It would take a miracle for the Golden State Warriors to not win the title, let alone miss the finals, but let’s not rule anything out just yet. Yes, the guys get along great, however one injury can change everything. When the championship window currently open but closing, the team may be in for a rebuild soon and one of the players that can go may as well be Kevin Durant. Durant may leave even if they win the title. He already has one title, and therefore has solidified his legacy and will definitely head to the basketball Hall of Fame partially thanks to his championship ring he won with Steph and company in Golden State.
Why in the world would Durant leave the Warriors? Apart from the first two scenarios, he might get angry when given a bad contract. Steph Curry just signed a huge, five-year deal, Draymond Green’s services are secured for three more years, while Klay Thompson will stay with the Warriors for two years. With his player option after this season, Durant will have to carefully consider his options. If he’ll get a shorter and less lucrative deal than Thompson, he’ll undoubtedly feel offended. I mean, the man won his first championship, but still was unhappy throughout the summer and went off at anonymous haters on Twitter.
Taking all four options into consideration, it’s plausible that Durant decides to leave the Warriors after the season ends. If he does, here are eight teams that he should consider and seven that’ll be a really bad fit for him.
15. Will: Washington Wizards
This was already a big deal two years ago, as the Wizards believed they stood a chance of landing the former MVP. DC is his home state and Washington is his hometown, so why wouldn’t he, right? The front court in Washington is still pretty bad. They could use KD’s offensive arsenal and put Otto Porter next to him and Gortat in the middle. With Wall and Beal in the back this team would be super scary. Plus, Durant’s return would make for a moving press conference, reminiscent of Dwight Howard’s return to Atlanta (without the messy divorce just a year later). The Wizards are surprisingly among the title contenders in the East already, but adding KD would make them a lock for the 2019 Finals.
14. Won’t: Los Angeles Lakers
If Durant can leave the Warriors to join his home state team, it’s even more probable that Paul George will bail on the Thunder and come back home to California. He’s already reportedly in contact with LeBron James and asked the superstar if he would join him in LA. While it’s hard to see that happening, it’s even harder to see Durant on the Lakers. Why? First of all, why would he leave a fully-formed team to join one that’s recently been in rebuild mode. Second, LA is just too close to Golden State. Four games against the team he just left? Even KD doesn’t enjoy being hated that much. He may stay far away from California in 2019.
13. Will: Miami Heat
The Heat were already interested in Durant two years ago. I mean, every team was, but the Heat actually had a shot at landing him. It was all thanks to the Heat culture, which values hard work and winning. What’s more important, the Heat know how to surround their superstars with the most suitable role players. Eric Spoelstra already worked with LeBron James, who’s pretty close with KD, and despite his leaving from Miami the King would likely recommend Florida to his friend. They’re not big on offensive talent, but the Heat are really fun to watch as they make up for their deficiencies on the defensive end. These guys play really tough, which would allow KD to shine on offence alongside Dragic and Waiters. Also… the friendly taxes and the weather wouldn’t hurt.
12. Won’t: Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are actually having a wonderful season, but it’s hard to see them keep up that pace. They just don’t seem to have enough talent to continue their impressive run. One of the players responsible for their great performances is point guard Reggie Jackson, once Durant’s teammate on the Thunder. When Jackson was traded in 2015, KD said: “he got what he wanted.” Jackson complained about his role on OKC and forced a trade to the Pistons. The two have gotten into petty arguments all the time so it’s unlikely they will join forces again. Jeff Van Gundy is a coach who has a history of clashing with his star players, so he may not be Durant’s favourite guy either. Also, despite their record, the Pistons still have a hard time filling the seats in their new arena, which isn’t an environment fit for a player of KD’s stature.
11. Will: Denver Nuggets
If you don’t have the League Pass or you’re just watching the big-market teams, you probably don’t know just how good the Nuggets actually are. Nikola Jokic is the best passing big man in the NBA right now. Paul Millsap is pretty great at power forward and with a couple of capable role players the Nuggets seem to be one superstar away from greatness. Enter Kevin Durant, who not only solves their issues with the small forward position, but actually becomes a leader on this still-developing team. The Nuggets have never been to the NBA Finals, let alone won a championship. Considering how fun they’ve been for decades, they at least deserve to get there. KD would help them do it.
10. Won’t: Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are in a full-on rebuild and are just making their first steps towards relevance. This move could only occur if Durant would like to prove that he can single-handedly take a team out of obscurity and turn it into a contender. The Bulls currently have no stars that can make any real impact against the leagues best teams. Actually, their roster barely makes any sense right now. The organization itself is flawed and the management makes a lot of questionable decisions, so it’s actually hard to see KD leavening GS for a mess that is the current Bulls franchise. It looks like the Bulls faithful will have to wait even more for the next Michael Jordan to deliver them to the promised land!
9. Will: New York Knicks
Since we’re talking about messy organizations, the only one that would make any sense for KD are the Knicks. Why? Well, first off, the Knicks are 7-5 baby! The Knicks, who just traded away their best player, are one of the best teams in the East. This is a testament to the talents of Kristaps Porzingis. The guy is an MVP candidate early in the season and playing next to him would make Durant’s life very easy. The Knicks have a history of underachieving and the Big Apple is a city that loves its winners like few others. If Durant could turn them around and actually lead the Knicks to the finals, that would be really incredible. It may be enough to silence those who criticized him for going to Golden State.
8. Won’t: Milwaukee Bucks
While at first sight Durant makes some sense on the Bucks, as they are a team that lacks an established centre and whose power forward is constantly on the injured list, seeing KD on the same team as Giannis Antetokoumpo is really hard to imagine. The two players are so similar that being on the same roster could hurt both of their careers. Durant is a fully formed player and Giannis is still a work-in-progress, so yes, the Greek Freak could learn from KD. But the question is why would Durant want to become the teacher for a player who’s a good jump shot away from being Kevin Durant 2.0? They could make some noise in the East, but Durant is already winning in the West.
7. Will: San Antonio Spurs
This can only happen if the Warriors spite The Kid, something that’s impossible to imagine now, seeing how everybody gets along on the team. For a second let’s imagine they do though. You know what would happen? A frontcourt of Kawhi, LaMarcus and KD, which might very well become one of the best in NBA history. As a member of the Thunder KD was 2-1 in playoff series against the Spurs. He upgraded his record to 3-1 last season on the Warriors. Coach Popovich would love to have a player like Durant on the roster. As for KD, he would fit right in on the Spurs as Kerr is Pop’s prodigy and may have even outgrown his mentor going into the future.
6. Won’t: New Orleans Pelicans
While it might be interesting to see KD alongside Boogie and The Brow, don’t expect this move to happen anytime soon. First of all, adding Durant would ruin BoogieBrow Productions, which is one of the best nicknames in recent NBA history. More seriously, the Pelicans are not good at surrounding great players with talent. They added Boogie just last season, and before that AD was surrounded with mediocrity. They still have a lot of mediocre players on bad contracts. Why would KD join a struggling organization that doesn’t value the talent it has? As we saw when he left OKC, he wants to succeed and doesn’t want to give his talent to a team that won’t help him do that.
5. Will: Cleveland Cavaliers
Durant and James are friends. James desperately needs help in order for the Cavs to stay relevant as title contenders. While they aren’t great defensively, the Cavs seem more unlucky than bad on offence. They have a lot of old players on long, bad contracts and if they could get rid of them, they would have enough cap space to sign KD. An underrated defender, Durant would block a lot of shots for the Cavs. The one problem that needs solving is why would Durant leave Warriors for the older Cavs. He could prove his versatility or just practice playing in a new system. Also, a front court of James, Love and KD would be one for the ages. He could take on the role of centre that Love so clearly hates.
4. Won’t: Boston Celtics
This just doesn’t make much sense on various levels. First of all, Kyrie Irving wants to be the alpha dog on his team and by adding Durant the Celtics would risk making their young starting point guard unhappy. Second, the Celtics are currently stacked with forwards: Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Morris to name a few. Adding KD to that mix would just cause more confusion. While the Celtics would benefit from adding Durant (any team would) they seem to be perfectly fine now. Also, if KD would leave the Warriors, would it really be for a team that is historically great? He’s already on a great team, why would he risk his own legacy being measured up against Bill Russell or Larry Bird? The fans in Massachusetts will never love you as much as they do those guys, so why bother?
3. Will: Minnesota Timberwolves
Changing scene from the slowly-aging Warriors for the very young, good but not great Timberwolves makes a lot of sense for Durant when you think about it. He would be the alpha-dog, the most important player on the team, one that not only KAT and Andrew Wiggins but even Jimmy Butler would look up to. The weather in Minny is a bit tough, so there’s not much to do but play basketball. However, it seems that this would suit KD just fine. If the young Wolves toughen up, they may do some serious damage to other NBA teams and KD would really speed up that process. He could also use his star power to attract a few other missing pieces to the Minnesota market to build a real contender.
2. Won’t: Oklahoma City Thunder
The breakup was bad and it probably hurts to this day. Even though time is said to heal all wounds, one thing would need to occur for KD to return there: Billy Donovan’s departure. KD tweeted from what he thought was his burner account (but was actually his own) that he hated playing for Donovan. The coach took the team to the Conference Finals in his first year in the league, and yet Durant was displeased with his system. This is a man who turned Russell Wesbrook into an MVP! The team would only get better, butt KD decided to not give him a second chance and was gone. While he might eventually get along with Russ and all the other guys, as long as he won’t be happy with his role on the team, don’t expect him to come back.
1. Will: Houston Rockets
This one just makes most sense for KD, obviously apart from staying in Golden State. To get Durant the Rockets should get rid of two large contracts given out to Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. This shouldn’t be a problem as Durant could fill-in for both players but make slightly less than the two of them combined. Players seem to love Houston as a place to live and Durant would be even better offensively in D’Antoni’s system. Plus a starting lineup featuring James Harden and Chris Paul (if he decides to stay) would be really scary. Sharing the ball would be the only issue here, and we have yet to see how Harden and CP3 will resolve it.
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