Everyone is interested in signing Kevin Durant. Not everyone has the cap space available. Even less are peaking his interest. Out of all the possibilities, the choice should be between the Miami Heat, or staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Why not Golden State or San Antonio? Both teams don’t have the cap space to sign him, even if the Spurs don’t have Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and David West next season, all on player-option deals right now. There is the possibility it happens if both teams make a trade. Fit-wise, before we consider style, Durant has more space with the Warriors. In San Antonio, both the ‘3’ and ‘4’ spots are taken as can be, unless the Spurs plan on making LaMarcus Aldridge a ‘5’ at some point.
Maybe Durant goes one-year rental mode and waits for the Spurs and Warriors to have the cap space (Warriors have only $35 million committed to 2017-2018 season) and for the opportunity to sign an even bigger contract. The Spurs will be more in play at that point, while Durant also has the chance to see what’s happening around the league: Rising and declining teams, while the Thunder have another ‘last chance’ of winning a championship before both he and Westbrook leave. And who knows, maybe there’s come chance of both players hitting free agency together, and then making up their mind to sign with a team, staying as a destructive 1-2 punch.
So while we leave that intriguing scenario to a different time, let us look at other names often mentioned: The Lakers and the Knicks. Can it happen? Anything can happen? Will it happen? Wise men do not make prophecies. I’m not sure I fall into that category, but in any case, I just don’t see Durant joining teams that are more than just one year away, or one superstar away, from becoming good enough to win a championship. He’s not that patient.
Washington has always been around. The hometown option. Maybe if this season would have gone differently. But the Wizards don’t have that many pieces to pull Durant in. Him joining John Wall, Bradley Beal (restricted free agent) and Otto Porter creates a great contender in the East and someone to push the Cavs and LeBron even further, but there are just two better options it’s going to be hard for Durant to turn down: Staying in Oklahoma City, or going to Miami.
Why the Thunder? It’s obvious. It’s a championship caliber team, the place where he’s always been at, next to Russell Westbrook (who becomes a free agent a year from now), and maybe above all else: Offers more money. There’s no guarantee of a title anywhere else, and the Thunder, unless the Cavs stun us in the next three to four games, look like the most right team to beat these Warriors.
Why Miami? Pat Riley attracts players almost as well as LeBron James does. There’s depth, talent, and of course, the Miami factor, the city. The Heat are a franchise that has three championships in the last 10 years. They don’t mind paying tax if it means putting them at the next level. They’re built to win now, if they get someone like Durant, and there’s no one like Durant. Not in this free agency class at least.