How will KD and Kyrie respond after a drama-filled offseason? Here are the biggest questions still surrounding the Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets gave the NBA offseason prolonged existence. Every transfer the group made — and did not — was once tested; each and every whisper, each and every tweet damaged all the way down to the syllable as the league watched the turmoil spread all over the summer season.

Kevin Durant, who on June 30 asked a business, then asked for normal supervisor Sean Marks and head trainer Steve Nash to be fired, now seems able to start out the season with the Nets.

The curler coaster persisted, as guard Kyrie Irving handled questions about his personal long term in Brooklyn. While hypothesis about a possible reunion with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers took up the first week of loose company, no deal materialized.

Irving, who performed simply 29 video games final season as a result of his vaccination standing and New York City’s mandate, may now not come to phrases with the Nets on an extension, saying June 27 his determination to choose in to ultimate yr in his contract, a participant possibility value $36.5 million.

Meanwhile, Ben Simmons, who was once received simply prior to February’s business closing date from the Philadelphia 76ers, hasn’t performed in over 16 months. After arriving in Brooklyn, Simmons overlooked the remainder of the yr whilst coping with psychological well being considerations and a again harm that in the end pressured him to have surgical procedure over the summer season.

As the Nets head into their preseason opener Monday in opposition to the 76ers, they look like on the identical web page for the first time in years.

Here are the 5 biggest questions surrounding the Nets heading into the 2022-23 season:

1. How will Durant respond to the Nets’ summer season of discontent?

Durant made transparent after getting swept via the Boston Celtics in the first spherical final season that he had “no regrets” about the approach the yr spread out. “No time to feel regret or be too pissed off. It’s about how we can find solutions to get better, proactive as an organization to get better,” he stated in April.

What a distinction a few months could make.

As Durant vented frustration about final season and the approach he believed some gamers were not being held responsible, he defined precisely what he sought after to look transferring ahead after interior conversations inside of the group.

“It’s just a matter of team building,” Durant stated. “… I just felt like that’s what great teams do. I feel like we don’t have any respect out there on the court, and that’s what I want for us. Respect amongst the NBA community as a team on how we play on both ends of the floor from GM [Marks] all the way down to the equipment manager.

“I need that appreciate. I believe you [get that] via how you’re employed each and every unmarried day and we skipped some steps in how we labored all over that yr final yr as a result of the cases — vaccine mandates, folks disgruntled, accidents. I felt like we will have simply stored urgent ahead, and that is what I attempt to do as a participant. I’m now not preaching one thing that I do not observe. I are available right here, each and every rep issues to me, so I need everyone to really feel the identical approach.”

Since he signed with Brooklyn over three years ago, the organization has put Durant at the center of everything it does. That likely won’t change now, either — but how he approaches each day, with a team that mere weeks ago he appeared to not want to be on anymore, will set the tone for everything else that happens this season.

2. Will Irving be a fully committed member of the team?

Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated last season hung over everything.

During the 2020-21 season, he took a leave of absence for personal reasons and was away from the team for two weeks. The hope within the organization, team sources said, is that without a vaccination requirement this season, and with the motivation of a potential contract extension hanging in the balance, Irving will rebound.

“That first year he played more games than me and James [Harden],” Durant stated at Nets media day on Monday. “So you can say he was more reliable than us that first year. And last year if it wasn’t for the vaccine he would have played. There’s not a vaccine mandate this year. The year I played with him before he was very reliable, so once the mandate was gone I figured he’s going to be here every day. And he loves to play. I shouldn’t even have to say that. We all know that.”

When Irving is on the ground, he has proven he can still play at a prime stage, as evidenced via the 27.4 issues he averaged over 29 regular-season video games final yr. however he has additionally proven, from time to time, that he cannot be counted on. “He understands that in order for him to be a free agent and get what he rightfully wants,” Marks stated, “he’s going to have to show commitment out there.”

3. Is Ben Simmons able to play?

While the Durant and Irving storylines drove maximum of the headlines the previous few months, Simmons’ reemergence is arguably the staff’s most crucial variable if the Nets wish to contend in the East.

Simmons hasn’t performed one minute {of professional} basketball since the Philadelphia 76ers’ Game 7 loss in opposition to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals during which the level guard took a heap of complaint from the public and his personal teammates for his passive play.

Simmons was once traded to the Nets the following season and after offseason again surgical procedure and lacking time final season to handle his psychological well being, he will have to display he’s still able to taking part in at an All-Star stage — and has to discover ways to play with a new staff. For his phase, Simmons stated he’s assured that each his frame and thoughts will cling up all season.

“I’m glad I got it done,” Simmons stated of the again surgical procedure. “It was much needed. I don’t think people really realize where I was at. That day I was supposed to play Game 4 [of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals], I woke up on the floor, I couldn’t move. I could barely walk. So I’m glad to be in this position, this situation. Rehabbed myself and got myself into a place where I can compete. So I’m excited.”



Stephen A. Smith takes factor with Kyrie Irving’s loss of dedication to the groups he performs for.

How he suits along Durant and Irving is certainly one of the maximum intriguing questions in the league. How he handles adversity is simply as necessary. Simmons was once fast with a reaction when requested what it’s been like working towards with each gamers over the previous week.

“Incredible,” he stated.

4. How does Nash respond?

In the midst of a season-long 11-game dropping streak in February, Steve Nash got here into a coaching room after a shootaround in Salt Lake City and began to explain how the staff would smash it. He referenced how he’d carved out a occupation via discovering a approach via no matter hindrances seemed in his trail — particularly as an undersized guard out of Santa Clara University, a long way off the NBA map. “I love this s—,” Nash stated with a smile.

Nash has spent his skilled existence within the NBA. He understands the scrutiny that may boil when losses mount and issues move haywire — however he additionally earned a Hall of Fame induction and two MVP awards all over 18 seasons in the league.

“That’s pro sports, right?” Marks stated, when requested about Durant’s offseason request that he and Nash each be fired. “I’m sure there are plenty of things that go on behind the scenes. [Nash and I] both lived on both sides of that locker room as well, so we know what happens inside the locker room, and that’s completely fair …

“I completely perceive [Durant’s] frustration. I do not know if there was once any one extra annoyed than the two people. We’re all in in this. We all know what is at stake right here, what our final function is.”

5. What are the Nets going to do at center?

Nic Claxton is the only center currently on the roster who played rotational minutes (18.7 per game) last season. One much-talked-about option would be to use Simmons at the 5, where he played just 8% of the time in his four seasons in Philadelphia, per NBA Advanced Stats. Nash acknowledged this week that Simmons at center will happen.

“If he is the quote, unquote ‘lone large,’ that is a position we’d no doubt play him at,” Nash said. “But he is additionally our playmaker and level guard.”

While Simmons at center is the headline, Nash noted that second-year big man Day’Ron Sharpe will have alternatives as neatly. After dropping LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, Nash’s choices are limited — an issue perhaps best summed up by new addition Markieff Morris.

Nash said the 13-year veteran “is a 5 for us.” While discussing his role a few minutes later, Morris said he was open to helping the team in whichever way he can but added:

“I would not name myself a middle. But if you wish to put me there, Steve desires to name me a middle, I’m a middle.”

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