Hawks dreaming of Kevin Durant but OKC may be his best option

Forward Kevin Durant may have played his final game with the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night as he officially will become an unrestricted free agent soon. (AP photo)

Forward Kevin Durant may have played his final game with the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night as he officially will become an unrestricted free agent soon. (AP photo)

According to many keyboard-banging reactionaries on Twitter, Kevin Durant morphed into a no-show choke artist and a “non-closer” down the stretch of Oklahoma City’s Western Conference finals loss to Golden State.

Tell that to any of NBA’s 30 ownership groups, general managers and coaches and I’m pretty sure you’ll get the same response: “I’ll take him.”

Durant led Oklahoma City with 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting. The worst thing that could be said about him was he didn’t take enough shots. But the Thunder lost Game 7 to the Warriors Monday night, thereby blowing a 3-1 series lead. So Golden State moves on to the NBA finals and Durant officially becomes an unrestricted free agent soon.

Depending on what rumor you believe, Durant is headed for either Miami, Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston or …. I don’t know, let’s go crazy … Atlanta.

Before getting to what the Hawks’ realistic chances are in all this derby, let me state what I believe is going to happen: Durant’s not going anywhere.

Few teams are in a better position right now than Oklahoma City to win NBA titles. I understand this is a team that has fallen short several times over the last six years (losing once in the league finals, three times in the conference finals). But the Thunder eliminated San Antonio and led the Warriors 3-1 before seemingly reverting to their old two-man basketball selves. Coach Billy Donovan made significant progress in his first season and he’ll try to convince Durant that will continue next season.

There’s also the money factor: OKC can give Durant a five-year max contract worth a projected $149 million. Competing teams in free agency can offer only a four-year deal worth about $111 million.

But let’s say Durant does want out. Where does he go (either via free agency or a sign-and-trade)? Two finals teams, Cleveland and Golden State, can’t fit him in their payroll unless they radically change their roster. The Warriors also know Steph Curry becomes a free agent next year.

The Hawks, led by owner Tony Ressler, are expected to make a strong push for Durant. A front line with Durant, Paul Millsap and Al Horford would make the Hawks an immediate title contender, regardless of what decisions they make in the backcourt with Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder. But several teams — particularly Miami, Boston and San Antonio — will try to convince Durant that he’s the final piece to their title hopes. I’m not sure the Hawks are in any better position than those teams.

My view is that even though the Thunder blew the conference finals, what they accomplished this season will convince Durant to stay where he is. But that won’t stop the Hawks and almost every other team from making their pitch.

Recent ramblings from the Digital Jukebox

Reader Comments 0

31 comments
Ficklefan
Ficklefan

The Hawks absolutely need at least one bona fide super star to compete at the next level. The team basketball has been fun to watch, and while many fans, including me, wish that it could become a dominating force in the league, in the NBA it never will. 


One reason (of several reasons)  is that getting the advantage of the favorable calls - absolutely critical in order to advance in the play offs in the tight games - which carefully managed by the carefully instructed NBA game refs, and the video refs in New York, will never happen unless you have a bona fide super star in the mix. For example, if Schruder had been Steph Curry when he was slapped in the face by Isaiah Smith, then Smith would have sat out at least one game of the series with the Celtics. 


That said, after watching Durant, who is a great player and a bona fide super star by any definition, the Hawks should not go all out for him. His performance in the last two games (and Westbrook's) of the series with Golden State should certainly disqualify him. His play in the closing minutes of games 6 (especially 6) and in game 7 is the exact opposite of what is needed from a bona fide super star being paid the mega bucks to bring home the bacon. 


He choked (and so did Westbrook) when he absolutely needed to step up and be the leader and the super star who makes getting into the final series possible. No way that Golden State should be in championship series now, and they have Durant to thank. As he ages, this problem will not improve. Don't go there Hawks. 

tyger
tyger

Hawks Easy Button 2.0


Shroder      Meeks       Whitehead #44

Hardaway  Korver       McCaw #21

Rudy Gay   Poythress #54  

Humphries Teletovic   Bargnani

Horford       Splitter      Tavares


https://youtu.be/isuF7yvyCko

Stinger2
Stinger2

Jeff: Re. your reference about those who are saying that Durant and OKC "choked" with that 3-1 game lead: My opinion is that what beat OKC was the fact that GS has the two best outside the circle shooters in NBA history. The Thunder held Klay T. and S. Curry at bay at times in the series. but they simply did not have enough defensive ability left in the 3rd and fourth quarters last night to stop them. The Thunder did not blow it...the Warriors won it because of their superior scoring ability when it was needed.  


All of above said, I agree with you...Durant is going no where.

slydawg
slydawg

You blow games, not an entire series. He choked by not rising up to greatness. Klay and Steph still have to hot those shots, just like the games have to be played.

SquawTho
SquawTho

No one can argue that Durant has more raw talent around him now than he'd have at any other realistic destination. And money matters will always lurk. But here's the case for Atlanta:


1. Eastern Conference. It would take monumental collapses for this Hawks team + Durant not to cruise to the ECF yearly, where they'd face an aging Lebron James-led squad yearly. Give me that any day of the week over dealing with these historically good Warriors and Spurs teams, not to mention LAC, Houston, Portland, etc. If there's a chance in hell you survive that, you're meeting the well-rested Cavs in the Finals anyways. I like my chances against 2 elite teams more than I like my chances against 3-4. 


2. Is there a better Eastern Conference fit for Durant than Atlanta? Seriously? A top-4 East team that's done it pretty easily without a superstar because they have the mastermind young Pop-schooled 2015 COTY and blue collar egoless guys from top to bottom. Two lightning quick pass-first point guards who can both score well enough to keep defenses honest. A two-way stud in Bazemore who is poised to peak next season. One of the best long range shooters in league history in Korver. And without doubt the best shooting frontcourt in the the league with Millsap (a top-15 player) and Horford (best marksman at the C position). That last bit is the huge difference between Atl and teams like Boston, Washington, Toronto, Miami. It's a scoring wing's wet dream to have 4 other dudes who will punish you *badly* for doubling or sagging off to help.


Injecting Durant into that rotation would be nothing short of manslaughter on both ends every night. We already had the best defense in the league; switching Korver out with Durant and sliding Baze to the 2 is just unfair. Offensively, all those moments when Durant kicked to a wide open Roberson or Waiters? Yeah, that's now a wide open Korver or Millsap or Horford. I'm talking about literally an unguardable team. If you let KD go 1-v-1 he'll drop 40, if you make him pass then you're still playing the exact same effing Hawks who kill teams when it's Jeff Teague or Schroder breezing into the lane and dishing out to shooters.


I know the odds of getting KD are slim to reaper, but I am fully convinced that Atlanta is every bit as good an option as any other suitor if the objective is a championship in 2-3 seasons without selling out and ganging up with the usual suspects.


DominanceGreene
DominanceGreene

@SquawTho That's exactly what I said. Who has a better team then Atlanta in the east besides maybe Cleveland? 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@DominanceGreene @SquawTho

"Maybe" Cleveland???

You're kidding, right?

And you are aware of ATL's record vs CLE the past two postseasons, right?!

Hello?


Dis custed
Dis custed

Taking his talents to Buckhead... Nahhh

Georgia also has a state income tax unlike Texas.

DominanceGreene
DominanceGreene

So let me get this straight. Yall honestly believe that okc has better talent then Atlanta. When you have KD and Westbrook scoring all the point and no back up point guard and bench to speak. I'll take the Atlanta Hawks team any day of the week before I take OKC Teams we have a better 2 guard a better pf and a better bench then that have. If KD was to come to Atlanta well go to the championship every year and win and then not to mention we can add another superstar to that mix like a Dwight Howard or Jahili Okafor. It's funny how Atlanta never have any players or talent good enough to play for us. But they'll always be a good enough fit for another team. Let me go down there and pitch to KD I'll get him to come to Atlanta.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@DominanceGreene Don't tell him you think Atlanta is better than his team because your cred will fly out the window.

decatur_g
decatur_g

@JeffSchultzAJC dreaming since the last CLE 3-pt swish at Philips Arena ...should ATL be worried about Horford joining his college coach?

slydawg
slydawg

They should make a strong push anyway. Atlanta teams never make a big push for any star in any sport save Greg Maddox

TOJacket
TOJacket

@slydawg Mike Vick filled that Dome up when they weren't filling it on a regular basis.

slydawg
slydawg

He was drafted; not the same thing

Jarvis7113
Jarvis7113

@slydawg You're right. Atlanta has never made a real strong push to sign a big name player. A lot of the time, they just consider themselves not in the running enough for a player to waste their time on them. I hope this new ownership at least goes for it. 

DanWeiner
DanWeiner

@JeffSchultzAJC Getting Durant is a pipe dream, but a great pitch can be a positive sign for future free agents when considering Atlanta.

DominanceGreene
DominanceGreene

It's not a pipe because as long as Golden State Is around OKC has no chance of winning the tittle