Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know that Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is the NBA’s most sought after free agent all summer sixteen. He is a transcendent talent in the prime of his career, a 4-time scoring champion and the 2014 MVP award recipient.  The summer of Durant is the biggest free agent frenzy since Lebron James’ decision in 2010, when he announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach. As an unrestricted free agent, KD has earned the right to freely choose his basketball home. However, there will be vast ramifications felt throughout the league and to his legacy if he were to leave Oklahoma City.

Impact on the NBA landscape

I personally am of the belief that KD should just stay put in OKC. The Thunder were just one win away from reaching the NBA finals before losing (choking away) against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. However if he does decide to leave, the impact will be felt around the league. Going to an Eastern Conference team will only simplify his path to reaching the NBA finals, and would make whatever team he goes to an instant chief rival for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both, the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat have face to face meetings scheduled with Durant and his agent and the New York Knicks are desperately trying to line up to plea for his services as well. All three options will make the teams equipped for deep playoff runs if Durant joined one of their rosters but if any would be better than the team he would be leaving is questionable. 

If KD were to go to another Western Conference team, he will simply be making the rich richer. The San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors will be pitching to Durant this weekend and even the Clippers have secured a pitch meeting. All three teams are title contenders without Durant, and the Spurs and Warriors won two of the last three NBA championships. Durant joining either roster will undoubtedly make that team the proverbial favorite to dethrone the newly crowned Cavaliers next season. Taking all into consideration, Durant going east will seem to level out the balance of power, and staying in the west by joining another team would make the top teams even more of a juggernaut.

Legacy decision

Herein in lies the part of KD’s decision that will define the rest of his career. Without question, staying in OKC will be viewed as the more sensible and admirable choice. The Oklahoma Thunder were just one win shy of the NBA Finals just this past season and the team has already improved its roster by trading for Victor Olidipo. Durant has proven to be quite a tandem with Russel Westbrook, as the pair led the Thunder the NBA finals in 2011.  His partnership with Westbrook, though often criticized, may be the best 1/2 punch dynamic other than LeBron/Kyrie. Durant and Westbrook are both in the prime of their careers and are universally regarded as two of the premier top ten players in the league. They have a young but wise, Head Coach in Billy Donovan, one of the best front offices in the league, and a fan base that has embraced the team better than some major market cities have their own teams. At the end of the day it comes down to what matters most to KD.

Durant has stated in multiple interviews that winning is his number one priority. That can be deciphered in a few different ways. Now the “easiest” and least respectable path to the winners table would arguably be to join the Warriors. They will essentially have the same team returning next season and they have played in the last two NBA Finals,winning it in 2015. The Spurs are always in the hunt as well, as they have the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award winner in Kwahi Leonard. He also happens to play the same position as Durant. If Kevin does opt to take the“easy” path to a ring by joining an established Golden State or San Antonio team it would only hurt his legacy, as that is not something that the “GOATs” usually do. LeBron James still deals with the harsh criticism he received for him jumping ship on his hometown team in 2010, in reason to form a superteam with other super stars. James, seemingly has redeemed himself and rescued his legacy by returning home to win a championship. If Durant does sign with the Warriors or Spurs we can count on his decision being scrutinized heavily for a very long time. He would be labeled as that superstar who wasn’t good enough to lead a team to a championship. Because the Spurs and Warriors have both experienced championship success without Durant it is difficult to not view his contributions as simply extra icing on an already tasty cake. Would KD be comfortable with being an “extra” if it means having a championship on his resume? Only he knows, but I am sure that the majority of NBA fans, media and pundits will always hold it against him.


If I were a betting man, I would say KD resigns with OKC on a two-year deal with an opt-out option for the final year. If that happens we will find ourselves having the same conversation next year about not only Kevin Durant but also Russell Westbrook. Ah, the summer of 2017 will be awesome.

~Ray Simpson

Where do you guys think Kevin Durant should play next season?

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