What May Force Kevin Durant To Leave The Thunder This Summer

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.

NBA Finals Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

Last year, the Warriors made the infamous move to bench Andrew Bogut and start Andre Iguodala.  It helped Golden State win the series, and inspired a move that led to much success the following season.  That change led to the creation of the “Death Lineup”.

It was Golden State’s go-to in crunch time this season.  It most definitely helped them win 73 games.

And now, the Warriors find themselves against the team that inspired that lineup.  The difference is nothing needs to change this time.

The Warriors have to go with the Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Harrison Barnes-Andre Iguodala-Draymond Green lineup in this series.  Its necessary to stop Lebron James.  Things could get ugly if Harrison Barnes is forced to guard Lebron.  We found that out when Golden State was down 2-1 last year.

Starting Barnes is something many are going to ponder, as he didn’t start in Game 7 against the Thunder.  But that was a different series.  The Warriors needed a little bit more size to beat Oklahoma City.  In this series, they need defense.

With that lineup playing the majority of minutes, the Warriors should be in good shape.  Here’s what can happen if they don’t use it…

We know Lebron can win a series by himself.  Without good defense containing him, and Kyrie Irving being able to do his thing, (Steph isn’t a bad defender, but he isn’t great.) the Cavaliers have a shot at this series.  It hinges on Golden State being illogical, which isn’t likely to happen.

This is not going to be Kevin Love’s series.  We’ve said that a lot this postseason.  Too much.  Its one of few remaining reasons why Love doesn’t fit with the Cavaliers.

Taking away Love shouldn’t be a huge deal.  We know the Cavaliers can win without him (Yet another reason.).  I think Draymond Green is back in this series.  He’s going to check himself back in.  And if I’m the Cavaliers, I’m very afraid of that.

Andrew Bogut’s minutes are going to be limited if the Warriors do the right thing, but no matter what, the matchup at center is an underwhelming one.  It doesn’t feel like either of these guys, Bogut and Tristan Thompson, are going to be big contributions in this series.  The small ball takeover is going to show it’s ultimate wrath throughout this one.

The Cavaliers defense is a big X-Factor in this series.  Golden State’s offense has had it’s issues this postseason, but this is a fresh start against a worse team.  The Warriors play drastically different from Cleveland.  Fast, passing-oriented, and lights-out shooting.  The Cavaliers love to isolate their guys and let them take bad shots.

Its hard to see the Cavaliers stopping the Warriors’ offense.  They’re not very long or quick.  Its just a really bad matchup for Cleveland.  This has never been a good defensive team.  How does anyone think they’re going to stop one of the best offenses in the NBA?

Iguodala’s defense may be what decides this series.  If he can’t contain Lebron, then the Cavaliers can easily win this series.  But Iggy had such a good finish to the West Finals.  I think that will carry over, and he’ll contain him.  If I’m the Warriors, I like my chances of the Splash Brothers+Draymond Green against Kyrie Irving.

Pick: Warriors in 6