After months of speculation regarding where his future will lie, former Longhorn Kevin Durant has signed a four-year $161 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Durant entered free agency as the best player available on the open market and perhaps the best player in the entire league. As the league’s top dog, he agreed to sign with the Nets as soon as the free agency period began Sunday evening. Fellow free agents Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple soon followed and sent the rest of the league’s plans into motion as the first dominos began to fall.
Durant spent the previous three seasons with the Golden State Warriors as the team won back-to-back NBA championships in 2017 and 2018. Despite being the favorites to win the NBA Finals for much of the year, Golden State’s past season was mired with rumors of Durant’s imminent departure, which proved to be a distraction multiple times. These rumors linked Durant to the New York Knicks for much of the year, and his desire to play in the country’s largest market was cited as the reason for his interest. Durant proved this to be half true by choosing to sign with the city’s other team.
Durant is expected to miss the entirety of the 2019-2020 NBA season after tearing his Achilles during the recent NBA Finals. This injury has proven to be one of the most devastating for NBA players, and a vast majority fail to ever reach the same level of play seen prior to the injury.
Luckily for Durant, he will be returning in 2020 to a roster full of complementary talent that will allow him to ease into his return with minimal burden. He will be joined by the aforementioned Kyrie Irving, a six-time NBA All-Star, and DeAndre Jordan, one of Durant’s closest friends in the NBA. But the Nets roster is also appealing outside of the free agent acquisitions that joined Durant this week, which may be why he ended up choosing the Nets over the neighboring Knicks.
Among last season’s players returning to the Nets is fellow Longhorn Jarrett Allen. Allen proved to be an elite rim protector and overall promising player in his second season in Brooklyn, making him the perfect player to play alongside Durant. But Jordan’s arrival complicates things for Allen. As a veteran addition and close friend of Durant, Jordan will likely take Allen’s starting center job despite not necessarily being the superior player. There has been no word of a potential trade to move Allen to a team where he would have a bigger role, but it would not be surprising.
With one decision, Durant has changed the landscape of the entire NBA. This same decision may end up drastically changing the trajectory of a fellow Longhorn as well, for better or worse.