I hope you had a safe and happy Fourth of July on Monday. I was going to have a barbecue and enjoy the fireworks, but the NBA had some more fireworks of its own when Kevin Durant announced that he will sign for the Golden State Warriors via a column on The Players Tribune.
Reaction to the mention of D.C. in Durant’s column
Durant made a quick reference to the Washington, D.C. area in his piece. However, he made it clear about what city he was more loyal to:
I’m from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me. It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man.
I can understand why some Washington area residents may take offense to that remark. Durant spent practically his entire childhood in the Washington area. He grew up watching and rooting for the Redskins for his football fix. He went to Verizon Center to watch Wizards and Mystics games and they were the teams he identified with as a local fan. And now ... our area just a place where Durant is from and nothing more?
I wouldn’t take too much offense in Durant’s remarks. And let’s be brutally honest here. He is right in many ways.
Durant grew up here, but he never played college basketball at a local program like Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia, Virginia Tech, George Washington, or George Mason. And he spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the same franchise, eight of them in Oklahoma City. When you think about it, OKC, not D.C. is the place where Durant grew up from being a teenager into a man.
I am not offended at all by what he wrote. I am glad he made his decision, and everyone can now move on with their lives.
My reaction to Durant’s decision
I wrote a KD2DC postmortem here soon after the initial news of KD2GSW was official. Don’t think about Durant not signing in Washington as a curse, or “here we go again.” The Wizards team that’s already here is still young and the starting five is still very talented. It’s not like they are the Cleveland Cavaliers before LeBron James came back in 2014.
Because there is a new coaching staff in place who is strong in player development, you never know just how good the players on the team can be. After all, weren’t many people complaining about how bad of a head coach Randy Wittman was last season? Brooks is a significant upgrade, has developed and coached multiple superstars including Durant, and led the Thunder to the Finals.
Let’s give this guy and his staff a chance before we start firing up the calls to “blow up the team” up and start all over like the 76ers over the last few years.
Other Washington D.C. area reactions
Here are a number of reactions from around the web in regard to Durant’s decision.
- Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post wrote about five questions on the NBA landscape now that the decision has been made. They range from how the Warriors will make salary cap room for Durant, what the Thunder will have to do with Russell Westbrook, and how it affects NBA CBA talks which aren’t in the far-too-distant future.
- Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post wrote that Durant made the right decision to go to the Bay Area. Is this a popular decision? No. Will he be considered an NBA “bad guy” because of it? More than likely. But if he wants to win now, it’s hard to argue that Durant made the wrong decision.
Selected national reactions
SB Nation NBA’s national hub has several columns on how to process the news:
- Tim Cato and Jesus Gomez wrote the national story here.
- Zito Madu wrote that Russell Westbrook can now be fully unleashed. We already had a chance to see some of that in the 2014-15 season. God knows what he can do now that Durant is gone.
- Tom Ziller wrote about how good the NBA’s best regular season team of all time can be now that they have two of the NBA’s top five stars (if not top three).
The Vertical of Yahoo Sports has a lot of excellent content on the NBA. Their content and perspective is no different.
- Bobby Marks wrote about how the Warriors can specifically make room for Durant on their roster by giving him a maximum level salary.. They involved trading Andrew Bogut, renouncing all free agent holds, and withdrawing Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli’s qualifying offers.
- Michael Lee detailed the process Durant tried to carve for himself over the years. We tend to like the narrative of the superstar who stays in one city and wins a title there. That’s why players like Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Tim Duncan (Spurs), and Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks) seem to be held in such high regard by most. Though Durant wanted to go that path, he wanted to forge his own destiny toward championship glory as opposed to doing what “everyone else wants him to.”
- Chris Mannix wrote about what’s next for the Thunder. On the one hand, this is the moment Russell Westbrook has been waiting for. He would easily be the number one franchise player on almost every team in the NBA but isn’t in Oklahoma City simply because he was drafted there just one year after Durant was. Now, the Thunder is really his team. But on the other, the Thunder should explore a trade for him. After all, they did trade Serge Ibaka to the Magic in exchange for Victor Oladipo.
Last but not least, here are links from other sources:
- Royce Young of ESPN wrote that Thunder GM Sam Presti had an idea that Durant was considering leaving. Even before this happened, I’d call that a poorly kept secret.
- ESPN “First Take” host Stephen A. Smith called Durant’s move “weak”
Don't give a damn what anyone says: weak move by KD. You go to GSW, the team who beat you, when you're already on a title contender? Please!— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) July 4, 2016
- Marc J. Spears of TheUndefeated.com wrote that several Warriors players, including Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala played key roles influencing Durant to choose the Bay Area during a meeting last week. They discussed how many championships the Warriors could win without Durant, how many championships Durant could win without the Warriors, and what they could do together.
- Ken Berger of CBS Sports wrote that the NBA would “never be the same” now that Durant is Bay Area-bound.
How do Warriors fans and the Bay Area feel about KD2GSW?
Look no further than Golden State of Mind, SB Nation NBA’s Warriors blog. Here are some takes:
- Nate Parham wrote the lede just right: “A basketball fantasy has come to fruition in the Bay Area.”
- I’ve worked a lot with Nate over the years, so I know he isn’t one to celebrate TOO wildly about news like this. Bram Kincheloe wrote the take that one of us would have written if KD2DC actually became reality.
- When a top team like the Warriors picks up a Top-3 overall player like Kevin Durant, expectations are going to rise. GSoM community member DRJ1 wrote a FanPost that KD2GSW creates a “PR nightmare.” The Warriors to this point have been considered to be a team that’s easy to root for. And really, I find it hard to root against the likes of Curry and Thompson. But by winning the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, they now become one of the NBA’s most hated teams. DRJ1 also implied that last month’s NBA Finals may also play to be a PR nightmare for the Association, but I’d disagree with that.
And what about Oklahoma City? How do Thunder fans feel?
Our colleagues at Welcome to Loud City, SB Nation NBA’s Thunder blog also have you covered on how Thunder fans are processing the news that their “Franchise Player 1A” has left for the Bay Area.
- Marina Mangiaracina called the decision the “saddest day [she] ever experienced in Oklahoma City.”
- Mangiaracina also was on a radio show in New Zealand. She said that “Today, he basically abandoned us” to start off her introductory comments. But like what other national sources said, she mentioned that Durant was one to beat his own drum. In addition, she talked about the Thunder’s next steps including what to do with Westbrook.
- WTLC also held a special podcast.
The moratorium on free agency announcements hasn’t ended just yet, but the Thunder have already released written statements on Durant’s decision. In addition, GM Sam Presti also held a press conference regarding the same.
The TL;dr version.
Alright, that’s it with the big news from the Fourth of July. Again, Kevin Durant is leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder. He will be playing for the Golden State Warriors this season. People in D.C. are disappointed, people in Oklahoma City are devastated, and people in the Bay Area are ecstatic.
Feel free to chat about all of Tuesday’s free agent moves, trades, and the initial stages of NBA Summer League basketball in Utah and Orlando here. Enjoy your day!