After Oklahoma City’s miraculous run past the Spurs, they went up 3-1 against the defending champion Golden State Warriors and were one win away from the NBA Finals… until they lost three in a row and were eliminated in Game 7. Many believed that up until Oklahoma City’s final three games of the season that the Thunder had finally reached its peak and just in time to convince Kevin Durant to stay, and what better argument than to give the former league MVP a ring? However, now that Oklahoma City wasn’t able to deliver in Games 5, 6, or 7, it’s time for Kevin Durant to say goodbye to the fans of Oklahoma City and depart.
First off, why shouldn’t Kevin Durant leave the Thunder? I mean, he’s been there since they were called the Seattle SuperSonics. Durant has been beloved and welcomed by the city with open arms and is apart of a dynamic duo with Russell Westbrook. The Thunder have fully encouraged Kevin Durant to be himself and take over games, allowing him the chance to put in 25-30 points a night. The Thunder has made sure to polish Kevin Durant into what he’s become today, not only a NBA All-Star, but a NBA Superstar.
Not to mention, look at what happened to LeBron James. LeBron James spent seven years in Cleveland and went elsewhere to get the championship that eluded him for so long. Is nine years long enough for Kevin Durant to do the same? Will the likable Durant all of a sudden become the league’s villain because he switches teams via free agency to increase his chances at a NBA title?
I think it’s safe to say that as long as Kevin Durant is in Oklahoma City, it will be extremely difficult to ever make it back to the NBA Finals, let alone win it. The West is far too deep and the Thunder have a history of buckling under playoff pressure when the lights shine too bright. Also looking at the fact that Oklahoma City attracts no big free agents, it will be tough for Durant and Westbrook to recruit a big-time free agent to create a credible “Big 3″… I mean, after all, they overpaid for Kyle Singler to come back.
The teams reportedly planning to pursue Kevin Durant include the Celtics, the Heat, the Lakers, the Rockets, the Spurs, and the Wizards, among others who will try to make a bigger summer splash than “Big Baby” Glen Davis cannonballing into your local swimming pool. I’d go on a limb and say that all of these teams, and quite a few others, could keep Durant in the playoffs and possibly give him more of a edge when it comes to postseason time.
Do I believe Kevin Durant will play for another team? Yes, but it might not come at the expense of this year. We’ve seen big-time free agents in recent memory sign for two years with an opt-out option after the first season. Possibly the Thunder’s Cinderella run, though cut short, provides Oklahoma City another year to prepare for the inevitable, but we’re not far away from seeing Durant in fresher colors.
Whether it’s in 2016 or 2017, we’ll see Kevin Durant sign elsewhere. It’s just a matter of when, where, and how the league’s fans treat him after he parts way with the city that’s embraced him since the birth of Oklahoma City basketball.