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Kevin Durant’s Free Agency: The Most Interesting Man in The World

Kevin Durant's free agency has been a highly discussed topic the past few days. Which team will the superstar forward ultimately decide to sign with?

For a few days this summer Kevin Durant will steal the “most interesting man in the world championship belt” from Elon Musk. No he won’t have the finished Iron Man suit, but he’ll have something just as alluring: the complete attention of the basketball universe. Don’t believe me, a web search of Kevin Durant churns out 25.9 million results, with headlines like, “Who’s in, who’s likely out in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes,” and a mixed bag of related searches appearing too: Kevin Durant Knicks, Kevin Durant Warriors, Kevin Durant Pacers, and Kevin Durant bench press. Yes, you saw that correctly: Kevin Durant Pacers! That was Saturday, today 29.2 million results.

Kevin Durant’s Free Agency: The Most Interesting Man in The World

Durant is highly coveted, and rightfully so. Switch him to just about any team, and they become instant title contenders. Miami can roll out a starting five of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow, Durant, Hassan Whiteside, with Josh McRoberts off the bench, and possibly Chris Bosh, if he’s healthy.[1] Where does that put them, top three contenders with odds on favorite? Place him on the Warriors with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and the rest of that group and can’t you see them rolling off two or three straight titles with a bunch of this is totally unfair groans from the rest of the league? Where’s David Stern when we need a veto!

Quick tanget: Why wouldn’t free agent LeBron James just wait until after Durant’s decision to make his? He’s now in a race against time to climb the all-time best ladder. Money no longer matters. He’s already passed Larry Bird, and now turning the corner headed for Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s section. If Durant joins the Warriors, James has to trade Kevin Love if he stays in Cleveland. It’s all wait and see.

But isn’t it interesting Durant’s initial meeting list only consisted of Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Golden State then ballooned to Boston, Miami, and the Clippers. Like he was saying, “Hey, I want to win championships immediately, play for a good coach, but I still want to hear from the smarter teams too.” That’s why Boston, Miami, and the Clippers made the final cut, but teams like Washington (shaky coach), Lakers and Knicks (shaky owners) and Philadelphia (everything) didn’t.

But what exactly are the Celtics, Heat, and Clippers pitching? Let’s break it down, along with the other suitors.

The Outsiders

Boston Celtics

In some order: Gregg Popovich, Brad Stevens, Steve Kerr, and Rick Carlisle. There’s your Mount Rushmore of modern NBA coaches. Luckily for Boston, they can toss in a Mount Rushmore NBA Executive to throw at Durant too: Danny Ainge. But Durant needs to win now. Sure Isaiah Thomas is great, and a solid Jae Crowder is enticing but the rest of the pieces aren’t enough, unless Ainge has a master plan heading into next summer’s hot free agent market (a possible $60 million in cap room for 2017). However, Boston’s recent acquisition of Al Horford may make things interesting.

Sorry Boston, you are the weakest link.

Los Angeles Clippers

The shakiest of the bunch. If you’re Durant aren’t you worried about the health of Blake? Aren’t you worried he might not come back one hundred percent? That’s a huge gamble considering Durant’s just a little over one year removed from a broken foot.

True story: During the summer of 2014 when free agent Carmelo Anthony visited the Bulls, he walked through the gym to see Derrick Rose practicing at game speed – like he was showcasing to Anthony he was still the same guy from before the ACL tear. After a sit down and discussion with Rose about joining forces, Anthony finished up his visit. I’m not sure what was said, but I’m pretty sure Rose’s injury was discussed. A couple of days later Anthony re-signed with the Knicks, and Rose still hasn’t looked the same.

You just never really know with injuries. Especially considering these are freak athletes relying heavily on their freak athleticism. Remove that and suddenly they drop from perennial All-Star to role player. So the Clippers are showcasing an iffy Blake Griffin, a thirty one year old Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan – a big four that doesn’t make sense on paper and will be a handful trying to maximize. Are we sure Durant is really considering this option?

Miami Heat

Most interesting of the group. Sure they can trot out a devastating starting five with solid backups to boost, but if this is the play going forward doesn’t signing with Golden State make much more sense? For instance:

Miami – Dragic, Wade, Winslow, Durant, and Whiteside.

Golden State – Curry, Thompson, Durant, Draymond, and Bogut.

Add an experimental/innovative Steve Kerr, an overrated Erik Spoelstra – who never truly figured out how to maximize his roster – and if you’re Durant don’t the Warriors win in a landslide?

Velvet Rope Club

San Antonio Spurs

I’m not saying Durant signing with San Antonio wouldn’t be a huge win, but doesn’t Mike Conley [2] make more sense. Sure Popovich has always been great about figuring out how best to use his personnel, but the reason why the Spurs were ousted by Oklahoma City was because they could only conjure up one vintage Tony Parker performance (Game 3: 19 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds, only 1 turnover). Signing with the Spurs doesn’t necessarily make them overwhelming favorites, it just makes them favorites.

Golden State Warriors

All-Time Team coming off 73 wins and one suspension of routing the Cavaliers, which by the way if Draymond Green isn’t suspended no way that series goes past five games. Everything points toward a Why Wouldn’t You Sign With the Warriors???, well unless…

Oklahoma City Thunder

Here’s the simplest and most no-brainer question of them all: Why wouldn’t he just run it back? Again, he now has the best team even without the added Victor Oladipo upgrade. They got within 2 minutes of The NBA Finals with becoming heavy favorites to win that series and Durant’s first championship. And he can sign a multi year offer with a one year out clause to weigh his options next year with Russell Westbrook. So maybe everything isn’t just about winning a championship right now, and that’s why he took those extra meetings with Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles – to hear what they had planned LONG TERM. That’s what makes his next move so interesting. So maybe the question shouldn’t be where’s he headed this summer, but where he’s headed next summer.

[1] 2017 Cap Projected at $108 million. That’s a $16 million jump from 2016’s salary cap ($92 million). So yes it is possible Durant could take a cut this summer, somewhere between 26 and $15 million, to win a title with next year being seeing him get a raise.

[2] Doesn’t this make Conley the second most interesting free agent!? A San Antonio move vaults them back into legitimate contender status with Cleveland, Golden State, and Oklahoma City. A move to the Lakers along with a D’Angelo Russell or Brandon Ingram trade, and a super free agent signing propels them back into contender status. So many possibilities.


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