One way or the other, regardless of all of the melodrama and hysteria, the Nets have managed to carry onto each Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Now they head into coaching camp with the most effective roster of basic supervisor Sean Marks’ tenure, probably the most loaded for the reason that Jason Kidd period 20 years in the past.
However that alone will not get the Nets to the Finals like these Kidd groups, and it actually will not assure the franchise’s first NBA title.
If the disappointing previous 12 months — which crescendoed this summer time with Durant’s commerce request and try and get basic supervisor Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash fired — has taught them something, it is that expertise is not sufficient.
“On paper, we positively have a few of the greatest expertise within the league, however as we have seen up to now, it takes greater than that,” Nets heart Nic Claxton warned this week. “So we have simply received to come back collectively and simply all work in direction of the identical aim, which is profitable the championship.”
The Nets have not come near the championship that appeared a fait accompli once they landed Durant and Irving in 2019. And on the finish of June, it appeared as if Durant and Irving have been each gone, together with the Nets’ likelihood to win a title. Holding agency — and holding on to each stars — has given them that likelihood again.
Claxton is aware of full nicely there’s nonetheless work and crew constructing to be executed to money in on that likelihood, beginning with coaching camp subsequent month.
“We simply have to have the ability to shut out the surface noise,” Claxton instructed The Put up hours after Durant respinded his commerce request. “Since I have been right here, it is all the time been one thing. However we simply have to have the ability to shut that out and simply give attention to all people that is contained in the constructing and give attention to getting higher, constructing on and off the courtroom. … We have simply received to come back collectively and are available collectively as a unit.”
Frankly, it has been some time for the reason that Nets have appeared a cohesive unit. They’ve extra carefully resembled a group of unbiased contractors.
Granted, the Nets practically overcame that in 2020-21 through the sheer offensive firepower of their Huge 3. However they suffered a heartbreaking Sport 7 time beyond regulation loss to the eventual champion Bucks within the Japanese Convention semifinals after Irving and James Harden received harm and Durant’s toe was on the road on a possible profitable 3-pointer in regulation.
Then Irving’s refusal to stick to New York Metropolis’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates led to Harden’s commerce request and undercut final season. The outcome was a disjointed marketing campaign, ending in a humbling first-round sweep by the hands of the Celtics.
After Durant threatened to burn the entire thing down by requesting a commerce, crew proprietor Joe Tsai held agency, and Durant’s resolve wavered. He capitulated following a Monday night time assembly in Los Angeles with Tsai, Marks and Nash. The Nets introduced Tuesday that Durant had respinded his commerce request.
Claxton had been on trip horseback using within the Dominican Republic when he first heard about Durant’s commerce request, and he was simply leaving a morning exercise when he came upon the four-time scoring champ was coming again.
“I received the information (Tuesday) like all people else, and I am excited,” Claxton instructed The Put up. “It is thrilling understanding he is coming again on board with us. I really feel like we’ll have a extremely, actually good group. So, we have simply received to get all people collectively and lock in.”
Nick the OG
With Ben Simmons, Joe Harris and Seth Curry anticipated to be recovered from surgical procedures, and the addition of TJ Warren and Royce O’Neale, the Nets could have their deepest roster of Durant’s tenure.
And Claxton, now coming into his fourth seasonis lastly in line to be the first-choice heart.
After not getting a single begin as a rookie, the 23-year-old received the nod as soon as in his sophomore marketing campaign and 19 instances final season. Now, with veterans Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge gone and second-year per Day’Ron Sharpe the one different heart on the roster, Claxton’s versatile, switchable protection stamps him as a front-runner for the beginning heart job. It is a accountability he insists he is ready for.
“I am an OG now,” mentioned Claxton, immediately one of many longest-tenured Nets. “So I really feel like there’s much more that is going to be placed on my shoulders. … I am prepared for the problem. I am prepared for the whole lot that is going to come back with it.
“Actually it would not [change my approach]. I imply, I nonetheless received to point out up daily. I do know in all probability much more will likely be requested of me, so I’ve simply received to be prepared,”
After Claxton struggled via a nightmare 1-for-11 capturing night time from the free-throw line within the Nets’ season-ending Sport 4 loss to the Celtics, enhancing on the stripe has been precedence No. 1 this summer time. Claxton centered on his free-throw capturing this offseason with Nets assistant Ryan Forehan-Kelly and Texas-based coach Tim Martin
“Simply my total sport — in fact, free throws,” Claxton mentioned. “Engaged on my shot, getting stronger, after which simply persevering with to construct off these previous few years.”
That Sport 4 meltdown apart, Claxton improved his free-throw capturing from 48.4 p.c in 2020-21 to 58.1 p.c final season, together with 60.9 as a starter.
simmons enjoying some heart in a smallball demise lineup just like the one Durant used to steer in Golden State has been mentioned.
Nonetheless, even when Nash does experiment with that, Claxton appears assured of surpassing his earlier profession excessive in minutes (20.7) on a roster in determined want of his protection — serving to the Nets attempt to change into the respectable contender he is satisfied they are often.
Competitors for Claxton?
The Nets nonetheless have a league-high six open roster spots: all three Exhibit 10s, a two-way deal and two commonplace offers.
The Put up has reported Marks is wanting so as to add a veteran backup massive man, and there’s mutual curiosity with Markieff Morris. The 32-year-old Morris was restricted to 17 video games with the Warmth final season after getting injured in an altercation with Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.
The Nets additionally reportedly are eyeing Tristan Thompson, in accordance with HoopsHype. Thompson alongside Irving and Harris in Cleveland, and is represented by Klutch Sports activities CEO Wealthy Paul, who additionally reps Simmons.