Kevin Durant To Only Choose Between Three Teams In Free Agency, But Really He’s Just Going Back To The Thunder
With the NBA playoffs (finally) nearing their conclusion, all eyes will head toward July 1st, when free agency begins. While we doubt LeBron will once again make this the summer of LeBron (part 3.5), this could be Kevin Durant's time to shine. After signing a contract extension previously with the Thunder (announced with a subtle touch on Twitter), Durant is finally going to have his opportunity to get the true free agency feel.
For months (years), the Wizards have ben setting themselves up for Durant to come home. The D.C. native, would be welcome back like the city's favorite son and would immediately catapult the Wizards into a title contender. The Wizards just hired Durant's former coach Scotty Brooks to lead the team and will welcome KD in with open arms if he decides to make the plunge.
However, over the last few weeks, the Wizards have seemingly fallen out of contention for the superstar. Perhaps it was just a much needed reality check, but nobody seems to be talking about Durant to Washington anymore. In fact, nobody really seems to be talking about Durant's free agency much at all anymore. Sure, you'll read the report that Isaiah Thomas wants him to come play in Boston. You'll read about how James Harden took him to dinner in Houston and how he tried to convince him to play for the Rockets. You'll even see how deep down the only two teams Durant is considering are the Warriors and Spurs.
But let's just be smart about this. None of this is going to happen. Why? Because there is no reason to.
When LeBron left Cleveland in 2010, it made more sense than any of us realized. Sure, Cleveland was home, but they had maxed out. There was only so much flexibility for the team to make and LeBron needed to leave to protect his legacy. So he went to Miami to go play with his best friend. He won two titles, legacy secure, and came back once he saw that Cleveland was going to be better than Miami for the next few years. For Kevin Durant, he already plays with arguably his best friend in the league. His team hasn't yet maxed out. In fact, you can argue that they are better than they've ever been.
Certainly, you'll point to the year they were in the finals. Or you'll point back to the teams with James Harden coming off the bench. But let's look at this at face value. Durant plays with another top ten (top 5?) player in the NBA already. Their Thunder team just took the best team in the history of basketball (please no Showtime Lakers or MJ Jordan debates) and the defending NBA Champions to the brink. They should have beaten them. Not only do the Thunder have a solid core, but they have young ascending players like Andre Roberson, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter too. The Thunder haven't reached their peak. For Durant to leave, to go to a situation that may not be as cushy, just doesn't make sense.
Yes, he can go to the Warriors, but he'll never been seen as a leader. Ditto the Spurs. He's not the alpha male nor the passer that LeBron James is. The biggest criticism about Durant and Westbrook during the Western Conference Finals, was that they left their teammates out too much and just hogged the ball. Durant isn't going to go to a team, without already made superstars, that he's going to need to delegate to more. He's comfortable with Westbrook as his 1A and he's comfortable in Oklahoma City. There is no viable alternative.
Durant is going to re-sign with the Thunder for two years, with an option after the first year. This will allow him to make the most money and then tie his contract to Westbrook's. If the Thunder don't improve next year and Durant and Westbrook feel like they need to go somewhere else together to make a winner, they can do that. We have seen package duos in college before, but never tin the NBA. Transplanting both Westbrook and Durant together would be the biggest coup in NBA history, but it makes sense. The legacies of Durant and Westbrook are tied together and that's how they will remain.
Free agents leave teams because they want to make more money, or play with their friends, or put themselves in the best position to win a championship. Kevin Durant accomplishes all three by staying in Oklahoma City for at least one more year.
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