Most of the time in free agency, a team will meet with a player or their representatives, then conclude whether or not they want to offer them a contract. That wasn't the case when it came to Kevin Durant's decision-making this summer.
The injured superstar made his choice prior to the opening of free agency, and without any official meetings with interested teams. Instead, he simply made up his mind that he wanted to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, and announced as much to the world via his business network's Instagram page. The Nets found out just like everyone else -- through the world of social media.
So why was Durant so eager to sign with the Nets before he could even hear their pitch? As it turns out, their entire season was their pitch. According to Nets general manager Sean Marks, Durant was sold on Brooklyn's system and loved how hard they played all season long. Via ESPN:
Kevin Durant told the Nets that he chose to go to Brooklyn in free agency because he loves the way the team plays, general manager Sean Marks said.
Marks told WFAN on Tuesday that when he first talked with Durant after his announcement, the former MVP said: "I love the system. I love how you guys play. I see how hard you guys play. ... You were never out of games. We could never take you guys lightly."
Marks didn't have any conversations with Durant before he made his choice, but he voiced no concern about that.
"I think we all know what we are getting with Kevin," Marks said. "The talent is undeniable."
The Nets were 8-18 at one point last season, and playing without guard Caris LeVert, who suffered a gruesome foot injury early in the season. Many teams would have packed it in at that point, especially those in the midst of a rebuild like the Nets. Instead, Brooklyn rattled off seven straight wins to turn its season around. They couldn't have known it at the time, but the resilience they showed in that stretch changed the course of the franchise forever.
From there they went on to finish the season at 42-40, earning the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. In their first trip to the postseason since 2015, they made things quite interesting with a feisty performance against the Philadelphia 76ers. Without that early-season turnaround, they may have gone into tanking mode and missed out on not only the playoffs, but also two of the biggest free agents of the summer.
Brooklyn's effort and toughness all season long convinced Durant that he needed to be a part of their franchise. And not only Durant, but Kyrie Irving as well. That's quite a testament to what Marks, head coach Kenny Atkinson and the other players have built in just a few short years.