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Durant faced with tough free agency decision

By: Damon Sloan

Kevin Durant could try to give it one more shot in OKC, or just move on. Either way, his move might be the biggest of free agency.

Kevin Durant could try to give it one more shot in OKC, or just move on. Either way, his move might be the biggest of free agency.

“Should I stay or should I go?” — It’s the question The Clash asked in their 1982 hit song, it is is the question Kevin Durant is now asking himself as he is headed toward free agency.

After their Western Conference finals meltdown against the Golden State Warriors, the Oklahoma City Thunder could lose their franchise player too. Durant will be a free agent this summer, and nobody has a clue whether he will stick around with the team or cash in and sign a huge deal somewhere else. The rumor around the league was that if the Thunder did not win a championship this year, then he would not return; but recently Durant told ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard that he must “talk with his inner circle.”

There are cases to be made for either decision he could make. If he wants to go find a place where he can contend for a championship, then Oklahoma City is the only place he should be going. They were right there; just one win away from making it to the finals. He will again be teammates with one of the top five players in the league and Steven Adams is still under contract and a budding star. Another year in Billy Donovan’s system could be what the Thunder need. So it is very possible that he gives it one more go in Oklahoma City; probably on a two-year deal so he can keep his Bird rights, but with an option for the second year so next year he and Russell Westbrook can hit free agency together and figure out what they want to do at the same time.

But perhaps he’s just ready to leave. And there are is plenty of reason to believe he will be ready to go too.

With Westbrook running along with him, Durant helped take the Thunder to the NBA finals in 2012, but have not gotten back since. And since, there have been issues over who the go-to-guy for the Thunder is. As the point guard, Westbrook loves to make himself the guy; especially since he elevated his game and became an MVP candidate after Durant fractured his right foot and missed the entire 2014-15 campaign. Westbrook has been the bigger focal point of the offense, getting more isolations and more possessions with the ball. Westbrook has possession on 89-percent of the team’s possessions, Durant is only at 65-percent.

Durant has been paired with Westbrook for eight years now and despite both being elite players in the league, they have only had one trip to the finals. Maybe Durant just does not see their partnership as something that can be successful. After all, there isn’t much guessing game for a defense when one of the team’s stars has the ball in their hand and he really only has one person to make an outlet pass to. That led to miserable shooting in games five, six and seven of their series against the Warriors as they shot below 38-percent from the floor and below 26-percent from beyond the arc. And making matters worse was that they both played over 40 minutes in those games and were worn out by the end of them because of the complete lack of production from the bench.

So if Durant chooses to leave, the question is where would be go?

Wizards fans will certainly be hoping he makes a home coming and teams back up with a coach that he went to the finals with (Scott Brooks). But anymore, that just does not seem like a realistic situation.

His best bet might be to go to a team like Atlanta, where he’ll be the undeniable star and main focal point or a team that has a lot of good pieces but lacks a star player in their lineup. He’ll have plenty of help there that will take pressure off of him.

The Los Angeles Lakers are another option. That team has a ton of cap room as they move on from the Kobe Bryant era and have a good young coach coming in to lead the rebuild. If Durant goes there the Lakers would have plenty of money to sign another star, like possibly DeMar DeRozan. And have the No. 2 draft pick to draft another top wing players, whether that is Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram.

Whichever team Durant ends up going with will be huge winners this offseason and will have plenty of reason they could make a run to at least the second round of the playoffs. We’ll just be waiting in suspense until he decides what to do, because nobody knows. Realistically, he still probably doesn’t know what he is going to do yet.

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Damon Sloan

Staff Writer
Damon Has been an athlete his entire life. He started playing basketball when he was three-years-old and played competitively all the way through his high school years. He had a chance to pursue a collegiate basketball career but chose to focus on getting his education. Damon knew he wanted to be around sports and he was always interested in knowing statistics about players and could separate the good players from the bad. Growing up his mother called him the "stat king" because he could tell you any statistic about any player. Damon wants to be versatile in writing not just for basketball, but for football, boxing, and mixed martial arts. One thing that may separate Damon from other journalists is that he isn't just knowledgeable about basketball, but he played at a high level for years and still continues to play today, which helps him mold his knowledge of the game.
One Response to “Durant faced with tough free agency decision”
  1. Deb says:

    A wealth of information and good stats…great job…great article!