It's October 2012 and the Brooklyn Nets are playing an exhibition game in Atlantic City -- 130 miles away from their new home in Brooklyn. The teams go back-and-forth as a pocket full of fans begin a chant: "Brooo-klynnn"

It was intimidating for the away team. It was "cool" because it replicated a chorus in Fabolous' rap song.

It was organic.

It was everything those Brooklyn Nets were not.

They made it clear that they wanted to go into Brooklyn with a bang. With billboards of Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z outside of James Dolan's office. With overpaid stars.

Anything to make Brooklyn a thing

The Nets started its first season in Brooklyn with a star-studded roster, led by Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. They trademarked "Brooklyn's Backcourt" for Williams and Johnson, as they held the hyped-up press conference outside Brooklyn Borough Hall. Head coach Avery Johnson was fired 28 games into the season after a 14-14 start.

First round exit, which meant they needed to get "tougher" because 49 wins wasn't enough. Nothing was ever enough.

You know the script: They traded four unprotected picks to the Celtics for out-of-shape and out-of-prime players in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. They hired Jason Kidd straight out of retirement to replace Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo.



"Everybody knows about that trade," Brooklyn's 20-year-old cornerstone, Jarrett Allen, laughs while explaining the importance of an organically-built team more than four years later. "From a fan's perspective when you made the trade in 2013 it's like, 'OK we're bringing all these pieces in, now we have all these superstars but is there really a connection there?'"

It all felt forced and as Allen said, there was no connection to the fanbase. It all happened too quickly for anybody to even enjoy and by time that even happened, James and the Heat knocked the Nets out of the playoffs. They were left with no picks, no cap space and few playoff victories to show for what they tried to buy. Needless to mention, zero free agents wanted to play there.

Prokhorov's five-year plan had suddenly turned into one of the biggest failures in NBA history and they had to dig their way out.

That's when Sean Marks was hired

It's February of 2016. Lionel Hollins and Billy King had officially been axed, and it was time for Dmitry Razumov to introduce new GM Sean Marks to the media. Razumov explains how he was "proud" of the hiring and later echoes something the Nets probably should have done from the start:

"We didn't rush."

In other words, they didn't hire the big name. They hired the right guy.

Marks briefly explained his plans:

"I have a clear vision of what I'd like to implement here. It'll be built through a solid, strong foundation, systematic process… You can bring in a star player, but if he doesn't fit with the vision with where you're going, that can derail a system as well. So, whoever we bring in here, they're gonna play team basketball," he explained.

Marks' first hire was Kenny Atkinson, an assistant coach from the Atlanta Hawks, known for his player development. It wasn't about making the splash hire like Kidd. It was about building a team without skipping steps.

Without forcing greatness.

"It started with us trying to build something that has a foundation, something that hopefully will have long-term success from the ground up," Marks said. "The way we've built this is based off what we were given to start with. That goes back to the development coaches, scouts, analytics group that's found and acquired people to come up with creative positions."



The Nets formed an identity on the court and in the front office. They hired Natalie Jay, a sports lawyer with a bachelor's degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard, to handle the cap. They brought in Andrew Baker, a lawyer to also serve as "Director of Contract Management." They hired Zach Weatherford, a former leader of the Navy Seal Human Performance Team, to man the Performance Team.

When Marks took over, the Nets had three scouts. The Nets don't reveal how many scouts they have, but by count, that number has more than tripled to this day. The team with zero draft picks, few assets and no cap space, suddenly built an identity.

They were going to do things different.

They were going to do it their way

It's the summer of 2016 and Kenny Atkinson and his assistants are in the gym with their young players, working out and practicing alongside them. It became the identity of the team on the court, no matter the (lack of) talent they had nor the circumstances they were playing under: They were always going to play hard.

As you could imagine, it was an unsuccessful campaign in the first year and they didn't have their pick.

They hit big with low-risk acquisitions like Joe Harris but failed on young hopefuls like Anthony Bennett. Marks put down big offer sheets for marginal players such as Tyler Johnson, Allen Crabbe and Otto Porter Jr. All teams matched.

'We had cap space, it was just about how we used it," Marks said.

So, they tried building through the draft, through their vision, their extensive scouting. And so, he turned Thaddeus Young into Caris LeVert, taken with Indiana's 20th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. They acquired Spencer Dinwiddie from the G League.

They traded fan-favorite Brook Lopez and a first-round pick for D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. They took Jarrett Allen with the 22nd pick in the 2017 Draft.



And suddenly things started shifting. They had young players developing, cap space opening and a homegrown culture growing. They improved by eight games the following season and entered the 2018-2019 season with some hope.

And for the first time in a long time, the Nets and its fans had a team to get behind.

Because it was their own

"It's great that you had the pieces [in 2013] and maybe the connection wasn't there because Brooklyn was still new, but with the team we have now, we feel like we weren't just adopted. We weren't forced in there, they picked us to be here and now the fans are watching us grow, almost in the same sense as their own kids," said Allen.

It goes with the culture Marks and Atkinson instilled. They've preached things like family, continuity, chemistry and hard work around HSS Training Center -- their state-of-the-art practice facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

It's a luxury they didn't have when they first came to Brooklyn. Several players lived in New Jersey because that's where the practice facility was. Others lived in New York, so they could be close to Barclays Center.

"It's different now," said Marks. "Our players all live here, they're all eating at the same restaurants, walking the streets and so forth. Those things are unique. When you have 17 guys living in Brooklyn, living the lifestyle, the culture, I think the fans absolutely assimilate to that, have something in common with them which is the way it should be. After all, we're all one Nets family."

The Nets have become one of the hottest stories around the NBA. They're in year three of the "rebuild" and players, agents and other NBA types are taking notice into what they're building. It comes after they fell into the basement of the Eastern Conference following an eight-game losing streak. They answered the losing with a seven-game win streak, which put them right into the playoff conversation for the first time in over four years.

No big names. No big hires

Marks has hit gold with quite a few "homegrown" players. In terms of the draft, Allen is one three diamonds in the rough. The other is his most recent -- a second-rounder from Latvia named Rodions Kurucs, who has been vital in Brooklyn's turnaround at just 20-years-old.

Then, of course, his first pick ever: Caris LeVert.



LeVert, 24, has missed most of the season due to a dislocated foot, but there's no doubt he's become the poster boy for the organization. Prior to his injury, he was averaging 18.4 points per game with two game-winning shots in 14 games.

It all started with him.

"It's special, man. It's definitely special for us to be the fit for the reconstruction of the organization. We just need to keep going in the right direction," said LeVert. "It's a new thing we have going here. Like I said, it's special. Coming to Brooklyn with a bunch of young guys drafted by this team, we feel like we're all here to grow together. We hangout, we eat together… it's definitely special."

There are others, too. Dinwiddie never really settled anywhere he went. He was drafted by the Pistons, but suited up in 46 games the first two seasons of his career, averaging a little over 13 minutes per game. He was traded and then waived by the Chicago Bulls and spent the rest of his time with the Windy City Bulls, their G League affiliate. That's when the Nets made him their own and eventually signed him to a three-year deal.

Joe Harris is another name that comes to mind. He was drafted by the Cavaliers, where he spent most of his time playing for the Canton Charge. Nets' assistant coach Bret Brielmaier was an assistant in Cleveland before joining Atkinson's staff, and figured Harris might be a good piece to develop. After two years with the team, Harris's work ethic and improvement stood out so much that the Nets signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal.

Finally, there's 23-year-old Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who some would call the youngest veteran in the league. He's the only player left from the Billy King era, precisely the final pick before King's departure. He's seen it all and he's been through it all -- a lot of losses and finally a year with some winning.

You can even include D'Angelo Russell in the mix, who the Nets acquired at just 21-years-old after two seasons with the Lakers, where nothing but dirt was thrown on his name. The Nets took him in and he quickly became the early first-round pick they never had.

The Nets haven't seen much success since their move to Brooklyn. The baby was force-fed the first three years and it led to a bad reputation, ugly departures and years of being the laughing stock of the NBA. Some would say they were in purgatory with no signs of leaving.

And yet, slowly but surely, the Brooklyn Nets are in the conversation again. And it isn't happening because of a blockbuster trade, big free agent signing or anything that would be considered a "quick fix." They're 23-23 46 games into the season -- the first time they've been .500 at this point since 2012-2013.

It's happening because they let it happen naturally, just like the "Brooo-klynnn" chant that started in Atlantic City. Just ask the longest tenured Net.

"The fans are starting to believe in us because of what we've built here. We're playing good ball and we have our own draft picks… It really feels like the stars are beginning to align here."

Tags: Jarrett Allen
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Mar 15, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Rudy Gay (22) reaches in to steal the ball from New York Knicks power forward Henry Ellenson (right) during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports (Soobum Im)
Mar 15, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Rudy Gay (22) reaches in to steal the ball from New York Knicks power forward Henry Ellenson (right) during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports (Soobum Im)

Another NBA player has chosen the Brooklyn Nets over the New York Knicks.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that 22-year-old forward Henry Ellenson has agreed to sign a two-way deal with the Nets, where he will compete for a role on the team's bench. He will also be eligible to be sent down and recalled from the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn's G-League affiliate, without having to be placed on waivers.

Ellenson is a big forward at 6'11 and 245 pounds, but profiles best as a stretch four. Over his first three NBA seasons, Ellenson has averaged 4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 35.3 percent on three-pointers. He had his best statistical season last year, averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds while hitting 44.7 percent of his three-pointers with both the Pistons and Knicks.

Tags: Henry Ellenson
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Mar 20, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard David Nwaba (12) defends Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)
Mar 20, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard David Nwaba (12) defends Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)

The Nets and guard David Nwaba have agreed to a two-year deal, according to The Athletic. The contract includes a team option for the second year. 

Upon his signing, Nwaba brings the Nets to a full 15-man roster, after the team made big splash free agent additions earlier this offseason in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Nwaba, 26, played with the Cavaliers last season, averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. 

According to ESPN, Nwaba's deal is for the veteran minimum, $1.7 million and $1.8 million each season, respectively. Nwaba will battle with the likes of Garrett Temple, Caris LeVert and others for playing time in 2019. 

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Team LeBron forward Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against Team LeBron guard Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics during NBA All-Star Game practice at the Bojangles Coliseum. (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)
Team LeBron forward Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against Team LeBron guard Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics during NBA All-Star Game practice at the Bojangles Coliseum. (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA completely reshaped itself in a little over a week's time, shifting the balance of power in dramatic ways for years to come.

Gone are the days of the unbeatable Golden State Warriors, ditto for the Russell Westbrook-led Oklahoma City Thunder and fledgling Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks have seen similar changes in their own neighborhood, as the splash the Brooklyn Nets made in free agency has made the Atlantic Division no walk in Central Park. 

Here are the starting lineups each team in the revamped Atlantic Division could roll out come October, ranked, and how the Nets stack up:

 

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant between plays against the Portland Trail Blazers during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant between plays against the Portland Trail Blazers during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. (Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

The Brooklyn Nets did not even need a meeting to secure Kevin Durant in free agency. 

GM Sean Marks revealed at a press conference on Tuesday that Durant committed to the Nets via Instagram without even taking a meeting or speaking with the team. 

"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," Marks said. "We weren't even sure if we were getting a meeting that night or a telephone conversation with him."

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Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

Nets guard Joe Harris played with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and he believes the public perception of Irving doesn't align with the person he knows.

"Kyrie, he's got a big personality. I think he's one of these guys that's misunderstood," Harris told reporters in Las Vegas, per The Athletic's Michael Scotto. "I think the way that he's construed in the media is probably going to paint him in a light that is not necessarily true."

Harris said he had 'a lot of good times' with Irving when they played together in Cleveland for parts of two seasons.

Tags: Spencer Dinwiddie
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Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince reacts after making a 3-point basket in the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at State Farm Arena. (Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince reacts after making a 3-point basket in the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at State Farm Arena. (Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

LAS VEGAS -- With Kyrie Irving and (an injured) Kevin Durant on the roster, the Nets, understandably, have high expectations.

"Now it's championship talk. That's all you've got to think about, It's what we've got to work toward," new Net Taurean Prince said on Sunday at halftime of Brooklyn's Summer League game. "We've got to do exactly what we've got to do to get there. Whether it's with Kevin Durant or without him, and then next year even with him, it's same talk."

Brooklyn added Durant and Irving to a team that won 42 games and made the playoffs last season. Durant, of course, is expected to miss the season while rehabbing from an Achilles injury.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Kevin Durant will have a fresh start and a fresh jersey number with the Nets.

Durant revealed he will wear No. 7 with Brooklyn.

"35 took my family and me from Seat Pleasant, MD, and showed us the world," Durant wrote. "... But as I start this new chapter inn my basketball life, the number I'll be wearing on my back is the number 7 next time you see me on the floor."

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Dec 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) dribbles the ball against New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Dec 8, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) dribbles the ball against New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox (20) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

With the major chips falling in NBA free agency, the next tier of signings are underway and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is now a former Brooklyn Nets player.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the 24 year old has signed a one-year deal with the defending champions, the Toronto Raptors. Hollis-Jefferson is a former first-round pick, going off the board at pick No. 23 at the 2015 NBA draft. Hollis-Jefferson was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers and then his draft rights were traded to the Nets where he spent the first four years of his career.

Tags: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
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Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving brings the ball up court against the Indiana Pacers during the third quarter in Game 3 of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving brings the ball up court against the Indiana Pacers during the third quarter in Game 3 of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets announced two of their five big free-agent signings on Sunday, making the Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan deals official.

Three more signings remain: Wilson ChandlerGarrett Temple and, of course, Kevin Durant.

"The entire coaching staff is excited to have the opportunity to coach a player of Kyrie's caliber," Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said in a press release. "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."

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Apr 18, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) and head coach Kenny Atkinson argue with official James Capers (19) in the third quarter in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)
Apr 18, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) and head coach Kenny Atkinson argue with official James Capers (19) in the third quarter in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports (Wendell Cruz)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Ex-Net Jared Dudley has some interesting insight on Kevin Durant's decision to sign with the Nets (over the Knicks) and DeAndre Jordan's role in Brooklyn's acquisition of Durant and Kyrie Irving.

In an interview with ESPN's The Woj Pod, Dudley, who signed with the Lakers on Thursday, said Irving and Durant made the right decision to sign with Brooklyn "because of the organizational stability over there."

While making it clear that he wants the Knicks to do well because it's good for the NBA's business, Dudley believes that the Nets will usurp attention from the Knicks now that they have Durant and Irving.

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Apr 24, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; LA Clippers forward Wilson Chandler (22) warms up before game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports (Kelley L Cox)
Apr 24, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; LA Clippers forward Wilson Chandler (22) warms up before game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports (Kelley L Cox)

The Nets' roster overhaul continued on Tuesday evening, with the team reportedly adding veteran Wilson Chandler.

According to a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, Chandler will join the Nets on a one-year deal.

An 11-year NBA veteran, Chandler has spent time with the Knicks, Nuggets, Sixers, and Clippers, averaging 12.9 point per game. He's always been a decent three-point shooter as well, shooting 34.3 percent from beyond the arc.

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Knicks need to develop players 00:01:38
SNY NBA Insider Ian Begley discusses the Knicks recent FA signings and how building up their young core will be key in getting future FAs.

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Let's take a look at some issues surrounding the seismic events of the last two days for the Knicks and the Nets: 

WAS KEVIN DURANT GOING TO COME TO THE KNICKS?

Executives and agents felt for months that if Durant decided to leave Golden State, he was going to come to the Knicks. Several of Durant's current and former teammates believed it was going to happen. During the season, people around Durant were telling confidants that he was likely headed to the Knicks if he chose to leave Golden State, per SNY sources. And it's safe to assume that Durant wasn't planning to come alone. The Knicks, of course, had enough cap space to land two stars. 

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Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) warms up before the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) warms up before the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

The Nets made the biggest free agent splash when they landed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to their team next season.

These two top free agents had options this summer as to where they wanted to spend the next few years in their careers. For Irving, playing back home was something he envisioned, and that's the reasoning he gave in an Instagram video he posted on Monday...

CHECK IT OUT BELOW

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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets continue to surprise everyone this offseason with another unexpected move on Sunday night. 

D'Angelo Russell is reportedly the crux of a sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors, reports The Athletic's Shams Charania. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski added the terms to the deal being four years, $117 million. The deal will also include G Shabazz Napier and F Treveon Graham from Brooklyn to Golden State. 

The Nets extended a qualifying offer to Russell on Friday, as they looked forward to their splashes in the free agency pool. It was always expected that if the Nets landed Kyrie Irving, which they did along with Kevin Durant, that Russell's time in Brooklyn was over as SNY's Ian Begley has been reporting.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Scott Thompson
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Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both coming to New York ... but they're not playing their home games at Madison Square Garden.

Durant and Irving both agreed to four-year near-max deals with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, making them contenders in the Eastern Conference while also putting the New York Knicks in a position where they had to release a statement about how they missed out on two of the top free agents.

How did New York's back pages react? Well ...

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Durant to the Nets 00:02:46
SNY's Ian Begley with breaking news that superstar Kevin Durant will sign with the Brooklyn Nets

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Brooklyn Nets have two of the best players in the NBA - a gut punch to the New York Knicks.

Kevin Durant announced on Sunday via his sports business network "The Boardroom" that he will be playing with the Nets next season.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported Durant's commitment, the two-time Finals MVP is expected to sign a four-year contract worth just below the max of $164 million. Durant is expected to be joined by his friend, Kyrie Irving, who reportedly will work quickly on reaching an agreement with the Nets.

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New York Knicks center DeAndre Jordan dribbles the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Luol Deng during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Knicks center DeAndre Jordan dribbles the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Luol Deng during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

After agreeing to four-year near-max deals with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets added DeAndre Jordan to a four-year, $40 million contract, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Jordan, whom Brooklyn was targeting amid its pursuits of two of the top free agents in this year's class, joined the Nets after both Durant and Irving took less than the max deals they could have received, according to Wojnarowski.

Durant could have received a four-year, $164 million deal, while the Nets could max Irving's contract at four years, $141 million.

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Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

The long-expected marriage between Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets is almost here.

ESPN reported on Saturday that the Nets will meet with Irving when free agency opens on Sunday night and both sides are 'motivated to move quickly' to agree on a max contract of four years and $141 million. 

The Irving signing means the end of D'Angelo Russell's run in Brooklyn. SNY reported earlier this month that it was highly unlikely that Russell would remain in Brooklyn if Irving signed there. ESPN reported Saturday that Brooklyn is expected to either renounce Russell, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent, or execute a sign-and-trade.  

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Begley on Durant and Nets 00:01:10
Ian Begley breaks down the latest free agency rumors surrounding Kevin Durant and the Knicks.

Kevin Durant will reportedly have conversations with four teams when free agency officially begins on Sunday, and both the Knicks and Nets are on his list.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant will engage with the Nets, Knicks, Clippers, and Warriors when free agency begins. SNY Insider Ian Begley has confirmed that the Knicks expect to have an audience with Durant, while also noting that it's unclear if they will land a meeting with Kawhi Leonard.

Sources told Begley earlier on Friday that the Nets are not the favorites to sign Durant, which had become a prevalent thought in recent days.

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Apr 7, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles the ball against Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison (2) during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 7, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles the ball against Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison (2) during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

The Nets have reportedly made the expected move of extending D'Angelo Russell a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that the Nets have extended the offer to Russell, meaning that they'll have the right to match any offers the point guard receives.

The Nets could choose to eventually renounce the offer, should they land coveted six-time All-Star Kyrie Irving.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Jan 26, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) works against Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half of a 115-111 victory by Golden State at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)
Jan 26, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) works against Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half of a 115-111 victory by Golden State at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

The Brooklyn Nets have nearly enough cap space for two max players. So we know they are going to be hunting for top free agents in a couple of days. They have a strong core of young players and are coming off of a season in which they increased their win total by 14 games and made the playoffs. So it seems logical that they'd be a strong suitor for some of the top free agents.

But besides their recent on-court success, there's another element in Brooklyn that could be attractive to potential free agents: their medical and performance staff.

Here's how Nets veteran Jared Dudley described the medical staff shortly after the season:

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Jan 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts by pounding on his chest after making a play against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Jan 28, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts by pounding on his chest after making a play against the Indiana Pacers during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

There have been some strong suggestions on television and radio recently that the Brooklyn Nets are the front runners for Kevin Durant.

But that notion is not accurate. Sources familiar with the matter told SNY that the Nets are not the front runners or favorites to sign Durant at the moment.

Durant, according to The Athletic, has not yet decided if he'll meet with teams when free agency starts on Sunday night. But if he does, those meetings will take place in New York, according to the website.

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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to his bench during a break in the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

It appears that the Lakers have interest in bringing back D'Angelo Russell, the player they drafted second overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

According to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Lakers have 'serious interest' in the All-Star point guard. Charania cites the Lakers' familiarity with Russell as one of the main reasons they'd be interested in a re-union with him. 

Russell has steadily improved his game in each of his four NBA seasons, earning his first All-Star selection in 2018-19 when he averaged 21.1 points, 7.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives against Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

Something that could impact the Knicks and Nets: Multiple teams have expressed interest in pairing Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler together in free agency this summer, per league sources familiar with the matter.

Those teams, obviously, would need to create the cap space required to sign both players. The teams interested in Butler and Leonard believe they would have interest in playing on the same team, per league sources.

This doesn't suggest that Leonard is seeking to team up with any other player; that doesn't fit his persona. But teams interested in pairing Leonard and Butler believe they would have interest in playing together.

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April 30, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) during the third quarter in game two of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Rockets 115-109. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)
April 30, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) during the third quarter in game two of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Rockets 115-109. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)

Kevin Durant is officially a free agent, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski says he has declined his $31.5 million option to return to the Warriors next season. 

Before Durant's Achilles injury, this move was basically 100 percent going to happen. But there was the thought that he might want to opt back into his deal with Golden State following his surgery, and then hit the market next season. 

However, Woj added that opting in would be Durant's "last resorts, as teams have still shown tremendous interest in arguably the best player in the league, even though he is likely out all of next season. SNY's Ian Begley has been reporting the Knicks believe they are among the desired teams in Durant's camp...

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Feb 20, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs forward Nicolas Claxton (33) dunks the ball against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)
Feb 20, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs forward Nicolas Claxton (33) dunks the ball against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second half at Stegeman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports (Dale Zanine)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

At his introductory press conference on Monday, new Net Nicolas Claxton left no doubt that he can fit well with Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen.

"I think that me and him, on the same court, will able to be extremely disruptive, especially on the defensive end," Claxton, the 6-foot-11 big from Georgia selected 31st overall by Brooklyn, told reporters on Monday.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Ian Begley
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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

With free agency less than a week away from kicking off in the NBA, the Nets have been closely related with some of the top players on the market, including Kawhi Leonard

According to the latest odds released by Odds Shark, Brooklyn has fell down the list of teams. 

The Nets had the third-best chances (+650) at the beginning of the month, but that has changed. Now the Nets are fifth on the list at +1600. Here's how the odds shake out...

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Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

The NBA draft was further proof that the Nets are going for the big prize this upcoming summer: max free agents.

After trading Allen Crabbe, the No. 17 pick and their 2020 first-rounder, GM Sean Marks then traded the No. 27 pick to the Clippers for the rights to their first-rounder next year and the No. 56 pick.

What that did is free up further cap space leading into free agency in order to land top free agents, namely Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

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Mar 13, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, United States; UCLA Bruins guard Jaylen Hands (4) dribbles the ball past Stanford Cardinal guard Marcus Sheffield (14) during the second half of a Pac-12 conference tournament game at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports  (Stephen R. Sylvanie)
Mar 13, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, United States; UCLA Bruins guard Jaylen Hands (4) dribbles the ball past Stanford Cardinal guard Marcus Sheffield (14) during the second half of a Pac-12 conference tournament game at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports (Stephen R. Sylvanie)

The Los Angeles Clippers, selecting for the Nets in a proposed trade, took PG Jaylen Hands from UCLA with the No. 56 pick in the NBA Draft Thursday night. 

Hands joins the Nets via the Clippers after Brooklyn traded its 27th overall pick to Los Angeles earlier in the draft. 

The 19-year-old showed significant improvement his sophomore season at UCLA, leading the Pac-12 in assists (201) and assists per game (6.1) and was second-team All Pac-12. 

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Mar 13, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs forward Nicolas Claxton (33) runs the ball up the floor against Missouri Tigers guard Jordan Geist (15) during the second half of the SEC conference tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)
Mar 13, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs forward Nicolas Claxton (33) runs the ball up the floor against Missouri Tigers guard Jordan Geist (15) during the second half of the SEC conference tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports (Christopher Hanewinckel)

With the No. 31 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Nets selected Georgia F Nicolas Claxton

Brooklyn had the No. 27 pick in the Draft, but they traded it away to the Clippers for their No. 56 pick and a 2020 first-rounder. In doing so, the Nets created a little more cap space -- around $2 million -- to use for their free agency pursuits this summer. 

The Nets initially put the No. 31 pick on the trade block, but they're going to keep Claxton, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Brooklyn is supposedly impressed by what Claxton has done with the Bulldogs. 

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Instead of using their pick at No. 27 overall, the Nets traded away their selection to the Clippers. 

Brooklyn selected for Los Angeles, taking Florida State C Mfiondu Kabangele. In exchange, the Nets will receive the Clippers' No. 56 overall pick in this draft as well as their 2020 first-round via the 76ers, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Why would the Nets trade away their pick, especially with a player like Bol Bol still on the board? Cap space. 

Tags: Los Angeles Clippers
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Nov 20, 2018; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks center Bol Bol (1) scores a basket over Green Bay Phoenix forward Shanquan Hemphill (10) during the first half at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Wayrynen)
Nov 20, 2018; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks center Bol Bol (1) scores a basket over Green Bay Phoenix forward Shanquan Hemphill (10) during the first half at Matthew Knight Arena. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports (Troy Wayrynen)

Brooklyn was among several teams to attend a private workout for Oregon big man Bol Bol before the NBA Draft. The Nets have the 27th and 31st picks in the first round. Bol Bol is projected to be selected of those two picks.

The Nets have expressed an interest in finding a big who can complement Jarrett Allen in the draft, as SNY previously reported.

Some members of the organization were impressed by Terence Davis' recent workout with the club. Davis has caught the eye of several teams during workouts, which is impressive considering he wasn't invited to the original NBA Draft Combine, and earned an invite via the G League version of the Combine.

Tags: Jarrett Allen
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Trojans guard Kevin Porter Jr. drives on Colorado Buffaloes guard Shane Gatling in the second half at the CU Events Center. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)
Trojans guard Kevin Porter Jr. drives on Colorado Buffaloes guard Shane Gatling in the second half at the CU Events Center. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the infamous Celtics trade that trickled into Sean Marks' start as GM, the Brooklyn Nets have made the most of their late picks in recent years.

In 2016, they traded Thaddeus Young to the Pacers for the 20th pick, who would become Caris LeVert. The Bojan Bogdanovic/Chris McCullough trade in 2017 turned into Jarrett Allen, drafted 22nd overall. Both are now franchise rising stars.

This year, the Nets own the Nos. 27 and 31 overall picks. Perhaps they package them together in an effort to move up. Maybe they take the European route, like they did last year when they selected Dzanan Musa of Bosnia and Rodions Kurucs of Latvia.

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Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving reacts during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving reacts during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets have been considered the favorites to add Kyrie Irving this summer, but could there be a change of plans?

According to a report from Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Nets may now be unsure of adding Irving if he can't bring Kevin Durant with him.

The Nets' preferred scenario, according to Lewis, is to pair the two superstars together in Brooklyn.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) reacts during the first half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)
May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) reacts during the first half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)

It has been known for awhile now that the Nets may benefit from one Celtics departure in Kyrie Irving this summer. But will he be joined by another? 

Al Horford, the five-time All-Star center, is reportedly no longer discussing an extension with Boston and will hit the market looking for another team. According to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, Horford is expecting to sign a four-year deal elsewhere. 

And as for potential landing spots for the veteran, NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely says to look out for the Nets. 

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May 8, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during game five of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)
May 8, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during game five of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

Al Horford is reportedly set to hit the free agent market.

The five-time All-Star will decline his $30 million option with the Celtics, and though there had previously been a thought that Horford would return to the Celtics on a more team-friendly deal, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald is now reporting that Horford will look elsewhere, likely for a four-year contract.

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Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson arrives before the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson arrives before the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets non-tendered forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, making him an unrestricted free agent and clearing more cap space ahead of free agency, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Brooklyn did not give the 24-year-old Hollis-Jefferson a qualifying offer, which according to Yahoo! Sports' Keith Smith gives the Nets approximately $47.4 million in salary cap space.

That number, according to Smith, would increase to $67.5 million if they don't retain restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
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Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)
Mar 19, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) slaps his chest during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Szczepanski)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

As of late this week, teams interested in pursuing Kyrie Irving remained under the impression that the Nets were the odds-on favorite to land the point guard, per sources. But no team interested in Irving, including the Knicks and Lakers, had been led to believe that they are out of the running to sign him, those sources say.

If Irving ends up signing in Brooklyn, it may have an interesting ripple effect on the roster, particularly D'Angelo Russell.

Russell, a restricted free agent, will likely draw significant interest on the open market. The 23year-old is coming off of an All-Star season in which he helped lead Brooklyn to the playoffs. Members of the Pacers organization are high on Russell, SNY sources confirm.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in Game 1 of the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Now that the Toronto Raptors have been crowned the 2019 NBA Finals champions after defeating the Golden State Warriors in six games, it is time to shift gears toward the 2019-20 season. Which means looking at the early odds for next year's champion. 

For the Nets, they appear to be in pretty good position before entering free agency. 

Per the latest from Odds Shark, the Nets are slated at 20-to-1 odds to win the NBA Finals next year. 

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)
Apr 5, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) watches the Indiana Pacers shoot a free throw during the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports (Brian Spurlock)

Kyrie Irving may have already decided on his next destination.

A report from Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald states that sources associated with Roc Nation, whom Irving is expected to choose as his representation after letting go of longtime agent Jeff Wechsler, have said that Irving is prepared to sign with the Nets this summer.

The Nets share a couple of notable connections with Roc Nation, most notably that Roc Nation president Michael Yormark is the twin brother of Nets CEO Brett Yormark. Nets guard Caris LeVert is also a Roc Nation client.

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May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the second half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)
May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the second half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports (Greg M. Cooper)

It looks like Kyrie Irving has made his decision. 

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Irving is not opting into his $21.3 million deal for next season, opening the door to him becoming a free agent this summer. This was an expected move by the All-Star point guard, who had an option date on Thursday. 

SNY's Ian Begley is hearing from sources that teams monitoring Irving's situation remain under the impression that, if he chooses to leave Boston, the Nets are currently the most likely destination for him. 

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May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
May 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (33) reacts during the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game six of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

The Nets are going to be heavily active in the free agent market this summer, and it looks like another top-of-the-list player wants Brooklyn to extend an offer. 

Tobias Harris and the Nets reportedly have mutual interest in each other, per The Athletic's Michael Scotto.

Harris has bounced around the NBA during his eight-year career thus far. His most recent squad was the Sixers, who traded for him with the Clippers as they made a playoff run. Harris was solid in Philadelphia, averaging 18.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field. Overall last season, he averaged 20 points over 34.7 minutes per game...

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What the Nets trade means for KD 00:00:48
Ian Begley breaks down what the Nets trade means for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and the New York Knicks. Who can the Nets sign now?

The Nets' trade on Thursday puts them in a stronger position to battle with the Knicks for top free agents this summer.

Brooklyn dealt Allen Crabbe, the No. 17 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and a lottery-protected first round pick in 2020 for SF Taurean Prince and a 2021 second-round pick, SNY sources confirmed.

The deal, which was first reported by ESPN, leaves the Nets with enough cap space to sign one max free agent -- and a clear path to create enough money to sign a second max star. The Nets will have $46 million in cap space and can create enough space to sign two max free agents if they rescind their rights to point guard D'Angelo Russell and make a few other minor moves...

Tags: Allen Crabbe
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Is Kyrie Irving New York-bound? 00:00:50
SNY NBA Insider Ian Begley reports the latest on Kyrie Irving, and talks about the chances of him landing with the Knicks, Nets, or Celtics.

Let's start here with Kyrie Irving, the Knicks and the Nets: free agency is still more than three weeks away.

So there's plenty of time for players -- and teams -- to change their mind about their preferences for this summer.

That applies to Irving as well. His plans/desires today may not be the same as they are on June 30. With that said, in recent days, people around Irving have described the probability of him returning to Boston as a free agent as low. Those around Irving also said recently that he hasn't ruled out teams -- including the Knicks -- as possible destinations for him this summer, per SNY sources.

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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon during the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

The Nets have been closely connected to pending free agent Kyrie Irving lately, but don't be surprised if they're also in play for Kawhi Leonard.

According to the latest odds released by Odds Shark, the Nets have the third-best chances to land Kawhi.

The odds:

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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Potential suitors are lining up for D'Angelo Russell.

The Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Indiana Pacers are among the teams expected to show interest in the restricted free agent this summer, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Russell, 23, enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2018-19, averaging a career-best 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game. The Ohio State product also earned his first All-Star selection of his young career.

Tags: D'Angelo Russell
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November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)
November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Terada)

If Charles Barkley was a free agent this summer and both the Knicks and Nets were pursuing him, he says he'd choose to sign with the Nets. 

Here's why: "I'd probably take the Nets because I think they're more stable," Barkley said on a conference call to promote the American Century Championship golf tournament. "I think they've got the better supporting cast. I think (Nets GM) Sean Marks has done a fabulous job and Coach (Kenny) Atkinson has done a fabulous job. Nobody thought that team would make the playoffs and they did a fabulous job. They play hard every night. They're just more stable than the Knicks. Obviously, the Knicks are the Knicks. But from a strictly basketball standpoint, the Nets are clearly a more stable organization."


 

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Mar 9, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) reacts after their win against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports (Jason Getz)
Mar 9, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) reacts after their win against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports (Jason Getz)

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter |

For the first time since the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade, the Brooklyn Nets own their own first-round pick. They have a second first-round pick in 2019 thanks to last summer's trade with the Nuggets and a second-round pick.

Media projections for picks near the Nets' selections (Nos. 17, 27, 31) have been all over map. Draft analysts have said there is more variance after the top 10 in this year's draft than in years past.

So it's impossible to even speculate which players may be available for Brooklyn on June 20. But there is one priority for the Nets on draft night: Per SNY sources, the Nets are targeting a big to complement/ back up starting center Jarrett Allen with one of their pick.

Tags: Jarrett Allen
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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant celebrates against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in Game 2 of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant celebrates against the Houston Rockets during the second quarter in Game 2 of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

While Kevin Durant remains mostly idle as the Warriors prepare for the start of the NBA Finals against the Raptors, new odds on where the pending free agent will sign have come out.

According to Odds Shark, the Nets' odds are getting better.

The list:

Knicks -175
Warriors +210
Clippers +500
Nets +700
Lakers +750
Mavericks +2599

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