A lot has changed since the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals last year to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Injury to rim protector Andrew Bogut that caused him to miss the last 2 Finals games plus disappointing performances from players like Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and the back to back MVP Stephen Curry. A mixture of all these things had Warriors GM Bob Myers on record leaving game 7 saying “We will be very aggressive this offseason”(NBA Free Agency). On the outside looking in you’re thinking how much more aggressive can you be? You have the best shooting back court in NBA history with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, a Swiss army knife in Draymond Green, with a supporting cast that’s capable of giving you solid bench scoring most teams don’t have.
Lampin In the Hamptons- June 30th, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Owner Joe Lacob, and GM Bob Myers are in the Hamptons to make their pitch to Kevin Durant. They have their virtual reality goggles set up for Durant to watch as a spectator sitting court side of him playing with Golden State. He never saw what it would look like a technological malfunction happened. So the Warriors were forced to use their words, Draymond gave something for KD to ponder about “How many championships do you think we can win with the way the team is now?” “How many championships can you win without us?” “How many do you think we can win together?” That meeting concluded & Curry texted Durant later on letting him know that he doesn’t care whose team it is, or who sells the most shoes (Curry is the face of Under Armour and Durant is key player on Nike), it’s about championships with me Curry laments to him.
The Call- It was Saturday night & Kevin Durant got a call from (the logo) Warriors advisor and legend Jerry West, the two chatted and West told Durant how he lost in the Finals 7 times before winning it his 12th year in the league, West let KD know that those losses still haunt him to this day. Making his pitch he told Durant that by joining the Warriors it would take a lot of pressure off of him and he’d be able to get easier looks. It’s highly noted why this would make sense for Durant, playing in OKC with All-Star Russell Westbrook, he would sometimes have to take a backseat to the point guard Westbrook who would take bad shots, have costly turnovers, or try to play hero ball at times. This was frustrating for Durant, West reassured him that none of this would happen playing with Steph, Draymond, & Klay shots would come easier, scoring would be easier, and he wouldn’t have to carry the load from game to game.
Set it off- July 4th comes Kevin Durant announces via Players Tribune “The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction,” Durant wrote. “But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth.”With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.”
Bigger Than Basketball- While most people will say this is the weakest move by a superstar it’s worse than LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami, KD is a sucker, he’s a cupcake. Those are all fair assessments and you’re entitled to your opinion. This wasn’t just a basketball move this was a move for Durant to mature and grow, he spent his first 9 seasons with Seattle & Oklahoma City since being drafted second overall in 2007. He needed a change of scenery at one point the Thunder had James Harden, Russell Westbrook, & Kevin Durant all on the same team that made a Finals appearance against LeBron James and the Miami Heat which led to Miami winning in 5 games. Ultimately the Thunder didn’t build off these 3 great future Hall of Famers, OKC management couldn’t work out an extension for James Harden so they traded him for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, 2 first round picks, and a second round pick. The Thunder should have given Harden the extra 4.5 million he wanted. This led to a unraveling of things to come for this organization.
For Durant and others that analyze the move outside of basketball closely can see why it makes sense, Kevin Durant who’s signed to Roc Nation, had a talk with his agent & the face of Roc Nation music legend Jay Z, Hov was more influential on this move than people may know Jay would tell him and his agent how much his business has grown since leaving NY for LA he would help guide Durant in all the questions he had. During the 2014-2015 season Durant was hit with multiple injuries this resulted in a dip of his brand in the market not to mention his previous two signature Kevin Durant sneakers didn’t sell well and he was number 8 on jersey sales. To be considered the second best player in the world that’s not going to cut it. Why not go to a bigger market in the Bay Area, why not have a change of scenery to build your brand back up?
Bout Damn Time- With KD making this move, he’s been flying under the radar for the past 9 years he hasn’t had as much scrutiny (besides leaving OKC) compared to other players. People give him a pass for losing his only finals appearance do to the Thunders youth, & James Harden practically never showing up. Kevin Durant has no excuse this time around he has a point guard in Steph Curry that’s going to get him the ball & take the scoring load off him, he has a sniper in Klay Thompson that can heat up at any moment (most notably game 6 at OKC last year 41 points which included 11 three pointers that saved GS season), you have Draymond Green who’s going to do all the dirty work for you and presumably have the task of guarding LeBron most of the time, plus a supporting cast that is arguably better than he has had at any point in OKC. 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala will be in the mix; Shaun Livingston does his job coming off the bench with giving solid minutes, posting smaller guards up, scoring, plus getting others involved. Ian Clarke & Patrick McCaw have gotten big minutes plus both have been hitting the 3 ball during GS sweep thus far. Lastly the Warriors have rough-riders in David West who’s going to come in hit a couple of mid-range jumpers and Matt Barnes who will get under the Cavs skin but they really will be in for their physicality something the Warriors lacked (outside of Draymond) last year.
Durant has all the weapons he needs, he just needs to show up in these Finals like he has been doing this post season averaging 25.2 PPG and 8 rebounds. There’s no excuse this time around, he has a tall task of trying to dethrone LeBron James and the Cavaliers but it can be done. If he gets the job done the Warriors will be a problem for the next 4-5 years, anything short of that will be a long off-season with much scrutiny not only for the Warriors but most importantly Kevin Wayne Durant.