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.”
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
- Will Atlanta’s role in championship events be limited to outsider?
- Hector Olivera’s suspension doesn’t fully clarify future with Braves
- Is WNBA’s expectation for success just a dream?
- Falcons bringing in Dwight Freeney for tryout (smart move)
- Teheran has been a master (0.89) but Braves still mess at home (2-18)
- Braves likely won’t look too far for their next manager
- NBA more worried about stars, TV ratings, doesn’t suspend Green
- How long should Braves wait on move to Albies, Swanson?
- Question about Braves’ front office: Who’s in charge?
- Hart, Coppolella need to overcome financial mistakes (like Wren)
- Braves’ handling of Gonzalez’s firing takes clumsy to a new level
- Fredi Gonzalez was fired because Braves needed someone to blame
- Possible vets for Falcons: Freeney, Thurmond, Hardy (not really)
- Do Braves, Falcons, Hawks inspire confidence in future? I rank them
- Poll: Which Atlanta team inspires most, least confidence in future?
- Make that 1-16 for Braves at home (where the heartache is)
- Gonzalez handling turmoil better than most (if you don’t count towel rack assault)
- Five thoughts about Ressler, Horford and Hawks moving forward
- Hawks need major change, lack a go-to star
- Hello, Game 4. Goodbye, Hawks’ season? History says yes
- When Hawks’ season wrap up, Mike Budenholzer may need some help
- Hawks better but Cavaliers are on another level
- There’s a kernel of truth to what Charles Barkley says about Hawks
- Rest of series for Hawks is about big picture
- It’s about time Coppolella, Hart take ownership of Braves’ problems
- Falcons have issues but Blank may be right about playoff projection
- Full Q&A with Arthur Blank on his health, draft and playoffs
- Arthur Blank: Falcons will be playoff team in 2016