04 July 2016

Kevin Durant has signed with the Warriors, so now what?

(AP)
The biggest domino has fallen in free agency this offseason and oh my, it is a doozy. That's right, Kevin Durant has made his decision as to whom he will sign his next contract with and as he announced on the Player's Tribune, that team is the Golden State Warriors. That means that a team that just won a record 73 games in the regular season, came within one game of winning a second-straight NBA championship and features guys like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

What?

Here's Durant on the decision:
The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.
...
It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.
I will miss Oklahoma City, and the role I have had in building this remarkable team. I will forever cherish the relationships within the organization — the friends and teammates that I went to war with on the court for nine years, and all the fans and people of the community. They have always had my back unconditionally, and I cannot be more grateful for what they have meant to my family and to me.
Whether you accept his words at face value or not, we can all figure out why he joined an already-loaded team: because he wants to win a championship. Durant has only made one Finals in his career thus far and that team got smacked by LeBron James and the Miami Heat back in 2012. And Durant probably thought that it was unlikely that he, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, even after a solid offseason thus far, had enough to take out the Warriors and/or the Spurs to get back to the Finals where they would likely have get through the Cavaliers. Then you had the fact that Westbrook was going to be a free agent next summer and the future in Oklahoma City turns into a question mark.

Now we have got in the Warriors one of the most loaded teams that I can remember. This is not like when James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade because while that previous Miami team was a playoff team, it basically was the Dwyane Wade show. Or as Chuck put it:


But this is different. You're adding perhaps the most talented scorer in the game and a top-3 player in the league to one of the most exciting teams offensively in recent memory. Again, you're adding Durant to a team that just won 73 freaking games.

With the Thunder now without Durant and the Spurs perhaps poised to be without Tim Duncan, the Warriors look poised to run through the Western Conference like Sherman through Atlanta. Who knows what happens if/when they run into the Cavs again in the Finals but a team this loaded really has to win at least one title during Durant's two-year contract.

For the Thunder, hope is not lost. Even without Durant, this should still be a quality team since they still got a guy named Westbrook. And with him now the sole star in town, you may just see him put up some insane numbers. But if Westbrook leaves next summer, as he is probably wont to do now, who knows what's next for that franchise. Therefore, GM Sam Presti will likely be forced to consider trade proposals for his sole star.

Now the question has to be asked, is what Durant just did worse than what James did six summers ago? I'd say probably yes, even as Durant didn't do a goofy television special to announce his decision and as Durant is not exactly leaving his hometown. But as I said earlier, James joined a solid team with one star already there but not exactly a championship contender. Durant is joining the greatest regular season team of all time and a team that pulled off a notable comeback to knock out his previous team in the Western Conference Finals. James and Bosh going to Miami made the Heat a great team but the Warriors were already a great team as is. That's the difference.

One just hopes that Durant gets something close to the scorn that James got. After all, we wouldn't want there to be a double standard, eh?

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