There must be someone out there besides me that scratches their head when NBA Free Agency rolls around. It’s not the money that gets me or the changing of teams that leaves me baffled it’s the process. Case in point, the Kevin Durant saga.
Durant is the main attraction on the FA market now and every team that has the cap space to get him will do whatever it takes. On the organization side of the coin I understand but from a player, especially of Durant’s caliber I just don’t get it. What is the point of him sitting down with six teams? What could each team possibly sell him on that he doesn’t already know?
NBA players are a close-nit family, they bond together during the season, All Star games, Olympics and the offseason. Is there some rule that says a guy like LeBron James cannot tell Stephen Curry how great the City of Cleveland is or how the organization is ran from within? The owners, coaches, players and agents want to meet with Durant to sell them on their team, past, present and future but what can they possibly say to him that he doesn’t already know?
When Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors speaks to Durant his pitch will be about how great the Warriors offense will be with he, Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and how Durant will be another weapon, just the one that will help them right the ship after their Finals lost. Maybe Durant didn’t watch the Finals or played a game in Golden State and witnessed how passionate the fans are about their team. The Warriors were a 73 win team last season without Durant and it’s no secret that offense is not their weakness, it’s in the paint where they were exploited. He is not needed there. Advantage: Thunder
When the New York Knicks have their turn what will Phil Jackson try to sell Durant on? The atmosphere of the city? Hey it’s NY, who doesn’t know what the city has to offer by now. Wasn’t Durant here for the All Star game? He takes trips here to play both teams from the area so he is familiar with the foods and crowds. Can’t sell him on that. Will Jackson promise him a star role in the offense and just cast aside what Carmelo Anthony has done since coming here or the future of 2nd year player Kristaps Porzingis? What position would he play? The one thing the Knicks can promise him is a billboard on Madison Ave, yeah that’s a real FA seller. Advantage: Thunder
When the San Antonio Spurs sit down with Durant they will be in the same position as the Knicks. Where will Durant play? Kawhi Leonard currently has the SF position on lock, maybe they can swing him to PF but LaMarcus Aldridge (who was in the same boat as Durant last season) will be out of position at the Center spot due to his lack of post defense. So what do they do? Greg Popovich can try to sell him on past championships, the last hurrah of Tim Duncan and Co and the future of him, Leonard and Aldridge but for once the Spurs will not be a FA top choice. Advantage Thunder
When the Miami Heat sit down with Durant, in their hearts Pat Riley has to know he has no real shot. A team featuring Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside may seem enticing to Durant but with Wade entering his twilight years and Deng’s poor performance during their playoff run, then the uncertainty of Whiteside’s future it doesn’t look to good for the Heat. This is one team where he could actually fit in well if Wade was 5 years younger. Durant could man the PF position due to the uncertain future of Chris Bosh, which would easily give the Heat one of the best lineups in the NBA. Throw in the no tax law in the state of Florida and you might have a shot but Durant wants to win now and while the roster looks good from the outside looking in there are too many injury concerns for Durant to take them seriously. Advantage Thunder
When the Boston Celtics sit down with Durant it will be a this is your world talk. The Celtics might be a dynasty in the making, if not for screwing up the draft the other night but if the team can somehow land Durant, LeBron and the Cavs better take notice. The Celtics have what every team in the NBA craves, depth at every position and I’m talking at least three deep. The Celtics issues live in the froncourt but with Durant their bigs can focus on defense and rebounding instead of both sides of the court. Advantage Thunder (slim)
When the Los Angeles Clippers meet with Durant every team on this list, including the Thunder better be scared. If there is a sleeper team alive, the Clippers are them. The Clips have the big market in LA, the PG in Chris Paul, the defender and rebounder in DeAndre Jordan, the athletic player in Blake Griffin and the bench (as long as the Clips can keep Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers) the Clips have a legit shot at landing Durant. Advantage: Clippers (very slim)
Last but not least is the home team, the team that he has known his whole career. The one he has taken to the NBA Finals, and the one he helped squander a 3-1 series lead. If home is truly where the heart is then no other team has a shot. The chemistry he and Russell Westbrook has is the envy of the league but what happened on Draft night may have sealed the deal on Durant staying with OKC. The Thunder shipped out-of-place PF Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for SG Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and 11th pick Domantas Sabonis. The Thunder’s issues were addressed with the trade providing the team with the 3rd scoring option the Thunder have been missing since the departure of James Harden. If Oladipo was playing alongside Westbrook a few weeks ago there would be no 3-1 collapse to talk about. The Thunder can sit down with Durant and point to the trade and say “this was for you”.
Durant’s decision will come down to winning. If it’s about the money there is no team that can pay him more than his current one. Some of those teams on his list may look good on paper but in reality he is not a great fit for them. The decision will come down to the Clippers and Thunder as both teams can give him a chance at a championship come next June.
A player of Durant’s talent knows where he wants to go, he has always known. He knows the teams, and understands the business side of the game but in the end it’s about winning and the sit downs are just for show. So why have them in the first place?