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How Kevin Durant was singlehandedly holding up business within the NBA

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Each player demanded a trade or refused to play for non-basketball reasons despite being paid maximum or near-maximum salaries. The NBA is already a player-driven league where the celebrities can carry major influence over personnel decisions, how often to practice, etc. But owners have an actual issue with players refusing to play, demanding trades at inopportune times (Durant’s demand got here right before free agency), or showing up in less-than-optimal shape.

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Durant and his business partner, Wealthy Kleiman, met with the Nets brass last Monday in Los Angeles and settled matters, no less than for now. Durant has 4 years remaining on his contract and will again request a trade if he feels he has irreconcilable differences with the franchise.

But for now, all is well in Brooklyn. The organization is again promoting Durant, Irving, and Simmons as a possible Big Three, while there’s hope with Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Nic Claxton, Patty Mills, TJ Warren, and Royce O’Neale as a supporting solid.

Luckily for the Nets. Marks prepared as if Durant was going to return. He wanted an All-Star-caliber player, one other primary contributor, and a number of other draft picks in any trade for Durant, a price that teams comparable to the Celtics weren’t willing to fulfill, and assets others just didn’t have.

Marks smartly priced teams out of the Durant trade market until Durant modified his mind, since the Nets didn’t need to trade Durant in the primary place. How does Durant remaining with the Nets affect the remaining of the Eastern Conference? The Nets immediately grow to be the No. 3 contender behind the Celtics and the Bucks, and so they could close that gap with resurgent seasons from Irving, Simmons, and Harris.

The Heat were considering Durant but lacked the assets to make a serious offer. They couldn’t include Bam Adebayo unless Simmons was included within the deal as well, due to obscure rule that forestalls teams from acquiring two players on max rookie extensions. Without Adebayo, the Heat had little to entice the Nets besides Tyler Herro and the bloated contract of Kyle Lowry, who has two years left on his deal.

The Nets now move ahead of the 76ers, who’re banking that the 33-year-old Harden shows as much as camp in shape and fully engaged. The 76ers also added rugged P.J. Tucker, but he together with journeyman Danuel House were the team’s lone offseason additions.

The Raptors made a spirited run to the postseason but were thumped by the 76ers in the primary round, and their lone free agent signing was Warriors swingman Otto Porter. The Raptors are banking that players comparable to Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa take significant steps forward. With coach Nick Nurse, the Raptors are all the time going to be a threat, but they lack the talent of the highest teams.

The Hawks moved Kevin Huerter and purchased Dejounte Murray for an intriguing backcourt with Trae Young, but they did little else in free agency. They’ll must depend upon John Collins, who has been mentioned in trade rumors for the past two years.

The Cavaliers, Bulls, Knicks, and Wizards have upgraded within the offseason and might be pushing for the ultimate 4 playoff spots.

The excellent news about Durant’s decision to remain in Brooklyn is league business can now resume. The Lakers already made a deal, acquiring Patrick Beverley from the Jazz for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson, a move that had been on hold for weeks until Durant’s decision.

The Nets can now focus again on basketball and attempting to win the East. For greater than a 12 months, they’ve been essentially the most chaotic and drama-filled team within the NBA.

The hope is that this reconciliation between Durant and management will be step one in reaching elite status. However the Celtics, Bucks, and other clubs have been making moves and enhancing chemistry, while the Nets have handled infighting.

THUNDER’S ROAD

Holmgren news is taken in stride

The season-ending foot injury to rookie forward Chet Holmgren during a pro-am game was devastative news for an Oklahoma City franchise attempting to grow to be more respectable after years of playing kids, collecting bad contracts, and amassing first-round draft picks.

This was alleged to be a breakthrough season for the Thunder with All-Rookie second-team member Josh Giddey, emerging star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, rugged forward Luguentz Dort, and a slew of young talent. However the injury to Holmgren, suffered when he was stepped on by LeBron James while defending against the Lakers forward, is one more setback for a franchise besieged with bad luck and constant rebuilds since Kevin Durant left and Russell Westbrook was traded for Chris Paul.

The Thunder reached the playoffs two years ago within the bubble, but then general manager Sam Presti decided to go young when he moved Paul to the Suns. Oklahoma City has 13 first-round picks over the subsequent five years, but losing Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick, for a full season can’t be considered progress, no matter how Presti attempts to spin it.

“That is just an incredible example of getting some bad luck,” said Presti, an Emerson College graduate. “I wish that wasn’t the case, but that is the hand that we’ve been dealt. The long-team prognosis could be very positive. I’m obviously very disillusioned for Chet because he’s been having a monster summer. On this case, we’re just going to must wait a bit of bit longer for his presence, for him to truly take the ground for us. But I do know who he’s, especially over the previous couple of days, having watched him and must process all of this. He’s absolutely the precise guy for us. He’s got an incredible mentality.”

The Lisfranc injury is important and it is going to take Holmgren a full 12 months to recuperate, but there have been concerns concerning the 7-foot-1-inch, 195-pound one-and-done from Gonzaga due to his slight construct. The collision with the hulking James was not abnormal, but Holmgren got the worst of the contact.

“It’s an injury that’s very, quite common in football players,” Presti said. “It’s not one which’s common in basketball players due to the distinctiveness of where the force needs to be and the way in which that folks must have contact. It’s a contact injury. There are plenty of players who’ve had injuries their rookie seasons.”

Presti cited recent history with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, and Nerlens Noel missing their rookie seasons while injured, before happening to healthy or productive careers. The Thunder weren’t more likely to reach the playoffs this season, but they were prepared to take the subsequent step.

That’s still possible, but they’ll miss a 12 months of development for one in all their top and most intriguing prospects since Durant.

“Every time now we have bad fortune or something doesn’t go our way, there’s all the time something good that follows that,” Presti said. “I’m positive that’s going to be the case here. Something positive will come from this.”

The Thunder were uncertain how much production they’d receive from Holmgren, but he looked impressive in summer league, unafraid to play against larger, stronger players. Oklahoma City added more talent on this draft with Jalen Williams from Santa Clara and rugged forward Jaylin Williams from Arkansas.

Former first-round pick Darius Bazley is due for a breakout season, while 2021 first-rounder Tre Mann shot 36 percent from the 3-point line as a rookie. Presti has built a team of children hungry for enjoying time.

“There might be other those who emerge, there might be other those who get opportunity,” Presti said. “We’ll learn some things. We’ll figure some things out and on the opposite side, once we get Chet back, he’ll be coming back to a greater team. We’ve had our justifiable share of injuries and now we have to approach it the identical way.

“Whenever you’re within the NBA, it’s a fairly chaotic world and unexpected things are going to occur, so the power to maintain pressing through that and with the ability to adapt and adjust is the important thing.”

Before winning just 46 games over the past two seasons, the Thunder reached the playoffs 10 out of 11 years, including the NBA Finals in 2012. They were considered a model franchise with Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka emerging as standout homegrown players.

The Thunder suffered a serious setback when Durant decided to sign with the Warriors in 2016. Presti acquired All-Star Paul George in the ultimate 12 months of his contract in 2017, and signed him to an extension the subsequent summer. But after the 2018-19 season, George wanted a trade to his hometown Clippers and the Thunder obliged.

Six days later, Presti traded Westbrook to the Rockets for Paul. The Thunder surprisingly made a playoff push with Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and a bunch of children. Knowing Paul was aging and the run wouldn’t last, Presti decided to rebuild.

“From a team standpoint, we’re attempting to climb our second mountain, mainly in Oklahoma City,” he said. “There are going to be loads of setbacks and adversities and once we get where we wish to go, we’re going to have the ability to look back at this and remember, and that it is a source of pride that we managed this, as well. We’re constructing something that will be sustainable and now we have a protracted runway with our team due to its age. Chet might be an enormous think about that. It’s larger than one season and one game for us, and we just must be patient as we undergo this.”

Even though it appears as if the Thunder have been rebuilding for years, it’s only been two seasons. There may be trust that Presti can again produce a Western Conference contender. Holmgren’s injury makes that quest tougher, but there’s good enough young talent to grow to be an intriguing team.

“It’s a bit of little bit of delayed gratification but that’s OK, we’re still in an advantageous position,” Presti said. “He’s going to have the ability to seek out value and work on himself throughout the season.”

ETC.

Lisfranc injury rare in basketball

Chet Holmgren’s Lisfranc fracture was surprising since it’s often an injury sustained by football players, including Cam Newton and Travis Etienne, and most recently Panthers rookie quarterback Matt Corral.

The injury is important, occurring when the mid-foot ligaments are torn or ruptured when the foot is pulled in an ungainly direction, in keeping with Dr. Andrew J. Elliott from the Hospital for Special Surgery in Recent York.

“The foot has to, to ensure that running and pushing off and jumping, has to act like a rigid structure,” Elliott said. “In acting like a rigid structure to carry all these bones together, those within the mid-arch region are very, very strong. There are three various things that may occur. One, the ligament can pull off the bone, and the second is when the ligament tears right in the center, or you may get fractures in addition to tearing of the ligaments.”

Elliott said the Thunder aren’t being overly cautious by holding Holmgren out for your complete season, although the season doesn’t begin for nearly two months.

“In basketball, I’d equate them more as a large receiver,” Elliott said. “They’re doing plenty of running on a tough surface. And also you’re probably taking a look at the earliest, depending on which joint was injured, six months, but more likely between nine to 12 months.

“The fundamental premise is you’re rupturing the ligament since the ligament is seeing a load to it that’s higher than what it will possibly handle.”

Elliott said he watched the play during which Holmgren was injured on video and believed it was brought on by all of Holmgren’s weight landing on his foot as he tried to defend LeBron James.

“He’s done that 1,000,000 times, but obviously this had a bit of bit more weight,” Elliott said. “And it was a distinct vector of force that was going through it than he normally had seen. That’s the identical for most individuals. It’s often fall onto the foot or a pushing-off variety of injury that sometimes has some torque variety of moment, as well.”

Probably the most concerning aspect of this injury for the Thunder, Elliott said, is it could cause arthritis or chronic pain even after fully healed.

Layups

Now that Kevin Durant has decided to remain in Brooklyn, teams might be more aggressive in making free agent moves and filling roster spots. There stays some intriguing free agents available on the market, comparable to Carmelo Anthony, Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins, and Dwight Howard. The Celtics are searching for a 3rd center, critical because the club plans to present 36-year-old Al Horford some games off. Noah Vonleh and Bruno Caboclo will compete with former first-round pick Mfiondu Kabengele for that spot. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens said Luke Kornet could fill that role if needed, but search for the Celtics to spend the subsequent few weeks looking for an upgrade. Cousins, Howard, Hassan Whiteside, and Montrezl Harrell all include baggage but could possibly be signed on the veteran minimum with little risk … Thomas is being targeted by the Hornets after ending last season with them as a reserve point guard … The Cavaliers have to determine what to do with Collin Sexton, a former No. 8 pick who has slipped within the organization’s graces due to injury and the emergence of Darius Garland at point guard. The Cavaliers could bring back Sexton for one 12 months at $8.55 million but risk losing him for nothing as an unrestricted free agent next summer. Garland has assumed duties as the start line guard, while the club also re-signed veteran Ricky Rubio. The Cavaliers can find a major role for Sexton but would much somewhat involve him in a sign-and-trade deal that might upgrade the frontcourt. Sexton has not received any offer sheets and the 2 teams with significant salary-cap space — the Spurs and Pacers — wouldn’t be considering such a financial commitment … The BIG3 basketball league just accomplished its fifth season and it appears momentum is declining with several big-name players retiring. One in every of the interesting moves the BIG3 made was to permit players as young as 22 to enter the league, turning it from a post-NBA opportunity to a league stuffed with non-marquee players with no NBA experience. Also, many recently retired players, especially those that may attract viewers, have decided to pass. Former journeyman Earl Clark, who just signed with a team within the Philippines, was named league MVP.

Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He will be reached at gary.washburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.

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