Somewhere between the seven weeks and five days that Kevin Durant kept his trade demand alive, the Warriors seriously entertained the notion of welcoming back the former Most Valuable Player awardee. In fact, as soon as the news of his desire to leave the Nets reached the offices of the blue and yellow, discussions on the rekindling of the dynasty that led to two championships in three Finals appearances were under way.
Of course, talking about the prospect of something happening is much different from actually making that something happen. And in the case of Durant returning to the fold, the Warriors had significant hurdles to overcome. Even granting without conceding that the ruffled feathers leading to his departure in the first place had already been smoothed, there was the not inconsequential matter of the extent of assets to be made available for the purpose.
Bottom line, it made no sense for the Warriors to break up a roster that just netted a Larry O’Brien Trophy simply to spread the welcome mat for a prodigal son. And, make no mistake, what they had to do was nothing short of illogical. Never mind the accession of the resident vital cogs, foremost among them newly minted Finals MVP. Bringing back Durant would have meant giving up a young core that would otherwise ensure their competitiveness in the medium term. Meanwhile, the superstar they stood to get just came off a campaign in which he was out for six weeks due to a sprained Medial Collateral Ligament. Previous to that, he missed more than half a season due to a hamstring injury. And previous to that, he stayed off the court for a year to recover from an Achilles tear.
The challenges do not even count Durant’s evident waffling. He initially seemed to be keen on leaving the Nets, even doubling down on his intent by issuing an ultimatum that owner Joe Tsai choose between him and head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks. And then, for some reason, he had a change of heart. Late last month, the organization and his media company issued a press statement quoting Marks as saying they “have agreed to move forward with our partnership. We are focusing on basketball, with one collective goal in mind: build a lasting franchise to bring a championship to Brooklyn.”
How “lasting” the Nets can be with Durant — and, yes, the mercurial Kyrie Irving — on the marquee is subject to conjecture. Given his sensitive nature, it’s fair to argue that stability cannot be assumed, let alone assured. The Warriors were right to consider getting him anew, but even more right to see that the birds in the hand are so much better than the one in the bush.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.