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Written by Ben Pfeifer
Kevin Durant has pulled a Lebron (without making an announcement which raised millions of dollars for charity) today by leaving his Oklahoma City Thunder in favor of the Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant has signed a 2 year deal with a player option worth 54.3 million dollars. And it makes sense that Durant wouldn’t sign a long term deal just in case things go badly.
This definitely increases Durant’s chances of winning a title. He adds another superstar to an already stacked Warriors team. This also gives the starting unit for Golden State a boost. Durant can score with the best in NBA history, and he should make the Warriors offense put even more points on the board than it already is. On the flip side, I do have some concerns about the Warriors new superstar addition.
It is obvious that the Warriors already have incredible chemistry, but I fear that this signing will have a negative effect on it. Although Steph Curry is good at playing off the ball, him and especially Durant are ball dominant players. Steph is going to still be the number one option, but Durant is definitely not going to want to take a backseat to Curry. He wants his own legacy and wants to prove he can win without other superstars. This move could create tension in a normally peaceful Warriors locker room.
The Warriors recent success has happened because of their incredible teamwork, ball movement, and depth. This signing could potentially ruin these traits and make the Warriors unintentionally take a step backwards.
Kevin Durant is a very isolation heavy player who needs the ball in his hands to create and is not a willing passer. This is very opposed to the Warriors culture of ball movement and spacing, which could make Durant difficult to fit into the offense.
But, when you can get a player of Durant’s caliber, you make changes so he can succeed. The Warriors incredible depth has helped them win games. In Game 1 of the finals, the Warriors starters were playing horribly, so players like Shaun Livingston came in and made an impact.
This signing forced the Warriors to gut their bench. Harrison Barnes is leaving along with Andrew Bogut, and players like Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, and Festus Ezeli could be cut. They also won’t have the luxury of having Andre Igoudala off of the bench anymore, for he will likely start.
I fear that this could turn out like the 2013 Lakers. Kobe was a top 5 player in the league, Howard was by far the best center, and Nash was aging but was still very good. This signing could go very well or very badly.
Obviously the Thunder and the State of Oklahoma are hurting right now. I believe that the current OKC roster with Durant could easily win a title, but Durant clearly does not feel that way. The Thunder are definitely still a quality playoff team and have arguably the best point guard in the NBA, but aren’t what they once were.
This trade definitely opens up trade possibilities for Russell Westbrook. If Westbrook does not want to resign, the Thunder could look to trade him. He would most likely be traded to a team with plenty of young assets such as the Celtics, Lakers, or Suns. I can’t imagine Westbrook is too happy, but this trade will certainly shake up the NBA next year.