With the expiration of Kevin Durant’s contract at Oklahoma City Thunder, it has, quite expectantly, ignited a mass scramble to secure the signature of a much lauded figure and indicate their own statement of serious intent for the upcoming season.
The Thunder made it to the Western Conference finals in 2015/16 where they where edged out by the Golden State Warriors 4-3 in the best of 7 series, the fourth time KD has lost a Conference final. Only once has it made it all the way to the NBA Finals, where they were soundly beaten by the Heat 4-1 in 2012.
Durant, 27, has said very little on whether he will remain at the Chesapeake Stadium. His desire for glory is natural and understandable, but the fact he has stayed true to Okalhoma since their inception in 2008 surely implies that he calls Oklahoma his home. Such a decision falls on whether to stay at home, or find glory elsewhere.
But where is he likely to go…?
So far, the Clippers, the Heat, and the Celtics are all due to have meetings with KD across the coming weekend, with the Warriors and the Spurs also rumoured to have set up a meet with the 2014 MVP.
The Warriors would represent a thoroughly enticing prospect for Durant. Despite losing the NBA finals 4-3, the retention of their star players seems ever likely as they seek to mount a new challenge on the championship. Bringing in Durant at small forward would mean displacing current starter Harrison Barnes. Barnes, despite scoring a season high average 11.7 points per game over 2015/16, is completely dwarfed when the two forwards stats are compared, his 11.7 being crushed by Durant’s 28.2. Not only that, it would create a formidable lineup on court for the Warriors, pitching Durant alongside the duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. If anything stated just how serious they were about getting the Championship back, surely it is signing Durant.
The Heat are in need of a marquee signing as the future surrounding Dwyane Wade becomes increasingly unclear. With his contract up, and the 34 year old open to a new challenge, the Heat are scrambling for a solution. Though it is less likely Durant will go to the Heat while Luol Deng continues to performs with high numbered consistency, the unclear situation surrounding Wade means Pat Riley needs something constructive to show for the loss of the Heat’s most revered star.
The Clippers, and Doc Rivers’, constant shift in lineups means Durant would be a stabilising option across from Paul Pierce. With Pierce 38 years old, and his average stats dipping year by year, the man 11 year Pierce’ junior would be ideal for a a Clippers side on the up in recent years. Having secured play off berths five years running, and winning back to back division titles in 2013 and 2014, the signs are optimistic for the Clippers. Bringing Durant into the fray would only increase the idea that they are a team in with a chance of the Championship in the short term future. What may hold them back is KD’s salary. The Clippers are already set to pay DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in excess of $20m a year; and these salaries are projected to rise steadily over the next two years. They can ill afford to pay Durant – who earns $20.15m a year – a maximum contract while they still have the trio of big earners on their books.
Durant is a wanted man, and has a half dozen franchises at his feet. A team at the top, a team who need a hero, and a team who could bring him his desired championship in the next few years. All prospects are enticing for Durant. But as to where he will go; he is keeping his cards very close to his chest.