Oklahoma City’s great season should be enough to keep Kevin Durant on Oklahoma City for at least another season
The race is on.
After being up three games to one the Oklahoma City Thunder choked away the series and the biggest free agent this year is now officially on the market. Teams won’t be able to start meeting with him yet, however, the rumors about Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook not being able to co-exist, or where Durant will land this off-season, can now start.
Heading into the playoffs the Thunder were the third seed in the Western Conference but there seemed to be an obvious gap between them and the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. Yet, somehow, the Thunder were able to shock the Spurs in the second round and were a Klay Thompson career-night away from heading to the NBA Finals for the second time in Durant’s career.
There have been non-stop rumors about Durant signing with numerous teams this off-season – including the Boston Celtics – or him signing a one-year deal then signing a bigger max contract next summer. Now more than ever I think that Durant is going to stay in Oklahoma City, for at least one more season.
Despite not making the NBA Finals, I believe Durant realizes how close they were. Heck, they beat the Spurs three straight times and then won three of four against the Warriors. Like previously noted, they were a couple of fourth quarter blown leads and a good game from Westbrook in Game 7 away from still being alive.
The Thunder could bring back almost the same team next season if Durant stays. Randy Foye is the only unrestricted free agent and Dion Waiters and Anthony Morrow have team options, however, the core will stay the same.
That should mean a lot to Durant who saw Steven Adams and Enes Kanter step up in the playoffs down low. As well as Andre Roberson, despite being a streaky shooter, put together a lot of good defensive games.
The Thunder have a very good core and, unless he goes to Golden State, Durant won’t find a better sidekick than Russell Westbrook. The Los Angeles Lakers don’t have anyone that can be considered a star and even Isaiah Thomas for the Celtics would be a downgrade. He is a score first point guard just like Westbrook but he doesn’t impact the game in as many ways.
Also, the Lakers would become a lot better but wouldn’t be competing for a title. Joining the Celtics would make them one of the best teams in the East, however, Durant would still have to get by LeBron James. It’s not to say that it’s impossible but James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are still a huge roadblock like Golden State, who they would still have to face in the Finals.
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The fact of the matter is a rookie head coach led them one game away from the NBA Finals and they received a lot of help from the supporting cast. Also, believing that Westbrook and Durant can’t play together is ludicrous after the stretch they just put together. It may not have been pretty at times but there’s no doubting they have a chance at reaching the Finals again if they both stay and guide Oklahoma City.
Other than the fact that Oklahoma City is coming off a great postseason run, Durant would be smart to sign a one-year max contract and then hit the market again next season. He would make more money signing a long-term max contract next season and then would see where Russell Westbrook signs.
Kevin Durant would also be able to see how the Thunder stack up next season and if he feels Billy Donovan will be able to get them over the hump.
It’s fun to dream that Durant will come to Boston next season and help lead them to banner number 18. It seems more likely than ever that Durant will return to Oklahoma City though. Maybe he’ll surprise everyone and head to Boston but it’s hard to believe he’ll leave the only team he’s ever played for after being a game away from the Finals.