Never has there ever been this many factors deciding a certain free agency. I guess it makes sense when we’re talking about the 2nd best player in the league.
Its rare when the 2nd best player in the league hits free agency. No one this talented has hit the market since Lebron James was out of a contract in Miami. Sure, many very good players have signed new contracts in the Summer, but not a lot of those guys were truly threatening to leave.
I think its very possible Kevin Durant leaves this Summer. There’s a lot of reasons to do it. But theres also a lot reasons against it.
We all know it makes most financial sense for KD to sign a one year, maximum contract with the Thunder this Summer. It pays him the most money, keeps him in Oklahoma City, and allows him to enter free agency again next Summer, where he would be able to sign long-term for close to $200 million.
Those are unheard of numbers for the NBA, but thats where we’re headed with this cap rise.
Durant, no matter what kinda contract and where, makes more money signing long term next Summer. But theres many reasons why leaving now makes sense.
Coming into these playoffs, the mindset was that the Thunder had to make the Finals to keep KD. That happening was a long shot, but it seemed like they had to considering the underwhelming regular season.
Then the Thunder went up 3-1 on the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, and the mindset of the Summer shifted. The Thunder may lose in the Finals, but they knocked out the best team ever, and totally put themselves together in ways we hadn’t seen before.
Games 6 and 7 of the West Finals shifted the mindset once again, and thats where we are now. It was a total collapse by the Thunder, something we’ve seen all season.
Putting the blame on KD and Russell Westbrook is idiotic. They’re two of the ten best players in the league. Its not their fault. The blame should be placed on Billy Donavan, not only for allowing these late-game collapses in the regular season, but letting them end their season.
If I’m Kevin Durant, I’m telling the Thunder to fire Billy Donavan or I’m leaving.
I’ve been one of Donovan’s biggest critics. I doubt KD really feels that way about Donavan. But I think its a factor. One of many.
Look at the coaches for teams KD has been linked to: Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, Brad Stevens, Erik Spolestera. None of those guys compare to Billy Donavan.
I’m making the case for Durant to leave this Summer because I don’t want another year of his career wasted. I believe thats a realistic statement. And Billy Donavan is pretty much responsible for it.
Maybe the Thunder correct those issues next season. Coaching had them two wins away from the Finals. Nothing else was holding them back. This was Donavan’s first year. He can learn. Its just hard to forget when it cost them their season. I’m sure that last sentence is what KD is thinking.
Another factor that will go far in deciding what KD does is the West-East power balance. If I’m KD, I’m doing all I can to go East. Miami and Boston seem like the most likely destinations. Both have a ton of pros. Coaching, talent, location. Miami will do anything to get KD and anything to please him, due to Pat Riley’s presence. Boston could sign KD with cap space, then cash in assets in a trade for a star. The Celtics are still a little raw since they’re young. Boston probably has the best potential out of all the teams KD could end up signing with, but it’d take the longest to get a ring.
Out West, the Thunder (duh), Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, and Clippers all seem likely. But the real question is, can any of these teams with a new weapon in Durant surpass Golden State?
If he goes to the Warriors, it would be incredibly unfair. It’d be amazing to watch, but you might as well not even play the regular season. No one has been able to stop this Warriors team.
The Spurs wouldn’t be too unfair. But this fit doesn’t make the most sense. Golden State has a greater need for KD since Harrison Barnes may leave in free agency. The Spurs would have to make a move to fit him in. San Antonio needs upgrades at positions Kevin Durant doesn’t play (Center, point guard).
If you start to narrow it down in terms of fit, the Clippers, Thunder, and Rockets make most sense.
But again, is that a formula to beat the Warriors? And out West, beating the Warriors doesn’t get you the title.
See, these factors all go so far in deciding what will happen this Summer. There’s never been anything quite similar.
But what I know is that, as a basketball fan, I’m tired of seeing KD not succeeding all the way. Its not his fault that he can’t. Its one of those rare cases where you can’t blame it on the player. What you can blame it on, is the coach that he can leave behind this Summer.