clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Kevin Durant lived his best life this summer, even if it didn’t make any sense

New, comments

What a journey it’s been.

via @easymoneysniper, Instagram

Kevin Durant’s off-season has been beautiful. In a haphazard, messy, Jackson Pollock sort of way. Injury, trade demands, keeping the Nets in the dark — all paint splatters on a canvas we’re still trying to decipher.

With the deal done and the Nets preparing for their super team future, now is a good time to look back at how Durant ended up on the Nets and rate the entire situation’s overall weirdness. To keep this fair and scientific, I’ve developed a scale based on three key criteria:

  1. Deviation from how a normal person would act.
  2. Bizarre actions from a team/outside entity.
  3. How did it make me feel? (this is my writer’s tilt)

We’ll award the first two criteria scores out of five, and the last out of three. This will give us a score out of 13 points — arguably the weirdest number.

Durant bamboozled the Warriors into making a trade they didn’t need to.

This might be my favorite, so let’s set the scene here: The Nets have a boatload of money and Durant is a free agent commanding a boatload of money.

Hand meet glove, right? Nooooope.

Nobody is sure exactly how all this went down, but the end result was a thing of beauty.

One possible scenario: Durant says he’s leaving. It sucks if you’re the Warriors, but you probably expected it. Then he says he’ll accept a trade to the Nets. Excellent. At least you’ll get something in return. The Nets offer D’Angelo Russell, a 21-and-7 point guard who isn’t anything to be sneezed at, even when you’ve got Stephen Curry on the roster.

Durant then says “I don’t think that’s a fair deal.” The problem is that he’s got you on the hook now. At this point you’re desperate to get something in return for Durant, and you don’t know how, but now a guy leaving is brokering his own trade in a scenario where he never needed to be traded in the first place.

When the dust settled and everything was done, here’s what happened:

Nets receive: Durant, 2020 First Round Pick (protected)
Warriors receive: D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham

Durant managed to load the Nets for the future with a draft pick, and get two players out of the way to open up salary for the Nets to sign DeAndre Jordan. Again, I should stress this: None of this needed to happen. In the end, the Nets got immediately better and the Warriors got a handful of beans, some of which may be magic. Who knows?

Deviation from social norms: 3
Weirdness from outside entity: 4
How it made me feel: 3

Total: 10

Durant never told the Nets he was signing with them.

There’s a fairly well established protocol for accepting a job offer. You meet with the company, they offer you a job, and assuming you like their terms, you accept.

Durant did things a little differently with the Nets. They found out at the same time as the rest of the world he was headed to Brooklyn. We’ve become conditioned through elaborate free agency processes to accept this as being normal, but make no mistake: It’s absolutely, 100 percent not normal.

Nets general manager Sean Marks was as mystified about the decision as anyone.

“Well yeah, the Instagram post that he put out, we were all sitting in the office, and we all got that in real time with you guys,” said Marks, a former Cal star. “We weren’t even sure if we were getting a meeting that night or if it was going to be a telephone conversation with him. That was the first.”

Appreciate for a second the logistics and planning that goes into signing a star of Durant’s magnitude. Ideally, a team wants a social media plan in place to hype the signing. The team store wants to be stocked with jerseys of the team’s newest star. And this is all before we get to support staff whose job it is to make Durant’s transition and relocation as smooth as possible.

Normally when someone like Durant makes this kind of announcement you pop a bottle and have a celebration in the office. I have to imagine it was more like 10 dozen people running around saying “ohshitohshitohshitohshit” while frantically preparing for Durant’s arrival in Brooklyn.

Deviation from social norms: 5
Weirdness from outside entity: 1
How it made me feel: 3

Total: 9

The Warriors retired Durant’s number.

This is some serious holding-a-boombox-outside-the-window-playing-“In Your Eyes” kind of shit. Now look, I’m not laughing at this because I don’t think Durant deserves to have his number retired — really, I’m not. The dude is an outstanding player worthy of having his number in the rafters not only for his play, but who he is off the court.

There’s just one thing about the entire “we’ll retire your jersey” thing. It’s normally accepted that the player should retire first. Instead, Warriors CEO Joe Lacob heaped effusive praise on Durant for his three seasons in the Bay Area before saying:

“As long as I am Co-Chairman of this team, no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”

You know what the Thunder did when Durant left? They gave it two seasons before slapping No. 35 on rookie P.J. Dozier, who went on to average 1.0 point per game before leaving. Durant played for the franchise since he was a rookie and didn’t get the deference of a mid-career jersey retirement.

Part of me still thinks it’s kind of sweet, but it’s also bananas. Also bananas are sweet. It’s funny how life comes at you sometimes.

Deviation from social norms: 1
Weirdness from outside entity: 5
How it made me feel: 2

Total: 8

The injury.

I’ve been back and forth on whether to include this. Ultimately, it isn’t a fun aspect of Durant’s free agency but it’s significant, nonetheless.

At this point it’s difficult to know where Durant’s injury situation will end up. Right now things have been pretty quiet, though there’s been speculation that Durant could sue the Warriors for mishandling him during the NBA Finals, eventually leading to his torn Achilles.

This goes far deeper than “athlete gets injured.” Accounts vary of what took place, but there’s a general consensus that at the very least Durant was unaware of the risks he was taking playing with a calf injury the way he did.

Was this a case of simple misdiagnosis? A team putting championship over player? A mix of both? We honestly don’t know — but everything got more murky when Andre Iguodala said the Warriors downplayed an injury he was suffering during the 2017-18 playoffs, which the team classified as a “bone bruise,” when in reality he was suffering from a leg fracture.

”Last year it happened to me. I missed the last three games of the Houston series. It goes to Game 7, we barely get out of that series. Now they’re looking at me like, ‘When are you coming back?’ I had a fractured leg, but it’s being put out there like, he’s got a bone bruise. ... I’m fighting with the team, I’m fighting with people, I’m fighting with the media. Then my teammates ask me every day, ‘How you feeling, how you feeling?’”

Deviation from social norms: 1
Weirdness from outside entity: 5
How it made me feel: 1

Total: 7

Final results

It’s been a weird summer for Durant, and while some of this was of his own making there’s no doubt it was weird and wonderful. Let’s average this all out:

Deviation from social norms: 2.5
Weirdness from outside entity: 3.75
How it made me feel: 2.25

Total: 8.5/13, a respectful level of weird.

Most importantly: Get well soon, Durant. The NBA is a better and weirder place with you and we want you back on the court soon.