2 min read

Two Durant free agency narratives that need to go away

OK, I’ve got two things I want to get off my chest because they’re annoying me and it would take 600 tweets to get it all out there. Surprise, they’re about Kevin Durant’s free agency.

1) The Warriors losing Game 7 makes them contenders for KD when they otherwise wouldn’t have been. Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News is a tremendous columnist, and I don’t mean to single him out, because this is a general point people are making, but I’m going to use his recent column as an example of that. Here’s what he writes:

The Warriors have championship pedigree but did not win a title this season–if Durant wants to be the difference between almost-winning and holding that trophy in a parade, he has it with the Warriors, because they did not win Game 7, specifically because they lost to LeBron James, potentially Durant’s only peer in talent and size.
If they had won the back-to-back title, after winning 73 regular-season games, the Warriors would’ve been a titan and the addition of any free agent would feel a little more like insurance–an unnecessary luxury.

This mindset is so silly to me. For one, the Warriors won 73 games. Reminder: That’s the most games by any team ever. And as far as them not winning the championship this season, yes, that is factually correct, but a) Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5; b) Andrew Bogut was injured for Games 6 and 7 and c) the Warriors were a Kyrie Irving hero shot away from winning it in seven games anyway. So you’re telling me, the Warriors getting Kevin Durant could hinge on Irving hitting an awesome 3? If he had missed that and the Warriors won, that they’d be eliminated from contention?

When Sam Presti talked about Durant being a “rational” person, I think this is the type of stuff he was referring to. I understand optics and perception, and those things certainly carry influence, and joining a team riding back-to-back championships isn’t the best look. But let’s not act like the Warriors are a “player away” or something. They won 73 freaking games. If the Cavs had swept them, or even beat them full strength in seven games, sure, I could see that a bit. But considering reality, it doesn’t hold much sense to me.

2) Durant needs to go East to make it easier. You know why LeBron James has had it “easy” in the East and gone to six straight Finals? Because he doesn’t have to play against LeBron James. He doesn’t have to play himself. Getting to the conference finals isn’t a problem for Durant. He’s been there effectively four straight times, the two times he’s missed in six years being Westbrook’s knee injury and then his foot injury. So he can get to the conference finals. And in the East, that’s where he’d see LeBron.

Sure, maybe the road to that series would be a little less stressful. Maybe it would mean for more regular season wins. But here’s a dirty little secret: One of the reasons the West is such a powerhouse is because Kevin Durant plays in it. It’s because the Thunder are awesome. Take Durant and stick him in the East, and suddenly the West starts looking a little East-ish. You’d have the Warriors, the Spurs (who are transitioning a bit), the… Clippers, who are good, but not really good, the, uhhhhhh… Blazers I guess? After that it’s the Grizzlies, the Mavs, the Rockets and some possible up and comers.

The West is treacherous because of what’s at the top. But if you go East, you’d still have to go through LeBron. So really, does that make anything easier? Or really, wouldn’t it actually be tougher?

OK, I feel better now. Carry on with your worrying.