Kevin Durant is by far the most coveted free agent this side of LeBron James. Following an epic collapse by the Oklahoma City Thunder (losing 3-in-a-row to Golden State) in the Western Conference Finals, rumors have been swirling about where the best landing spot is for Durant.
The following is a list of Durant’s likely suitors and where I think is the best landing spot for him.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Durant has been with the Thunder (formerly the Sonics) since he was drafted 2nd overall by them in 2007. Since he’s been there, they’ve been formidable and extremely completive in the [superior] western conference. If it wasn’t for injuries, I believe the Thunder would have made it to more than one NBA Finals appearance during Durant’s 9 years with the team. Out of all of his options, the Thunder has the greatest upside with a young team, a great front office, a promising head coach and a point guard that’s considered one of the 5 best players in the world. He has the backing of the fans and plays in arguably the greatest home court advantage in the league. In my mind, Durant would be crazy not to re-sign [for at least one more year] with this team.
San Antonio Spurs: The thought of Durant alongside Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge is pretty compelling. However, I think it would significantly taint Durant’s legacy to go to an “established” team like the Spurs in order to win a championship (which is why the idea of him going to Golden State is never going to happen). The main reason LeBron was skewered by so many was that he “ran away” from the challenges in Cleveland to get help from Wade and Bosh in Miami. Durant leaving OKC for a San Antonio franchise that has been one of the best over the past 15 years wouldn’t do him any favors in the long run.
Miami Heat: Regardless of what many say, I believe that this pairing would be the least likely to happen. First off, Miami fans don’t deserve a great basketball team; they’re arguably one of the worst fan bases in all of professional sports. Secondly, we’ve seen this story before; superstar player leaves for Miami to try and capture elusive championship. Lastly, Miami’s roster isn’t getting any younger and Durant would have to allow Miami to build a younger team around him. Rather than taking a step towards a championship, it would seem that Durant would be taking two steps back.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics have a young core, a strong front office (led by Danny Ainge), and an exceptionally talented young head coach (Brad Stevens); almost exactly what Durant already has in OKC [minus Westbrook]. As much as I’d love to see Durant in Boston (not so much because I’m a Celtic fan, more because of my fandom for Brad Stevens) but as their currently constructed, I just don’t think it makes much sense. However, if Boston is able (and willing) to make a trade with their 3rd overall pick [in this year’s draft] and acquire another star player to play alongside Durant, than I think Boston would the best option outside of OKC; the main reason? Because, he’ll be playing in the watered down eastern conference and his addition (along with another star player) would make the Celtics co-favorites with Cleveland to make the Finals. It’s understood that OKC is a co-favorite almost every year to represent the western conference, but it’s a much tougher road to get through the gauntlet that the west provides every year than it is the east.
Los Angeles Clippers: In the past, you’d mention LA and immediately think Lakers; well, those days are over the foreseeable future, thanks Jim Buss. The Clippers are an enticing option because of the squad that they’ve already constructed. A starting lineup of Paul, Reddick, Durant, Griffin, and Jordan sounds pretty damn epic; I just don’t think it’ll work. Partially because it’s the Clippers and they always find a way to screw something up, but primarily, I don’t see it working in the locker room. Durant already has an aggressive point guard in Westbrook (who clearly dominates that locker room), why would he leave OKC to play alongside another point guard with a bloated ego? Paul has been known to be a pain to deal with in the locker room (hey there Blake Griffin) and I don’t think he’ll like a superstar player coming in and taking over “his” team. Furthermore, Doc Rivers is as overrated a coach as there is in professional sports, and I don’t think he’ll be able to control all those egos; especially since he doesn’t seem to have a handle on it now. Durant wouldn’t be doing himself any favors playing in LA.
Overall, I believe that OKC should be Durant’s first and only choice. It makes sense not just financially but professionally as well. However, if he were to choose to test the free agent market, he would certainly look good in Celtic green.
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