Next stop: Brooklyn.
After news broke last week that the Brooklyn Nets would land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the team made it official by inking two of this year’s top NBA free agents to play at Barclays Center for the coming years.
The signings mark an impressive turnaround for the team led by General Manager Sean Marks. The Nets had just won 21 games when he took over. Just three years later, he landed two all-stars with three NBA titles between them.
On July 6, the franchise announced the signing of Irving. Although the number of years and dollars hasn’t yet been made official by the team, Irving is expected to make $141 million for four years, according to ESPN.
“Kyrie is one of the NBA’s elite guards and has won at the highest level,” said Marks in a statement. “His championship pedigree, coupled with his gifted scoring and playmaking abilities, will make him an outstanding addition to our team. We’re very excited to welcome Kyrie and his family to Brooklyn.”
Irving signed the contract inside the gymnasium of Roosevelt Middle School in New Jersey, where he attended school.
“The entire coaching staff is excited to have the opportunity to coach a player of Kyrie’s caliber,” said the team’s head coach Kenny Atkinson. “He is as talented and accomplished as any point guard in our game and we are enthusiastic about integrating him and our other new roster additions into our returning core.”
The following day, the Nets also announced that Durant was Brooklyn bound. Despite a ruptured Achilles tendon sustained in the NBA Finals that will likely keep him out for the entire 2019-20 season, the nine-time All-NBA selection and two-time NBA Finals MVP was hotly pursued by several teams. According to ESPN, he received a four-year, $164-million contract with the Nets.
The deal was slightly more complicated than Irving’s. To acquire the two-time NBA champion, the Nets made a “sign and trade” with Durant’s former team, the Golden State Warriors, which included all-star point guard D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham.
“Kevin is a champion, perennial All-Star and one of the great players of this, or any, generation,” said Marks. “Adding a player of Kevin’s caliber to our organization elevates our ability to compete with the elite teams in this league. His tremendous abilities and dedication to his craft have made him as talented an offensive player our game has ever seen, and we, as well as all of Brooklyn, are thrilled to welcome Kevin and his family to the Nets.”
“Along with the rest of the league, our coaching staff has long admired Kevin’s incredible skill, resilience and tenacity,” added Atkinson. “He has already established himself as a champion and one of the best players of all time, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him into our program in Brooklyn.”
Durant seems ready to join his new team, though fans will have to wait a bit until he suits up in Brooklyn gear. “Let’s get it @brooklynnets,” he wrote on his Instagram page.
Brooklyn fans will also miss Russell, who had his best year of his three-year career last season with the Nets and led them to their first playoff appearance since 2015. Upper management acknowledged his contribution and absence.
“We would also like to thank D’Angelo for all he has done for the Nets over the past two seasons. He was an integral part of the team’s growth and served as a tremendous representative of the Nets and Brooklyn,” said Marks.
The feeling was mutual as Russell posted, “Thank you Brooklyn,” on his official Twitter page.