This past 4th of July, the NBA was in shock.
NBA superstar Kevin Durant made his free agency decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Durant, who has been with the Oklahoma City Thunder his whole NBA career, decided to leave as a free agent this offseason. Joining the Warriors has created a lot of buzz around the league.
Before Durant signed, the Warriors were already the best team in the Western Conference, going to back-to-back Finals. The Warriors were also the team that knocked Durant out of the Eastern Conference Finals after coming back from a deficit of three games to one. That would have been Durant’s second trip to the NBA Finals as he made it in 2012.
As soon as Durant’s season was over, teams were already trying to meet him to try and convince him to sign. The Washington Wizards had been thinking about getting Durant to come back home, just like the way Lebron James did. The following teams were:
- Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers benefit from a strong market and a talented roster they’d likely have to move forward Blake Griffin in a sign-and-trade to make room for Durant’s maximum contract, and while the Clippers would be serious title contenders with the seven-time All-Star, they’d still have to get past the Warriors and the Spurs in a tough Western Conference.
- Boston Celtics: Brad Stevens is an excellent coach. The Celtics have a talented young roster. But they’re not quite at “title contender” level yet. Boston’s failure to add an established veteran in a draft-night trade means the Celtics will have to lure at least one other big-name free agent outside Durant.
- Miami Heat: If Durant decides to jump ship to the less competitive Eastern Conference, Miami is his most likely landing spot. The Heat have a promising young core, Dwyane Wade should have a few good seasons left in him and Miami is a star-friendly market. The Heat also have Pat Riley, the headstrong team president who was able to bring James to Miami in 2010, on their side.
- San Antonio Spurs: We shudder to think what head coach Gregg Popovich could do with Durant added to his already well-balanced squad. The market isn’t ideal, but a trio of Durant, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge would be more than enough to give KD a very, very strong shot at his first ring.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: General manager Sam Presti made a shrewd move on draft night by dealing the declining Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis, improving a squad that came within one game of this year’s NBA Finals.
Durant was one of the top five players in the league after coming back from an injury last season. He averaged 28.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, and 5.0 apg. Durant and all-star teammate Russell Westbrook were a dynamic duo that were almost impossible to stop. The two were always looking for eachother on the floor, but at some points during the game, they would seem confused with each other on both ends of the court. Especially in the 4th quarter in crunch time, the two would not know who should take the shots and win the game. They would always try to do it themselves in the 4th quarter.
This may have been another reason why Durant left. With Durant gone, rumors are saying Westbrook may be traded away so the Thunder can try to rebuild.
Golden State will be expected to win multiple championships and try and knock-out Lebron James and the defending champs, Cleveland Cavaliers.
People compare Durant’s decision to Lebron James’ decision in 2010, but Lebron didn’t leave leave Cleveland and join the Boston Celtics, the team that always took Lebron James out of the playoffs. James joined a team that could help him PAST the Celtics. Durant did the exact opposite, because he actually joined the team that kept knocking him out.
For me as a huge fan of the NBA, I think it’s not good for the league. With Harrison Barnes traded, Durant will definitely be a starter next year. If Golden State doesn’t live up to expectations, the blame will be on Durant. Hopefully the 2016-17 season will a very exciting time with all these offseason moves.