With NBA free agency soon to heat up, countless teams have set their eyes on signing Kevin Durant. Although some teams will not even receive a meeting with Durant, it is important to note that he has accepted meeting with at least two other teams along with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Of course, Durant’s possible exit will attract the biggest of pitches from suitors looking to steal Durant away from the Thunder. According to ESPN, the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs will be armed with noteworthy assets in their attempts to lure Durant to a new city this summer.
“The Warriors and Spurs, sources say, are both planning to load a plane full of key organizational figures — including Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for Golden State and Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan for San Antonio — to fly to an undisclosed location once free-agency season starts to try to lure Durant away from the only franchise he has ever played for.”
Still, despite what it looks like on paper, there are serious concerns with Durant joining either team. If Durant joins the Warriors, he is likely to receive a lot of backlash for joining a 73-win team and current rival. Furthermore, if Durant was to choose Golden State, the Warriors would have to make several salary cap cutting moves, which would hamper Golden State’s unparalleled depth. Role players like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala would likely be traded in return for Durant’s addition. On the other hand, San Antonio would have to make similar cost-cutting moves in order to have the space for Durant. Players like Danny Green and Boris Diaw are players who could be traded for this marriage to become possible. Durant teaming up with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge would certainly be newsworthy, but the team’s age and depth beyond those three stars would be a concern.
— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) June 25, 2016
Despite the inevitable strong pitches from both the Warriors and Spurs, the frontrunner for Durant still looks like the Thunder. Durant is more familiar with Oklahoma City than any other team, and a recent addition of Victor Oladipo could seal the deal for the Thunder.
As The Vertical discusses, Durant had no problem with trading Serge Ibaka. Although Ibaka had been on the team since 2009 with Durant, many around the league think that Ibaka’s relationship with several key with the Thunder went downhill this past season as Ibaka grew more and more discontent with his role. Ibaka was expecting a bigger role under Billy Donovan, a notion that never came to fruition. Because of this, it was unlikely that Ibaka would re-sign with Oklahoma City next summer anyways. Instead, Ibaka was traded for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the rights to Domantas Sabonis.
Other than showing the urgency to trade for Oladipo, the Thunder can also offer Durant more money than any other team due to bird rights. In the very least, Durant is expected to sign with Oklahoma City for one year and explore his options once again next summer.
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) June 25, 2016
Ultimately, Durant’s decision will hinge on how much weight he puts on the Thunder’s improvement this postseason. Oklahoma City exposed the Warriors in taking the defending champions to seven games. The Thunder showed that their personnel was capable of giving Golden State fits, and another year under Donovan could be all that is needed for Oklahoma City to make an appearance in the NBA Finals. With a disgruntled Ibaka traded and a budding guard in Oladipo added, the Thunder have a whole lot of selling points to pitch to Durant.
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