The free agency of NBA superstar Kevin Durant has created a rumor firestorm that has not been seen since LeBron James and The Decision.
Perhaps one of the most coveted free agents in league history, Durant could be looking for a new team this offseason. After constant shortcomings in Oklahoma City, Durant plans to explore his options in hopes of finding a team that can catapult him to an NBA title.
According to multiple reports, Durant has a list of six teams that he is meeting with in New York over the coming weeks: the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers. While he hasn’t said so himself yet, it’s also widely assumed that Durant will have a face-to-face meeting with Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks. Durant starts an international tour on July 9th, and is said to be looking to have made his decision by that time.
That being said, which of the seven teams in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes are the most likely destinations? We ranked ’em, you debate ’em:
7. New York Knicks
Considered to have the worst shot of all the teams pursuing Durant, the Knicks are on the outside looking in. They might not have an official meeting with Durant yet, but they’ve apparently put themselves on his radar after the acquisition of Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls last week. Carmelo Anthony is also one of Durant’s best friends in the league, and he’s also known to have an affinity for Kristaps Porzingis – who he called a “unicorn”, due to his unique style.
6. Boston Celtics
All those free crab legs still might not convince KD that the green and white is right for him. Durant has long been infatuated with the city of Boston and Celtics fans, but the team’s young core might not be the best pairing for him to win-now. However, the Celtics are the only team that can pay up for 2 max free agents this summer; something that could come into play.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
Can Doc Rivers bring KD to LA? The Clippers certainly employ a win-now culture with the likes of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick and Blake Griffin, but it might be tough to accommodate Durant without moving one of those big names. This might be a little too messy of a situation to seem feasible.
4. San Antonio Spurs
Call it the Gregg Popovich effect. The Spurs made a huge free agent splash last offseason with the signing of LaMarcus Aldridge and could very well get back in the mix again. With the old guard of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginoboli facing its end, a new core of Kawhi Leonard, Aldridge and Durant could be the next trio to lead San Antonio to the top of the Western Conference. The Spurs are always laying in the weeds, and they were one of the first teams Durant sought to meet with. Stay tuned.
3. Miami Heat
Two words: Pat Riley. The man brought LeBron James & Chris Bosh to Miami, and could very well do the same with Durant. He’s the master persuader and negotiator. It might be a little hard to sell Durant on playing with an aging Wade and the uncertain status of Bosh, but Miami is definitely the sleeper team in this sweepstakes. Fans of other NBA teams should be worried, because Riley gets the job done more often than not.
2. Golden State Warriors
Perhaps Durant’s best chance to win a title lies in Oakland. The Warriors, thanks to the team-friendly contracts of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, would have enough to land the star free agent by waving goodbye to Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli. Golden State has been rumored to be the team Durant is most interested in, thanks in part to their 73-9 season. The Warriors easily give Durant the best shot at a championship immediately. With a new arena opening in the near future, what better way to make a splash – no pun intended – than by adding KD to Curry, Thompson and Green?
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
They say home is where the heart is, and while Durant isn’t from Oklahoma, it’s been the only franchise he’s ever known. The Thunder have the greatest advantage in signing Durant – they can give him the most money on a max deal – and should still be considered the favorites, regardless of the pitches from Golden State and others. OKC made a statement during the NBA Draft, acquiring Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illyasova and Domantas Sabonis from the Magic in exchange for long-tenured forward Serge Ibaka. He’s long been a fan of Oladipo, and that could sway him to return alongside Westbrook, Steven Adams and his new teammates.