Kevin Durant spent weeks mulling over where his next home would be and he still got it wrong. For beginners, Durant has ruined his NBA legacy with his move to Golden State.
He ditched a supremely talented Oklahoma City Thunder team that could’ve competed for the title this season with the roster moves made, which included bringing in defensive stud Victor Oladipo and stretch power-forward Ersan Ilyasova.
Durant has started a chain of moves which will unravel the Thunder franchise, the next of which will be Russell Westbrook, if he doesn’t get traded, bolting as soon as he hits the warm waters of free agency. Though there’s always fans who will look at the glass half full and appreciate all Durant has done for the city, the majority of fans probably won’t understand why Durant left, considering the quality of the team he left behind.
There’s rumors of Durant having left because Westbrook didn’t change his style of play, but as a top three player in the league, whose job is it to sit down with their best friend and closest teammate and have a heart to heart?
Durant’s non-confrontational nature made him an ineffective leader in a locker room.
For him to leave Oklahoma City to go to the very team that knocked them out of the playoffs, and in addition one that was one choke job of a series away from becoming back-to-back NBA champions, makes this decision, as Stephen A. Smith of ESPN said, one of the weakest moves made by a superstar in league history.
Many people like to compare this decision to LeBron James’ in 2010, but the movement of a super-star from one team to another is where the similarities end. Though the way in which LeBron moved was outrageous, from a basketball perspective, it doesn’t compare to Durant’s decision. James took a Miami team over the top that before he arrived still needed one more piece, going through a learning year filled with hardships in 2011 to finally reach the mountain top in 2012 and 2013.
The equivalent would have been if Durant decided to go to either Miami or Boston; instead, he decided to go a team that was going to win championships with or without him.
James did not have the pieces in Cleveland he needed to win, whereas Durant had the pieces he needed in Oklahoma City, he just refused to confront Russell Westbrook and convince him to play a more team-friendly, and winning-friendly, style of basketball.
Durant also might be going to a situation where he puts the team over the top… in a bad way.
This move is unprecedented.
We have no way of looking at the past and seeing what happens when a team of this magnitude in the Golden State Warriors adds a super-star to the three they currently already have on roster.
You’re one game away from winning an NBA title and your reaction is a total and complete over-reaction.
The Warriors, like any team which came that close to winning a second championship in as many years, needed finer tune-ups over the course of the offseason, not the introduction of a mega-star who they now have to re-configure their system around.
Durant needs the ball, he lacks Warrior-level passing ability and plain and simple, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in order to integrate him into the system.
Compare this again with if he had went to Boston.
He would be the de-facto go to in Beantown, meaning a change in system to fit him would also go hand-in-hand with benefitting the team the most.
There’s ample room for things to wrong in Golden State.
Lastly, bringing in somebody of Durant’s caliber has its consequences.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
That reaction is the loss of Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli.
— Spotrac Stats & Info (@SpotracStatInfo) July 4, 2016
With the likely returns of Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa, the rest of the Warriors roster at the time being consists of either rookies or flat-out scrubs.
Great teams win with depth, and at the moment, the addition of Durant puts the Warriors in a situation where their starters would have to play the entire game in order to pull out victories, because as soon as their bench comes in they’re going to get blown out of the water.
You’d think I’m a Boston fan by now, but I’m not.
Compare this to Boston, though.
Durant goes there and they still have sufficient funds to spend on bench players who can play their roles well, filling out a team that can compete for a Finals berth in a weaker Eastern Conference.
The Warriors’ financial situation also puts them in a situation where they’re soon going to have to choose between Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, should they both enter free agency at the same time.
Any way you cut it, the Warriors are in win-now mode.
Kevin Durant is in town for two years, if that, given his player option, and if this team with this level of star power can’t accomplish the ultimate goal, tarnished is his legacy.
Photo Credit: Sporting News