The NBA season is over, the Cleveland Cavaliers are champions (how, you ask? Watch this space), and LeBron James has cemented his legacy as potentially the greatest basketball player of all-time.
With The Finals having concluded, everyone’s attention turns to the offseason, including the draft and free agency.
Whilst LeBron is no chance to leave Cleveland again, and is expected to sign a humongous deal with the Cavaliers, the same cannot be said about Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant.
Of his impending free agency on July 2nd, Durant has said that he is not openly looking to leave Oklahoma City, but says that his decision will be a “basketball decision”.
When asked to expand on that, KD noted that both money and spotlight would take a back seat to basketball, which most assume to mean “winning”.
With this in mind, it is no surprise that the consensus around the league is that the two teams with the best chance of pulling Durant away from Oklahoma are the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.
Despite this, most experts expect him to sign a two-year deal with the Thunder with a player option in-between, meaning he and partner in crime Russell Westbrook will come off contract at the same time.
Paper talk aside, are any of the two teams mentioned above a legitimate chance of netting the services of KD?
Golden State Warriors
Let’s ignore the fact that they could not finish the Cavs off – they proved themselves more than good enough during the season, and with Durant on board, the season may as well not go ahead.
Golden State currently have eight free agents, four restricted, four unrestricted, most notably Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli.
Right now, they have just over $74 million committed for next season, which is almost nothing considering the steep cap increase over the next five seasons.
The question is not whether or not the Warriors could afford Durant. It’s whether they’re willing to run the risk of potentially upsetting an all-time core in search of something even better.
KD is the kind of player with the versatility to fit on almost any team. He’s an excellent shooter, great off the pick and roll and is big enough, long enough and athletic enough to score down low.
While he may have to sacrifice some scoring, as far as “basketball reasons” go, this is about as good as they come.
The cons of course include how close Durant and friends came to beating Golden State this season. The success they saw under first year NBA coach Billy Donovan may convince him to stay put and build what they have.
San Antonio Spurs
This one is a bit more peculiar, as San Antonio already have Kawhi Leonard, the best small forward in the league after KD.
Even if they choose to play Durant and Leonard next to each other, they still have 34 year old point guard Tony Parker, 30 year old power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and 40 year old centre Tim Duncan, who is no promise to go on next year as it is.
They also have age on the bench, with Manu Ginobili (38), David West (35) and Boris Diaw (34).
Not one to doubt anything the Spurs do, it still seems anti-intuitive to pursue Durant on outrageous money (not something San Antonio usually do) when other areas of the court need looking after first.
The Spurs also have around $82.5 million committed for next year, which again, is not a tonne, but is almost $10 million more than the Warriors.
An optimist looks at this and sees a great opportunity for KD to be unleashed by having the green light ahead of everyone else on the court, which is not something he has completely in OKC or Golden State.
He also has a lot of defensive pressure taken off his shoulders, with one of the league’s best defenders in Kawhi Leonard taking the best offensive player on the court.
Again, it would be odd to see Durant leave town for a team that he beat this season, but with San Antonio’s track record for extending careers, it may indeed be in his best interest.
What do you think? Are any of these destinations listed a better fit for KD than Oklahoma City? Have your say in the comments section below.