Not everybody can sign with the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, or Cleveland Cavaliers, but as seen by Matt Barnes, Andrew Bogut, and Deron Williams’ recent mid-season decisions, the possibility of landing with one of those perennial contenders must be high on the mind of every upcoming 2017 free agent beyond just Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.
But the NBA landscape also seems to be slowly turning the corner to some more competitive balance. As KD and LeBron James will soon enter the decline phase of their careers, new stars like Anthony Davis, James Harden, Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and more are improving rapidly, and new potential super teams are being built in surprising NBA outposts like New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Optimistically, we could be gearing up for a wild off-season free agency period, highlighted by potential big overhauls out west with stars from the Warriors and Clippers abounding.
With that in mind, here are the The Best And Worst Signing Option For These 15 Upcoming NBA Free Agents.
30 Best Place for J.J. Redick: Cleveland Cavaliers
Despite recent rumors that Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and J. J. Redick have all verbally committed to re-sign with the LA Clippers, we think its time for them all to move on.
After seven years coming off the bench, Redick established himself as a core starter and a true three point weapon on a team that is regularly one of the best of the West, but never seemed to have what it took to put it all together to catch the Golden State Warriors. Likewise, Kyle Korver, another perimeter scoring type joined a core in Atlanta that came close to conquering the East, before being traded to the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers mid-season this year to become a dagger deliverer off the bench for LeBron James and company. And as a result, his three point shooting percentage has jumped by about 10 percentage points as of this writing, and even though his minutes are down, his scoring is actually up.
Korver will be 36 and a free agent at the end of the year; Redick will only be 33. He would be wise to return to his roots as a weapon off the bench on a franchise that can really give him a title shot.
29 Worst Place for J.J. Redick: Atlanta Hawks
J.J. Redick has been playing far from home for a long time now. The southerner was born in Cookeville, Tennessee and raised in Roanoke, Virginia before starring at Duke University in North Carolina. His wife, Chelsea Kilgore, is from Florida (they met while Redick played for the Orlando Magic). It would seem likely that returning to play for the Charlotte Hornets or Washington Wizards would have some appeal, though both teams currently sport prominent small three-point-shooting guards already.
It seemed perhaps obvious to then point to Atlanta as a possible location, but as we referenced above, the Hawks can not seem to find an identity that allows them to put it all together. With Dwight Howard clogging the lane and young stars like Dennis Schröder ready to play at a higher pace, it was no surprise that Kyle Korver excelled upon leaving Mike Budenholzer’s squad.
28 Best Place for Danilo Gallinari: Atlanta Hawks
Don’t worry, Hawks fans, we got you. Assuming Paul Millsap moves on in free agency, we think Danilo Gallinari would be the perfect fit to pick up and even improve upon what Millsap offered this season. After all, the team is still in the Dwight Howard era, i.e. looking to win now with a guy who, while his stock is fading, is unquestionably a Hall-of-Fame caliber talent.
Gallinari is a more dynamic Millsap with a greater range and a higher ceiling to carry a squad offensively (as hard as that may be to believe about two guys who have never made an All-Star team and have made four straight, respectively.) His ability to play multiple positions and to use his size and range to stretch a defense, sounds a lot like players who have excelled with the San Antonio Spurs. The Hawks are at the best when they play ball inspired from coach Mike Budenholzer’s time sitting next to, yes, Gregg Popovich as a Spurs assistant for seventeen seasons.
27 Worst Place for Danilo Gallinari: Denver Nuggets
You know what coach is not a good fit for Danilo Gallinari’s talents? Current Nuggets leader Mike Malone. His teams play a ball-stopping defense-oriented style, which is why he was probably the only coach DeMarcus Cousins got along with during his time with the Sacramento Kings, and why huge, lane-clogging center Nikola Jokic (who has also steadily improved on the defensive end under Malone’s watch) is seen as Denver’s future.
Malone recently called the Nugget’s defense “a joke” and that the team has “no veteran leadership.” Gallinari responded “I don’t agree with that. That’s definitely not the problem.” We are inclined to agree with him on this one. Either way, its definitely time for Gallinari to see the writing on the wall and move on from his current situation.
26 Best Place for Otto Porter Jr.: Washington Wizards
Otto Porter Jr. would have never made this list a season ago, but in 2016-17 he has reached career highs in 14.31 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and a 52.2% shooting percentage from the field and a near NBA best 45.3% from three (trailing only Kyle Korver as of this writing).
Despite numerous calls and the huge pay raise he is due this offseason, the Washington Wizards held tight to their 6’ 8” forward. “We love Otto,” team president Ernie Grunfeld said. “We love the way that he’s developed and how he’s come along… I said he’s part of our core and we want to keep him here.”
For a team that is 21-6 since January 6 (which includes among the losses an epic overtime battle with Cleveland and a buzzer beater squeaker by Detroit), its hard not to believe that locking down the emerging “Big Three” of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Porter could make them a championship contender for years to come.
25 Worst Place for Otto Porter Jr.: Brooklyn Nets
There are rumors the Brooklyn Nets want Otto Porter Jr., and on a purely financial sense, a team with flexibility to offer a max contract to a young star emerging right now is a perfect fit. Heck, it worked for James Harden to leave Oklahoma City just when their young “Big Three” seemed ready to put it all together, why not for Porter?
But the Houston Rockets had played more than .500 ball for six straight seasons before landing Harden as their star shooting guard. In contrast, the Nets are poised to finish with the worst record in the league, and won’t even benefit from the reward of a high draft pick (the Boston Celtics will hold the rights to it), Additionally, Harden was a scoring weapon from his college days (averaging 20 points per game in his sophomore season before declaring for the pros), and was ready to regain that familiar role. Porter was more of an all-around weapon type who shared scoring responsibilities at Georgetown. He would be best suited to stay in that role.
24 Best Place for George Hill: Utah Jazz
Its remarkable indeed that of the two veteran point guards from the 2008 Draft going into free agency this offseason, its not #1 overall pick and youngest-MVP-in-NBA-history Derrick Rose that has found his way onto our top 15 list. Instead, George Hill, selected all the way down at #26, has emerged as a prime option in a deep group of soon-to-be available options at the point. Hill has always been a respected floor leader but has elevated his game with Utah this year, who most notably are a dominant 24-9 (as of this writing) when both he and All-Star Gordon Hayward are on the floor (but will both be looking for new deals this summer).
Sadly, Hill is still dealing with the lingering effects of his sprained big toe he suffered months ago, and will have only appeared in upwards of around 60 games at season’s end if he stays healthy from here on out. With medical questions and a deep class to compete against, he should stay put and continue the current ascension of both his own play and that of his team’s.
23 Worst Place for George Hill: Golden State Warriors
It’s not that George Hill wouldn’t be a smart and economical substitute for Stephen Curry, should the Golden State superstar decide to bolt in free agency for some unfathomable reason. He is a very good three point shooter, to the tune of a .380 career percentage (but over .400 in each of the last two seasons as of this writing), and has strong defensive ratings as well.
Its just that Hill has just come into his own this season at age 30, and has only ever been a regular starter in small markets (playing in Indiana in both college and the pros). There’s no need to step into the Warriors’ limelight now, particularly not as one taking over for a two-time MVP, just when he’s finding his groove. Its enough pressure to play on the same court on which John Stockton defined himself as one of the best point guards of all time, we’re sure, and the future seems bright for the Jazz to potentially even challenge Golden State for the Western Conference title sometime soon.
22 Best Place for Dion Waiters: Miami Heat
If you look at other lists like this around the internet, Dion Waiters is nowhere to be found. That’s because, suddenly and dramatically, the fourth overall selection of the 2012 NBA draft has met his potential and then some as the calendar year has flipped over to 2017. The career 13.1 PPG scoring shooting guard averaged 19.6 points per game between his return to the Miami Heat starting lineup on January 10 and the late February All Star break. The run included a current season NBA-high 13 game winning streak and the team has improved their record overall from 10-25 to 29-34 as of this writing, putting them on the brink of making the playoffs if the season ended today.
By staying in the sunshine, Waiters can take advantage of Erik Spoelstra, a well-respected coach and Pat Riley, well-respected executive, developing him to the next level. “ Be a two way player,” the latter noted as the next goal for their emerging star. “We know he’s a big game player. He has a lot of guts, gravitas.” Look for that to be a calling card as Waiters seeks a huge raise from the $3 million he was due in his player option, which he will surely decline.
21 Worst Place for Dion Waiters: Philadelphia 76ers
The timing perhaps feels ripe to add a Philly-born big game scorer, who, while only 25, already has experience playing alongside LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook to a re-emerging 76ers squad. But Dion Waiters has experienced a large amount of recent devastation from his hometown, with two cousins and a close friend murdered in his lifetime, and then last year, his younger brother Demetrius Pinckney, only 21, was fatally shot.
There is appropriate concern that the devastation he and his family have suffered in the city would weigh heavily on Waiters. Sources have noted a strong desire to return home, but as he seems to be just figuring out his potential, we hope for him that no matter what he ultimately chooses, he is able to fully concentrate on him. That said, for a man who has already rebuilt the playground in his old elementary school due to his desire to give back, we trust his old neighborhood will reap the benefits of his success regardless of where he signs.
20 Best Place for Jrue Holiday: Los Angeles Clippers
This scenario would be contingent, of course, on Chris Paul leaving the team that he was never meant to be on in the first place (remember David Stern denying his pairing with Kobe Bryant on the crosstown Lakers back in 2011, that “long ago” era when a super team was seen as a bad thing?) Born and raised in the LA area and a “one and done” starting shooting guard for UCLA in 2008-09, Jrue Holiday has showcased consistent quality for eight seasons now with the Philadelphia 76ers and more recently, with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Still just 26, he was recently gifted the chance to be a point guard on a franchise with a real shot at being a super team, when DeMarcus Cousins joined star Anthony Davis in a mid-season deal. Still, it would be hard to believe that Holiday wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to be closer to his family and friends, and the Clippers would be wise to realize they are not equipped to pass the Warriors or Spurs as they are constituted now. Rather, they should re-build around the cheaper and younger Holiday and DeAndre Jordan towards a potentially bright future.
19 Worst Place for Jrue Holiday: New Orleans Pelicans
While Cousins and Davis give renewed hope to the dormant New Orleans franchise, there are no guarantees the pairing would work. For instance, “The Brow” has proven to be at his most effective when he plays center, which with Cousins around would be pretty much never. For his part, “Boogie” has a history of being perceived as un-coachable (though Mike Malone might disagree) and is regularly amongst the league leaders in technical fouls.
There is a sense that the two would benefit from a steady hand controlling the tempo and positioning of the offense from the point, and the team is hopeful Jrue Holiday is that guy. However, it might take a truly special talent to figure this out, and there may just be one coming available with Chris Paul, who has clear ties to his former club. It would be an all-in career moment for Holiday to stick around, for sure, but we would hate to see that turn into a bust despite his best efforts.
18 Best Place for Dwyane Wade: San Antonio Spurs
Quietly, Dwyane Wade has continued to perform at near All-Star levels even as he enters an age when most players face a steep decline. The fourteen-year-vet was not invited to the mid-season exhibition this year for the first time since 2005, but the Chicago-born shooting guard’s stats have held steady the last few years. In other words, he is still good for nearly 20 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game, a stat line that would probably make him eligible for a max contract if he was a younger man.
Unfortunately, Wade is 35 and not getting younger, so its time to leave the in-need-of-rebuilding Bulls and do what many have done before him, chase one more title with a team built to incorporate savvy veterans into a deep, legs-saving rotation. With Manu Ginobili looking like he could really truly definitely maybe kinda retire this off-season, Wade could be a perfect fit to be the second unit spark plug behind Kawhi Leonard and co.
17 Worst Place for Dwyane Wade: Chicago Bulls
In perhaps the biggest non-move of the trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls kept star Jimmy Butler. The confusing franchise did however trade away fan favorite Taj Gibson and their best shooter, Doug McDermott, as well as a future draft pick. So are they rebuilding or looking to re-configure on the fly around Butler?
That’s anyone’s guess, but either way Dwyane Wade would be wise to abandon ship, as the aging slasher doesn’t fit into either of those visions. He tried to do his LeBron, returning to his hometown to try to lead them to glory. It didn’t work. A future Hall-of-Famer deserves to close his career in a role and a place where he can succeed. And if he truly is committed to helping his hometown Bulls return to glory, leaving would honestly be the best thing he can do for them, as sad as that may be to admit.
16 Best Place for Paul Millsap: Houston Rockets
Paul Millsap said earlier this season that his heart “would be here,” in reference to the NBA town, Atlanta, that he has called home for the last four All-Star seasons.
Of course, Al Horford said “I believe in my heart, that this is a special place” shortly before leaving the Hawks to sign with the rival Boston Celtics via free agency this past summer. Millsap would be right to follow his lead. The veteran versatile forward could be useful to just about anyone, but the Northern-Louisiana-raised Millsap (where he also starred at LSU) would be smart to head only a few hours down the road to Houston, where the 32-year-old could help a team close to putting it all together for a title run. Millsap would return to the more comfortable role as second-scoring-option behind James Harden, and alongside the emerging Clint Capela, would give Houston an inside presence they’ve lacked since Dwight Howard left.
15 Worst Place for Paul Millsap: Atlanta Hawks
There has been a lot of talk out of Atlanta recently that makes it sound like their core player will stay a Hawk for years to come. “Paul Millsap is not going to be traded, and Paul Millsap is absolutely our priority this offseason, in re-signing him with the Atlanta Hawks,” general manager Wes Wilcox recently said. “We’ve communicated that to Paul, his team, and we feel great about our position there.”
We hate to say it, but as we alluded too earlier (see Gallinari, Danilo, on this list), Paul Millsap is not a long term fit for Atlanta, despite claims otherwise from both sides. The team is too callow to invest the big money he will surely command in the aging star this off season, and they need to re-build around younger, more athletic players who can provide outside shooting and floor spacing (like Ersan Ilyasova, whom they traded for at this year’s deadline).
14 Best Place for Serge Ibaka: Toronto Raptors
The trade by the Toronto Raptors for Serge Ibaka leading up to this year’s NBA trade deadline gave the team a unit that many believe will make them a true title contender.
Ibaka will be back in his comfort zone, as the third weapon on a team with two super stars, assuming Kyle Lowry makes it back in time for the playoffs (a lesson for Otto Porter to follow). Prior to his off-season trade to the Orlando Magic, as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s primary support, he twice helped get the Oklahoma City Thunder to the brink of the NBA Finals before falling short. While he couldn’t shoulder the load as the Magic’s star, he has developed his game in Orlando, shooting a career best from behind the arc, adding to the value already provided by his trademark hustle and intensity on defense. With his new skill set, DeMar DeRozan and Lowry might be the pairing that Ibaka helps get over the hump and into title town.
13 Worst Place for Serge Ibaka: Oklahoma City Thunder
While the Oklahoma City Thunder could clearly use another weapon to pair with Russell Westbrook, a return from Serge Ibaka to the only NBA franchise he had ever known until this season would be ill advised. “I’m gonna tell you the truth, it’s hard sometimes when you play hard, you play you’re (butt off),” Ibaka said in a not-too-veiled comment about OKC star Russell Westbrook towards the end of last season. “You play so hard on defense, then you come to offense and you’re going to be out there in the corner for four, five, six, sometimes eight minutes and you don’t touch the ball. We human, man. It’s hard.”
Ibaka also had perhaps his worst season in his final year with the Thunder, which was the first under current coach Billy Donovan. Its unlikely a return to OKC is in the cards, and it would be unlikely to be smooth if it somehow occurred.
12 Best Place for Gordon Hayward: Boston Celtics
There are a lot of people who are down on the Boston Celtics for not pulling the trigger on a trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George leading up this year’s deadline, perceived as a gift to the team they are chasing, the Cleveland Cavaliers. But it’s easy to speculate the team is waiting on Gordon Hayward to become an option via free agency, as the former Butler star has a relationship with current Celtics (and former Bulldogs) coach Brad Stevens that dates back to his middle school playing days. Boston will easily be able to clear enough cap room to make a max offer, and fans even began cheering Hayward in his most recent visit (prompting perhaps future teammate Jae Crowder to take to Twitter to write “HOME TEAM FANS CHEERING FOR OPPOSING PLAYERS NOW.. AW MAN.”)
We think both the Cavs and Crowder’s tune will change when Hayward, Isaiah Thomas, and Al Horford are pouring in buckets in a suddenly competitive East. There’s also the key added element of the Celtics keeping the possible upcoming #1 overall pick in the NBA draft, a gift from the team with the current worst record in the league, the Brooklyn Nets. So add Washington’s Markelle Fultz or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and suddenly Boston is hosting a Golden-State-like “Big Four” backed up by a deep bench.
11 Worst Place for Gordon Hayward: Utah Jazz
Its perhaps unfair to list the Utah Jazz as “worst” for Gordon Hayward, but early reports indicate it will be a two team race for his signing this off season, and despite the growth by both team and star, Boston is just a better opportunity.
After making his first All-Star game this season, Hayward will likely finish the season averaging more than 20 points per game for the first time in his career. For the team’s part, it is practically a foregone conclusion they will clinch their first winning record since 2012-13 in the coming days, and will far exceed a .500 record by the end of the year. And as we referenced earlier, Hayward and George Hill (see #12), when they are on the court together, are nearly unbeatable. Still, re-signing Hill and continuing to develop Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood gives the Jazz a strong future regardless, and one can only hope they could use the financial flexibility afforded by losing Hayward to not miss a beat in their continued growth, should that realty come to fruition.
10 Best Place for Kyle Lowry: Philadelphia 76ers
“The Process” seemed oh-so-close to coming together this season in Philadelphia. But then, star center Joel Embiid went down with a knee contusion and will have missed about six weeks total before his estimated early March return. Nerlens Noel, an under-utilized young talent, was traded to the Dallas Mavericks (prompting a “TRUST THE PROCESS !!!!” tweet from his friend Embiid). And then, just days later, #1-overall-pick Ben Simmons was ruled out for the season with a foot injury.
The Sixers will look to 2017-18 then, for the core that also includes big man Jahlil Okafor and forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric, to rise together. So what’s the one thing missing from all this talent? The one loose end that can tie this power-to-be together? How about a veteran All-Star point guard who will also be coming back from a big injury and just happens to be from North Philly. Enter Kyle Lowry. “There's a big pride coming from North Philly," Lowry recently said. "To be honest, it's an amazing feeling.” It could be about to get a lot better, with bringing the first title in over thirty years back to his hometown.
9 Worst Place for Kyle Lowry: Toronto Raptors
Its not that we don’t see a title chance in Toronto for its current core, we do (see Ibaka, Serge on this list). Its only that Kyle Lowry will turn 31 this season, and is playing in his 11th year in the league. Plain and simple, there aren’t many chances left for him to lead a franchise to glory, and while it might be crazy to many that he depart from the chemistry, talent, and success that he has shared with DeMar DeRozan in the Raptors backcourt for the last four seasons, the higher upside is actually in his hometown. No matter how much better things get up north, there are few weapons like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and company to be had in taking down the powerhouse in Cleveland. Toronto is a great team, but the 76ers might become once-in-a-generation good.
Say it with us now. Kyle, its time to “TRUST THE PROCESS.”
8 Best Place for Chris Paul: New Orleans Pelicans
Reports are that Chris Paul has already verbally agreed to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and its just a waiting game now for the new collective bargaining agreement to kick in this offseason. And certainly, a healthy foursome of DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, J. J. Redick and Paul coming together for another shot at hated rival Golden State sounds enticing, but that’s also the problem. The foursome rarely stays on the court together - this season, for instance has only seen 30 such games out of a possible 62 as of this writing.
If the New Orleans Pelicans let Jrue Holiday walk in free agency (maybe even to the Clippers), a return from Chris Paul to be the ultimate floor general to the franchise for whom he starred from 2005-2011 would be a great move on both player and team’s part. A finally healthy Anthony Davis has played in all but four of his team’s games this season while DeMarcus Cousins has appeared in all but two. Their talent is undeniable, and its not hard to imagine that a veteran star of Paul’s intelligence and ability would be the piece that allows them to put it all together with a healthy trio, allowing them a true shot at taking down Steph Curry and company.
7 Worst Place for Chris Paul: New York Knicks
We strongly urge CP3 to avoid any temptation he might feel to jump to another huge media market and play alongside his buddy Carmelo Anthony. Derrick Rose will be a free agent this off-season, so the point guard position will be open, and there’s no question that Kristaps Porzingis’ emergence would make the Knicks an above average, if not a very good team with the addition of Chris Paul.
But Anthony is showing signs of decline as he finishes his fourteenth season in the league, and his dramatic back and forth with team president Phil Jackson about whether or not he would waive his no trade clause seems to indicate his relationship with the Knicks front office is broken. Its hard not to look at the addition of Paul therefore as a big favor to a New York franchise in shambles, which is not a good reason for a player of his caliber to sign as he enters what would likely be his final contract of his prime.
6 Best Place for Blake Griffin: Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake Griffin was born and raised in Oklahoma City before starring fat the University of Oklahoma. He was then drafted #1 overall in the 2009 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers and the five-time All Star hasn’t looked back. Now, reportedly, alongside All-Star teammate Chris Paul, Griffin has verbally committed to return to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he apparently has some media ventures he would like to see through in Hollywood. He also reportedly finds the couple of times a year he plays in his hometown draining because of all the family and friends commitments.
We’d recommend Griffin get over it. His ability to create opportunities for himself as a big and his end-to-end athleticism make him a perfect compliment for Russell Westbrook right now. We have also detailed previously why we think the Clippers will not put it together with this current squad, and Griffin’s health has been a big part of that. A change of scenery might not alter that, but if it did… look out
5 Worst Place for Blake Griffin: Orlando Magic
There have been some rumors and ideas posited by the press in the past year or two of a trade of Blake Griffin from the LA Clippers to, among other teams, the Orlando Magic. Much like the idea of teammate CP3 to the New York Knicks, while the idea of Griffin operating a pick and roll with Evan Fournier and becoming an athletic duo with Aaron Gordan would be music to Orlando fans ears, it wouldn’t be such a good plan for the star. The Clippers have thrived at times when one of their two big stars is shouldering the load without the other healthy, but the Magic are a team that simply doesn’t have the pieces to enable Griffin to be “the man” on a title contender. Orlando has been on the bottom half of the league on team defense this season, and that is with the highly reputable Serge Ibaka playing at power forward for most of the year. Blake is a better defensive player than most people give him credit for, but the overall weakness of the Magic on that end of the ball would only be further exposed with his addition.
4 Stephen Curry: Golden State Warriors
After years of being a discount star for the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry is about to get paid. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, he will be eligible for a five-year-deal worth approximately $207 million if he re-signs with the team, and only about $135 million over four with any other club.
But its more than the money, of course. Curry has an opportunity to write a chapter of NBA history that has never been written before if both he and Kevin Durant re-sign for long term deals. Together they might put a giant halt on LeBron James and his commanding run of titles as the NBA’s primary star, and team for a run of their own that could tie or even pass him. There is no better ticket than the one to Oracle Arena the past few years, and Curry would be crazy to give up that level of success and adoration. Perhaps that’s why on his first day of practice this year he pledged to re-sign with the club and reiterated earlier this season “it’s hard to see myself anywhere else.”
3 Worst Place for Stephen Curry: Charlotte Hornets
If there was an “anywhere else” for Curry, speculation has it that it would be a return to the city in which he was raised, where his parents live, and where he still owns a home, Charlotte, North Carolina. “It’s on my radar,” he said of signing with the Hornets earlier this season.
Of course, there are a couple of obvious problems with this idea. Charlotte already has one three-point heaving All-Star point guard, Kemba Walker, manning the only position in which they probably don’t need an upgrade. The second problem is inherent in the first; the team is just not very good, as it figures to miss the playoffs entirely for the tenth time in its thirteen year history. In fact, when Curry visited Charlotte for his final NBA game there this season before he becomes a free agent, reporters only asked if “come home to the Hornets” was something he heard a lot, not if he would actually consider it. Perhaps they know what his answer would be at this point anyway, so why bother asking at all?
2 Best Place for Kevin Durant: Golden State Warriors
It seems likely Kevin Durant will use his player option to renegotiate with the Warriors this off-season for a max or near-max deal (perhaps taking a small discount to make sure Stephen Curry gets paid too). While his scoring average is down from his final season with Oklahoma City, advance statistics show that outside of his MVP winning 2013-14 performance, Durant may have never been as valuable as he was before he went down indefinitely with an MCL sprain. That year he lead the NBA in Win Share per 48 minutes at .295; this season he once again was leading the league (as of this writing), albeit slightly lower at .277. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus was the best its ever been by a large margin, which in simple terms means that this is the first time in KD’s career that his immense value hasn’t been overwhelmingly based on his offensive performance.
A team that helps one of the NBA’s shining stars actually improve his game mid-career and should help him win his first NBA title (assuming he returns for the playoffs, as expected), and maybe even a few more in the years to come? There’s no argument to be had there.
1 Worst Place for Kevin Durant: Oklahoma City Thunder
Kendrick Perkins, a well-liked and frequent peace making ex-teammate of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, recently made headlines when he said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if KD returned to the Oklahoma City Thunder “in the near future.” Of course, Perkins also admitted to believing that Durant was going to sign this past offseason with the Washington Wizards or San Antonio Spurs in the same interview, so its questionable how much we can trust his predictive abilities.
And while the Russell Westbrook/Kevin Durant feud has been perhaps overblown, and KD’s ties to the Oklahoma City community are well chronicled, the fact remains that no matter how guilty the star feels about his departure or how strong the pull would be to prove that he doesn’t need his “Death Team” running mates to win a title, he shouldn’t return to the Thunder. He has proven this year he can still be an honest-to-god MVP candidate even when foregoing a couple of shots a game to the shooters around him. He is a stronger overall player in Golden State and has a chance to chase long-term glory like few before him have had.
If that’s not a reason to sign with a club, we don’t know what is.
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