The Kevin Durant sweepstakes begin this weekend, with the former MVP meeting with the Warriors and Clippers on Friday, the Spurs and Celtics on Saturday and the Heat on Sunday. It’s going to be a long, busy weekend.
And it all might be for naught.
“The consensus around the league is that he’s going to stay in Oklahoma,” Bleacher Report senior NBA writer Howard Beck said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Nobody will say that with 100 percent certainty, but the sense everyone gets is he is still Oklahoma’s to lose and he’s going into these meetings with an approach of, ‘Tell me why I should leave.’ Unless somebody blows him away, he probably won’t leave. That’s the sense. People could be wrong. Durant has played this very close to the vest. He’s kept his circle tight, and no one knows for sure.”
Each team that is meeting with Durant has its pros and cons. The Warriors have a Big Three in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but could lose several role players to free agency and are weak in the post. The Spurs might be the best-run, best-coached organization in the NBA, but they aren’t getting any younger. The Clippers have Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and are a lock for 50+ wins, but they haven’t been able to get over the hump in the postseason. The Heat have a solid nucleus on paper, but Hassan Whiteside will likely leave and Chris Bosh’s career is in serious jeopardy. And then there’s the Celtics, who are young and hungry and not in the Western Conference. But even with Durant, Boston would likely be a decided underdog against Cleveland in the East.
There are a lot of different roads for Durant to explore, but in the end, they all may lead back to Oklahoma City.
“Presumably what he really wants is to make sure that he’s playing somewhere where he has the ability to contend for titles year in and year out for the foreseeable future – and he already has that in Oklahoma with Russ Westbrook at his side,” Beck said. “And so, the question is can somebody make him a compelling offer that says, ‘We’ll give you a better chance than playing with Westbrook?’ And underlying that (is) an issue that should be talked about more: Does he really believe that Westbrook is staying? Because Westbrook is a free agent in 2017. The entire reason for staying in Oklahoma is really to keep playing with Westbrook because you’re the best 1-2 offensive punch in the NBA. If there’s any sense that Westbrook might leave in 2017, well then that changes the calculus entirely. Now it’s, ‘Well, if I don’t have that, where would I go to make sure I’ve got other stars around me?’ Because nobody wins this by themselves.”