The NBA barely started free agency on June 30 when fans were rocked by the news that Kevin Durant may yet again be on the move to a fourth team in his esteemed career.
After just two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, Durant has requested to be traded in a move that can stir the balance of power in the NBA.
Let’s explore the possibilities of which teams have a logical shot of winning the Durant sweepstakes and how the 6-foot-10 superstar can boost a franchise from an average contender to a possible championship-winning squad.
IRVING DECISION NOT ENOUGH TO SWAY KD?
Talks of Durant requesting a trade were not surprising to fans and sports circles. But that was when questions lingered early on whether Kyrie Irving would explore his options to move elsewhere.
But after Irving decided to opt in on his $37 million player option and fulfill his four-year deal with the Nets, Brooklyn fans felt that the All-Star guard and Durant would stay and try to lead the franchise on another deep playoff run.
The shocking announcement of Durant’s manager Rick Kleiman in his statement to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski regarding his client’s major decision puts the Nets’ management in disarray.
DURANT NO STRANGER TO SWITCHING TEAMS
This scenario is not new for Durant, who was drafted as the No.2 overall pick by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2007 NBA Draft before the franchise changed its name to the Oklahoma City Thunder the following season.
After spending nine years with the Thunder and leading the team to an NBA Finals appearance in 2012, Durant went to the Golden State Warriors for the 2016-17 season where he led the Dubs to back-to-back championships and won consecutive Finals MVPs as well.
Durant failed to steer the Warriors to a third title in an injury-riddled year in the 2018-19 season that led to a transfer to the Brooklyn Nets the following season. But he only got to play for Brooklyn in the 2020-21 season after spending a year recovering from an injury.
MAD CHASE FOR DURANT BEGINS
It’s a no-brainer that any team with cap space or trade assets in their roster would line up to check their chances of landing Durant, a two-time NBA champion who also made it among the NBA 75th Anniversary team.
Multiple reports said Durant prefers the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, or the Philadelphia 76ers as possible landing spots for his fourth team in his 14-year career.
With four years and nearly $200 million left on his current deal with the Nets, it would need a lot of expiring contracts, future draft picks, and cash for any other team to snatch the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer away from Brooklyn.
WILL KD STAY EAST OR MAKE WEST RETURN?
Fans are also intrigued as to which conference will be more crowded in the chase to the title depending on Durant’s latest move.
A bid to stay in the Eastern Conference means Durant could provide more firepower to already established teams like the Heat and the 76ers or be the alpha on the Knicks squad but with a bigger market.
But a return to the Western Conference after his earlier stints with the Thunder and the Warriors could mean Durant joining forces with LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers, or making the Suns, Mavericks, and Clippers elite contenders capable of dethroning the Dubs next season.
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How De Jong can boost Man Utd’s midfield line?
The only way for Manchester United to remain among the elite teams in the English Premier League (EPL) is to constantly look for players who will be a good fit to their roster amid a cloud of strong opposition from the rest of the field.
The announcement of the Red Devils to agree with Barcelona to pay an initial €65 million upfront to pay Frenkie De Jong is a timely move given the La Liga squad’s eagerness to move the Dutch star midfielder, multiple reports have quoted sources as saying.
While no final deal has been officially announced, what can this move mean to Man Utd? Let’s explore the possibilities on how the 5-foot-11 Gorinchem native can make an immediate impact for manager Erik Ten Hag’s squad.
DE JONG TO COVER MULTIPLE DEPARTURES
The looming arrival of De Jong at Old Trafford comes with an immediate sense of urgency for the Red Devils, who are preparing to boost their midfield line following the departures of Paul Pogba and Nemanha Matic at the end of the season.
The decision of Matic to join Roma on a free transfer and Pogba to play for juventus created a big hole to fill for Ten Hagg, who has been longing to acquire De Jong to his team.
The familiarity dynamic is also in play here, as Ten Hag is no stranger to De Jong due to their previous partnership at Ajax.
The affable manager’s chemistry with De Jong means that it’s only a matter of time to integrate the Dutch footballer to Man Utd’s scheme of things as they brace for their return to the field in August.
FINAL DETAILS STILL BEING WORKED OUT
While the decision of Man Utd and Barcelona to agree on a deal for De Jong, there are still several details to be ironed out before making it official.
The total package for De Jong is unlikely to reach €100 million but both Man Utd and Barca are committed to work on the final figures of the agreement in terms of fixed fee and add-ons that will benefit De Jong.
Barca, which signed De Jong to €75 million after his stint from Ajax in 2019 along with €11 million in potential add-ons, will rely on the sale of 10% of their La Liga television rights to avoid gaining losses before the end of the year amid De Jong’s looming exit.
RED DEVILS NOT DONE AFTER DE JONG’S ARRIVAL
Make no mistake that Man Utd will settle for De Jong to boost their midfield line, as the club is looking for a couple more key pieces to add to their roster.
Aside from De Jong, the Red Devils are looking at Brazilian winger Antony as a versatile forward who can play multiple positions. But the decision of Ajax to put up an €80-million valuation might stall Man Utd’s plans.
Another player Man Utd is checking out is midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has a pending offer from Brentford after playing with the squad during the second half of last season, sources told ESPN.
Djokovic tipped to win Wimbledon; Anybody’s race in women’s draw
This year’s Wimbledon just got started. And it’s that time of the year where we tinker our own wish list and pick who’s going to march all the way to the top.
Novak Djokovic continues to hog the headlines after several years of ruling the top of the heap, as the Serbian tennis superstar is primed to claim his fourth consecutive title.
There are a couple of names that popped up in the women’s division, with world No.1 Iga Swiatek trying to follow up her French Open title quest early this year with yet another Grand Slam victory.
SLAM RECORD IN SIGHT FOR NOVAK
All eyes remain on Djokovic, who is eager to bounce back from his exit in the French Open by seeking his fourth-straight WImby title and close in on Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam men’s titles in history.
The 35-year-old Belgrade native, who remains unvaccinated against COVID-19, is determined to make a deep run at the All England Club, where he expects to cross paths with arch rival Nadal, who defeated him in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros a few weeks ago on his way to the title.
After winning the 2018 and 2019 Wimbledon titles, Djokovic hardly displayed any rust in his game by taking the title last year after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 edition of the tournament.
SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR SWIATEK
Swiatek may not yet be a dominating force like Djokovic, but the 21-year-old Polish star is just getting started.
After claiming the 2020 French Open as the first player from Poland to win a Grand Slam, Swiatek also took home this year’s tropy in Roland Garros after a 6-1 6-3 victory over Coco Gauff made her one of the favorites to win Wimbledon this month.
The 5-foot-9 Warsaw native has her 35-match winning streak at stake, as she eyes back-to-back majors and a longer stronghold as world No1 following the shock retirement of Australian Ashleigh Barty in March.
IS NADAL STILL A FORCE ON GRASS?
Nobody’s going to question Nadal’s domination of clay after claiming yet another major at Roland Garros, but it remains to be seen if he can carry the same efficiency this time on grass to overwhelm Djokovic down the line.
Momentum may be on the side of Nadal after his latest French Open conquest, but breaking Djokovic’s game in his favorite grass surface this year remains a question mark.
The absence of Russian stars Daniil Madevedev and Alexander Zverev in England this year may have opened an opportunity for the likes of Matteo Berrettini, Carlos Alcaraz or Hubert Hurkacz to close in on a breakthrough major title.
But if Nadal gets past the first week at Wimbledon without much wear and tear and Djokovic rolls through as expected, we might see two familiar names yet again in the final.
HALEP, GAUFF, KVITOVA MAY STEAL THUNDER
Being the world No.1 and carrying another French Open trophy may have installed Swiatek as a no-brainer favorite to win in Wimbledon, but there’s no big gap of other names to emerge on top and stop the Polish star’s improbable run.
Former world No.1 Simona Halep remains a threat after winning the 2018 French Open and the 2019 Wimbledon Open, and the Romanian veteran still has the skills to return to the top.
Gauff can use the pain of her loss in the French Open final to Swiatek to get back at the Polish sensation and win her first major at the All England Club.
Petra Kvitova is another name popping up among the pre-tournament favorites and with good reason. The 32-year-old force from the Czech Republic is no stranger to Wimbledon glory after she won it all in 2011 and 2014, and a strong start may lead her to a return to glory in the majors.
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