February 8, 2023

Come home, Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant
Image: Getty Visuals

The NBA’s biggest epics have been designed close to a meteoric star crash landing in a modest current market, galvanizing the city all around their greatness in hopes of offering glory. Think LeBron James in Cleveland, Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, Tim Duncan in San Antonio, Isiah Thomas in Detroit, Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston, Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, and Bill Walton in Portland. Kevin Durant warrants to be on that checklist. But he would be the only a single unable to provide a championship to the metropolis that drafted him. Only James can relate to the acrimonious divorce both sides felt when he left in 2016.

Oklahoma Town experienced no concept how very good they experienced it. They quickly knew greatness when they were gifted the Supersonics franchise and Durant from Seattle in 2008. The pursuing yr, less than the elite acumen of GM Sam Presti, they drafted Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. The future yr James Harden. Those people 4 gamers shaped 1 of the biggest young cores in NBA heritage. The Oklahoma City Thunder had been projected to be a dynasty, with the only matter standing in their way becoming the maturity of their youthful superstars.

Then the dominos commenced to drop, initial in the summer season of 2011 when Presti declined to re-indication Harden, as a substitute transport him to the Houston Rockets. From that stage on, Presti did his most effective to harmony out his slite draft history with a series of horrible trades, no cost agent signings, and coaching hires. It culminated in Durant’s eighth period in OKC, mentally and physically fatigued of sharing the ball with Westbrook and brunt out carrying the load on offense. Durant remaining the franchise keeping its moi in its hand as he bolted to form a single of the very best teams of all time in Golden Point out. 

Durant is experiencing a equivalent predicament in Brooklyn with a mercurial stage guard and a revolving doorway of coaching ineptitude. Durant is enjoying at the next-highest usage price of his career at 32.5 but with a acquire-share proportion of .213. Durant is back to averaging 30 ppg for the very first time in 8 seasons. Nevertheless, it hasn’t translated to wins, as the Nets went 8-9 in the initially 17 video games right after firing previous head mentor Steve Nash, as very well as suspending Irving for sharing anti-Semitic propaganda on his social media.

Durant was so fed up with the circus the Nets have grow to be that he issued a trade request this earlier summertime. He retracted it just after lengthy discussions with Brooklyn leadership, but the specter of him circling again to it has haunted this season’s inadequate commence. If he does, there’s a single narrative that could restore the villainous switch Durant has fought off and, at moments, embraced due to the fact leaving OKC. When Durant explained to the staff he desired a trade mere months back, Brooklyn identified the trade sector dried up with the type of blockbuster offer they had been wanting for. To trade Durant would need a nuclear rebuild to the roster, building picks the most precious return.

Only one group can supply this, and in extra than 1 way, it feels like Oklahoma’s hoarding of draft funds about the final number of many years has led to such a second. If Durant decides to depart Brooklyn, he need to return to Oklahoma City, repairing his partnership with the basketball-nuts supporter base and his picture as a player who can not get it all on his possess. The Thunder’s roster, as now constructed, could sacrifice two or 3 of their younger core, let’s say, Chet Holmgren, Josh Giddey, Darius Bazley, and wage filler when keeping significant expertise all-around Durant. If Durant could join a Thunder squad consisting of existing MVP prospect Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, defensive ace Lu Dort, bench spark plug Tre Mann, strengthening two-way freak Aleksej Pokusevski, continuous bench men Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Mike Muscala, Jalen Williams, and Jaylen Williams, the Thunder could be proper back to exactly where they ended up in the summer time of 2011, stacked with talent and the greatest offensive participant in the video game. 

The Thunder would also have to component with most of the 15 to start with-spherical picks they’ve amassed above the past handful of seasons. Presti has clutched his pearls with regards to these picks, refusing to involve them to boost the roster in the brief expression. An SGA/Durant duo is the sort of two-guy mixture that can gain a championship. SGA is the antithesis of Westbrook, and anything about his video game and demeanor displays he would defer to Durant as the alpha on a crew that would be nearly unstoppable with him as the second choice. There are however concerns about no matter whether enhancement coach Mark Daigneault is the correct dude to mentor a Durant-led group. But which is exactly where Presti has to clearly show he’s advanced and be inclined to replace Coach D with a revered name if Durant calls for it.

Durant would get a probability to confirm to the haters he can get a championship on a roster led mainly by his brilliance. The Warriors groups he gained two rings with ended up currently champs prior to he joined. Several have criticized him for quitting attempting to acquire 1 the tough way and getting the quick way out in Golden Point out. Returning to OKC would be akin to James returning to Cleveland in 2016 right after he still left to workforce up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Warmth. Durant would also get to maintenance his romance with the Thunder fan foundation and front business office, who he has absent back and forth given that departing, blackening what was an case in point of modest-city glory.

Most NBA observers outdoors of Oklahoma City, individuals not carrying water as Presti-apologists, can confess the Thunder royally fucked-up just one of the most remarkable younger cores in the history of the NBA. But they are in the exceptional opportunity to have a next likelihood. By means of the next section of elite participant evaluation, Presti has yet again amassed a person of the finest young cores in the NBA. He can proceed on the path of the gradual rebuild, eventually cashing in his picks for a different star and making toward an eventual return to contention. Or he can throw the system into fifth gear and deliver property the biggest participant in franchise historical past, Durant. While the to start with choice is clearly additional prudent, NBA lore is built on these who make their own future. And as Presti has stated himself, “scared funds don’t make dollars.” We agree, Presti. Now deliver Durant again property.