As time wound down during Memorial Day Monday’s Game Seven between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder, the large looming free agency cloud rolled in ever closer on Kevin Durant. We have been speculating for years as to where the Durantula would head if he and Russell Westbrook could not get a ring before this offseason. And now here we are, with a ringless and soon to be unrestricted free agent Kevin Durant. While every team would love to have him, there are few who have a real shot at reeling in the summer’s biggest free agent fish.
While the Warriors were wrapping up a 73 win regular season, the Lakers were sending offKobe Bryant in a Viking-style funeral pyre, in that Kobe burned down the house by dropping 60 points in his final appearance at the Staples Center. At the moment, it meant the end of an era, but it also meant the end of Kobe’s max contract. With a developing core in D’Angelo Russelland Julius Randle, the backdrop of L.A, and enough free cap space from Kobe’s retirement to comfortably eat luxury cap for at least 2016-17 season, the Lakers can afford Durant. However, the Lakers are not built for winning now, and Durant knows his championship time frame is fading, and fading fast, making Los Angeles undesirable from that angle.
After showing Randy Wittman the door following an underwhelming season to say the least, Washington brought in a face familiar to Durant: Scott Brooks. Kevin is a native of the DMV area, having played his pre-college ball at Oak Hill Academy and Montrose Christian Academy which have produced a lot of notable NBA stars. The Washington area has been heavily recruiting Durant for years for this reason, hoping Durant to make a return to the area LeBron-esque style. And while John Wall and Bradley Beal are an excellent core for Durant to lead, the Wizards are also coming off of a slump year in a weak Eastern Conference where Durant would have to play LeBron every year in the playoffs. So while a return to D.C. would be a feel-good story for natives, it is highly unlikely.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em right? While Golden State certainly doesn’t need Durant to continue winning, but having him on the payroll would certainly give the Warriors a fastpass to the NBA Finals. While some work with definitely need to be done to the payroll in order to squeeze all of the pieces together. Durant could fit nicely into the Warriors lineup while not being needed to do as much of the heavy lifting with Klay, Draymond and Steph around.
While it has yet to be announced if Tim Duncan’s final game was against KD and the Thunder in the Western Conference Semis, San Antonio needs to prepare for the future sooner rather than later. Acquiring LaMarcus Aldridge was definitely a step in the right direction, but picking up Durant would be a giant leap forward in extending a dynasty. While the San Antonio front office would have to work out some cap space for this to work, the situation is ripe with Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green and legendary Coach Popovich.
1) Oklahoma City Thunder
Why pack your bags when your best option is staying put? Westbrook is the most talented teammate he will find, with the best supporting cast in Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. Billy Donovan really showed his coaching chops in this Conference Finals series, so another full season could do wonders to Durant’s game. If I’m the OKC front office, I’m not letting Durant leave the building without making the best offer possible.
Spark Sports Editor and Analyst