While Kevin Durant is set to take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA’s Western Conference finals tonight, rumors are swirling regarding his upcoming free agency. With the series tied at 1-1, Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder have already gone further this year than many analysts expected. As the top free agent this summer, Durant has already been linked to numerous teams including the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Boston Celtics. While all of those teams are likely to pursue Durant, the Miami Heat are apparently making him their top priority.
Durant has been asked numerous times over the past few months about his upcoming free agency, and he has, more often than not, declined to provide any specifics. While certain reporters have stated that Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City would come down to how the Thunder performed in their series against the Spurs, nothing has been officially confirmed. After surprising everybody and defeating the Spurs, the Thunder now have a realistic chance to accomplish Durant’s ultimate goal of winning a championship.
Regardless of how the Thunder finish this season, there is still a chance that he could decide to join a new team. As NBC Sports reports, Dan Le Batard of ESPN believes that the Heat want to build around Durant.
“The plan is and always has been: Go after Durant and free everything up – so much so that you insulted your superstar this offseason by telling Dwyane Wade no on multiple years, even though that’s what he wanted. Dwyane, who deserves more of your allegiances as business and a company and management than Chris Bosh does. Because the whole thing is get in a room with Durant after this season. What I’m telling you, no matter how much you laugh at it, is that the Heat is getting in the room with Durant.”
While Dwayne Wade has been an elite player for the Heat for a very long time, the NBA is a business. At 34-years-old, Wade is no longer the same player that he once was. Wade is still extremely productive, but it would be a mistake to give him money that could be used on Durant. While Wade and Durant would likely play well together, the Heat view Durant as the more important of the two. If the Heat manage to sign Durant, it is likely that they would still be able to come to an agreement with Wade.
After finishing with a record of 48-34, the Heat could be a surprisingly attractive destination for Durant. In addition to playing in the easier Eastern Conference, the Heat’s roster is also more talented than many would imagine. While 32-year-old Chris Bosh has gone through serious health concerns in recent years, he is expected to return to the Heat next season, as reported by Fansided. Goran Dragic is also another solid piece that can score and distribute the basketball. Durant would instantly make them a contender for the Eastern Conference.
While money has not often been discussed when it comes to Durant’s free agency, Miami is one of the more attractive destinations in the league. Since there is no state income tax in Florida, Durant would be able to save millions of dollars.
While the Heat will get a room with Durant, it is going to come down to how well the organization can sell him on their team. As the Miami Herald reports, the Heat know that it is going to be difficult to convince him to leave the Thunder.
“Though the Heat fully intends to make a run at Kevin Durant in July, it privately knows that Durant signing with Miami this summer is a longshot. That made it easier for Riley to say that Whiteside is the priority this summer.”
Regardless, a lot can change over the next few months, and rumors connecting the Miami Heat to Kevin Durant will continue to heat up. Winning the championship could potentially make Durant’s decision to stay in Oklahoma City a lot easier, but Miami offers unique advantages that no other organization in the NBA does.
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