 season under new coach Steve Nash.
Durant, who teamed previously with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City and Steph Curry with the Warriors, said Tuesday he and good friend James Harden never discussed the possibility of the Houston Rockets All-Star joining the Nets. Already, Durant has Kyrie Irving as a sidekick in Brooklyn.
“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 mind, but I let the front office handle all of that stuff. I was just so focused on working out. I heard all the noise, and I heard that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets. But anybody can make up stories. … I just focused on myself, and my teammates probably did the same thing.”
Harden reportedly requested a trade because the Rockets recently started an overhaul that included a new general manager and head coach. Westbrook, Harden and Durant played together in Oklahoma City. Westbrook reportedly could also be traded from the Rockets.
Part of the “new energy” for a team that made the playoffs without Durant — and largely without Irving, who didn’t play in the postseason — is Nash and assistant coach Mike D’Antoni.
Nash has described Durant and Irving as “healthy” and on Tuesday added: “In shape and looking great.”
Irving, 28, averaged 27.4 points and 6.4 assists per game last season before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on March 3.
Nash didn’t commit to any playing time plan or approach with either player. He joked that neither would play 72 games, the total the NBA and players agreed to for the 2020-21 season, but planned to embrace the excitement of getting the All-Stars on the floor together.
“I love our team, I love our roster. I can coach these guys and try to build something incredibly competitive,” Nash said. — Reuters